Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Come along on a Riverboat?

I recently visited Whitehorse and learned the story of the steam powered sternwheelers. The SS Klondike II is now high and dry on the banks of the Yukon River and is a National Historic site.

The British Yukon Navigation company owned two steam powered sternwheelers. The Klondike I was launched in 1921 and was in service until it ran aground in 1936. The Klondike II was launched in 1937 and was in service until 1955, it is now a museum ship.

Klondike II Sternwheeler:

Length:     64 m (210 ft)
Beam:      12.5 (41 feet)
Draught:  .6 m (24 in) light and 1 m (39 in) loaded

Power:        2 compound jet condenser steam engines 525 hp
Propulsion: Stern paddle wheeler
capacity:     270 tonnes
Crew:         23

"SS Klondike was the name of two sternwheelers, the second now a national historic site located in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. Both ran freight between Whitehorse and Dawson City along the Yukon River from 1921-1936 and 1937-1950, respectively.
Klondike I was built in 1921 and had the distinction of having 50% more capacity than a regular sternwheeler, while still having the shallow draft and meeting the size requirements in order to travel down the Yukon River. Klondike I had a cargo capacity of 270 metric tonnes without having to push a barge.
Klondike I ran aground in June 1936 in 'The Thirty Mile' section of the Yukon River (at
61°40′17″N 134°52′22″W / 61.6713°N 134.8728°W / 61.6713; -134.8728). The British-Yukon Navigation Company (a subsidiary of the White Pass and Yukon Route railway company) salvaged much of the ship and cannibalized the wreckage to build Klondike II the following year.

Klondike II carried freight until 1950. Due to the construction of a highway connecting Dawson City and Whitehorse, many sternwheelers were decommissioned. In an attempt to save Klondike II, she was converted into a cruise ship. The venture shut down in 1955 due to lack of interest, and Klondike II was beached in the Whitehorse shipyards.
The ship was donated to Parks Canada and was gradually restored until 1966, when city authorities agreed to move the ship to its present location, then part of a squatter's residence. The task required three bulldozers, eight tons of Palmolive soap, a crew of twelve men, and three weeks to complete. Greased log rollers eased the process.
On 24 June 1967, Klondike II was designated a National Historic Site of Canada,[1] and she is now open during the summer as a tourist attraction." Wikipedia

So let's start our tour. The Sternwheelers travelled on the Yukon River between Whitehorse and Dawson City when the river was free of ice. The ships ran up and down the river carrying freight and passengers. At the end of the season the ships were brought up on the banks of the river to keep them safe for the winter.

Notice the twin rudders:

The steam power system was a contained system, reusing the same water. If the river water had been used the system would have silted up and stopped working in a short time.
Along the river bank were piles of lumber and the ships stopped to stock up several times during the 36 hour journey to Dawson City.

The bridge on the ship was built far enough forward on the ship to give the captain a good view of the river which had some very treacherous stretches. The silt in the river was constantly shifting and the crew had to be alert for sandbars to prevent running aground.
The bridge of the ship communicated with the engine room with the this device:

The hold was full of wood, equipment and provisions.
I was fascinated with the old cartons: canned fruit, shredded wheat and milk, what more could anyone want?

The Klondike also carried some passengers, here is a look at the first class area:
...and a warning:
Here is a view through the kitchen into the passenger dining room.

One of the fire stations on deck:

The trip from Whitehorse from Dawson City took 36 hours, during which the crew got very little rest so they took time in Dawson City to recuperate before the journey back. 
I hope you have enjoyed hitching a ride on my tour today.
So what has been happening in my studio this week?
Well I did not finish the painting I gave you a peek of last week, but I did finish this:
I call this "Showing a bit of Mussel". It is an ink and watercolour work that I have mounted on a cradle board (like a wooden box with open back) and then varnished; I still have to paint the edges of the box (1 inch deep) in dark blue acrylic paint.
Another first for me and again I learned a few valuable lessons from the experience.
My art news:
I have two paintings in the juried show "Oil and Water" at Studio 1710 ( the home of the South Delta Artists Guild).
The show runs from June 2 to June 25 and the opening reception is on Thursday June 2 starting at 6:30 pm.



Amazing sculpture with paper:

Paper art sculpture by Calvin Nicholls:

That is all for this week,
wishing you a happy Wednesday, with whimsy,
Thanks for the feedback, I thrive on it.

1 comment:

  1. This is fantastic, I love these old machines. The Device is called an engine room telegraph.
    There used to be a lass called Krista Funk who blogged from Whitehorse. They have a full sized aircraft, a DC3 I think, that is used as a weather vane. I miss Krista and the weather vane. She was only young and I hope she is alright.