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The Historic Atlin Lake Excursion Boat Tarahne

by Murray Lundberg


Historic excursion boat Tarahne at Atlin, BC     For much of the century since Tarahne was built, she has been a significant part of Atlin, initially because of the tourists from around the world that she brought every summer, and later as the most visible feature along the waterfront. Although often termed a steamboat, Tarahne was powered by gas engines.

    In 1917, Tarahne was designed and built by British Yukon Navigation Company (BYN) construction foreman A. E. Henderson, with materials hauled over the ice from Carcross. The BYN was a division of the White Pass & Yukon Route (WPYR), a company most famous for its Skagway-Whitehorse railway. Tarahne was built for the Atlin Lake tourist trade, in combination with the Atlin Inn and the sternwheeler Tushi.

    Her Canadian Shipping Registry number is 138539. She was driven by twin-screw propellers. Her hull is 78.2 feet long, with 20.0 foot beam, and 6.4 foot hold depth ("Afflecks's List of Sternwheelers Plying the Yukon Waterways" says 78.2 x 20.3 x 5.8 feet). She was designed with one deck, transom stern and carvel build, with 3 bulkheads. Her gross tonnage 176.85, registered as 120.26 tons.

    Her engine room was 28.2 feet long, housing a pair of 6-cylinder gasoline engines, made in 1921 by the Wisconsin Motor Company in Milwaukee. The cylinders were 5 3/4 inch diameter, with a 7-inch stroke, producing 6.6 NHP, 180 IHP total (Affleck says that the original engines were built by the Buffalo Gasoline Motor Company of New York.) She was capable of 12 knots.

    In 1917, new ways and a cradle for the Tarahne were built at Atlin. That season, both Scotia and Tarahne were operated, using the same crew.

    In 1918, a galley and officers' quarters were installed; the smoking lounge was used very little, and was used for the new rooms. Sailors' quarters were also built in the forepeak.

    In 1918, Tarahne replaced the Scotia during the fall bad weather, as she was considered to be a very good rough-water boat.

    In 1928, she was cut in 2, the halves pulled apart, and 41 feet were added in the middle (often incorrectly stated as 30 feet). Her overall length was increased to 119.3 feet, the gross tonnage was increased to 286.07 tons (registered as 209.86 tons) and accommodation was increased to 198 passengers. Affleck gives completely different hull dimensions for the post-rebuild period; this is probably incorrect, as photos show only a splice in the middle of the hull. The old engines were replaced by a pair from the Neecheah; they may have been built by Wisconsin. To accommodate her new length, the Atlin dock was extended by the building of 2 more cribs, which "were built on the ice and then sunk." A new hauling-out cradle and ways were also built alongside the Scotia ways.

    The 1929 season crew (no positions given) was: Captain Bert Janes, H. L. Jones, J. MacAlpine, J. W. Wendelbo, D. Westover, and T. M. Akai.

    From 1929-1931, wintered in the water at Atlin. In 1931, the Scotia ways at Atlin were extended to accommodate Tarahne, but despite that, she still wintered in the water in 1932-33.

    In 1934, a marine railway and ship's cradle were built at Atlin to accommodate her.

    The following graphic shows the passenger numbers for WPYR's Atlin trade:

    The Depression that followed the stock market crash of October 1929 killed the Atlin tourist trade, and in 1936 the Atlin Inn was closed, the furnishings sold off, and the buildings boarded up. The following season, due to a lack of business for a large boat, Tarahne was replaced by the launch Norgold, purchased from the Norgold Mining Co.

    On a much reduced scale, the White Pass continued Tagish Lake and Ben-My-Chree excursions until 1955. As well as trains and boats, the company had several aircraft - in 1937 they flew a total of 57 people to Atlin. Today, almost all tourists arrive at Atlin via the Atlin Road, which was built in 1949-51.

    In June 1958, Tarahne was beached at Atlin.

    Over the years since Tarahne was beached, many efforts were made to support her hull and prevent her from falling over. Extra cribbing was added around her sagging stern and curved blocking was added on the south side to stop her from leaning further. The stabilization project which began in 1986 completely rebuilt the cradle under the boat. She was levelled and straightened by two means. During careful jacking and supporting, the hog chains inside the vessel were tightened, and down the length of the cargo deck, cross ties were reinstalled. The new cradle supports the hull coincident with its strongest part, the bilge clamps. Like the original ways, the new structure could be used to launch the vessel out along its marine railway.

    Vistors can now see the inside of the Tarahne during summer walking tours held by the Atlin Museum, and on the first weekend of July each year, the very popular "Tarahne Tea" brings people out to join hosts and hostesses in period finery, for tea, small sandwiches and dainties.

    There are two other historic boats lying on the beach at Atlin, the Mounted Police launch Gladys, built in 1899, and the launch Atlinto, built in 1906. Gladys is to the north of the marina, Atlinto is beside Tarahne.



Click on each of the photos below to greatly enlarge them.
Tarahne prior to 1928, 78.2 feet long.
Historic excursion boat Tarahne at Atlin, BC
Tarahne after lengthening, 119.3 feet long.
Historic excursion boat Tarahne at Atlin, BC

Tarahne sails away in the 1930s.
Historic excursion boat Tarahne at Atlin, BC
1966 tourism brochure shows Scotia and Tarahne
Historic excursion boat Tarahne at Atlin, BC

Tarahne and Atlinto, August 11, 1991
Historic excursion boat Tarahne at Atlin, BC
August 11, 1991
Historic excursion boat Tarahne at Atlin, BC

April 20, 2003
Historic excursion boat Tarahne at Atlin, BC
August 16, 2010
Historic excursion boat Tarahne at Atlin, BC

August 23, 2014
Historic excursion boat Tarahne at Atlin, BC
August 23, 2014
Historic excursion boat Tarahne at Atlin, BC

August 23, 2014
Historic excursion boat Tarahne at Atlin, BC
Sunset cruise on August 23, 2014
Historic excursion boat Tarahne at Atlin, BC

August 23, 2014
Historic excursion boat Tarahne at Atlin, BC
August 23, 2014
Historic excursion boat Tarahne at Atlin, BC




Northern Ships and Shipping