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White Pass & Yukon Route Straddle Carrier

    As part of their expansion into a fully-integrated container freight system in the 1950s and '60s, The White Pass & Yukon Route ordered six "straddle carriers" in 1964, at a cost of over $100,000 each. Two were to be used in each of their 3 freight yards, at North Vancouver, Skagway and Whitehorse. The four destined for Canada were built by Canadian Clark Ltd., at St. Thomas, Ontario, while the two destined for Skagway were built by Clark Equipment at Battle Creek. Michigan.

    The straddle carriers measure nearly 20 feet from the ground to the top of the operator's cab. When the hoisting mechanism is fully extended, the carrier is over 22 feet high. Its total length is a bit over 38 feet. They were used to straddle truck beds or flat cars to transfer freight containers. They could handle containers weighing up to 30 tons, and could stack containers 2 high.

    The carriers were powered by Cummins diesel engines, and all controls were hydraulic. The units were steered with the 2 front wheels, and in their day were considered to be very manoeuvrable for such a large piece of equipment.

    The 8'x8'x7' containers of the original White Pass ship (1955), the Clifford J. Rogers, were handled with forklifts, but the Frank H. Brown which entered service in 1965 and Klondike which entered service in 1967 both used containers that were 8'x8'x25'3", which required the use of the straddle carriers for maximum efficiency.

From Harbour & Shipping, date unknown (ca. 1965)

From This is White Pass (WP&YR, 1989)

At the Yukon Transportation Museum, February 2013