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About The Sunday Oregonian. (Portland, Ore.) 1881-current | View This Issue
PORTLAND, OREGON, SUNDAY MORNING, NOVEMBER 18, 1900.
PAGES 25 TO 32
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TIi snug little Hooeler was first to be ready
To show that "where there's a will, there's a
Then the gallant Multnomah, substantial and
Conveyed her rich cargoes to market each
The noisy Canemah next graced the smooth
To show bow business commercial was done.
And vowed that traffic no longer should loiter
"While water could flow, or a steamer could
Any account of early navigation on the
Willamette which omits mention of the
men who promoted It would be Incom
plete. This article, while it by no means
wholly covers the subject, is a natural se
quence of that which appeared in last
Sunday's issue of The Oregonlan. The
river men were active In helping to founa
the commonwealth of Oregon, and It was
largely due to their efforts, energy and
enterprise that the commercial interests
of this part of the country were devel
oped. They belong to the heroic class of
whom Joaquin Miller sings, in his pio
Mjr brave wullanhe"'WS,tlalSr"
Why. who doth knew ye? Who shall know
But I. that ob thy peaks of snow
Break bread the Urst Who lores you best?
Who holds j e still, of more stern worth
Than all proud peoples or thy earth?
Captain II. C. Kindred.
Among the very first of those early
navigators was Captain B. C Kindred,
whose period of activity on the river an
tedated the introduction of steam. In
point of fact, his "line" was in operation
before this City of Portland was much
more than a cluster of primitive huts. In
an unsightly clearing in the heavy forest
that clothed the hills and fringed the
narrow shore. His boat was not what
could be called a commodious craft, but
she must have coined money for her mas
ter. The fare from Astoria to Portland
was 520, and the passenger supplied his
own comforts and conveniences, such as
blankets and provisions: and, In addition,
he was expected to furnish part of the
motive power, or, as Mr. E. W. Wright,
in his valuable work, "Marine History of
tho Pacific Northwest," tersely puts it,
the traveler "found himself and also
helped to pull the boat."
It was not until 1S4B that Kindred be
jgan to make regular landings at Portland.
A twelvemonth or so later the advent of
steam began to make flatboatlng unprof
itable, and he found it advisable to with
draw from the business.
Captain Dan OTfell.
Captain Dan O'Nell is another pioneer
,who was intimately connected with nav
igation on these Western rivers before
steamboats were in fashion. He not in
frequently commanded small fleets of bat
eaux belonging to the then powerful Hud
son's Bay Company. These bateaux were
usually manned by Indians. Six men to
each boat constituted the crew, and five
tons was the limit of capacity. It was
customary to leave Fort Vancouver in
the afternoon and pitch camp somewhere
in the vicinity of what is now St. Johns.
The second camping place was at Mll
waukie; the afternoon of the third day
Oregon City was reached.
"Getting over the rapids below Oregon
City," wrote Captain O'Nell, in January,
1S95, "was a tedious, but exciting part
Kf our Journey. The Indians, wading ana
towing through the swift current, were
tpatient and v enduring, good-natured and
willing, as long as they received their
-dollar a day and plenty of fresh beef.
Occasionally one would lose his hold
and footing and go whirling down the rap
Ids for some distance before he would re
cover himself. and several times, while
poling on the head boat, I lost my balance
and took a spin in the rapid waters."
Captain O'Nell came across the plains
to Oregon In 1S49, as part of the Mounted
2Ufle Regiment, and he was much in evi
dence in the days of the Lot Whltcomb
end the Little Columbia. The latter
craft he has described so graphically that
one can almost see her "creeping slowly
up the waters of the Columbia toward
Portland, panting aad struggling against
the tide the noisiest boat that ever dis
turbed the stillness of the lewer river.
Everything in those days was on a
miniature scale, except the rate of pas
sage." Captain Richard Hoyt.
Captain Richard Hoyt was one of a
notable group of pioneers whose names
are closely connected with the building
tip of Portland and the growth of trade in
the Northwest He oaiae to Oregon on
board the bark Ocean Bird, bringing with
him the little propeller. Black Hawk,
Which he placed upon She Willamette to
run on the Oregon City route. This
parked tho beglnnlns of an important
epoch, for Captain Hoyt's enterprise
paved the way for the organization of
the Oregon Railway &. Navigation Com
pany. The captain owned and operated,
for years, the Multnomah, one of the
best known boats on the' river, and he
was also interested in the steamer Walla
met. In 1S37 he helped form the Columbia
Steam Navigation Company, which wa3
succeeded by the Union Transportation
Company. These two organizations, both
of them short-lived, were really the for-
bears of the O. R. & N. Captain Hoyt's
death occurred February IS, 1862. and his
name, so long and vitally allied with the
business life of Portland, Is now an hon
If the Lot Whltcomb had not been
built, the name of Jacob Kamm might
never have appeared in the annals of
steam navigation in the Northwest.
