Klondike ship discovery gets National Geographic nod

A Gold Rush-era steamboat that was found on the bottom of a Yukon lake this year has been named National Geographic's top archeological find of 2009.

A Gold Rush-era steamboat that was found on the bottom of a Yukon lake this year has been named National Geographic's top archeological find of 2009.

In a feature posted online this week, National Geographic News said the discovery of the century-old sternwheeler A.J. Goddard topped its list of most popular archeology stories this year.

An aquatic archeological team found the A.J. Goddard shipwreck at the bottom of Lake Laberge last summer. The team announced its findings last month.

"Our unique heritage is outstanding and it's being recognized," Doug Olynyk, historic sites manager with the Yukon government, told CBC News.

"We're glad that our heritage is being studied in a proper and thoughtful manner."

Launched during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898, the A.J. Goddard vanished in Lake Laberge during a winter storm on Oct. 22, 1901. Two members of the five-man crew survived but the other three drowned.

The international archeological team, which includes Doug Davidge of the Yukon Transportation Museum, found the steamboat with its hull completely intact and many the crew members' belongings preserved.

News of the Yukon find beat out stories about a large Anglo-Saxon gold find in England, a study about gem-studded teeth in southern North America and Central America, and the discovery of a 1,500-year-old tomb in Peru.

"I think that it will help give Yukon heritage in general a profile," Olynyk said.

"We have such wonderful sites, starting from First Nations heritage to the Gold Rush and places like Fort Selkirk. So I think it might pique people's curiosity into maybe coming to the Yukon and take a look around."

Davidge and the other archeologists have said they will return to the A.J. Goddard site as they have yet to explore the inside of the vessel.