Skuzzy (sternwheeler)

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Skuzzy on Fraser.gif
The Skuzzy on the Fraser River near Yale, British Columbia, 1883
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svgCanada
Name: Skuzzy
Laid down: 1882 at Spuzzum
Launched: May 4, 1882 at Spuzzum
In service: May 4, 1882
Out of service: circa. 1884
Notes: Captain Ausbury Insley and SR Smith
General characteristics

Skuzzy was a sternwheeler 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 12 miles (47.5 km) 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 over the Douglas Portage, which is a low but difficult pass between Yale and Spuzzum. A ship would save him $10 per ton in road tolls alone.

The Skuzzy was built to transport goods to the current places of construction of the CPR or, the Canadian Pacific Railway. Because transporting materials along the Cariboo Road took too long to get to the site, Andrew Onderdonk built the Skuzzy and used the Fraser River to his advantage. The "Skuzzy" would have to be piloted by an expert sailor as they would be navigating through the whirlpools and rapids of Hell's Gate.

Alexandra Bridge

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]

Hell's Gate Canyon

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]


  1. ^ Virtual Museum. "Colorful Characters of Historic Yale". Retrieved 2007-07-04.
  2. ^ Botanie Creek. "Lytton Newsletter" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-07-04.

Further reading[edit]

  • Downs, Art (1971). Paddlewheels on the Frontier Volume 1. Foremost Publishing. ISBN 0-88826-033-4.

External links[edit]