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

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.

Bridge Builders

This Barley photo shows the bridge builders enjoying lunch near the bridge and tunnel. Records show that John “Nels” Hansen, Carl Arthur Larson and James McDonald were bridge foremen then. Daniel McDougall, James Cavanaugh Sturgill (brother of Garland Sturgill) and George Brown were other bridge carpenters. They built the 19A bridge well, it survives to this day, but is not the bridge that the train crosses over now, that is a newer bridge.

Cy Warman

Besides Robert Service and Jack London, there were other writers about the Gold Rush.
Cy Warman was born in 1855 in Illinois. He grew up on a homestead given to his father by the U.S. government for gallant service in the Mexican War. He had a meagre education, and got his first job, at the age of five, as water boy for a railroad construction crew. When he was older he thought about being a wheat buyer, but lost all but 50 cents when the market crashed on his $1,000 investment. He failed at several other business, and went to Colorado in 1880, first helping to plant an orchard in Canon City, then moving on to work a 12-hour night shift in a smelter and reduction plant.

Colorado was in the midst of a railroad binge, and Warman was attracted to it. He decided to be a locomotive engineer. The Denver & Rio Grande hired him as a general labourer. His second day on the job, doing a particularly hot and dirty task, he impressed the foreman who recommended that he be promoted to fireman. Three years later he was an engineer on what he called “The Perpendicular Run” from Salida to Leadville. One run was enough. But his experiences during this period gave him a future livelihood recounting the noises, smells, humour and romance of railroading. He began developing his flowing writing style. The railroad poems, read to fellow railroaders, had the cadence of locomotive wheels clicking on the rails. Never particularly strong physically, Warman had to give up the railroad work in body, but never in mind or spirit.

He began writing verses and short stories about railroad life. Railroad friends backed him in publishing a magazine called The Frog in Denver but it failed financially. In 1888 he became editor of the Western Railway Magazine, a semi-monthly; it also failed. The Rocky Mountain News hired him to cover railroads, crimes and politics, but he wanted to edit his own paper, and Creede beckoned. It is said he was a friend of Soapy.
He moved to Ontario Canada in 1892 where he became well connected in Liberal party circles, and was regarded particularly highly by Frank Oliver who became the Minister of the Interior in 1905.
On April 11, 1914, in Chicago, Cy Warman died of paralysis[?]. Shortly before his death he wrote “Will The Lights Be White”:


Oft, when I feel my engine swerve,
As o’er strange rails we fare,
I strain my eyes around the curve
For what awaits us there.
When swift and free she carries me
Through yards unknown at night,
I look along the line to see
That all the lamps are white

The blue light marks the crippled car,
The green light signals slow;
The red light is a danger light,
The white light, “Let her go.”
Again the open fields we roam,
And, when the night is fair,
I look up in the starry dome
And wonder what’s up there.

For who can speak for those who dwell
Behind the curving sky?
No man has ever lived to tell
Just what it means to die.
Swift toward life’s terminal I trend,
The run seems short to-night;
God only knows what’s at the end —
I hope the lamps are white.

He wrote The Last Spike and other RR stories in 1906, and “1899 Building a Railroad into the Klondike” published in 1906 by Charles Scribner’s sons; McClure’s 14:March

Allen Wayne Dennis

Allen was born in 1949 probably in this area and worked for White Pass. On this day, December 13, 1969, he was hit by a Casey Car on the railroad and killed. He is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery.

Pictured above is a Casey Car in Carcross. These small cars are used by the Maintenance of the Railroad workers every day. The workers take these cars up the tracks early each morning in the summer to check the tracks to make sure there has not been a rock fall or other damage to the tracks.

White Pass workers

Here is a great shot of White Pass & Yukon Route workers about 1920 with their little work train cars.

Photo courtesy of John Weise.