White Pass and Yukon Route

The White Pass and Yukon Route is a Canadian and U. S. Class II 3 ft narrow-gauge railroad linking the port of Skagway, with Whitehorse, the capital of Yukon. An isolated system, it has no direct connection to any other railroad. Equipment and passengers are ferried by ship through the Port of Skagway, via road through a few of the stops along its route; the railroad began construction in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush as a means of reaching the goldfields. With its completion in 1900, it became the primary route to the interior of the Yukon, supplanting the Chilkoot Trail and other routes; the route continued operation until 1982, in 1988 was revived as a heritage railway. In 2018, it was announced that the railway would be bought by Carnival Cruise Lines for $290 million; the purchase is to be finalized at the end of July. Today, the railroad is a subsidiary of Clublink and operated by the Pacific and Arctic Railway and Navigation Company, the British Columbia Yukon Railway Company and the British Yukon Railway Company known as the British Yukon Mining and Transportation Company, which use the trade name White Pass and Yukon Route.

The line was born of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. The most popular route taken by prospectors to the gold fields in Dawson City was a treacherous route from the port in Skagway or Dyea, across the mountains to the Canada–US border at the summit of the Chilkoot Pass or the White Pass. There, the prospectors were not allowed across by Canadian authorities unless they had sufficient gear for the winter one ton of supplies; this required several trips across the passes. There was a need for better transportation than pack horses used over the White Pass or human portage over the Chilkoot Pass; this need generated numerous railroad schemes. In 1897, the Canadian government received 32 proposals for Yukon railroads, most were never realized. In 1897, three separate companies were organized to build a rail link from Skagway to Fort Selkirk, Yukon, 325 miles away. Financed by British investors organized by Close Brothers merchant bank, a railroad was soon under construction. A 3 ft gauge was chosen by the railway contract builder Michael James Heney.

The narrow roadbed required by narrow gauge reduced costs when the roadbed was blasted in solid rock. So, 450 tons of explosives were used to reach White Pass summit; the narrow gauge permitted tighter radii to be used on curves, making the task easier by allowing the railroad to follow the landscape more, rather than having to be blasted through it. Construction started in May 1898, but they encountered obstacles in dealing with the local city government and the town's crime boss, Soapy Smith; the company president, Samuel H. Graves, was elected as chairman of the vigilante organization, trying to expel Soapy and his gang of confidence men and rogues. On the evening of July 8, 1898, Soapy Smith was killed in the Shootout on Juneau Wharf with guards at one of the vigilante's meetings. Samuel Graves witnessed the shooting; the railroad helped block off the escape routes of the gang, aiding in their capture, the remaining difficulties in Skagway subsided. On July 21, 1898, an excursion train hauled passengers for 4 miles out of Skagway, the first train to operate in Alaska.

On July 30, 1898, the charter rights and concessions of the three companies were acquired by the White Pass & Yukon Railway Company Limited, a new company organized in London. Construction reached the 2,885-foot summit of White Pass, 20 miles away from Skagway, by mid-February 1899; the railway reached Bennett, British Columbia, on July 6, 1899. In the summer of 1899, construction started north from Carcross to Whitehorse, 110 miles north of Skagway; the construction crews working from Bennett along a difficult lakeshore reached Carcross the next year, the last spike was driven on July 29, 1900, with service starting on August 1, 1900. By much of the Gold Rush fever had died down. At the time, the gold spike was a regular iron spike. A gold spike was on hand, but the gold was too soft and instead of being driven, was just hammered out of shape; as the gold rush wound down, serious professional mining was taking its place. The closest port was Skagway, the only route there was via the White Pass & Yukon Route's river boats and railroad.

While ores and concentrates formed the bulk of the traffic, the railroad carried passenger traffic, other freight. There was, for a long time, no easier way into the Yukon Territory, no other way into or out of Skagway except by sea. Financing and route was in place to extend the rails from Whitehorse to Carmacks, but there was chaos in the river transportation service, resulting in a bottleneck; the White Pass instead used the money to purchase most of the riverboats, providing a steady and reliable transportation system between Whitehorse and Dawson City. While the WP&YR never built between Whitehorse and Fort Selkirk, some minor expansion of the railway occurred after 1900. In 1901, the Taku Tram, a 2 1⁄2-mile portage railroad was built at Taku City, British Columbia, operated until 1951, it carried passengers and freight between the SS Tutshi operating on Tagish Lake and the MV Tarahne operating across Atlin Lake to Atlin, British Columbia. The Taku Tram could not turn around, backed up o


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Ferney Hall

Ferney Hall is a mid-Victorian-era mansion house situated at Onibury, England. It is a Grade II listed building; the estate has had several owners, including, in the 16th century, the Norton family, in the 17th century the Ffolliott family, followed by Walker in the 19th century. Designs for new gardens at the old hall appeared in the'Red Book' of Humphry Repton in 1789; the present mansion was built on the site of the old hall in 1856 by William Willoughby George Hurt Sitwell, great nephew of Sir Sitwell Sitwell. Following a fire which damaged the structure, architect Samuel Pountney Smith supervised the rebuilding in 1875; the property was occupied during the war years by the R. A. S. C. and as Italian P. O. W. Camp and German P. O. W. Camp. Owner, Mrs Cushney occupied some rooms throughout the war and until her death in about 1955 or'56; the restoration of Ferney Hall was due for completion early 2009, when its new owners were Mr and Mrs Wem. The restoration was being done by his son Dean Wem; the house was sold the same year for £1.55 million to Hugh Fitzwilliam-Lay.

The hall is an ongoing project. Listed buildings in Onibury Ferney Hall