ExploreNorth, your resource center for exploring the circumpolar North

Return to the Home Page The ExploreNorth Blog About ExploreNorth Contact ExploreNorth

Search ExploreNorth

The Sternwheeler Casca No. 3

by Murray Lundberg

Roster of Yukon/Alaska Sternwheelers

Northern Ships and Shipping

    The boat described on this page was the third by that name to work on the Yukon River. The first Casca was built in 1898 - in 1911, described in company records as being "practically worn out and useless ...", she was rebuilt so extensively that she was considered to be a new boat. The second Casca was wrecked at Rink Rapids on July 9, 1936.

    The information on the Casca No. 3 that follows is simply a cut-and-paste from my database, compiled from a wide variety of sources, primarily the White Pass & Yukon Route corporate records (COR 722) at the Yukon Archives and newspapers including the Whitehorse Star (Star).

  • Canadian Shipping Registry #170613, registered at Victoria.

  • wooden sternwheeler; 180.0 feet long, with 36.5 foot beam and 5.6 foot hold. Gross tonnage 1,300.27, registered as 1,033.32 tons. One deck, carvel build, straight head and transom stern, with 5 bulkheads.

  • winter 1936-1937, partially constructed at Vancouver for the British Yukon Navigation Co., with pre-fab units shipped to Whitehorse for assembly; most of the boat was then built at Whitehorse.

  • machinery was salvaged from the Casca No. 2. The engine room was 33.5 feet long, housing the horizontal high-pressure engines built ca.1898 by Albion Iron Works of Victoria, and a steel locomotive boiler built in 1907 by Polson Iron Works of Toronto that had originally been installed in the Lightning. The engine cylinders were 16 inch diameter, 72 inch stroke, developing 17 NHP, 450 IHP. Licenced for 180 passengers in 1937, she was the plushest ship on the upper river, used for most tourist runs.

  • 1937 master was D. McKay.

  • 1938 and 1939 seasons crew: Master, D. McKay; Chief Officer, N. Marion; Extra Pilot, D. M. Mckay; First Mate, T. W. Golby; Second Mate, A. I. Halkett; Chief Engineer, W. C. Vey; Second Engineer, Alex Rae; Purser, R. C. Beaumont; Steward, W. J. Garrett (Star, May 6, 1938 and May 5, 1939)

  • May 27, 1938: "There was a large crowd of spectators on the wharf Monday night to witness the str. Casca leave on her initial trip of the season for Dawson. Freshly painted from stem to stern and with her barge and lower deck loaded with freight she made a fascinating picture as she pulled away from the dock. There were twenty-four passengers on board."

  • June 20, 1952: "Steamer Casca Sails With 90 Tourists
      The Steamer Casca, first steamer out of Whitehorse this spring, sailed Thursday evening with 90 tourists bound for Dawson.
      'The latest sailing in history' was still a touch and go problem at the first of the week. Low water in the Yukon River due to cold overhead weather which delayed snow melting on the mountains.
      Rain and warm weather the past three days have, however, brought the water down and the river is slowly rising.
      A severe shortage of food in Dawson, prompted the steamship company to dispatch the Launch 'Yukon Rose' to that city with a barge of essential foods and drugs." (Whitehorse Star)

  • 1952 was the final year of operation; she was put on the ways at Whitehorse at the end of that season.

  • August 24, 1959, offer made by White Pass to give the Casca, Keno, Klondike and Whitehorse to the Federal government, on an as-is, where-is basis. The company had been planning to tear apart the ways and remove the ship-handling equipment, but that was to be delayed until the summer of 1961.

  • September 17, 1959, the Casca "has been taken over by the Eagles for future use as a centre of the Order's activities."

  • ca. 1965, an attempt by Crown Assets to sell the Casca and Whitehorse was halted, largely through the efforts of Roy Minter.

  • An article in the Edmonton Journal of March 3, 1966, talked about plans to preserve the Klondike and demolish the Whitehorse and Casca - see "Drive On To Save Boats".

  • 1973, an LIP grant of nearly $30,000 was obtained; the boats were repainted, and a security fence erected around them. There were "long-range plans to install glass and lights in the [pilothouses] of the two stately old ships so that their upper decks could be seen on dark winter evenings" (Star, June 21, 1974).

  • with Whitehorse, burned on June 21, 1974 - the cause was never determined.

Sternwheeler Casca burning at Whitehorse on June 21, 1974
The Whitehorse and Casca burning at Whitehorse on June 21, 1974.
This uncredited photo is in the men's washroom at the Yukon Transportation Museum.