Abstract: Ghost Ships of the Klondike Gold Rush


Since 2005 a small team of volunteer underwater archaeologists and surveyors have been in a race against time to document the historic shipwrecks along the Yukon River between from Lake Bennett north to Dawson City in Canada’s northern Yukon Territory.   Of the 290-plus sternwheelers and steam-tugs known to have plied the river only two intact vessels survive as National Historic sites. This fleet of ships was the primary method of transportation during the great Klondike and later Alaska Gold Rushes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During the fall “ice-up” ships were either pulled ashore or backed into sloughs to prevent them from being crushed and as a result, numerous vessels were abandoned in remote locations.  Collectively, the Yukon River “ghost fleet” represents the largest and best-preserved collections of western river sternwheelers many of which exhibit features of nautical architecture that is reminiscent of pre-Civil war vessels. Dr. Woodward will present an illustrated lecture on the history, landscape and vessels of this dynamic period of North American history.

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