Red/Cyan 3D glasses are needed to view the photos in this post.

Dawson City(officially just ‘Dawson’) is the second largest town in the Yukon, with a population of about 2000 people… give or take. Different sources site different numbers; the 2016 census puts the residents around 1375, While the Dawson Community Profile puts it at about 2000. The latter might include the nearby communities in the total population numbers.Either way, it is only a small fraction of the size of the largest city in the territory, Whitehorse. The town is a major tourist attraction, with many of the buildings dating from the Klondike Gold Rush. It is a National Historic Site, and may one day be part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The downtown feels like a museum, but is also a ‘real’ downtown, filled with hotels and stores.

There are countless lesser-known places throughout the town that reveal something about the history of the region. One place I’d love to return to and explore further is the paddlewheel graveyard. I didn’t hear about it when planning my original trip up north, and only saw it when on a short cruise up the river. In the early 20th century, the Yukon River was the main route to Dawson City, and numerous sternwheeler ships were built to traverse the river. As road opened up the area, the paddlewheelers fell out of favor, and became unprofitable. A few were preserved and  maintained, and eventually became tourist attractions(most notably the SS Klondike in Whitehorse and the SS Keno in Dawson City, both permanently drydocked). However, many were scrapped, and many were just abandoned. Across the river from Dawson City, several paddlewheelers were hauled up on the shore, and left to the elements.

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The ‘graveyard’ is across the river from Dawson City, at the beginning of the Top of the World Highway into Alaska. There are no bridges, so the only way to cross is via ferry(in summer) or ice road(in winter). The closest access to the site is at the Yukon River Campground; from there, it is only a short walk.

The area is free to explore, but at your own risk. As I said, I didn’t know about the paddlewheel graveyard until I was already at the city, and I was on a tight schedule, so couldn’t look around to find proper clothing. I only had a T-shirt, a light jacket, and jeans on, and although I was able to explore the exterior of the ships…

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I was not prepared to enter the wrecks. I did crawl a small way into the hull…2013 08 24 1729 SAM_0593

…before realizing that I was not dressed for safely exploring the ships. I decided to wimp out, and head back to the town.

Still, I hope to be back someday, and next time, I’ll be ready to go deeper into the bowels of the ship.

The photos were taken with dual Samsung ES25 cameras.