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Burning of Sternwheeler Spokane at Kaslo

The SS Spokane burning in Kaslo Bay with the SS City of Ainsworth assisting, March 21, 1895. Image courtesy of Kootenay Lake Archives, KLA.988.040.1675

Quick Facts


Year Built: 1891

Location: Bonners Ferry, Idaho

Company: G.W. Gray, sold to Columbia & Kootenay Steam Navigation Company, 1893

Year Withdrawn: 1895

Notes: Sold to CKSN and lengthened by 30 feet. It burnt to the water line at Kaslo, 1895.

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The SS Spokane

Sternwheeler Spokane at Pilot Bay

Built in 1891, the SS Spokane originally worked on the Kootenay River from Bonners Ferry Idaho to Jennings Montana, transporting supplies for the construction of the Great Northern Railway. It was purchased in 1893 by the Columbia & Kootenay Steam Navigation Company and lengthened from 32 metres (105 feet) to 41 metres (133 feet). At the time, it was one of the largest vessels on Kootenay Lake. The SS Spokane was then registered as a Canadian vessel and worked on Kootenay Lake and River south across the border to Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

When the flood of 1894 washed out the wharf at Kaslo, the SS Spokane became a temporary landing stage. On March 21, 1895, as it was about to return to service on the lake, the SS Spokane caught fire in Kaslo Bay. The SS City of Ainsworth attempted to save the SS Spokane by using its pumps to spray water on the flames, but the SS Spokane burned to the water line. Its hull was salvaged and used as a barge for many more years on the Bonners Ferry run.

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