William "Stikine Bill" Robinson

Yukon's colourful history is peppered with larger than life characters like "Stikine Bill" Robinson. A railroad man from Maine who headed construction gangs, William C. Robinson came to Canada to be the foreman for a railway along the Stikine River. The project was doomed to fail, but Robinson made a name for himself and departed northern British Columbia as Stikine Bill.

Tipping the scales at over 300 pounds and well over six feet tall, Robinson was a capable and memorable foreman. The White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad (WP&YR) hired him in 1899 to oversee crews during the construction of their railway from Skagway, Alaska over the White Pass to Whitehorse. Robinson was general manager of WP&YR's Red Line Transportation Company, a subsidiary set up to handle construction of the new line.

Using steamboats and barges, it was Stikine Bill's job to lay the grade and manage delivery of construction materials and supplies from the end of the line at White Pass to points all the way to Whitehorse. The final track was laid at Carcross in the summer of 1900, and it was Stikine Bill who handed a spike to the railroad's chief executive officer for the ceremonial last spike.

WP&YR Railway named a flag station along the route after Stikine Bill. A roadhouse and eventually a small townsite marked the Robinson stop. With good mining prospects in the area, hopes were high that the settlement could serve as a base for new discoveries. However, the results were poor and the Robinson Roadhouse was abandoned by 1915.

Today, as the South Klondike Highway winds toward Carcross, it passes through a scenic rural community that bears few signs of the former flag stop. A wide pullout near the turnoff west onto the Annie Lake Road yields the crumbling remains of the old Robinson train depot, a legacy of Stikine Bill.

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