This is an incredible story and feat of engineering to accomplish something like this, considering the times and tech. WOW!
B.C. researchers discover gold rush ghost ship in Yukon lake
By Randy Shore, Vancouver Sun November 23, 2009
B.C.-led team of archeologists has discovered the wreck of a Klondike Gold Rush steamer perfectly preserved in the icy waters of Lake Laberge, north of Whitehorse.
The vessel A.J. Goddard sank in a winter storm 108 years ago, leaving behind a snapshot of life during the frenzy of prospecting and mining that engorged the Yukon Territory and enriched the ports of Vancouver and Victoria during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The detritus littering the deck of the vessel tells a harrowing tale of shipwreck and death, said Vancouver marine archeologist James Delgado, president of the Institute of Nautical Archeology.
"The boiler door is open and the firewood they tossed in to get try to get up enough steam to get out of trouble is still in there with charring on it," Delgado said. "Somebody shrugged off their coat and kicked off their shoes as they tried to swim for it and that's still lying on the deck."
Three men - Captain Charles McDonald, cook Fay Ransome, and fireman John Thompson - perished in the wreck, later buried by the North-West Mounted Police after their bodies washed ashore.
As the vessel sank engineer Stockfedt and crewman Snyder were left clinging to the tiny pilothouse that was torn away. They were spotted by a trapper camping nearby who came to their rescue. What is known of the crew is garnered from a few scant newspaper accounts.
The survey that solved the 108-year-old mystery about the A.J. Goddard's final resting place was conducted by a team of researchers led by B.C.-based project-leader John Pollack and transplanted Albertan Doug Davidge, president of the Yukon Transportation Museum. The diving mission to the wreck was photographed by Vancouverite Donnie Reid.
The iron sternwheeler and her sister ship F.H. Kilbourne was built in San Francisco in 1897 for Seattlite A.J. Goddard and shipped in pieces to Skagway, Alaska where it was hauled inland, through B.C. over the Chilkoot Pass or the White Pass and assembled at Bennett, B.C. The tent city at Bennett was the jumping off point for stampeders travelling up the Yukon River system.
The vessel was registered at Bennett and would then have navigated the rivers and rapids to Lake Laberge for ferry and freight duty and as a floating repair shop.
"It was a pre-fab ship, so it was likely carried on another ship up B.C's inside passage to Alaska and carried over those mountains," said Delgado. "Talk about an amazing feat."
For three years, the A.J. Goddard served as a ferry for stampeders who flocked by the thousands to Whitehorse at the south end of the lake on their way to Dawson City and points north. More than 260 steamboats plied the Yukon River during the gold rush.
Southwestern British Columbia was the first staging point for the tens of thousands of miners who swarmed up the gold rush trail through Hope, Lytton and Cache Creek to the Klondike.
"Vancouver and Victoria boomed as a result of that gold rush and a lot of supplies come out of here and a lot of businesses thrived," Delgado said. "That link continued through the First World War and beyond."
Goddard was the owner of Seattle's Pacific Ironworks and likely crewed the A.J. Goddard with tradesmen from his foundry to make the trip north and assemble it and its sister, according to Davidge. That work was completed by May 1898.
Goddard sold the two vessels and the associated business interests about a year later.
Unlike wooden wrecks of the era, the A.J. Goddard is in excellent condition.
"This ship may have gone down 108 years ago, but it looks as if it had just gone down the day before," Delgado said.
"This craft was self-sufficient and that reflected the crew, he said. "It had its own repair shop, a blacksmith's forge, an anvil and a workbench."
The stove was out on deck along with the remains of a pipe tentframe covered with canvas.
"That canvas wasn't just for the bugs in summer it was for winter, too. They are cooking and living their lives out in the open on the deck," he said.
Space beneath deck was only one metre high and filled with supplies and firewood.
"They were making a go of it on the frontier, very tough self-reliant guys," he said. Their dishes and tools are scattered on the deck and in the mud alongside the ship.
"It literally is a ghost ship," he said.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
A.J. Goddard, built in San Francisco, shipped to Alaska, disassembled and hauled over mountain passes into Canada in 1897, was reassembled and worked for the next four years, hauling supplies and miners into the heart of the Klondike along the rivers and lakes that led to Dawson City. The sternwheel of Goddard, shown here with archaeologist Lindsey Thomas, churned for thousands of miles until overwhelmed by ice, wind and waves in October 1901.Photograph by: Donnie Reid, Courtesy of INAA
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Thread: Son of a bee-haa!
11-24-2009, 07:51 AM #1
- Join Date
- Mar 2002
- Loco madidus effercio in rutilus effercio.
Son of a bee-haa!
11-24-2009, 09:23 AM #2
- Join Date
- Jan 2003
- Canuck Expat May be anywhere
Lake Labarge itself is quite famous, made that way by the bard, Robert W. Service.
" There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold
the arctic trails have their secret tales, that would make your blood run cold
the Northern lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see
Was the night on the marge of Lake Labarge, I cremated Sam McGee"
From the Ballad, The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert W Service
Very interesting bit of history discovered there Rick. Thanks for posting it.
11-24-2009, 01:04 PM #3
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- Mar 2004
- Memphis Tn,USA-now
I've seen the History Channel documentary about Great Lakes shipwrecks and it was mentioned that most cold freshwater shipwrecks are in very good condition because the low salinity and cold temps reduce the rusting of metal objects.
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