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The Daily Alaskan

Skagway, Alaska, Tuesday, August 26, 1913

Ocean Passenger Steamers for White Pass - 1913

    The construction of a steamship line of passenger and freight boats to complete the transportation system of the White Pass from Fairbanks to Seattle, via Skagway, is foreshadowed in a reply to the Dawson Daily News, which appears simultaneously in the Skagway Daily Alaskan tonight.

    The News asked Mr. W. B. Close for an interview regarding the proposed development work of the White Pass, and his reply follows:

    In response to your inquiry, I reached Skagway August thirteenth. My associates and I are greatly encouraged with the situation as a whole. The extension of our transportation system to the Lower River country is something I have personally urged for years, that it was the proper course to pursue. Mr. Dickeson fully concurring, we established a superior service at lower rates. We are greatly encouraged because of the results obtained, the more competition we have on the Yukon River between Whitehorse and Fairbanks, the more popular our railway becomes for travel in both directions, and this aids the whole interior. This year is only the beginning, our service is permanent and we will expand our operations wherever it is apparent the conditions warrant. Many of the shippers and residents of Fairbanks have personally expressed their gratification at the installation of this new service and promise increased patronage in the future. The interior route is thirteen hundred miles shorter than via St. Michaels and saves many days in transit, which during the short season in the north is a great consideration and is far more comfortable than the long days spent on the open sea.

    Have also always held that the White Pass should own its ocean boats both freight and passenger between the Puget Sound and Skagway, to complete its system of transportation. Mr. Dickeson is also in accord with this view and we hope in due course to see such service inaugurated. We are turning this question seriously over in our minds and should this service be inaugurated the boats will be superior to anything now on the run and worthy of the most beautiful scenic sea voyage in the world. Mr. Dickeson has the entire concurrence of the board of Directors and principle shareholders of the railway in the energetic policy he is carrying out.

    Moreover the Whitehorse Copper mines are only in their infancy. We have shipped seventy thousand tons of ore since April thirtieth last year and recent explorations there are most encouraging. The ore bodies already developed will be a source of revenue to the railway for a number of years. An expert smelter man will be employed to go thoroughly into the situation to determine the feasibility of erecting a smelter somewhere in this vicinity to treat these ores and others. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that all this country needs to assure the permanency of its future is the proper development of its resources.

                                                                                W. B. Close

    The White Pass and Yukon Route never did get into the passenger steamship business, but three freight ships were built, some five decades after the article above was published. In 1955, they launched the Clifford J. Rogers, the first ship ever designed and built to handle containerized freight. Ten years later, she was replaced by the container-tanker ship Frank H. Brown, and in 1967 the M.V. Klondike, a sister ship of the Brown, was added to the fleet.

More WP&YR History

An Explorer's Guide to Skagway, Alaska