|Owner:||Oregon Pacific Railroad Company|
|Fate:||Dismantled, 1896, at Corvallis, OR|
|Class and type:||riverine towboat|
|Length:||As built 120.7 ft (36.8 m) over hull (exclusive of fantail); as reconstructed 1888: 140.7 ft (42.9 m)|
|Beam:||30.2 ft 9 in (9.4 m) over hull (exclusive of guards|
|Depth:||4.4 ft 0 in (1.34 m)|
|Decks:||two (main and passenger)|
|Installed power:||twin steam engines, horizontally mounted, each with bore of 12 in (304.8 mm) and stroke of 4 ft (1.22 m); 144 indicated horsepower|
Three Sisters was a sternwheel-driven steamboat that operated on the Willamette River from 1886 to 1896. The steamer was built as an extreme shallow-draft vessel, to permit it to reach points on the upper Willamette river such as Corvallis, Harrisburg and Eugene, Oregon during summer months when water levels in the river were generally low. The vessel was also known for having been washed up on a county road in Oregon during a flood in 1890.
Corvallis is a city in central western Oregon, United States. It is the county seat of Benton County and the principal city of the Corvallis, Oregon Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Benton County. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 54,462. Its population was estimated by the Portland Research Center to be 55,298 in 2013. Corvallis is the location of Oregon State University, a large Hewlett-Packard research campus, and Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center.
Harrisburg is a city in Linn County, Oregon, United States. The population was 3,567 at the 2010 census.
Eugene is a city in the U.S. state of Oregon. It is at the southern end of the verdant Willamette Valley, near the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette Rivers, about 50 miles (80 km) east of the Oregon Coast.
The steamer was named by the president of the Oregon Pacific Railroad, C.L. Hogg, for the Three Sisters mountains in the central Cascades Mountains of Oregon.
The Three Sisters are volcanic peaks that form a complex volcano in the U.S. state of Oregon. They are part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, a segment of the Cascade Range in western North America extending from southern British Columbia through Washington and Oregon to Northern California. Each more than 10,000 feet (3,000 m) in elevation, they are the third-, fourth- and fifth-highest peaks in Oregon. Located in the Three Sisters Wilderness at the boundary of Lane and Deschutes counties and the Willamette and Deschutes national forests, they are about 10 miles (16 km) south of the nearest town, Sisters. Diverse species of flora and fauna inhabit the area, which is subject to frequent snowfall, occasional rain, and extreme temperature variation between seasons. The mountains, particularly South Sister, are popular destinations for climbing and scrambling.
Three Sisters was built in 1886 at Portland, Oregon by the Oregon Development Company, which was a branch of the Oregon Pacific Railroad Company.On June 29, 1886, the steamer was to have been inspected by William M. Hoag, general manager of the Oregon Pacific Railroad, and Wallis Nash. The steamer had been recently completed, and if it was found to meet contract requirements, would be accepted into the company’s service.
Portland is the largest and most populous city in the U.S. state of Oregon and the seat of Multnomah County. It is a major port in the Willamette Valley region of the Pacific Northwest, at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. As of 2017, Portland had an estimated population of 647,805, making it the 26th-largest city in the United States, and the second-most populous in the Pacific Northwest. Approximately 2.4 million people live in the Portland metropolitan statistical area (MSA), making it the 25th most populous MSA in the United States. Its Combined Statistical Area (CSA) ranks 18th-largest with a population of around 3.2 million. Approximately 60% of Oregon's population resides within the Portland metropolitan area.
As built in 1886, Three Sisters was 120.7 feet long, measured over the hull, exclusive of the extension over the stern, called the fantail, on which the sternwheel was mounted.The width or beam of the vessel was 30.2 feet, exclusive of the guards, and the depth of hold was 4.4 feet. Overall size of the vessel was 320.79 gross and 292.29 registered tons.
The beam of a ship is its width at the widest point as measured at the ship's nominal waterline. The beam is a bearing projected at right-angles from the fore and aft line, outwards from the widest part of ship. Beam may also be used to define the maximum width of a ship's hull, or maximum width including superstructure overhangs.
