Hougen Group

robinson1

R.L.T. Co.'s teams and stages are massed together near the small pond at their camp at Bennett. Date: July 1899. Yukon Archives. H.C. Barley fonds, #4893.

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Exterior of Red Line Transportation Co. building. Date: ca. 1900. Yukon Archives. Anton Vogee fonds, #53.

Bill Robinson

A small townsite on the Carcross road is named after a big man. Weighing in at over 300 pounds, Stikine Bill gave the community of Robinson its name.

William Robinson was a railroad man who was born in North Anson, Maine. He came north to Canada in 1898 when he was hired on as general foreman for the ill-conceived attempt to build a railway along the Stikine River from Glenora to Teslin Lake.

The project never really got off the ground ... or on the rails, so to speak. But it was here that William Robinson got the name which followed him the rest of his days - Stikine Bill.

In 1899, Bill Robinson was hired by Michael Heney, who was in charge of construction of the White Pass railway. At six-foot-three, 300 pounds, Robinson was in charge of the operations of what was called the Red Line, a company which delivered construction material from the top of the White Pass summit to various points along the railway line.

He was also in charge of laying the grade for the railway between Bennett Station and Whitehorse. Keeping one step ahead of the men laying the track was Robinson's key job and he did it well.

On June 29, 1900, the last of the track was laid at Carcross, while a large and well oiled crowd looked on. It was Bill Robinson who handed the last spike to Samuel Graves, chief executive officer of the railroad. As he did, Robinson shouted 'this ladies and gentlemen is the last spike, the spike of gold."

The townsite of Robinson was surveyed in 1906 by William Grainger and H.W. Vance, two mining promoters from Whitehorse, when it became apparent that the Wheaton River valley would hold good mining prospects. A post office was established in Robinson in 1909, but was closed just six years later.

Meanwhile, Stikine Bill Robinson stayed on with Michael Heney as construction foreman in building the Copper River and Northwestern Railway in Alaska from 1908 to 1912. William Robinson remained in Alaska and was involved with mining and prospecting enterprises until his death in 1926.

 

 

A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin