Mechanical issue knocks out George Black ferry in Dawson City, Yukon

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The George Black ferry in Dawson City, Yukon, was shut down Monday night due to mechanical issues. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC - image credit)
The George Black ferry in Dawson City, Yukon, was shut down Monday night due to mechanical issues. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC - image credit)

The George Black ferry in Dawson City won't be operating until further notice due to mechanical issues.

On Tuesday afternoon, Krysten Johnson, a spokesperson with the Department of Highways and Public Works, said it will take at least two full days to fix.

"The ferry will not be in operation until these repairs can be completed," she said.

"We're ... recommending that people make alternative travel arrangements at this time, because that is an unfortunate amount of time to wait."

The ferry shut down Monday night, according to a Facebook post from the Yukon Department of Highways and Public Works.

The George Black ferry connects Whitehorse via the North Klondike Highway to the Top of the World Highway, which continues into Alaska.

Johnson said though the full report wasn't available Tuesday evening, the department knows the problem is the propeller and the propeller shaft.

Mackenzie Ingram, the acting director of maintenance for Highways and Public Works, said "something occurred" Monday night that tipped workers off that there was a problem with the ferry, though he didn't elaborate on the incident.

"Fortunately, there were no injuries," he said.

"We have a full-time team working on the ferry and monitoring things. When suspicions like this come up, we take an abundance of caution."

Ingram said workers were assessing the boat in the water Tuesday but the plan is to haul it out of the water to do the full assessment and prepare to repair it.

Chris MacIntyre/CBC
Chris MacIntyre/CBC

Foot traffic only, for the time being

This is the second time in two months that the George Black ferry has been out of service. Ingram said his department is always looking at its equipment to figure when it needs to be replaced.

"This is an aging ferry — it's 60 years old," he said.

The ferry typically runs all day and night until mid-September, hauling people, bikes and vehicles across the Yukon River.

Ingram said while motorists can't cross right now, the department has enlisted a shuttle service for foot traffic for now.

"People will still be able to experience the other side of the Yukon River and Dawson," he said.

"We understand the situation isn't ideal, and we do thank everyone for their patience."

The shuttle can fit about eight people at a time.

Johnson added that replacing the ferry is something being considered, though there is no firm plan yet.

"We want to talk about the long-term plans for a river crossing in Dawson," she said. "It's definitely on the books."