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Lurking Hulk

In May of 1906, most of the Fairbanks business district upstream from the Turner Street bridge went up in flames. In addition to the burning buildings, a steamer tied up alongside the shore also burned and later became the scourge of the Fairbanks waterfront for several years:

Fairbanks Daily News- July 25, 1908

OLD HULK LIES AT NEW WHARF

The hull of the old steamer Lottie Talbot has begun to show up at the new wharf built by the business men on the waterfront below the Arctic Shooting Gallery. The capstan is in plain sight and shows that it has had several encounters with the ice jam, while lying in its watery bed.

The old steamer was one of the first to reach Fairbanks and was in commission for two years on the Tanana river before the final wreck. The fire which destroyed the Riverside hotel on the waterfront was the cause of the loss of the little steamer. The owners did all they could to get her away from the shore, but the flames were too much for them and they had to abandon her to the flames.

Over a year ago some parties tried to raise the hulk and succeeded in getting her to the other side of the river, but she was lost again in the attempt, and laid on the right hand side of the current for quite a while. This spring the high water and the ice has forced the old hulk back to her old resting place in front of the new wharf.

If conditions were such that steamer should reach the wharf at present, the wreck would be right at the landing and would have to be blown out of the way. The little steamer was built in the early days of the rush to the Klondike, and did some good service in getting the supplies to that camp. She was also one of the first boats to navigate the waters of the Stewart and Pelly rivers.

Many steamers the size of the Talbot were lost in the ice jams of the Yukon river. Two of them were crushed to pieces and sank in front of the Selwyn police post and came near losing many of the passengers. The Talbot was something of the type of the make as the Leuella and was good for shallow water.

Note: The Outside newspapers that reported on the 1906 Fairbanks fire also reported the death of one woman whose name was Lottie Talbot. By the time the news had made it that far south the story got turned around a bit. The next time you drive by the Big I bar look right by the front door and you will see an old capstan sitting by the sidewalk. Perhaps it came from the old Lotta Talbot? If so, then it would be the last relic of the 1906 fire to survive. This fiery history nugget has been proudly brought to you by Fairbanks Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8 of the Pioneers of Alaska. 

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