Wortham was born on August 12, 1873 in Paris, Texas and was the manager of the Clifford Sifton steamer boat on Lake Bennett in 1900. He was a latecomer to the Yukon, arriving in 1900 but was still able to run a business on Lake Bennett then. The Clifford Sifton was built on Lake Bennett during the Gold Rush. Somehow it was later run on the Yukon River, how it got there must have been quite a feat!
Major James Matthew took the above photo of the Clifford Sifton running the Miles Canyon rapids around 1900. This was an extremely dangerous thing to do and only a daredevil would attempt it. The photo below shows it in 1902 on the Yukon River. That photo was taken by M.W. Goetzman.
Wortham died on this day, May 21, 1941 and is buried in Juneau at the Evergreen Cemetery.
Digby Courier June 1900 online; ancestry message board
The Steamer Union was built by Albert J. Apperson and his brother in the 1880’s for $16,000. Apperson had gone to the Fraser River gold strike and earned enough money to build this little steamship. Obviously it was still in service some 25 years later still chugging up the Inside Passage. “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can……”
Ancestry message boards for Apperson; ebay.
Captain Bailey was a captain for one of the White Pass & Yukon Route Steamships. Born in 1865 in Wisconsin, he died on this day, October 27, 1919 in Mayo, Yukon Territory of stomach ulcers. His body was sent to Seattle for burial. He came to Skagway in 1897 and worked as a laborer for White Pass and continued to work until his death.
Sternwheelers were an ideal vessel for the Yukon River’s shallow, narrow waters. The stern mount made for a narrow vessel, and protected the paddle wheel itself from snags and sweepers. The flat bottom gull allowed for little draft, even with heavy cargoes. The paddlewheel helped grounded vessels off sandbars by reversing and washing sand away from the hull: a vessel could also approach shallow waters stern-first and dredge a channel for itself. The sternwheeler could land practically anywhere since docks were not necessary.
Just after the railway reached Whitehorse in 1900, WP&YR set up a marine division called British Yukon Navigation. BYN built a shipyard in Whitehorse and a repair yard in Dawson City. Among the first vessels built was the Whitehorse, seen above, the “old grey mare” which served for 53 years – the longest continuous service of any vessel on the Yukon River.
As the primary means of transportation and communication in the Yukon for the first part of this century, the paddle-wheeler was an integral part of the life of Yukon people. When the last of the boats were pulled from the river in 1955, a way of life ended.
1900 Skagway census; Canadian Navy website; Minter fonds at Yukon Archives.