USC&GS Yukon (1873)

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USC&GS Yukon (1873)
Career (United States) 100x35px
Name: Yukon
Builder: Kennebunk, ME
Commissioned: 1873
Decommissioned: 1894
Notes: Served in U.S. Coast Survey 1873-1878
Served in U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey 1878-1894
General characteristics
Type: Survey ship
Tonnage: 101
Length: 84 ft (26 m)
Beam: 22 ft 2 in (6.76 m)
Draft: 9 ft (2.7 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Schooner-rigged

USC&GS Yukon was a schooner that served as a survey ship in the United States Coast Survey from 1873 to 1878 and in its successor agency the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey from 1878 to 1894. She was the pioneering Coast Survey ship in many of the waters of the Territory of Alaska, including the Bering Sea and the western Aleutian Islands.


Yukon he was the first Coast Survey or Coast and Geodetic Survey ship to bear the name. She entered Coast Survey service in 1873, having been built and outfitted specifically for Alaska service . When the Coast Survey was reorganized in 1878 to form the Coast and Geodetic Survey, Yukon became part of the new service.

Yukon is most noted for cruises under Acting Assistant William Healey Dall in 1873, 1874 and 1880, leading to publication of the Pacific Coast Pilot - Alaska in 1883. The 1873 cruise surveyed the western half of the Aleutian Islands, the eashern half having been surveyed the previous year by the schooner Humboldt. The 1874 cruise first proceeded to Sitka, and then west along the coast of the Gulf of Alaska as far as Unalaska and then visited Nunivak Island and the Pribiloff Islands before returning to Sitka. In 1880, The Yukon initially followed much the same course as in 1874, but also included stops at Plover Bay (now Provideniya Bay) on the Siberian coast, the Diomede Islands, and Point Belcher, Alaska. A particular focus of these trips was to correct the position of the various bays and islands, which were often misplaced by as much as twenty miles on the charts of the era, and to document compass variation. These activities depended on astronomical observation to determine location and direction, observations which were notoriously difficult in the cloudy and variable weather of the Bering Sea. The Plover Bay visits of 1880 served to recalibrate the chronometers against the known longitude of that location. Marcus Baker was the asronomical observer for all three trips. Another focus was collection of biological specimens. The 1880 cruise carried Tarleton Bean as biological observer addition to Dall. Bean's focus was to document the fish and other marine resources of the region from both a scientific and a practical perspective. Edward Perry Herendeen, a former whaling captain who later went to Point Barrow with the Ray expedition, was Sailing Master for all three trips.

USC&GS reports show that Yukon also worked in California and extensively in Washington.

In 1877 and 1878, Yukon carried out a hydrographic survey of upper Puget Sound under Lieutenant Richard M. Cutts, USN, assisted by Lieutenants Ambrose B. Wyckoff, and U. Harris. Wyckoff's observations convinced him that Puget Sound held the ideal location for a Navy Yard. His reports and enthusiastic promotion over the subsequent 13 years led to establishment of the Puget Sound Naval Station at Bremerton, of which he became the first commander 1891-93.

Yukon was retired from service and sold at Tacoma, WA in 1894. She was probably broken up at that time since she does not appear in the Annual List of Merchant Vessels for 1894, 1895, or 1902. Newspaper references to a halibut schooner Yukon may be to a smaller vessel built in Ballard WA, 1894.


External links

Accounts of the Yukon cruise of 1880