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.



4 Replies to “Plane crash at the pass”

  1. I am working on a weather database for White Pass Railway division and this crash is written as a note to the side of this date. Very tragic

    1. Thank you for your comment.

      Lawrence was my Grandfather, he was a very good man and had a wife and two very small kids.

      It was actually the second time that he came down, the first he and the miners actually landed luckily. There was sugar in his gas tank. He suspected, unfortunately, somebody from the railroad because he was beginning a charter that would have taken passengers away from the railroad. He wa hoping that it would eventually become a larger service.

      The second time when they all died, my grandmother said, they got away with it.

      His son, also named Lawrence was the spitting image of his father. They could have been twins! So my grandfather memory lived on.

      His pictures are in the aeronotical museum in San Diego along with the Spirit of Saint Louis.

  2. I believe I could be a relation of Archie King who died in this crash, My grandmother was Bertha King. I found her grave site in Kentville Nova Scotia under the same tombstone as of Archie O. King. It said he was killed in the Yukon 1935????

    1. Hi Bob, This is probably the same person, the pass is the border between U.S. and Canada. It is actually British Columbia, which is a thin strip between Alaska and the Yukon. It is likely that the death certificate would have listed Yukon as the death place, as his body may have been taken by White Pass to Whitehorse, as he was a White Pass employee. If the tombstone says the date was January 30, 1935 then it most likely is your grandfather. I would love to do a blog of him, if you have a picture!

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