Guards on a steamboat were extensions of the main deck out from the boat’s main hull. Guards were originally adopted for side-wheel steamboats to protect the paddle wheels and to provide a mounting point for the outer ends of the paddle wheel shafts. The main deck planking extended out over the guards, and when a steamboat was fully loaded, and sunk deeply in the water, it often appeared that the edges of the guards marked the line of the hull.
The draft while “light” (without cargo) was just 13 inches.Cargo capacity of the Three Sisters was about 180 tons of sacked wheat.
Three Sisters was equipped with two horizontally mounted steam engines, each with a bore of 12 inches and a stroke of 4 feet.These engines of Three Sisters generated 144 nominal horsepower. Fuel consumption was about one-twelfth of a cord of wood for every mile run.
Horsepower (hp) is a unit of measurement of power, or the rate at which work is done. There are many different standards and types of horsepower. Two common definitions being used today are the mechanical horsepower, which is about 745.7 watts, and the metric horsepower, which is approximately 745.5 watts.
The cord is a unit of measure of dry volume used to measure firewood and pulpwood in the United States and Canada.
The official merchant vessel registry number was 145,423.Three Sisters was equipped with a steam-powered capstan built by Providence Steam Windlass Company.
Three Sisters began running on the upper Willamette River under Capt. J.L Smith.Capt. William Penn Short (1852-1938) was later placed in command for three years, and was succeeded by James D. Miller. In 1895 Capt. Robert Young was master, and Thomas J. Hardy (1840-1930) had been engineer for several years.
Three Sisters was part of a three-boat fleet belonging to the Oregon Pacific.The other steamers were the Wm. M. Hoag, 454.44 gross tons, built in Portland in 1887, and N.S. Bentley , 431.42 gross tons, built in Portland in 1886.
In August 1886 Three Sisters was engaged in transporting railroad construction material for the Oregon Pacific Railroad.
Low water in the upper Willamette River forced the N.S. Bentley off the route, and its place was taken by Three Sisters, running on a schedule of departing Albany, Oregon on Mondays and Thursdays at 1:00 p.m. for Portland.
Three Sisters would then depart Portland for Albany on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 7:00 a.m., arriving in Albany on Thursdays and Saturdays at 12 noon. In July 1887, the Oregon Pacific Railroad was advertising excursions, on a route including the steamboat Three Sisters, to Yaquina Bay, then undergoing development as a resort area. Three Sisters would depart every Wednesday at 7:00 a.m. from the Morrison Street wharf, for Albany and intermediate points. Round-trip tickets, good until September 20, 1887, cost $6, and included meals on the steamer. E. Oldendorff & Co. was the ticketing agent.
In March 1888, Three Sisters participated in an attempt to raise the sunken steamer N.S. Bentley.
In 1888, the hull of Three Sisters was lengthened by 20 feet.After the reconstruction, the measurements for the vessel following the reconstruction were length of 140.7 feet (exclusive of fantail), beam of 30.2, and depth of hold of 4.4 feet. The boat was hauled out at a shipyard in Portland on July 28, 1888. Captain W. P. Short expected the work to be complete in three weeks.
Post reconstruction, the gross tonnage (a measure of volume, not weight) was 358.33 and register tonnage was 327.33.The plan was to cut the hull in two and insert a twenty-foot long section. The work was done at the Willamette Shipbuilding Company, in East Portland. Upon reconstruction, the draft was expected to be 14 inches, about 6 inches less than before the rebuild, although whether this was in a loaded or light condition is not clear. W.P. Short stated that the steamer would have the lightest draft of any boat on the river, and he thought the vessel could operate year-round on the Willamette.
According to one report, there was to be no alteration of the boiler, engines, and machinery.However, according to another report, a new steel stern-wheel shaft was being brought in from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a new stern-wheel was being made.
In 1889, the steamer was reported to be able carry 140 tons of freight when loaded.Another report stated that after the reconstruction, the steamer could carry 125 to 200 tons of freight.
