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Sternwheeler Kaslo on Kootenay Lake

SS Kaslo Image courtesy of Touchstones Nelson Archives

Quick Facts


Year Built: 1900

Location: Mirror Lake Shipyard

Company: Great Northern Railway

Year Withdrawn: 1910

Notes: The fastest and best appointed sternwheeler on the lake at the time of completion. It struck a submerged piling at Ainsworth that ended her career.

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The SS Kaslo

Sternwheeler Kaslo on the West Arm

When the SS Kaslo was launched on September 17, 1900 it was the most well appointed steamer on the lake. Built at the Mirror Lake shipyard for the Kootenay Railway & Navigation Company, (a subsidiary of the Great Northern Railway), it served the express service between Kaslo, Pilot Bay and Kuskonook. At Kuskonook, it connected with the Bedlington and Nelson Railway, a branch line of the Great Northern Railway, to Bonners Ferry and from there to Spokane, Washington. Once this service was cancelled by the end of 1901, the SS Kaslo was transferred to the Nelson - Kaslo run until 1906.

No expense was spared in the construction of the SS Kaslo. The deep wooden hull, a lake boat design, and enclosed paddlebox added to the elegant lines of this fast and comfortable boat. The frame of the hull was constructed in Portland, Oregon and the boiler and engine came from Toronto, Ontario. The up to 500 licensed passenger were treated well, with the saloon deck finished in mahogany, hot and cold water taps in each stateroom (the first boat on the lake to have this luxury), a men's smoking room and ladies' cabin. The upper deck housed the crew cabins, located behind the rounded pilothouse.

In March 1904, the SS Kaslo was converted to burn coal rather than wood, and was refitted in the Fall of 1905. Until the launch of the SS Kuskanook in 1906, the SS Kaslo held the title of ‘Flyer' (fastest boat on the Lake), evidenced by a set of antlers proudly displayed attached to the pilothouse.

On May 27, 1910, the SS Kaslo hit a submerged piling at Ainsworth as it approached the landing. The Captain prevented a total loss by driving the SS Kaslo up onto the beach and the boat was soon towed to Mirror Lake for repairs. By 1916, the SS Kaslo was broken up with parts salvaged. The remainder of the ship burned.

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