Tales of the superintendent’s car


A Whitehorse Star Archive story originally published April 6, 2001


“I was glad to receive so much response about the White Pass special superintendent’s automobile,” says local artist Jim Robb.     “It goes to show that there is interest in this type of history. Many thanks to Tom Clark of Whitehorse, who provided this photo, Carl Mulvihill of Skagway, Alaska, and Murray Lundberg of Carcross and Whitehorse.”

             
The letters follow.


From Murray Lundberg:

“Here’s what I found on that car at Bennett. This information comes from several members on a White Pass and Yukon Route historians’ e-mail discussion list that I belong to. If you know anyone interested in joining us, or in seeing the photos that I’ve included, they can contact me on the Net at www.railsnorth.com

The car, used by the superintendent, was built in 1933 from a 1927 Paige Model 6-75 seven-passenger sedan, with a Chevy gas engine. It had an overall length of 18’ 4”, width 5’ 10”, height 6’ 5”, and weighed 5,800 pounds.

It worked on the railroad until June 25, 1947, when it broke an axle and was retired. Some time later, it was used as riprap for erosion control along the Skagway River.”

             

From Carl Mulvihill:

“The 'special White Pass automobile,' as pictured in the March 9, 2001 Star is a Paige, as built by the Paige-Detroit Motor Car Co.  It was a seven-passenger car that the White Pass purchased used in 1933 and changed out the road wheels for flanged wheels so it could be used on the three-foot gauge railroad.

It was used primarily by the superintendent to inspect the railroad, and other railroad business. It lasted until 1947, when it was replaced by a Jeep station wagon, mounted on the old Paige running gear.  About the only other significant change was that the steering wheel was removed, as obviously, it was no longer needed.

It was officially designated as ‘Motor Number 1’ but was usually referred to as the
‘Paige Car.’”

             

From Tom Clark:

“Over the years of reading your column, I have wondered if you were aware of the White Pass car that travelled on rails. The picture in the Star, March 9, showed you were.

 Well, here is another picture of that car to add to your collection. I took this picture in August, 1942.  It was known in those days locally as the ‘Superintendent’s car’, and was parked usually at the water tank or roundhouse.  The water tank, if I remember correctly, was near where the Deli is today. As you can see, there was nothing there then except the White Pass tool storage building.  You can see, at the back of the car, the shadow of the water tank.

The car was a Jewett built by Paige-Detroit Manufacturing. Paige sold out to the Graham Brothers in 1927, so judging by the body style, I would guess this is a ’25 or ’26 model.  Paige had a reputation for quality workmanship and that was what impressed me about this vehicle. The interior was luxurious, quality upholstery not found in run of the mill cars of that day. The floor was carpeting matching the upholstery. No doubt an ‘add on’ by the White Pass. The body was painted a dark green with not a scratch or a dent.  Truly a lovely piece of equipment.

I was so impressed with this car that I have taken its picture with me wherever I went in the subsequent 60 years or so. In the early 1980s, I was talking to an old-time White Pass employee about the car. He told me it was destroyed in an accident in the early 1950s. It was hit by – what else – a White Pass train.”