When, the owner of that famous boat
purchased her machinery in San Fran
cisco, he engaged Mr. Kamm, at a sal
ary of 5400 per month to come to Oregon
and put it in place. This was not so
light an undertaking as one might sup
pose. Considering the nature of the task,
the compensation, was not excessive.
There were no boiler-makers at hand; the
boilers for the steamer came In no less
than 21 senarate nieces, und Mr. TCamm
and his assistant had not only to fit them
together properly, but to make the tools
with which, to work.
But the Lot Whltcomb was, in due
course of time finished. She was launched
at Mllwaukle, on Christmas Day, 1S50, and
began her career in March following, with
Mn. Kamm as engineer; W. H. H. Hall,
pilot, and her master builder, William L.
Hanscome, as captain. Jacob Kamm
had filled the position of engineer on the
Mississippi River prior to coming to the
Pacific Coast, and in California, in 1849,
ran the little Black Hawk, on. the Sacra
mento, with a crew of two. He served
as engineer on the Lot Whltcomb till she,
in 1854, was sold end taken to San. Fran
cisco. Bnllt Flrct Stermrheeler Here.
The Jennie Clark was the flrst stern
wheel steamer ever constructed In Ore
gon, and Jacob Kamm built her, sending
to Baltimore for her machinery, which
had to be brought around the Horn. He
was at that time living in Oregon City,
and the Jennie Clark piled between that
point and Portland. Later, with Captain
J. C. Alnsworth, he built the steamer
Carrie Ladd. Subsequently, he owned, or
was interested in. many boats on the Co
lumbia and Willamette.
"I stood on the rocks below the falls,"
said Mr. Kamm, In a recent Interview,
"and saw the ill-fated Portland plunge
to her doom. It was a fearful sight."
"And is that the only disaster witnessed
by you In your 50 years of experience
on and about the river r was asked.
"No," he replied. "There was the Sen
ator, which blew up In the Willamette
in 1S75. I was on the dock at the foot
of Alder street at the time, watching
the steamer rounding to come in to take
on a load of furniture, when there was
a puff, a rush of sound, and the Senator
went skyward, to come down a mass
of wreckage. Boats were sent to the
rescue at once, and among those picked
up was a little girl, found floating about
on a dry goods box."
Captain Jj, C. Alnsirorth. .
Mr. Kamm was closely associated in
early days with Captain J. C Alnsworth,
who came to Oregon, about the tlmo
steamboals made their first appearance
on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.
He had gained much practical experience
in his chosen line of woric on the Mis
sissippi. It was the gold excitement that
drew him to the Coast, but California
did not hold him long, and he came
to Oregon and took command of the
For 30 years he was a moving power
In the life of this once far corner of the
"world, he and Mr. Kamm being leading
spirits In the promotion and organlza-
tlon of tho Oregon Steam Navigation
Company, an enterprise which their sub.
sequent capable management did much
Captain Theodore Wygant's experience
on the Willamette extends from 1851 to
1SC3, although his connection with steam
navigation covers a much longer period,
for he was with the Oregon Steam Navi
gation Company and later was closely
identified with the O. R. & N.
Captain George Pease.
Captain George Pease la still in active
sen-ice, although he began boating in
1850 on the Willamette, running between
Milwaukle and Oregon City. The first
mentioned town, at that time, exceeded
the then Portland in size.
"I have seen," said Captain Pease, "as
many as five deep-water vessels, in port
there at one time." A respectable num
ber of sea-going craft for that early day.
"My flrst boat," the captain continued,
"was propelled by oar and sail, and car
ried about four tons. In November, 1850,
I bought a keel boat, SO feet long, with
a capacity of 15 tons. She had an In
dian crew of seven and was moved by
means of poles and oars. I ran her, in
connection with a bateau, which operated
above the falls from Oregon City to La
fayette, carrying freight at 535 per ton!
Fifty cents a bushel was charged for
bringing wheat down from Lafayette to
"The boat below the falls brought me
520 per ton for all she carried. In March,
1861, I went above and took the upper
boat myself, conveying a lot of Gov
ernment freight for the Indian Commis
sioners who were then arranging a treaty
with the Indians at Champoeg. I paid
my Indian boatmen 52 50 per day, and,
in early May, took a full load in my
boat to Corvallis for J. C. Avery. This
upper boat carried a little over 10 tons.
