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Models of Historical and Other Structures.

Photos by Brian Pate, unless otherwise noted.

All the structures on the layout are scratchbuilt in HO scale (3.5mm=1 foot) from available historic and other data. An important source of data were the drawings by Robert Mitchell. These resulted from his personal research, and his generosity in making them available is much appreciated. The models are constructed in most cases from styrene sheet, strips and shapes, together with stripwood and brass wire in various sizes as appropriate. The corrugated iron sheathing, which is and was a common feature of buildings in the Klondike, is modelled by aluminum foil, run through a corrugating press. Extensive use has been made also of parts from Grandt Line, in particular windows. Where the prototype had lighting, this is added on the model by means of microbulbs from Cir-Kits. This lighting is illuminated when the layout is switched to night-time operation, along with the lighted switchstands, also fabricated from micobulbs.

Structures in Dawson City

Model of Dawson City depot fragment of historical picture
KMR depot and freight house in Dawson City. The model was built in 1999, largely from R. Mitchell's drawings, without compression. The historic photo used for research is a fragment of University of California, Bancroft Library #17109-6243. The prototype is long gone.

Model of ferry tower Ferry tower (historical)
The Dawson ferry tower, which held a ferry cable high enough to clear the smokestacks of sternwheelers that plied the Yukon River. The model was built in 2005 from stripwood, following the drawings of Robert Mitchell, with a reduction in height of about one third. Reference was made to historic photos, such as the fragment here from University of California, Bancroft Library #17109-6243, and several in the collection of A.E. Knutson of Kirkland, WA. The model is somewhat an anachronism on a layout portraying 1949, since the tower was pulled down a year or two before that date. However, it was a prominent feature of Dawson during the life of the prototype KMR.

Model of cable ferry Cable ferry (historical)
The Dawson cable ferry, which was propelled along its cable by the force of the Yukon River current. The model was built in 2005, following the drawings of Robert Mitchell with about a one third compression. Reference was also made to historic photos, such as this one from the collection of the Klondike National Historic Sites of Parks Canada, and to several in the collection of A.E. Knutson of Kirkland WA.

Model of CBC bank building Bank building today
The Canadian Bank of Commerce building in Dawson City. The original was a wood frame structure, clad in pressed metal panels to give the impression of stone. The prototype building, photographed during Christmas of 2005, is in poor shape and beginning to lose its cladding. It is also seen in the view from the Dawson City webcam at http://www.yukonbooks.com/dawson_webcam. The model, which was built in 2004, followed the drawings of Robert Mitchell with a compression of about 10%. Reference was made to photos taken during visits to Dawson over many years, especially for details of the cladding, and to various historic photos.

Model of Dawson fire hall Historical photo of fire hall
The Dawson City Fire Hall had three bays, as this photo from the collection of the Klondike National Historic Sites shows, with the City Hall offices on the floor above. The model, which was built in 2005, needed to fit a much smaller space, and so was reduced to 2 bays and by about 50% in length, compared to Robert Mitchell's drawings, and the above photo. However, the style and detail of the prototype was retained. The fire truck and pumper are from kits by Jordan.

Model of White Pass dock building Philip Eccles' photo of White Pass dock building
The WhitePass dock building. The White Pass maintained a fleet of sternwheelers on the Yukon River, and this substantial building served the business they generated in Dawson City. The photo at right by Philip Eccles shows the building in 1939 after a fire in a hotel on the other side of Front Street. The model, which was built in 2003, is selectively compressed by about 30% mainly in the side wings, compared with the drawings by Robert Mitchell. A question arose during the painting of the model, as to what the colour was of the building trim, which appears dark grey or black in the panchromatic B&W pictures of the era. (The building was torn down before the advent of colour photography.) Conversation with old-timers in Dawson City suggested that the White Pass would probably have used the same palette as they did on their sternwheelers and railroad depots. There the trim colour was tuscan red, so this was adopted for the model.

Model of NCCO dock building Historical photo of Dawson dock buildings
The Northern Commercial Company dock building. Data on this building are scarce. It is seen to the left of the White Pass dock building in this photo, taken from an approaching sternwheeler, from the collection in the Dawson City Museum. It also appears in Dawson City Streetscapes drawings prepared by Parks Canada in 1974, which show in particular, the picket fence enclosing the freight spur which was incorporated in the model. The colours of the model, which was fabricated in 2003, are arbitrary since there are no data.

Model of coal bunker and fuel tanks Fairbanks coal bunker
The Five Fingers Coal Company mined coal near the Five Fingers rapids upstream from Dawson City on the Yukon River in the early days of the last century. There is a mention of a coal bunker at the north end of Dawson, but I am unaware of any photos or description of it. For the purposes of the layout, therefore, I borrowed a coal bunker from Fairbanks, AK, shown in the photo above. By 1949, with the increasing use of cars and trucks in the Territory, it is logical that the coal company would have expanded into gasoline and diesel. So the complex at the north end of town has the coal bunker with its own dock, plus tanks and an unloading rack for refined oil products, sandwiched in between the N.C.Co. dock and the icing plant..It was the second structure to be built (in 2001) for the Dawson City scene after the KMR depot described earlier.

Model of cold storage building Yukon Sawmill building today
The Yukon Saw Mill Co. building still stands at the north end of Dawson, restored by the Yukon Territorial Government. In a previous era it also served as a cold storage facility, so it is adopted for that role on the layout. It serves the KMR by the icing of reefers prior to their loading with perishables arriving by sternwheeler, and also supplies ice for the domestic market. The model was built in 2002 from drawings by Robert Mitchell and my own photographs.

Model of St. Paul's church exterior St. Paul's church exterior today
Model of St. Paul's church interior St. Paul's church interior Christmas 2005
St. Paul's Anglican Church at Dawson City was built in 1902 and is still in use. The model was built full size (largely from styrene) in July/August of 2006 from photos taken by Sue Dragoman, and from plans (drawn for the church renovation) kindly provided by Fr. Lee Titterington. The site for the model is bisected by the layout fascia, so the opportunity was seized to add an interior, following photos taken at Christmas 2005. Photos taken in the target year of 1949 were not available, but the model was backdated to that year as far as possible. In particular, the modern metal roof was changed to wood shingles and the basement skirt was omitted. The modern-day church does not have stained glass windows at the (modelled) Front Street end; the situation in 1949 in this regard is unknown.

Model of Keno Model of Keno
Model of Keno Keno at Dawson City in 1987
The S.S. Keno was one of several sternwheel steamers operated on the Yukon River by the British Yukon Navigation Company, part of the White Pass organisation. The vessel was restored and is owned by Parks, Canada. The photo at lower right shows it (in 1987) on display at Dawson City, and it is often seen in images from the Dawson City webcam, described earlier. The model was built during early 2008 as a waterline model, to HO scale and without compression, by means of my own photos, and data from Parks. I am much indebted to Robert Van Rumpt and Trina Buhler for these latter. The photos of the model show it underway on the Yukon River and at the White Pass dock on the Dawson City waterfront.