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The Yukon River Sternwheeler Jennie M.

by Murray Lundberg

Northern Ships and Shipping

The information on the Jennie M. that follows is simply a cut-and-paste from my database, compiled from a wide variety of sources, primarily newspaper articles.
  • steel-hull sternwheeler; 83 feet long, with 15 foot 4 inch beam and 3 foot 3 inches depth.

  • powered by a double high speed stern-wheel engine; diameter of cylinders, 7 inches, and 28 inches stroke, with a fire box marine boiler 48 inches in diameter and 10 feet long, burning wood or coal.

  • designed by members of the the Philadelphia Exploration and Mining Company scientific exploration expedition to the Klondike; built by Captain Lewis Nixon at the Crescent ship yard at Elizabethport, New Jersey.

  • taken north from Seattle on the schooner R. W. Bartlett, assembled in St. Michael in July 1898.

  • January 4, 1898: "NEW BOAT FOR ALASKA. Unique Craft Being Built for Use on the Yukon River. Lewis Nixon, of Elizabethport, N. J., is to build a stern-wheel steam boat of special design for use on the Yukon river by the Philadelphia Exploration and Mining company, which is about to send an expedition under charge of Prof. Angelo Heilprin, of Philadelphia. The party will have eight members who expect to spend two years in Alaska. The new boat will be 80 feet long over all, 15 feet beam and 3 feet 10 inches depth. She will be built in ten watertight sections and entirely of steel, of six pounds to the square foot, up to the main deck. It is estimated that she will carry 35 tons on 18 inches draft of water. There will be two engines and one large boiler fitted to burn either coal or wood, as it is expected that the principal fuel will be driftwood picked up in transit. The engines will be expected to develop 60 horse power. The contract calls for the completion of the boat within 60 days, when she will be shipped across the continent by railroad or else sent around the Horn on one of the many steamers going to participate in the Klondike trade. Her light draft will enable her crew to pull her up on the bank and transform her into a shore dwelling when overtaken by winter" (Argus-Leader)

  • January 9, 1898: The Evening Messenger of Marshall, Texas, published the most detailed report on the boat. You can read it here.

  • March 9, 1898, The Philadelphia Inquirer published an illustrated article about Professor Angelo Heilprin and the upcoming expedition of the Philadelphia Exploration and Mining Company. You can read the article here.

  • May 7, 1898: "The Philadelphia Exploration and Mining Company's Alaskan party of fourteen men arriyed here a few days ago and are now purchasing their outfits in this city. They will sail in a few days on the schooner W. W. Bartlett, which arrived in port Thursday afternoon from San Francisco. The officers of the party are: President, Prof. Augustus Helprin; vice president, Amos Bontalmers; secretary, Thomas R. Hill; treasurer, William K. Hurff. Prof. Heilprin is a well-known geologist and is going on the trip to make geological investigations in Aiaska. The party will be under his guidance. Their exact destination is kept secret. Inquiry, however, develops that the Bartlett is going to the mouth of the Yukon river. Upon arriving there the passengers will be landed and the schooner will return to the Sound. The party takes north the sectional parts of a stern-wheel steamer, together with four small boats in sections and two solid boats." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

  • May 21, 1898, the 14 members of the expedition sailed north from Seattle on the four-masted schooner R. W. Bartlett, with the broken-down Jennie M.. She was 495 tons, in command of Captain Olsen, with a stated destination on May 9th of Dutch Harbor, but Saint Michael was the actual destination. On May 22, 1898, a lengthy article in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer described the cargo and passenger list of the R. W. Bartlett and the bark Highland Light - read that article here.

  • July 4, 1898: "The ice went out of Norton Sound on June 16, and the schooners R. W. Bartlett, G. W. Watson, J. B. Leeds, and Hattie I. Phillips came in shortly after." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

  • April 4, 1899: "At Beaver City I met Mr. Hill of the Philadelphia Exploration and Mining Company, and arranged to join his party for the coming year's work up the Yukon. I continued sledding my provisions down to their steamer, the Jennie M, and helped them to save her from the run of ice when the winter broke up. She had stuck on a sand bar at the head of a slough in the fall, and the water falling, left her high and dry all winter. The water running over the ice before it broke was not sufficient to float her into the slough, but just as the ice broke up and commenced to run it crowded enough water ahead of it to allow her to swing into the slough. Some of the ice following her in crowded her onto the bank, but she finally floated safe and the breaking up of the ice in the artic was over. We then started for the Yukon, running up the Hagatzikakat to pick up some of the Jennie M party who had worked on Clear creek, and will start up the Yukon tomorrow. C. B. Munson." (The Cheyenne Sunbeam)

A drawing of the Yukon River sternwheeler Jennie M.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 16, 1898