We had a camping outfit and slept ashore,
tying up to the bank at night. It took
just two weeks to make the round trip.
We had a long tin horn, upon which we
blew to announce our arrival.
"The trip to Corvallis was a profitable
one. Avery took me to his log cabin.
where he fumbled in his bedtlck, got out
An old Btocking. leg and paid n in five
and 10-dollar gold pieces, some 5800. I
palcLeach of my six Indian boatmen ?40
for the round trip, and afterward car
ried a load to the same place, at the
same rates, for George H. Murch."
Captains Taylor and. Instills.
Captain G. W. Taylor owned a one-third
interest in- the Hbosier, the first boat "on
the Upper Willamette, and later was one
of the company that built the E. !D. Ba
ker, at Vancouver. In 1SS5 he built the
tug Oswego, In which he is still interested.
Of all his experiences on the river, 'the
most thrilling, according to his own ac
count, occurred In 1861, when he brought
the steamer. St. Claire over the rapids.
It was during the still-remembered lood
of that eventful year, and the St. Claire,
under Captain Taylor's management,
came over without accident. Since 'then
two freshets have been favorable for
bringing boats over the falls, but bridges
are now in the way.
In 1852 Captain Taylor came across the
plains to Oregon. He was at that time
21 years of age, having been born March
5, 1831, on board a Mississippi steamboat,
which fact may. In some degree, account
for his liking for river navigation.
Captain Ingalls bears the reputation
among steamboatmen of being the oldest
purser now living in the Northwest, with
one exception. He arrived In Portland In
1853, and secured a position at once on the
steamer Eagle. He served, in succes
sion, on the Belle, the Portland, the Jen
nie Clark, the Rival and the Express.
In 185S he went on the Cascade route,
where he continued, with a brief inter
mission, during which he made a trip
East, till 1693.' Altogether he was- on the
river 40 years, and is now nearing his
70th birthday. In those four decades of
steamboat service, it goes without say
ing that he had some interesting experi
ences. "It is a matter of regret," said the cap
tain, in a recent conversation, that I did
not keep a Tecoril ot j, as they
occurred; it is difficult for me to remem
Replying to the question as to whether
he had ever been wrecked or blown up,
he said: "No, not exactly; but I have
seen some pretty severe storms on the Co
lumbia. I was on board the Lurline once
when her pilot-house was blown off, and
the boat herself blown on the sandbank
above Rooster Rock. So severe was the
gale, that It was fully an hour before a
deckhand dared venture out. Meantime
her engines were kept going, in order to
hold her where she was, for If she had
drifted clear of the sandbank, she would
have gone to pieces on the rocks. She lay
there all night."
As soon as It was possible to do so,
the captain explained, a 'gangplank, was
put out, and Captain Ingaila went ashore
and returning by, land to Portland sent
up another boat to take off the "United
States mail from tho Lurllne, which then
returned, to Portland for repairs.
"There Is," continued the captain, "a
sort of wind suck down the Columbia
at this point, and storms sweep down the
gorge with a concentrated force which
few boats-are able to -contend against.
The Bonlta, a steamer long familiar on
the Lower Willamette and Columbia,
was . blown, on the rocks at Multnomah
Palls and became a total wreck. At an
other time the J. H. Couch, encountering
a furious gale in this vicinity on her way
up, and finding it impossible to make
headway, threw out her anchor. But
no anchor would hold In that wind, and
she dragged hers two miles down stream
before she reached a point less exposed to
the rage of the wind.""
Captain Ingalls is a man whom to know
Is to honor and admire. Although he re-
tired from service on the river some 10
years since, he is still to be found In his
pleasant office In the Marquam a genial,
kindly gentleman one of the noble co
terier that founded the industrial life of
Portland and of which few members are
now left In this land of mortal existence.
Captain Miles Bell.
A veteran, still in active service, is
Captain Miles Bell, who ran for 50 years
on the Upper Willamette, and who, in
1SS8, assisted in bringing a boat over the
rapids at the Cascades. He began at tho
age of 16 and is now but 63. He Is a na
,tive of Illinois, having come to Oregon
when a lad of 8 years. He is at present
in command of the Ruth, and has been
ever since she was constructed.
Mre. C. A. Cobum, whose portrait is
the only woman's face to grace this page,
lived for 15 years at Canemah when that
town was one of the most populous and
flourishing on the river, and has an In
exhaustible fund of facts and reminis
cences connected with early navigation
on the Willamette. Her husband, John
R. Coburn was, during that period, su
perintendent of construction for the Peo
ple's Transportation Company a corpor-
ation which figured largely In the steamer
traffic of the time. Canemah was then an
Important place, being headquarters, as
it were, for the boats on the upper river.