In 1888, the rebuilt Three Sisters was reported to draw only 13 inches of water, presumably this was while unloaded.Three Sisters was reported to have been the vessel with the least draft of any boat running on the Willamette in 1889, and was especially well suited to carrying on trade during the summer months, when water in the river was generally at its lowest.
On January 18, 1889, the ownership of the steamers Three Sisters and N.S. Bentley was transferred from the Oregon Development Company to the Oregon Pacific Railroad Company, at a total valuation of $33,265.42.
On August 13, 1899, the steamer somehow smashed into a free bathhouse in Portland, doing damage of $400 to the bathhouse.
In early February, 1890, Three Sisters was stranded just upriver from Oregon City.On Wednesday, February 5, 1890, the river measured three feet higher than the great flood of 1862. The breakwater at the boat basin just above Willamette Falls was washed away. To save Three Sisters, which was at Oregon City at the time, up river from the falls, it was necessary to pull the vessel into the bank as closely as possible. The next day, Thursday, February 6, the water level feet off sharply, by three feet, leaving the steamer stranded out of the water on the road between Oregon City and Canemah, Oregon.
During the flood of 1890, the water level of the Willamette rose to 51.3 feet below the falls at Oregon City..Three Sisters, under Captain W.P. Short, had left Corvallis, where it was raining fast, with orders to stop at Wheatland, a small town downriver from Salem, and load the last shipment of wheat, 2500 sacks, for Oregon City.
When the boat reached Canemah, a little upriver from Oregon City, Captain Short tied the vessel up and went himself into Oregon City, where he wired the company’s manager, F.W. Bowen, in Corvallis, saying that he could take Three Sisters into the boat basin but he doubted whether he could get the steamer out.Bowen’s response to Short was: “Get that load of wheat into the basin. If you cannot get out, lay there until the water falls.
The water rose 8 feet in the first night after the steamer was brought into the boat basin.All sorts of debris were being washed downriver, including buildings, warehouses, big trees, and even a sawmill. Short was familiar with the banks around the boat basin, and he feared the flood erode them and cause boulders to fall down upon the steamer.
Short, with mate Albert Sass (d.1935) and engineer Thomas J. Hardy took steps to save the steamer.They lashed the boat up to the shore outside of the boat basin, on the east side of the river, where a road, submerged by then, ran between Oregon City and Canemah. Short pumped water ballast into the hull so the vessel would settle evening once the waters receded.
The crew kept 120 pounds of steam pressure in the boiler, just in case the nine lines running to shore, and attached to railroad tracks, trees, and rocks, proved insufficient to hold the steamer.If that occurred, their only option would have been to go over the falls. The boat was also in danger during this time from floating rafts of sawlogs which came a foot from the hull.
After about a week, the waters receded, and Three Sisters came to rest on the road, completely out of the water.Captain Bert Hatch, on the steamer Wm. M. Hoag, with Capt. George Raabe in command, brought up some house moving equipment from Salem, and with jacks and blocking tackle, Three Sisters was raised two or three feet. Blocking was put under the boat, and the vessel was left there to await refloating efforts.
Three Sisters was still out of the water on February 21, 1890, when bids were being taken to launch the vessel back into the river.The contract to relaunch the steamer was secured by H.L. “Bert” Hatch, of Salem, Oregon. The plan, as of March 8, 1890, was to raise the steamer about three feet up from the ground on blocks until the boat basin at Oregon City, which was damaged in the flood, could be repaired, then launch the vessel into the basin.
Three Sisters was out of the water for over three months.When the repairs to the boat basin were finally complete, the Oregon Pacific Railroad sent ship carpenters to the site from Yaquina Bay, with large timbers to construct a boat way under the steamer. The vessel was finally relaunched on July 6, and was then taken upriver to Corvallis.
In January 1892, the assets of the Oregon Pacific railway, including the steamer Three Sisters, were sold to satisfy the claims of the company’s bondholders.
In 1892 and 1893, the Oregon Pacific Railroad had fallen behind in paying the crew of its steamboats, including those of Three Sisters and Wm. M. Hoag.In April 1895, fourteen crew members filed suit in the U.S.District Court seeking to impose a maritime lien, called a libel on Three Sisters, for unpaid wages in 1892 and 1893 totaling $754.86.
