Whitehorse and the SS Klondike


August 4th and 5th, 2011

The road from Watson Lake to Whitehorse was pine-lined and straight.IMG_5957

With words occasionally spelled out on the side of the road with stones

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Most were kind of hard to read, but the intent was clear. It was apparently started in 1990 by a local swim team, and the first message was “P-Break” I tried to find it, but no luck.

I again took it easy on the road, reaching Whitehorse in the early evening. Again I went right to the visitor center to ask about local camping

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and local food. This time they were very helpful even letting me use a phone to call the campground and make sure they had space (which they did). I stayed at Robert Services Campground, which is just outside of the City Center. Not sure whether I can recommend it, most of the campground is off limits to vehicles, which means you have to carry in your camping stuff. I wasn’t interested in that much work, so found a site I could park near, but those sites are near the road. The noise didn’t bother me, but it might others. Showers, firewood and wifi are extra.

I went to the local italian place for dinner, only to run into Jeremy again, along with another rider. They had been riding together since before Watson Lake, sharing hotel rooms. We all shared dinner, then they went off to look for cigarettes and I went to do some shopping.

Friday morning I decided it was time for a oil change, probably a little past time, and I had passed a Yamaha dealer before reaching Whitehorse, so I rode over to find them open and extremely helpful. Jeremy and company (I forgot his name…David? I need to hand out nametags) showed up, since Jeremy needed a new rear tire and the local Honda dealer couldn’t help.

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Despite being backed up, they got Jeremy’s bike in, and didn’t care at all that I wanted to change my own oil right outside their door. They even loaned me a hammer to I could unstick my speedometer gears, and lubed them up. In another day I might have a speedo again. Exciting.

Jeremy and the other guy where pressing on right away for Anchorage, while I am still hoping for the Top of the World Highway and Dawson City, so they took off after the tire was installed. I was taking the day off and headed into Whitehorse for lunch.

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Delicious.

After eating I went up the street to the local camping supply store. I have been missing my Coleman stove and looking for another one to buy for the last week or two, without luck. It’s cold in the morning, and warm food would be nice. I am too lazy to start a fire in the morning, so a stove is needed (At least a little). I have never been a fan of MSR stoves, they seem flimsy, but I bought a Simmerlite and we’ll see hope it goes. It was $10 more than the Whisperlite, but the guy at the counter (who owned a Whisperlite and loved it) admitted it didn’t have temperature control, and wasn’t much good for things other than boiling water.

With my shopping done and still full I went to the local big tourist attraction, the SS Klondike, the last paddleboat to retire from the Yukon river.

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Built in 1937 using the superstructure of the first SS Klondike (which had sank in 4 feet of water after hitting a reef) this was the largest paddleboat on the river, built to carry ore back to Whitehorse without needing to push a barge.

This was the first tourist thing I had done in a while, and I enjoyed it. There was a 20 minute movie about trade along the Yukon, rail lines and the steam boats, including footage of both Klondikes when they were still in service.

After the film you have two choices, an hour long guided tour or a self guided tour, which you take at your own pace. I took the self guided one, and from what I saw so did everyone else.

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Boiler, it was roomy

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Starboard cargo hold, which I was thinking would be fuller when the ship was actually working.

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The boiler used 1 to 1 and a half cords of wood (4x4x8 feet) every hour. There were wood piles along the river to allow the ships to restock, which they did every 20 miles or so.

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One piston for the paddle wheel. There were two engines, each managed 524 horsepower.

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When Silver was discovered, along with other ores, ship that had been returning from Dawson City basically empty (the gold didn’t take up much space) had another cargo. Each bag weighed about 125 pounds (though these were filled with straw and somewhat lighter)

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Yay beer. The last trip to Dawson in the fall before the water froze was mostly liquor, according the movie. The return to Whitehorse was mostly miners heading out for the winter.

There was a lot to see on the ship, and you were allowed to wander where ever. I was given a little pamphlet, which told me about parts of the ship as I walked around.

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First Class observation lounge

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First Class and Officer’s dining room. You were expected to dress for dinner.

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Master’s (think captain) cabin. The pilot’s was about the same, and they were definitely the nicest two cabins on the ship.

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After walking around the ship for an hour or so I too a walk along the river. The White Horse Rapids, for which White Horse is names, are gone, but it was still a nice view

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Tomorrow I head into the Great North along the Klondike Highway.

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2 Responses to Whitehorse and the SS Klondike

  1. laurahartson says:

    wow. love these images

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