Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day 51 – Whitehorse Yukon Territory

Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon, Canada and accounts for almost 3/4 of the territory's population and isIMG_0360 the largest city in the three Canadian territories. Whitehorse is located at Historic Mile 918 (current kilometer post is kilometer 1,425.3) of the Alaska Highway and is the former terminus of the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway from Skagway, Alaska (although the railway tracks still exist, the train only runs as a tourist attraction from Skagway to Carcross, south of Whitehorse). At the head of navigation on the Yukon River, the city was an important supply and center during the Klondike Gold Rush.



The name Whitehorse was in common use by the late 1800’s; it is believed that the firstIMG_0358 miners in the area thought that foaming rapids resembled white horses’ manes. Klondike stampeders landed at Whitehorse to dry out and repack their supplies after running the Whitehorse rapids. The rapids are now gone as the river has a dam on it.

When the White Pass & Yukon Route railway was completed in July 1900, connecting Skagway with the Yukon River, Whitehorse came into being as northern terminus. River steamers connected the railway to Dawson City and to St. Michael, a small outfitting post on Alaska’s Bering Sea.

The Yukon River was the only highway until WWII, when the military built the Alaska Highway. Whitehorse was the headquarters for the western sector during construction of the highway. Fort St. John was the headquarters for the eastern sector. Both were the largest construction camps on the highway. Today Whitehorse is the hub of a network of about 2,664 miles/4,287 km of all-weather roads serving the Yukon.

The Klondike is the largest vessel ever to ply the Canadian portion of the Yukon River. This sternwheeler was built by the IMG_0356 British Yukon Navigation Company and launched at Whitehorse in 1937 to replace her namesake, which sunk the year before. Klondike 2 was designed to expedite the movement of silver-lead ore on the Yukon River. A combination freight and passenger boat, she operated between Whitehorse and Dawson. In 1954-55 the vessel was placed in cruise service after an extensive refurbishment. Her retirement in 1955 brought to an end the era of commercial steamboat navigation in the Yukon.


The first airstrip was cleared in 1920 to accommodate 4 U.S. Army planes on a test flight to Nome, Alaska.

IMG_0352CY-CPY was built in August of 1942 Douglas serial number 4665. The first three years of its life was in camouflage war colors of the USAAF flying transport missions in India and China.

At the end of the war it along with several others C-47’s were sold by the War Assets Corporation to Grant McConachie’s newly-formed Canadian Pacific Airlines. The plane was converted to the civilian DC3 configuration in 1946 and issued the Canadian registration CF-CPY. She began her 15 year career with C.P.A flying the company’s scheduled routes throughout Canada. During the 1950’s CF-CPY was transferred to flying the Whitehorse – Dawson City run.

In the 1960 the plane was sold to Connelly Dawson Airways of Dawson City. Operating on wheels and skies she hauled supplies north into remote places like Old Crow and the oil exploration camps in the Eagle Plains for six years.

From 1966 until her last flight in November 1970, CF-CPY was again based in Whitehorse serving the Yukon charter and scheduled routes of Great Northern Airways.

In 1977 the Yukon Fling Club undertook the task of restoring this Northern Veteran to its original Canadian Pacific Airlines colors for permanent display at the Whitehorse Airport. Pivoting on its mount, the aircraft always points into the wind.

 IMG_0345 IMG_0346

These creatures once roamed in the Whitehorse area.


Giant Beaver

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