River traffic was heavy in early 1893.On a round trip in May 1893 Three Sisters handled 131 passengers and 200 tons of freight.
To reach Harrisburg and Eugene, Oregon in the during the low water of the summer of 1893, the upper cabins of Three Sisters were stripped from the vessel, thus decreasing the draft of the vessel by three inches.
The steamer reached Harrisburg on August 14, 1893, carrying 16 tons of freight from Corvallis.This was considered a feat of navigation in the low water season. Three Sisters was expected to take 60 to 75 tons of freight, consisting mainly of sacks of wheat, downriver from Harrisburg.
As of July 1893 Three Sisters was insured for $13,000.
In March 1896, when the government snagboat Corvallis had sunk in the Willamette River, at the mouth of Meeks Slough, Three Sisters was hired to attempt to drag the Corvallis to a position where the snagboat could be raised.
In April 1896, it was reported that “the jig is up with the old steamer Three Sisters.”During a recent high water period on the Willamette, Three Sisters had been hauled out on the riverbank downstream from Corvallis, and as of April 21, 1896, the plan was to dismantle the steamer. The hull was reported to have become so decayed and leaky that the owners decided that the steamer would no longer be of use.
By May 4, 1896, the work of dismantling the steamer was nearly complete.The lighter machinery had been removed and stored in an old warehouse near the O.C.& E depot at Corvallis. The boiler, the stern-wheel shaft, and other heavy pieces were left where they had been removed, and it was planned to build a temporary structure over them.
The steamship Altona operated from 1890 to 1907 on the Willamette River in the U.S. state of Oregon. In 1907, she was transferred to Alaska.
T.M. Richardson was a steamboat built in 1888 at Oneatta, Oregon, which served on Yaquina Bay and on the Yaquina River from 1888 to 1908. This vessel was commonly known as the Richardson or the T.M.
Pomona was a steamboat which operated on the Willamette, Columbia and Cowlitz rivers from 1898 to 1940. Pomona was specially designed to operate in low water conditions such as typically prevailed in the summer months in Oregon. Pomona was one of the few steamers that could regularly navigate to Corvallis, Oregon which was the practical head of navigation on the Willamette. In 1926, Pomona was substantially rebuilt, and served afterwards as a towboat. In 1940, Pomona was converted into an unpowered floating storehouse.
Grahamona was a sternwheel steamboat built in 1912 for the Oregon City Transportation Company, commonly known as the Yellow Stack Line. Grahamona was specially designed to serve on the shallow waters of the upper Willamette River. It was one of the largest steamboats ever to operate on the upper Willamette. In 1920, Grahamona was sold and the name was changed to Northwestern. In 1939, the vessel was sold again, and transferred to Alaska for service on the Kuskokwim River.
Elwood was a sternwheel steamboat which was built to operate on the Willamette River, in Oregon, but which later operated on the Lewis River in Washington, the Stikine River in Canada, and on Puget Sound. The name of this vessel is sometimes seen spelled "Ellwood". Elwood is probably best known for an incident in 1893, when it was approaching the Madison Street Bridge over the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon. The bridge swung open to allow the steamer to pass. However, a streetcar coming in from the east end of the bridge failed to notice the bridge was open, and ran off into the river in the Madison Street Bridge disaster.
Wallamet was a sidewheel-driven steamboat that operated on the Willamette and Columbia rivers in Oregon and later on the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers in California. Built in a Mississippi river style that was not suited to the conditions of these rivers, and suffering from construction defects, Wallamet was not a financially successful vessel. The name of this vessel is often seen spelled as Willamette.
Newport was an American steamboat built in 1908 at Yaquina City, Oregon. Now a ghost town, Yaquina City was then the terminus of the Corvallis & Eastern Railroad. For many years Newport transported excursionists in the summer months across a short water route between Yaquina City and the town of Newport, Oregon.
Harvest Queen was the name of two stern-wheel steamboat built and operated in Oregon. Both vessels were well known in their day and had reputations for speed, power, and efficiency.The first Harvest Queen, widely considered one of the finest steamers of its day, was constructed at Celilo, Oregon, which was then separated from the other portions of the navigable Columbia River by two stretches of difficult to pass rapids.
