The AJ Goddard shipwreck has historic, scientific and social history values that are significant to Yukon and Canada.
The Klondike Gold Rush of 1898 was a major event in the Yukon, and acted as a catalyst for the creation of the territory. Thousands of people headed for the Klondike in hopes of striking it rich. River transportation was central to the development of both the transportation industry, the development of the mining industry and the settlement of the territory. This industry continued to serve the communities along the rivers until modern roads were constructed in the mid 1950s and sternwheeler traffic ended.
When news of the Klondike Gold Rush broke in 1897, AJ Goddard, an engine designer and owner of the Pacific Iron Works in Seattle, purchased two small prefabricated sternwheeler hulls in San Francisco and had his Seattle firm build their machinery before they were shipped to Skagway, freighted over the pass and re-assembled on the shores of Lake Bennett.
Captain Goddard and his wife, Clara, began their 1898 season by transporting miners, supplies and scows from Lake Bennett to the head of the Whitehorse Rapids. The AJ Goddard became the third vessel to descend Miles Canyon and Whitehorse Rapids and was the first steamer from Whitehorse to arrive in Dawson City on June 21, 1898. Clara Goddard also worked as a pilot and business partner and is perhaps the only woman to have regularly piloted steam boats in Yukon. The AJ Goddard illustrates the lives of adventurous men and women who worked on Yukon¿s rivers at the turn of the 20th century.
The Goddard was sold to the Canadian Development Company in the fall of 1899 and continued to work the waters downstream from Whitehorse. On October 12, 1901, the steamer foundered off Goddard¿s Point on Lake Laberge during a storm. Three of the crew drowned and are buried at the Lower Laberge North West Mounted Police post. The exact location of the wreck remained a mystery until she was discovered in 2008.
When the first dives were made on the wreck in 2009, the vessel was found to be completely undisturbed and intact except for her wheelhouse and smoke stack. The hull, boiler, paddlewheel, engines, hogposts and hog chains are undamaged and in place, and the contents of the ship are located either on deck, or scattered on the lake bottom in the immediate vicinity of the vessel. Evidence of the desperate fight to keep her afloat during the storm can still be seen. Axes lying on the foredeck left by the crew cutting away the tow barge, and unburned wood in a firebox of the boiler speak to the futile attempt to power up the boat as she sank.
This site is the most significant discovery in nautical archaeology in Yukon. The A.J. Goddard is the sole known example of the 'pocket steamers' brought over the passes during the Klondike Gold Rush and contains the most complete collection of components from any vessels existing from this period. The ship is scientifically important for its unique design characteristics and its diminutive size and provides an unprecedented opportunity to study an undisturbed collection of river transportation artefacts from the early 20th century. It provides an important link in the variety of underwater archaeological and historic sites in North America representing a significant type of steam vessel used on inland waters. No similar vessels of this type survive in North America.
Character Defining Elements
Character Defining Elements include:
- Design techniques of mechanical elements such as the steam boiler, horizontal steam engines paddlewheel, hog posts and hog chains rudders, and the steering apparatus that that define the vessel as one of the Bennett Lake-built steamers from the Klondike gold rush era
- scattered artefacts consisting of ship accessories and spares, tools for repair and maintenance of the vessel, cooking and kitchen equipment, personal effects of the crew
- riveted steel prefabricated hull, and other materials related to the boat's construction and use
- contents of the ship scattered on the boat and the surrounding area on the lakebed
- location and siting of the wreck
Historical Sources Location
Unpublished Report: The Wreck of the AJ Goddard Overview Report, 2009 Yukon River Survey.John Pollack and Doug Davidge. The Institute of Nautical Archaeology File Report INA-124-2009/1.
Candy Waugaman Collection, Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park, National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior
Alaska State Libraries, Image P34-009
Yukon Archives, Vancouver Public Library collection, #2079
Her overall length was recorded as 15.24 m with a beam of 3.23 m, and a hull depth of 0.91m Gross tonnage was 86.7, and registered tonnage was 54.63. She was powered by two horizontal high pressure cylinders built by the Pacific Iron Works in Seattle, with a 5.5" bore and a 20" stroke. All components of the A.J. Goddard are present with the exception of the small pilothouse, stack and ship's wheel, and relatively little damage is visible. The vessel was built with a riveted steel hull displaying a spoon bow, five pairs of tubular steel hog posts, and diagonal hog chains utilized in an "X" pattern. Each set of hog posts is joined at the top with a cross-member running athwartships. The vessel has no "sides" or superstructure to port and starboard - it was open except for canvas curtains that provided passengers with modest protection from the elements. We believe there was a lightly-constructed wooden upper deck supported by the hog posts. The main deck has eight hatches arranged in four sets of two. One set of hatches is located forward of the boiler. Firewood is stored below deck in these hatches. The remaining three sets of hatches lie aft of the boiler and do not contain cargo or firewood except for a single empty crate. There appears to be another set of large hatches immediately forward of the transom, but the collapse of the splash guard for the paddle wheel has obscured this area with debris. None of the eight hatches had covers, suggesting they were not secured.Within the hull we observed longitudinal cross-members (e.g. girders) below the main deck and outboard of the hatches on both sides of the vessel. It was not possible to determine if the hull was constructed with transverse, water-tight bulkheads, but given the number of hatches observed on the A.J. Goddard, this design is likely.
The boiler, engines, pitmans, eccentrics and paddlewheel are intact and complete. An engineer's station with control lever is located aft of a small, horizontal water tube boiler. The vessel has a small, simple paddle wheel and three steel rudders and the tillers enter the hull below the level of the main deck. We note the steam intake and exhaust pipes connecting the cylinders, run athwartships at the top of the hog posts. This is a unique configuration not seen on larger vessels on which these pipes are located below the main deck. Neither feed nor bilge pumps are seen on deck, although there was a hose on the starboard side of the boiler, and running overside.
The small steel-hulled sternwheeler A. J. Goddard was prefabricated in San Francisco in 1897 along with a sister ship, the F.H. Kilbourne, and landed with Captain Goddard at Dyea with sawmill parts. The components of the vessel appear to have been shipped over the Pass in 1897-1898 and assembled at Lake Bennett for the Upper Yukon Company Ltd. The vessel received a Canadian registration number of 107517. Her overall length was recorded as 15.24 m with a beam of 3.23 m, and a hull depth of 0.91m Gross tonnage was 86.7, and registered tonnage was 54.63. She was powered by two horizontal high pressure cylinders built by the Pacific Iron Works in Seattle, with a 5.5" bore and a
The A.J. Goddard steamed into Dawson City on June 21, 1898, the first common carrier to arrive from the Upper Yukon River. She was sold to Henry Munn of the Canadian Devlopment Company, October 21, 1899, and two years later, foundered at Goddard Point near the foot of Lake Labarge October 12, 1901 when towing a barge. Three crewmen drown in the accident. Their bodies were recovered and buried behind the NWMP station at Lower Laberge. The exact location of the wreck remained a mystery until 2008.
AJ Goddard Shipwreck File No. 3630 32 10, Historic Sites, Cultural Services Branch, Government of Yukon