Their Past Lost but Never Forgotten

The year was 1897-1899 it became the largest find of placer gold in history. Thousands of men found their way north from all over the world. The starting point of their arduous journey began here at Skagway Alaska on what became known as the Chilkoot Pass. Their travels would take them through the State of Alaska into the Province of British Columbia Canada. There they would build rough boats that carried man and supplies up the water highway into what was known as the Yukon Territory of Canada. The journey took many lives and lost dreams as the river was not one to give up her secrets easily. The final stop would be what became known as Dawson City. From there all a man had to do was pay a small fee to stack a claim. Word has it some of the creeks and tributaries shimmered with gold.   In time huge riverboats were built in an effort to transport men and supplies north. These were massive steam powered ships that piled the river carrying precious cargo. They were able to make their way drafting only a few few of water. At one point and time their were said to be 50 or more operating on the river. After the building of the Alaska Highway river travel soon slowed. In 1950 three were brought into dry dock. The Casca, White Horse and the SS Klondike were parked beside each other. For years they had been left unattended. In June of 1974 the Yukon was rocked with word of two deaths.    Being tinder dry they soon were reduced to nothing more than a burning pile of rubble. They managed to safe the SS Klondike known as the Lady of The River. She was designated as a Canadian National Historic Site.  With a great amount of effort and 3 caterpillar, gallons of tallow and soap she was skidded on dry land approximately two miles to her now resting place. It has been said she barely cleared the buildings only by inches. I had the distinct honour of owning the security firm who stood guard over her for the next 4 years. It became the highest responsibility after watching and suffering the loss the Territory had seen. During the rebuilding and refitting process every board, nail were made to the exact original specifications. Not one detail was overlooked. I spent many a night high in the wheelhouse watching the river drift pass. No one was allowed anywhere near the vessel with the exception of Park Canada and their staff. Names, dates and times were recorded meticulously.  Today she stands proud on the banks of the Yukon River, fully dressed out as she did in her day. I can still hear her voice as she spoke many a long night in thankfulness for yet another chance at life. Walk through her massive boiler room and you can hear the men who fed the hungry beast cord after cord of wood. A good fri

Source: Their Past Lost but Never Forgotten


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