Unio was a small sternwheel-driven steamboat which operated on the Willamette and Yamhill rivers from 1861 to 1869. This vessel is primarily remembered for its having been named Unio when built in 1861, in the first year of the American Civil War, and then having the name completed, to Union, by a new, staunchly pro-Union owner, James D. Miller. Union appears to have sunk in 1869, been salvaged, and then dismantled, with the machinery going to a new steamer then being built for service on the Umpqua River.
The People's Transportation Company operated steamboats on the Willamette River and its tributaries, the Yamhill and Tualatin rivers, in the State of Oregon from 1862 to 1871. For a brief time this company operated steamers on the Columbia River, and for about two months in 1864, the company operated a small steamer on the Clackamas River.
Alice was a stern-wheel driven steamboat that operated on the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the 1870s and 1880s. Alice was the largest vessel built above Willamette Falls and was considered in its day to be the "Queen of the River". This steamer was rebuilt after near-destruction in a fire at Oregon City, Oregon in May 1873. In 1876, it was withdrawn from the upper Willamette River and transferred to the Columbia River, where it was worked as a towboat moving ocean-going ships to and from Portland and Astoria, Oregon, near the mouth of the Columbia River.
Wenat was a stern-wheel steamboat that, under the name Swan, was built and operated, briefly, on the Tualatin River, in the state of Oregon. In 1858, Swan was sold, moved to the lower Willamette River, renamed Cowlitz, and placed on a route between Portland, Oregon the Cowlitz River.
Albany was a stern-wheel driven steamboat that operated on the Willamette River from 1868 to 1875. This vessel should not be confused with the later sternwheeler Albany, which ran, also on the Willamette River, from 1896 to 1906, when it was rebuilt and renamed Georgie Burton.
Occident was a steamer that operated on the Willamette River and occasionally its tributary, the Santiam River from 1875 to about 1890. Occident was designed primarily for freight work, and did not have passenger accommodations. This Occident should not be confused with the smaller steam launch Occident, apparently propeller-driven, which operated out of Astoria, Oregon in the 1890s.
Active was a stern-wheel driven steamboat that operated on the upper Willamette River from 1865 to 1872. During its short operational life, Active was owned by several different steamboat companies. It was dismantled in 1872 at Canemah, Oregon.
Robert Young was a stern-wheel driven steamboat that operated on the Columbia and Willamette rivers from 1918 to 1935. This vessel was originally named Nespelem, and operated under that name until 1920. From 1920 to 1935, this vessel was owned by the Western Transportation Company or one of its subsidiaries, and was employed primarily in service to paper mills.
No Wonder was a stern-wheel driven steamboat that operated on the Willamette, Columbia and Cowlitz rivers from 1889 to 1930. No Wonder was originally built in 1877 as Wonder, which was dismantled in 1888, with components being shifted over to a new hull, which when launched in late 1889 was called No Wonder.
Fanny Patton was a stern-wheel driven steamboat that operated on the Willamette River, in Oregon, starting in August 1865. This steamer operated from 1865 to 1880 for various owners, and was a considered a profitable vessel. The steamer was named for the daughter of businessman Edwin N Cook, Frances Mary "Fannie" Cooke (1837–1886), who married Thomas McFadden Patton in 1854. Edwin N. Cook was one of the principals of the People's Transportation Company.
Orient was a light-draft sternwheel-driven steamboat built in 1875 for the Willamette River Transportation Company, a concern owned by pioneer businessman Ben Holladay. Shortly after its completion, it was acquired by the Oregon Steam Navigation Company. Orient was a near-twin vessel of a steamer built at the same time, the Occident.
Joseph Kellogg was a stern-wheel driven steamboat that operated on the Willamette, Columbia, and Cowlitz rivers for the Kellogg Transportation Company. It was named after the company's founder, Joseph Kellogg (1812-1903). The sternwheeler Joseph Kellogg was built in 1881 at Portland, Oregon.