BX (sternwheeler) - Maiden Voyage

Maiden Voyage

The BX was launched at Soda Creek on Friday May 13, 1910, without ceremony. Many people of a superstitious bent, especially the shipyard workers, criticized Watson and Browne for choosing to launch a ship on a Friday the 13th. The BC Express Company mollified the workers by explaining that it was the company's lucky day.

Watson and Browne were pleased with how the BX sat in the water, her draught was only 16 inches (410 mm) at the bow and 20 inches (510 mm) at her deepest part. Even fully loaded, with a hundred tons of freight, she only sat 30 inches into the water.

She left Soda Creek for her first trip upstream on May 23, leaving at the break of day and arriving in Quesnel at 11 am. Captain Browne made semi-weekly trips between Quesnel and Soda Creek until June 23 when he decided that the BX was ready for testing in the two canyons between Quesnel and Fort George, the Cottonwood Canyon and the Fort George Canyon. He left Quesnel at 1pm and upon arriving at the Cottonwood Canyon, offloaded the passengers and lined through using the steam capstan. However, Browne soon realized that the light and powerful BX did not need to line through and could run the canyons unaided. By law passengers were forced to disembark and walk around any canyon that a steamer was lining through and be picked up on the other side. However, by the fall of 1910, the federal steamboat inspector decided that the BX was allowed to keep her passengers on board. This gave her a huge advantage over her rivals, all of which had to line through both canyons, wasting time and fuel as well as inconveniencing the passengers.

The BX arrived in South Fort George on June 24, to a warm welcome from the local populace. The steamer landing on the Fraser had been there since 1909 and was already used by the Charlotte, Chilco and Quesnel. Nevertheless, local residents had been anticipating the day of the BX's arrival to see where the company would choose to have its landing and where it would build its office and warehouse. Many local business decisions were going to be based on this, as it was widely and correctly assumed that the BX would be bringing up the bulk of the passengers and landseekers from the south. One businessman, hotelier Al Johnson, was waiting for this information so he would know where to build Fort George's first licensed hotel, the Hotel Northern. The promoters of South Fort George were well aware of the huge benefit it would be to have the landing at their town-site, so the day after the BX arrived they offered the BC Express Company free lots of their choice in South Fort George. The company accepted the offer and construction on the facilities was begun. This would be a huge disappointment to South Fort George's rival town-site, Central Fort George on the Nechako River, which had hoped for the BC Express's landing and offices for itself. George Hammond, the promoter for Central, made the best he could out of a bad situation and hired a representative for the Central town-site and had him travel on the BX and promote Central to the passengers before they arrived in South Fort George.

Read more about this topic:  BX (sternwheeler)

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