High water on the Stewart River peaks in late May and early June. The water level then declines for the rest of the summer to the point where only sternwheelers with a very shallow draft could navigate its swift current and shifting channels.
In 1901, the newly formed Stewart River Company built the Prospector, a powerful sternwheeler suitable for the shallow Yukon River tributaries. The company delivered freight and mail to the prospectors and trappers along the Stewart River.
The gold strike in 1902, near present-day Mayo, and the later discovery and mining of silver ore were soon piling up at Mayo and bigger boats were required.
The sternwheeler Nasutlin was built in 1912 to replace the Prospector and in 1922 the Nasutlin hauled 10,000 tonnes of ore concentrate down the Stewart River. That same year, the sternwheeler Keno was built specifically to haul the heavy bags of ore. During high water, bigger boats were put on the run.
The Keno worked on the Stewart River until 1951, when trucks on the newly constructed Klondike Highway took over the hauling chores.
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