They all came to Canemah for supplies
and cargoes for the up-river trip, and to
discharge freight on their return.
"After the freshet of '61 carried away
the primitive basin and canal at Oregon
City," said Mrs. Coburn the other day,
"a mule railway was constructed between
the warehouses at Canemah and those
below the falls. It hugged the bank close
ly, and one luckless day the mule that
was drawing a loaded car up the Incline
somehow stumbled, lost his footing and
fell overboard. This Was in the nature of
a calamity and blocked navigation for
several das, for mules were scarcer then
Inspired the Mnuie.
The doggerel which leads this article
was supplied from Mrs. Coburn's memory,
and was first printed In some early paper
or pamplet whose title has escaped her
recollection. It may, or may not servo
to convince the general reader that even
steamboatlng on the Willamette is a
theme that lends Itself to poetry, when
approached with sufficient determination
from a certain point of view.
There were more boats built In Cane
mah during the 15 years that-Mrs Co
burn ' resided there than at any other
point on tho river. The pioneer builders
and engineers, John Thcnras and F. X.
Paquet, were succeeded by the younger
Paquet, John R. Comurn, William Mul-
llns, Joseph Hedges and James K. Bing
ham. "Captain Hedges built the Wallamet
and lost a fortune. He was interested in
local politics, and served In the capacity
of Indian Agent, under President Bu
chanan, at Grand Rondo," Mrs. Coburn
went on to say. " Bas Miller, who was in
command of the Elk when she blew up,
has long since left the river and lives
now at Canemah, very old. Captain
John Cochrane has retired to a farm
near Hubbard, and Captain Sweltzer, who
was one of the builders of the Elk, Is
no longer living,, having been among the
lost on board the Northerner, when she
went down near Cape Mendocino, in 1860.
Captain George Jerome.
"Captain Geofgo Jerome began his ca
reer in Oregon, on the Canemah, In 1SE2.
It was he who brought the Wallamet
safely over the falls alone and unaided.
He was employed by the P. T. Co., during
the whole of Its corporate existence. He
was on the Elk at the time of the explo-
eion aboard-that crafty and accompanied
the boiler In its celebrated flight- toward
heaven. It Is said that he was blown so
high that on his way down he looked
through the smokestack and saw 'Bas'
Miller sitting on the bank. He alighted
in the top of a cottenwood, and for 20
years afterwards, pilots and captains on
the Willamette took especial pains to
point out this remarkable tree to. tourists
on the river."
The McCullys, of Harrisburg. wers
mainly active In organizing the People's
Transportation Company which gave the
steamer Clinton to the upper river, send
ing her as far south as Eugene.
Captain Alexander Sinclair Murray
brought the steamer Washington from
San Francisco on the bark Success, and
ran her on the Upper Willamette. Cap
tain Murray was regarded as an ex
traordinary character, and during the
flrst years after his arrival In this part
of the world, was looked upon as tho
"king of the steamboat fraternity." Tho
Washington, not proving profitable on
the Yamhill route, he brought her down
and operated her on tho lower river,
plying between Oregon City and Port
land, until the steamer bearing the name
otOrogon's metropolis took her place.
Tito Scotch Skippers.
The portraits of this man show a typi
cal sea, captain's face, strong, clear-cut
features and an open countenance. Ho
was born In Scotland, as was also Cap
tain William Irving, who was master and
part owner of the Success, with which
he, for some time, conducted a profitable;
coasting trade, running between San
Francisco and Portland, and touching at
Captain Ir lng's flrst attempt at steam
boating In these Inland waters was mado
with the Ragle, a little boat which he
brought up from San Francisco on tho
Success, and which he ran on the Ore
gon City route. He sold her, however, in
the course of Jlme, and bought the Ex
press. Afterwards he sold out his Inter
ests hero and joined Alexander Sinclair
Murray In British Columbia, where to
gether they built the Governor Douglas
and the Colonel Moody, and later, tho
Reliance and the Onward, to run on the
Captain J. D. Miller was another ot
the pioneer navigators who began busi
ness on the river with scows and flat
boats and Indian oarsmen, in lieu of
"steam. He operated flrst between Cane
mah and Dayton, and afterwards went
on the Hoosler.
James Strong, Z. J. Hatch, Captain
Taekaberry and many others are entitled
to mention in a discussion of the sub
ject of steamboaUng on the Willamette,
but there Is a limit to space in even a
Sunday paper, and for that reason this
sketch ends here and thus.
USCHEN M. MILLER,