Yukon Nuggets

  • The Gleaner in Carcross - Built on Lake Bennett 1899 - Beached 1936 (Hamacher photo).

  • The Tutshi at Carcross - Served Atlin and Ben My Chree from 1917 until 1955 (Rolf Hougen photo).

1936 Yukon Nuggets

The Gleaner


The sternwheeler, the Gleaner, a three decked boat more than one hundred feet long, could carry 150 passengers and a lot of freight. Yet the river boat never ran the Yukon River. Instead, she operated in the Yukon southern lakes.

The Gleaner was built at Lake Bennett in 1899. Her operators, the John Irving Company, obtained a mail contract in June and ran the boat from Bennett to Taku. In July 1899, the Gleaner and another lake boat, the Australian, brought 200 Klondikers to Bennett from Carcross loaded with half a million dollars in gold. The rich miners were heading outside. In July 1899, the Gleaner delivered the first development party to stake the future Engineer Mine on Windy Arm.

In August, she brought $240,000 in gold from Atlin, to be transferred to a pack train at the end of Lake Bennett for delivery to Skagway.

In April 1901, the Gleaner and seventeen other lake boats were bought by the British Yukon Navigation Company. The Gleaner continued to operate through the decades on the southern lakes and was at her busiest after 1905 when the Engineer Mine went into production. She delivered workers and goods to the mine site from Carcross and brought back ore to be loaded onto the White Pass Train bound for Skagway.

But in 1917, the company (BYN) launched a brand-new state of the art boat, called the Tutshi, that would become the darling of the southern lakes fleet and, in 1918, they did not put the Gleaner into service.

She did operate for a while in 1919 when the Tutshi lay high and dry on a bar, where she had grounded the previous fall. However, it was short lived and when the Tutshi floated again, the Gleaner was dry-docked.

Things looked up for a while in 1923, when the Gleaner hauled material from Carcross to the head of the Yukon River during construction of the White Pass control dam, which can be seen today near the bridge crossing the Yukon River at Marsh Lake.

She spent the winter at the Marsh Lake Dam. But work was slim from then on. In 1936, the BYN company removed her from inventory and beached her at Carcross. Finally they scuttled her in Nares Lake, probably to act as a dam to channel the water through the lake for the SS Tutshi, which ran until 1955. Today, the remains of the Gleaner can sometimes be seen in Nares Lake, while the remains of the Tutshi rest forlorn on the shore.






A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.

Les McLaughlin

Les McLaughlin

As storyteller, radio man, and music producer, Les proved a passionate preserver of Yukon heritage throughout his life — nowhere more evident than as the author and voice of CKRW’s “Yukon Nuggets,” from its inception until his passing in 2011.