Institute of Nautical Archeology

B.C. researchers discover gold rush ghost ship in Yukon lake

By Randy Shore - Vancouver Sun

A B.C.-led team of archaeologists has discovered the wreck of a Klondike Gold Rush steamer perfectly preserved in the icy waters of Lake Laberge, north of Whitehorse.

The vessel A.J. Goddard sank in a winter storm 108 years ago, leaving behind a snapshot of life during the frenzy of prospecting and mining that engorged the Yukon Territory and enriched the ports of Vancouver and Victoria during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The detritus littering the deck of the vessel tells a harrowing tale of shipwreck and death, said Vancouver marine archaeologist James Delgado, president of the Institute of Nautical Archeology.

"The boiler door is open and the firewood they tossed in to get try to get up enough steam to get out of trouble is still in there with charring on it," Delgado said.

"Somebody shrugged off their coat and kicked off their shoes as they tried to swim for it and that's still lying on the deck."

Three men - Captain Charles McDonald, cook Fay Ransome, and fireman John Thompson - perished in the wreck, later buried by the North-West Mounted Police after their bodies washed ashore.