The Paddlewheeler Graveyard

Old broken down paddlewheeler surrounded by trees

The Seattle… forgotten

The air horn went off in Dawson and we were concerned. The locals just ignored it, so we assumed we could too. We spent the morning washing the bikes of all the caked mud and making sure the small parts worked smoothly. We then headed over to the Paddlewheel Graveyard across the Yukon River. The Yukon River was too high to access via the beach. It took us a little bit of bush whacking to find it, and we are certain we crossed through the most pristine mosquito breeding ground the Yukon Territory has to offer.

Eventually, we found it. The steamwheeler (aka paddlewheeler), was the primary form of transportation in the Gold Rush days. Many travelers came in through the Yukon River. The need for the ships decreased and they were basically parked on the banks to rot. Decades of vegetation growth and weather has hidden these ships and they have slowly and silently been forgotten. All the ships have collapsed onto themselves and what is left standing is not safe to explore. We climbed around as close as we dared, but they look and feel like card houses; ready to collapse at any moment. Because Parks Canada or the Canadian government has NOT made access to the graveyard easy, most tourists never venture out. They are unmarked with no parking area.

Jaz taking a photo of massive wheels

Jaz photographing the wheel on the steamwheeler provides scale – these things are massive!

There are seven ships out there. My favorite is the Seattle (no3) because that is the first one that you come to, and you can still clearly see her name on the hull. The Seattle was completed in 1898 for the Seattle Yukon Transportation Company. It arrived in Dawson on August of 1898 with 175 tons of freight. She lies forgotten in the trees.

We finished up with the steamwheelers and stumbled across a couple of women smoking pot. They offered to share the weed; we chuckled, but refrained.

We then moved on to the restored Dredge that Parks Canada manages. We took a wonderful tour of these machines that chew the landscape up and spit it back out in piles of tailing. This piles, after a hundred years, have still not regrown. Amazing stuff!

Beautiful view of the Yukon River from a distance

View from the top of the Dome looking down on the Yukon River

From there, we drove to the top of the Dome for an overlook over the Yukon River valley. The sky was angry and I got to experience thunder and lightening, which is not common in Anchorage. Alas, I ended the day once again nursing a Black Death at Klondike Kate’s. Tomorrow, we head back to Alaska over the Top of the World. It has been raining and we are hoping that it stops so the trip will be dry and the road safe. Depending on time, we may go to 40-mile (a 120 mile detour). We will see.

A large dredge

A chewing piece of equipment – a dredge

Chicken pot pies in Chicken, Alaska
The end of the line...
About Maya

My name is Maya, and I wander.


  1. Fabulous photos. What a cool paddlewheel graveyard. Too interesting not to explore!

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