Skuzzy (sternwheeler)

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Skuzzy on Fraser River near Yale, British Columbia, 1883
Career (Canada) Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Name: Skuzzy
Laid down: 1882 at Spuzzum
Launched: May 4, 1882 at Spuzzum
Notes: Captain Ausbury Insley and SR Smith
General characteristics

The Skuzzy sternwheeler was built by Canadian Pacific Railway contractor Andrew Onderdonk at Spuzzum, British Columbia, and was launched on the Fraser River on May 4, 1882. Skuzzy was the first sternwheeler to ever navigate the perilous rapids north of Yale in the Fraser Canyon.

Andrew Onderdonk held the contract to build the 29 1/2 mile section of railway from Boston Bar to Lytton. It was a contract worth $2,573,640. He built the Skuzzy with the intention of moving railway supplies by steamer to the camps north of Yale via the Fraser River instead of using pack trains on the Douglas Road. A ship would save him $10 per ton in road tolls alone.

After she was built, Ausbury Insley piloted the ship up river on May 17, 1882. Captain Insley was able to guide the Skuzzy upstream through the whirlpools and rapids and under the Alexandra Bridge which had been built by the Royal Engineers in 1863, but when Insley got the Skuzzy to the entrance of the Hell's Gate Canyon he could take her no further. The Fraser was at it highest point in forty years, and passage was impossible.

Onderdonk brought in a captain and engineer from Oregon. Under their command, on September 7, the Skuzzy again attempted the rapids at Hell's Gate and once again failed. Onderdonk then had ringbolts drilled into the canyon's walls, and he stationed 125 Chinese railway employees above. Observers were betting on the success of the journey, and odds were 100:1 against.[1]

Finally, with the aid of her steam capstan winching in the cable and 125 men pulling at her tow rope, the Skuzzy made it through Hell's Gate. It took 16 days to make the 16 mile trip to Boston Bar. The Skuzzy became the first sternwheeler to arrive in Lytton.[2]


Further reading

  • Downs, Art (1971). Paddlewheels on the Frontier Volume 1. Foremost Publishing. ISBN 0888260334. 

External links