Hougen Group


Sands Store, Watson Lake, 1974.

Clarence M.

Clarence M. Sands operated a General Store in Atlin for many years. His son, Les, took it over but with the decline of Atlin, soon relocated to Watson Lake. In 1974, Hougens Limited acquired the business, the land and buildings.


Requiem for the “Whitehorse and the Casca”, 1974.

Letter from Ted Harrison

To Rolf from Ted Harrison - "With best wished to one who actually did something positive for the Whitehorse and Casca." June 20th 1974

You served the Yukon well,
And in your prime,
Cleaved with burdened holds
Through treacherous shoals
Whose spruce lined shores
Embraced the skeletons of
Former barques.

Retirement was rich in
Ill neglect.
The sound of Yukon’s waters
Mocked your impotence
Until a painted façade
Brought back awhile the
Image of a former glory.

We passed you by, until
With awesome power
The crackling flames
Uplifted all our eyes and
Focused for a while your
Dying personalities.

Our tears, showing anguished last respect,
Some small atonement for our past neglect.

-Ted Harrison


Dubrovnik, Croatia, Yugoslavia.


The Blue Hosque - Instanbul, Turkey.

Travel to Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia

In September, 1974, Marg and Rolf traveled to Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia. This is the home city of John Bruk, Chairman of Cyprus Anvil Mine. He directed them to interesting places including a lamb roast dinner in the mountains. From Dubrovnik they flew to Istanbul, Turkey.

Top Photo: Dubrovnik, Croatia, Yugoslavia
Bottom Photo: The blue mosque in Istanbul, Turkey


60th Wedding Anniversary, 1974.

60th Wedding Anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Berent Hougen

A Hougen family gathering to celebrate the 60th Wedding Anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Berent Hougen.

Dog Team, 1974.

Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous

Hougen’s sponsored Philip Smith of Teslin (son of musher Andy Smith) for several years in the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous.

Seen here is Philip Smith with Marg and Rolf and his dog team, February of 1974.


Alaska Road Trip, 1974.

Hougen Family Travels to Alaska

With a car and trailer, the Hougen family (except Craig and Kelly) traveled to Fairbanks, Anchorage, Valdez and Homer, Alaska. Fishing for salmon off the ‘spit’ was successful, digging for clams, likewise. Halibut fishing was too rough but shiploads of King Crab were offloaded on the docks. They feasted for several days.

Seen here is Greta, Karen and Maureen in Homer Alaska. Erik took the photo.


Burning riverboats, 1974.

Whitehorse and Casca Riverboats Burn

The Yukon lost a little bit of its soul. That's the way we noted Yukon historian describe the reaction on that Friday back in 1974, when the Whitehorse and the Casca were reduced to ashes.

Two grand old veterans of the riverboat days stood side by side where they were built in the shipyards overlooking the Yukon river. They had stood their since the early 50s when their days as the workhorses of the Yukon came to an end. The Whitehorse was built here in 1901.

For years, local historians had called for action to insure the safety of the wooden boats. A committee headed by Rolf Hougen was able to get government support to repaint the boats, put new decking in place and install a fence to keep out intruders. But trespassers were still able to dig under the fence and use the cabins on the boats as a temporary shelter.

At 10pm on Friday, June 21, 1974, smoke was seen billowing from one of the boats. The fire department raced the three blocks to the scene. But the dry wooden ships were now agulf in flames. Smoke rose 100 feet into the air within minutes. The heat in the area was intense.

The fire fighters sprayed of thousands of gallons onto the burning pyre. But they knew it was far to late to save these priceless relics of a glorious past. Within hours the Whitehorse and the Casca were reduced to a pile of crumpled steel. Barely a trace of the wooden slats and beams were left.

Hundreds of city residents stood by watching the devastation. Many held back tears. Many more could not.

What caused the tragedy? Well, shortly after the fire call went out, the police helped three young men from Ontario off the Casca where they had been living for a week. They were taken into custody and questioned before being released. No charges were laid.

The deaths of the Whitehorse and Casca meant that only three of those wonderful sternwheelers were still standing in decent shape in the Yukon. The Klondike in Whitehorse, the Keno in Dawson and the Tutshi in Carcross. In 1991, the Tutshi which had been partially restored, but had no sprinkler system on board, was set ablaze in Carcross. Its fate mirrored that of the Whitehorse and the Casca. Now only two boats from the remarkable fleet of 25 remain. Their value cannot be calculated in dollars.

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin