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Sternwheeler Nelson at Nelson

The SS Nelson at Nelson. Image courtesy of the Arrow Lakes Historical Society

Quick Facts


Year Built: 1891

Location: Nelson Shipyard

Company: Columbia & Kootenay Steam Navigation Company

Year Withdrawn: 1913

Notes: First major sternwheeler on Kootenay Lake, burnt as part of the Chahko Mika Festival, 1914.

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The SS Nelson

Sternwheeler Nelson at Kaslo

The first major sternwheeler on Kootenay Lake, the SS Nelson was built in its namesake city in 1891 for the Columbia & Kootenay Steam Navigation Company. It was 40 metres ( 131.6 feet) long and eight metres ( 26.4 feet) wide, with a wooden hull of riverboat design ( flat bottomed). Construction of the boat required onsite milling of large timbers and the completion of the railway from Robson to Nelson to receive shipment of the boiler and engine.

The SS Nelson worked the Nelson - Kaslo - Bonners Ferry route until 1897. From 1898 to 1899, it worked on the Nelson - Kuskonook route hauling supplies for the BC Southern Railway construction to Kootenay Landing. Its final 14 years of service were spent on the Nelson - Kootenay Landing - Kaslo - Lardeau run, jobbing between Porthill, Idaho and Kootenay Lake. It was chartered by the Dominion Express during fruit season. The SS Nelson also pumped water uphill from Kootenay Lake to the CPR's new Kootenay Lake Hotel at Balfour.

The end of service came in 1913 when it was withdrawn. It was burned on the water during the Chahko Mika Carnival, July 16, 1914.

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