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History Post-confederation (1867-)

The Klondike Gold Rush Steamers

A History of Yukon River Steam Navigation

by (author) Robert D. Turner

Harbour Publishing Co. Ltd.
Initial publish date
Oct 2019
Post-Confederation (1867-), History, Pictorial
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2019
    List Price

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The great Klondike Gold Rush began in 1896 and within two years, thousands of prospectors, speculators and people from countless walks of life descended on the Klondike from far and wide, seeking their fortunes. Sternwheeled steamboats were essential modes of transportation for many of those who made the onerous journey in search of riches and adventure. Some miners came by steamer all the way up the Yukon River through Alaska from St. Michael. Others climbed the famed Chilkoot Pass or White Pass to the headwaters of the Yukon and took a steamer downstream to the Klondike. From Dawson City and the Klondike in the Yukon, then on to Nome and Fairbanks in Alaska, the gold rush stampede came and—almost as quickly—faded away.

Skilled officers and crews made these robust frontier boats the lifeblood of the Klondike and Alaskan gold rushes. Over 250 steamboats ran on the Yukon River and its tributaries. After the rushes, most were part of the fleets of the White Pass & Yukon Route or the Alaska Railroad and they carried hundreds of tourists and many tons of wartime supplies. The last ones were retired in the mid-1950s. Many were wrecked, while others were simply abandoned and left to rot away. Only the KlondikeKeno and Nenana have been preserved as reminders of those exciting and legendary times.

This book tells the dramatic story of these amazing steamboats, the people who built and ran them and the services they provided to a vast, lonely, sometimes frenzied and always challenging frontier. Based on countless hours of field and archival research and packed with over six hundred outstanding photographs, this book presents the fascinating history of the Yukon River’s steamers from the pioneer days of the fur trade to the 1950s.

About the author

Robert D. Turner has been researching, photographing and writing about transportation history for over forty years. His photos have been widely published and he has written hundreds of articles and reviews. The Klondike Gold Rush Steamers is his eighteenth book. Turner has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Canadian Railroad Historical Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the American Association for State and Local History’s Award of Merit. A retired heritage consultant and a curator emeritus at the Royal British Columbia Museum, Turner has travelled widely around the world photographing The Last Steam Railways and early industries while documenting the people, places and stories of this disappearing history and culture. He lives in Victoria, BC.

Robert D. Turner's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“This book is a master work and the definitive resource for the subject. Highly recommended.”


Western Mariner Magazine

Other titles by Robert D. Turner