The DUCHESS - White Pass & Yukon Route RR; Carcross, YT
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Tygress
N 60° 10.117 W 134° 42.195
8V E 516467 N 6670226
This little engine was the workhorse of the 'miniature' (2-mile) Taku Tram for 20 years. Restored and on permanent display near the WP&YR depot in Carcross, YT.
Waymark Code: WM92E4
Location: Yukon Territory, Canada
Date Posted: 06/18/2010
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member TheBeanTeam
Views: 18

The little engine that could and did
Glad to be displayed not hid
Her boiler shows some times injurious
With a squatty shape a tad bit curious
Restored and painted up quite grand
Let's give this dowager a hand!

Plinthed Baldwin CN 4424...
Her saddle reservoir surely gives an odd squatty look, eh? No, she's not had a roll over, she's built that way.

Info from the White Pass & Yukon Route RR site (visit link)

The Duchess

Originally, Dunsmuir, Diggle & Co. 30-inch gauge 0-6-0T #2, Duchess. Dunsmuir, Diggle sold to Wellington Colliery R.R. in 1883. Duchess converted to a 2-4-0T by disconnecting the front drivers, and gauge widened to 3-feet, probably about 1889. Resold to Albion Iron Works (dealer) thereafter. Resold to John Irving Navigation Co. in April 1900 for use on the Taku Tram. Irving Navigation purchased by the White Pass in June 1900. Duchess powered the Taku Tram from 1900 to 1920. Used as a trash burner at Carcross, Yukon from 1920 to 1931. Put on display at Carcross in 1931.

The duchess has been restored and the wood cab has been refurbished to its original condition.

info on the restoration effort can be found at (visit link)



The little engine known as the DUCHESS was once part of a matched set. She and her partner, the DUKE, were built in September 1878 for the Dunsmuir and Diggle Company.

For a time the two little locos hauled coal for the Wellington
Colliery Railway. The DUCHESS also burned coal at that time, although she was converted later to wood and later still to oil.

White Pass bought the little engine in 1899 and put her to work on the Taku Tramway the following year.

Appropriately enough the Taku Tram was a miniature version of a railway, only two miles long, which connected Tagish Lake with Atlin Lake.

Tourist excursions operated from Carcross to the town of Atlin, British Columbia, and the tram was a necessary link between the two rail systems. Tourists could travel south from Carcross on a sternwheeler as far as Taku City, where they would disembark and board the small car pulled by the DUCHESS. They would then be taken across the two-mile track east to Scotia Bay and board another steamer for the trip to Atlin, on the far side of Atlin Lake. ‘Taken’ may not be the most precise word, since passengers often had to get off and push. And since there was no turntable at the eastern end, the return trip was made going backwards.

The DUCHESS was taken out of service in 1919 and replaced with another engine. She was moved to Carcross in the 1950’s and is now a popular tourist attraction.


Another bit from her history (even plinthed, that Lady keeps on giving!)
(visit link)
Experimental ditcher modification for locomotives

With the loss of the railroad's spreader in a fatal accident, there was no convenient method of cleaning trackside ditches. The railroad's Master Mechanic and well-known coupler inventor, Lincoln Penn, developed a conversion to use the pilots of the 70 class locomotives for trackside ditching. This involved replacing the drivers on the right side of the locomotive with smaller drivers from the retired Duchess locomotive. The locomotive would lean to the right and clean out ditches with the plow while moving foreward. This was satisfactory except when the wind was strong from the left side or the track was banked to the right. Under those conditions the smaller drivers on the right side allowed the engine to lean too far right, causing it to fall over. After several trials, the modification was considered a failure and was discontinued, with the small drivers being returned to the Duchess.

[The webpage includes a series of photos of the trials]

The only remaining physical evidence of this experiment can be seen in Carcross. To this day, the drivers returned to the Duchess have not all been reconnected to the side rods.


Should you find yourself in Carcross, The Duchess is worth a look!
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How accessible is this locomotive display? (Required): Display is designed to allow additional climbing access.

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LT_Dream visited The DUCHESS - White Pass & Yukon Route RR; Carcross, YT 08/07/2016 LT_Dream visited it
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