Joseph McCann – Conductor on the White Pass Railroad

McCann House

Joseph McCann was born on May 3, 1879 in Quebec and came to Skagway in 1898 and like so many others,  he worked for the railroad. He worked as a carpenter, brakeman and conductor.  (He gave the photo of Jerry Quinlan to the family as we saw in yesterday’s post.)

Mary Kerwin came to Skagway from Ottawa, around 1904 and was in the Tuberculosis Sanitarium for awhile, recovered and then married Joseph. They had at least 5 children, one became a priest, one a nun and one a nurse at the hospital. They lived in Skagway until after 1930.  Joseph died in Vancouver, B.C. in 1936 and Mary in Beaverton, Oregon in 1969. They all lived in a little yellow house which sits right behind our house, on 13th, as seen above. When we moved to Skagway in 1998, Wanda Warner lived in that house and she brought over an entire dinner for us as a housewarming present. I will never forget her kindness to us, she was a wonderful lady.

1910 1920 and 1929 census; Alaska Yukon Pioneer Roster;

Jerry Quinlan – First White Pass Conductor

Jerry Quinlan

 

Jeremiah G. “Jerry” Quinlan was born in 1861 in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. He and his sister Rachel came to Skagway around 1900. Rachel married Martin Conway and Jerry married Agnes Alice. Jerry was the first conductor of the White Pass Rotary Engine as he is seen in the photo above which was generously given by his descendent Quinlan Steiner today. What a dashing uniform too!  Unfortunately Agnes Alice died in Skagway and is buried in the Gold Rush Cemetery and Jerry died in 1917 and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery (he was 56). They lived at 607 Main Street and in 1910 had an adopted son, John , who was born in Washington in 1894. John later worked for White Pass as a wiper (whatever that means).  I have seen this often in Skagway where children were adopted.

This month the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad is gearing up for the upcoming season, I have always thought that the black snappy conductor uniforms look very smart. Let us all hope and pray for a safe season.

Clifford; Graves; 1910 census, Skagway Death Record; 1909 AB book; personal communication

The Tutshi and the Duchess at Carcross

Here are three alternative White Pass & Yukon Route modes of travel.  The paddlewheel steamer Tutshi is seen here whole before it burned many years ago. On the left is an old White Pass horse drawn wagon. The little Duchess engine which was used over on Lake Atlin is looking alot spiffier here too. These days you are not allowed to climb on top of it and try to pry the pieces off. Kids.

The Duchess was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1878 and John Irving purchased her from the Collieries on Vancouver Island in 1899. She was shipped north on the S.S. Danube and hauled by train to Carcross and then barged to Taku Landing. In 1900 White Pass acquired the interests of the John Irving Navigation Company and the Atlin Short Line Railway. On July 18, 1900 the Duchess pulled the first load across the portage. At $2 fo 4 kilometers it was the most expensive trip in the world. Passengers rode amidst packages and cargo, stamping out cinders and sometimes asked to help push the train the last part over the hill where the grade was 7%. For many years White Pass owned the transportation route from Vancouver all the way to Atlin. The Duchess ran until 1919 when she was replaced by engine no. 51 (one of the two original  Baldwin engines built for White Pass.) In 1932 the other engine, no. 52 was brought there.

 

White Pass City saloons

 

Skagway had many saloons but it did not have the record of number of saloons per capita.
The most saloons per buildings was claimed by White Pass City, where it was said there were 17 saloons in a town that had only 16 buildings (one was “at large”). White Pass City was a community of sorts that was half way up the Trail of ’98, (the railroad path to the summit from Skagway).  Although now owned by the National Park Service, access is extremely difficult and must be done from the road. In the past 15 years it has been done only rarely and those being rangers sent there several years ago. They descended a steep cliff of about 2000 feet, crossed a treacherous raging river – bushwacking the entire way. They just don’t make rangers like those anymore……(Seth, Liz, Jim)!

from Alaska Hootch, the history of alcohol in early Alaska, by Thayne I. Anderson, online quoting Scott Dial “The Gold Rush Saloon”.

Cost of freight 1900

In a Northwest Mounted Police Report of 1900, the cost of freight on White Pass from Skagway to Whitehorse was 4 1/2 cents per pound (a distance of 110 miles). It was observed that this was high but certainly not as high as it had been before the railroad was built. Then, by horse, it was 40 cents to $1 a pound.

William Arter

William Arter was born on July 20, 1882, the oldest of eleven children in Bagthorp, Norfolk, England. In 1901 he was working on board the HMS Jupiter in Gibralter. He jumped ship in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1905. In 1914 he was living in Skagway and met Caroline Louella Sundeen (born July 25, 1894) and they went to Whitehorse and were married in May, 1914. He was a member of the Brotherhood of Railway Car-Men in 1915 and was working for White Pass doing car repair. He and Carrie had 5 children and moved to Tacoma.

By 1918 he was a railroad car inspector in Seattle when he registered for the army. He lost one brother in World War One and one brother in World War Two. Although Carrie died at a young age in 1937 in Tacoma, William lived to be 88 and died on April 6, 1970 while residing at Olympia, Washington.

Seen above is the train on Broadway looking south, a Dedman’s photo.

1915 dir; colonist newp in Victoria 1916 mentions his bro KIA in France; Railway Carmens Journal #20 online; 1900 census; 1910 census; Dawson Daily news for June 1, 1914.

Rosalie Hotel from behind

So this photo was taken on Broadway while they were laying track down the street. Behind you can see the Hotel Rosalie, which I thought was on 4th, but then I recall it was moved there later. Hard to keep track of all the buildings in Skagway as they often grew feet and moved themselves.

Plane crash at the pass


Very often people ask how they can get to Whitehorse from Skagway and we tell them that there is a bus in the summer, but the road is the only way (the train only runs to Carcross in the summer). It would seem to be a simple thing to fly over the pass and on to Whitehorse, just 110 miles away. However, several pilots have found that the pass is deadly and unforgiving. While it seems to be clear when they take off, once at 3400 feet the fog becomes so thick you cannot see, even on the road. And so that is what happened on this day, January 30, 1935 when Lawrence William Muehleisen, (see earlier blog) the pilot aged 28, and his three passengers hit the side of the mountain. Charles C. Larsen, aged 44, John R. Muralt and Archie King, a White Pass employee, were the other three men who died. Muehleisen and Larsen are buried in the Pioneer Cemetery here in Skagway.

I talked to one old timer recently who said that at the time of this crash, people said that they suspected White Pass of sabotaging the gas tank on this plane because it threatened to undermine the train’s profits. An interesting comment…..

Skagway Death Record; 1910 and 1920 censuses.