I have often wondered about the telegraph lines seen along the road in various places with the glass insulators. In 1898-99 when the narrow-gauge White Pass & Yukon Route Railway was built, from Skagway through the White Pass to Bennett City near the BC-Yukon border, they also put in the telegraph line. Before construction was completed in July 1899, the Canadian Privy Council approved the extension of the telegraph line to Dawson City and a spur line to Atlin, British Columbia, where a gold strike had occurred the previous year. Construction on the 1,000-kilometre Yukon portion of the Yukon Telegraph line began at Bennett Lake and finished in Dawson City in September 1899 ahead of schedule. Twenty-eight men, four of whom drowned in the Yukon River, completed the work in six months, traveling by waterway and stringing wire at a rate of 10 to 16 kilometres a day. The estimated cost for the project was $135,750. Supplies arrived in Skagway from as far away as Great Britain, including 600 miles of No. 8 (5mm) wire, hundreds of boxes of insulators and side blocks, and provisions for a 100-man workforce. John Franklin Richardson, construction superintendent worked for John Baptiste Charleson the supervisor of construction. J.C. Tache was the chief engineer (seen above in Skagway) and Joseph Gobeil was the private secretary. Even Michael J. Heney helped by supplying pack horses to bring the supplies to the pass. There are lots more really intereting stories about this in the following book: Wires in the Wilderness: The Story of the Yukon Telegraph by Bill Miller
Born on this day, March 8, 1839 in Benton County Tennessee, Joseph grew up in a large farming family in Tennessee and Missouri. The family crossed the country in an ox-driven covered wagon in 1853 on the Oregon Trail and they settled in Pendleton, Oregon. His brothers all had ranches and became involved in politics.
He joined the gold rush in January, 1898, going first to Skagway, after which he engaged in business at Lake Bennett, British Columbia, for two years. He sold out there with the intention of moving his stock to Dawson and proceeded down the Yukon river, taking his goods with him on flatboats. While en route he lost about two thousand dollars through the sinking of a boat in a storm, for, although he succeeded in raising the boat, the stock was almost worthless. In Dawson he again embarked in general merchandising but after eighteen months closed out his store there and returned to Eugene, making the trip down the Yukon river to St. Michael and thence to Nome.
His brother William stayed in Skagway a little longer establishing the Idaho Saloon, the Midway Saloon, and was president of the Skagway Brewing Co. Saloon but he also left for the Yukon in 1899 and later returned to Pendleton, Oregon.
Joseph died in 1921 in Lane County, Oregon at the age of 82 surrounded by his 12 children. William also died there in 1914.
Seen above is the corner of 3rd and Broadway, the building on the corner, across the street from the Golden North and next to the Sweet Tooth Cafe is the building which once housed the Idaho Saloon.
Gaston, Joseph. “The Centennial History of Oregon, 1811-1912.” Vol. 4. Chicago, Clarke Publishing Co., 1912. p. 355; Oregon death index.
Michael McKanna was born in 1849 in Waterford County Ireland. He moved to Alaska with his family and went mining in the Yukon gold fields with his two oldest sons, Jim and Emmet. There, he came down with Brights Disease, a kidney ailment. Making his way back toward Douglas with Jim as his support, Michael died near the shores of Lake Bennett on June 13, 1899. When news reached Douglas, his daughter Elizabeth took a boat to Skagway and the White Pass train to Bennett. She and Jim buried their father’s body in the small Bennett cemetery.
family McKanna website:lauralei.com; familysearch; headboard 2009; listed in Atlin bios
The McKanna Family: Pioneers of the Northwest
Growing up in Southern California, my family and I would visit Yosemite every summer. There was a famous ranger there named Scharschmidt, but I don’t know if he was related to the Percy Scharschmidt that was here in the Gold Rush.
Percy was born on this day, July 19, 1867 in Lewisham, England. He graduated from the University of Toronto in 1887 and served with the 10th Battalion in the Riel Rebellion before settling in Cumberland in 1892 with a pharmacy.
His biography at Cumberland Heritage site says that he worked as a Superintendent of the “Yukon” railroad, but I have no record of that. He was the editor of the Bennett Sun from May 24, 1899 through 1901. He retired to the Comox Valley (on Vancouver Island) and was involved in politics there, passing away in 1932. Seen above is his house which is on the Cumberland walking tour of historic houses.
library.state.ak; wikipedia; Minter; Cumberland Heritage site.
Robert McLennan was a lumber businessman. He came to the area in 1899 and had lumber companies at both Atlin and Bennett. Although many stampeders built their own boats at Lake Bennett to float to Dawson, after the first few months, the nearby forests had been cut and it opened the opportunity for boat builders and lumber companies to operate.
McLennan was born in Pictou, Nova Scotia in 1861, and he died on this day July 27, 1927 in Vancouver.
The picture above is of a steam powered lumber mill. Another lumber company, owned by Albert Kerry packed a steam engine over the Chilkoot Pass to set up at Lake Bennett. Kerry and his brothers later used the engine to build their own boat and go to Dawson.
These steam engines were very dangerous and had a nasty habit of exploding at the worst moment. Reed’s g-grand uncle, John McCluskey was killed by one in 1868 in Owaneco, Illinois. This was after he had survived 4 years of the Civil War.
from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography online; personal genealogy story