The Binkley family’s steamboating tradition goes back over 100 years and five generations. In 1898, when Charles M. Binkley hiked over the Chilkoot Pass with other stampeders, he was not so much in search of gold as he was the chance to build and operate boats on the Yukon and its tributaries.
He became a respected pilot and boat builder in the North. His son, Captain Jim Binkley, Sr., followed in his father’s footsteps and piloted freight vessels on the Yukon and Tanana Rivers in the 1940′s. As transportation systems changed in the north, railroads and airplanes began to carry much of the freight. In 1950, noting the coming changes in the freighting business, Captain Jim and his wife, Mary, began a river excursion business focusing on sharing their love of Alaska and its culture with visitors. Over the coming years, Captain Jim and Mary B’s business grew from the Godspeed, a 25 passenger vessel, to the Discovery III, a 900 passenger vessel. Today, Captain Jim’s grandchildren run the company and Mary B is still active in the business.
On our three-hour cruise we saw a bush floatplane takeoff alongside the boat.
Then we visited the home and kennels of the late four-time Iditarod winner Susan Butcher and saw her champion sled dogs in action hosted by her husband David.
We saw the dogs pull a four-wheeler with no engine around the property.
Once they were unharnessed they all ran for the water to drink and cool off.
There were 4 puppies that were in training and sooo cute.
We went into the ancient Athabascan Indian culture were our Alaskan Native Guides took us on a personalized tour of the Chena Indian Village.
We also got to visit with some of the dogs and ask questions.
We saw many beautiful homes on the banks of the river.
Some were still being built.
It was a wonderful cruise and well worth it.
When we got back to the campground Janet had this Chili in the crock pot waiting for us.
On honor of FLAG DAY I took this today on the river.