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Plans for a Yukon River Steamboat, 1898

The Yukon River Sternwheeler Jennie M.

The Evening Messenger (Marshall, Texas) - January 9, 1898

    Few expeditions that have started for the new gold regions in Alaska have made such careful plans for the comfort of its members as that organized by Professor Angelo Heilprin of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. His party is to consist of a number of young men from Philadelphia, who will spend two years in exploring and prospecting. The management of the expedition is in the hands of Thomas R. Hill of Philadelphia, whose wife will accompany the party.

    The principal difficulty in the Klondyke region is the problem of river navigation, and toward overcoming this a sectional, stern-wheel steamer is now being built in the shipyard of Lewis Nixon, at Elizabethport. She is to be on the Pacific coast in time for the opening of the Yukon River in June.


    The craft is 70 feet between perpendiculars and 83 feet over all, 16 feet 4 inches beam and 3 feet 3 inches in depth. She carries about 60 tons on 30 inches draught. The hull is built of steel, in sections 10 feet long, that can be shipped in cars to the Pacific. The plates are a little over an eighth of an inch thick. The vessel has frames, floors and beams as in any steel vessel. The sections are bolted together by an ingenious arrangement of bolts and butt straps on sheer and stringer.

    The steel hull is decked over, and on this is a long deckhouse with a double ceiling eight feet in the clear. The sides are double and covered inside with sheathing paper. This house has an inclosure aft for the engines. Next to this, forward, are two staterooms, about nine feet long by seven feet wide: next, a big living and dining room. Two more staterooms are forward of this and a room containing the boiler. On top of this house is a pilot and storehouse, ten feet long by seven feet wide.

    The living room will have two stoves in it for heating during the winter. Outside the house, on the main deck forward, is a capstan for warping off sandbars and lifting the anchor.

    The vessel is driven by a stern paddle wheel 10 feet in diameter. This wheel is turned by two engines having cylinders 7 inches in diameter by 28 inches stroke. Steam is supplied by a firebox boiler 10 feet in length by 4 feet in diameter. The boat is steered by two balance rudders worked by a single wheel in the pilot house. The vessel will most of the time burn driftwood.

    When navigation is about over the boat will be run in to the shore in a protected position and will be drawn out on to the shore, where she will be wedged up in convenient position for launching the next year. As much protection as possible will be given by a structure of logs and boughs, and in this house the long winter will be passed.

    The arrangement of the house is shown in the accompanying plan. The picture shows a stern-wheel steamer of the same size and somewhat similar arrangement, but there is a striking contrast in the surroundings of the two, as the picture represents a vessel on the tropical Orinoco, being the Caura, built by Mr. Nixon for Senor Aurelio Battistini, a prominent merchant of Venezuela.

A drawing of the Yukon River sternwheeler Jennie M.
This is the Caura, a similar vessel built by Mr. Nixon, on the Orinoco River in Venezuela.