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Divers find preserved sunken stern-wheeler

A perfectly preserved stern-wheeler has been discovered on the bottom of Lake Laberge, about 30 miles north of Whitehorse.

The 108-foot A.J. Goddard sank on Oct. 22, 1901 in about 40 feet of water. Two crewmen survived and three drowned.

Doug Davidge of the Yukon Transportation Museum in Whitehorse found the gold rush time capsule during a sonar survey. He has been looking for it on and off since the 1980s.

The Instiute of Nautical Archaeology in Texas announced the find Monday.

“In 1901, a trapper camped on the shores of the lake saw Goddard’s tiny pilothouse, torn off the sinking steamboat, with two survivors, half frozen, clinging to it. He saved them. Three other crew members drowned, their bodies washing ashore to be buried by the Northwest Mounted Police. Diving on A.J. Goddard, it is as if these events happened yesterday,” the institute said in a press release.

There are tongs in the forge on the deck and the framework of the tent the men slept in on the deck remains. There is an axe on the deck, along with a crewman’s coat and shoes. A cook pot was found in the mud next to the ship.

The steamboat was built in San Francisco, taken apart in Skagway and hauled over the mountains to Lake Laberge.

“The discovery has been reported to the Canadian government and the Yukon government, and the winter ice has once again sealed the grave of A.J. Goddard. A return expedition to continue the study of the wreck is planned for 2010, when the team will document the wreck further and probe its interior for further revelations about life on the gold rush frontier,” the institute said.

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