River Steamboats / Steamboat Natchez

They Were Celebrities

Exactly who we consider celebrities within our social structure depends on what era you choose. There was a time before television, radio and Hollywood when celebrity status could depend on your chosen profession. The profession didn’t necessarily have to be show business.

Believe it or not, many steamboat captains during the mid to late 1800’s were considered every bit a celebrity, very similar to the celebrities we know today in the era of mass media. The big difference was that news traveled slower. It would take longer than a nanosecond to become famous.

Steamboats Natchez and Robert E. Lee

Steamboats were a major part of U.S. commerce during the 1800’s and rivers like the Mississippi were literally crowded with steamboats. In addition to river waterways like the Ohio and Missouri Rivers, steamboats were active all over the Great Lakes region. Whether on rivers, lakes or oceans, the speed of steamboats and steamships was very important to many people. If you were shipping supplies or traveling , you generally preferred a faster vessel. If you happened to be the master of a faster steamboat you had greater respect and probably greater business. That’s pretty much how it worked. If you were the winner of a steamboat race people knew your name. If you won several races and/or were known to beat speed records, you could be famous. Having the ability to push a vessel to it’s maximum was considered a talent.

Why Race a Steamboat?

Why does anyone race anything? Boats, horses, motorcycles, cars and airplanes. If it moves we race it. If you can race it you also may want to gamble on it. To win a race is to gain prestige. When it came to steamboats, faster was considered better and the winner was celebrated. If you won many races you gained a reputation. The age of steamboat racing was also an era where entertainment choices were limited. Very limited compared to today. This might also be one reason why throngs of spectators would line up the shores to watch the great race. As opposed to horse racing, steamboat racing was a race with machinery, moving parts and steam pressure.

A steamboat would race and overtax it’s boilers for business purposes as stated above. Passengers also liked faster river travel and shippers liked it as well. A captain who could figure out a way to get more from his steamboat was a man in demand of the boat owners. It was something a steamboat operator could brag about.

Captain Grant Marsh who piloted the Far West during the Sioux War of 1876

There was the story of one steamboat captain who they say attached an anvil to the steam boiler pressure outlet so that the pressure would continue to rise and deliver more power to the paddle wheels. Why let pressure escape? The problem was that nobody really understood the physics of steam boiler operation. What they did understand was that more pressure meant a faster vessel. It would be decades later that boiler physics were fully understood. Racing a steamboat is the same as racing a boiler and whether it was a race between two vessels or a racing of the boilers to simply go faster than before, the results often were generally the same…exploding boilers and fire destruction.

The Great Race of 1870

What was chronicled as the Great Race of it’s time was the New Orleans to St. Louis steamboat race in June of 1870. The race was between the steamboats Natchez and the Robert E. Lee. This was quite an event, covered not only by the newspapers but also by the nationally popular Harper’s Weekly. Harper’s was known to cover many events in the frontier region and the important Mississippi River was part of it. The winner of the three day race was the Robert E. Lee who arrived in St. Louis about six hours before the Natchez. Newspapers stories of the time indicated that many passengers did recognize the inherent dangers of steamboat racing but overall found the event exciting. There is no question that steamboat captains put their passengers in harms way when racing.

The Far West Breaks Speed Records

The steamboat Far West operated on the Missouri River during 1976 and took part in the Sioux campaign of that year involving Colonel George Armstrong Custer. The captain of the Far West was one of the most distinguished and admired steamboat captains of the era. Captain Grant Marsh was master of the Far West and during the 1876 Sioux War steered his vessel upriver on the Yellowstone to the very mouth of the Little Bighorn River. That in itself was a feat and one many others wouldn’t be capable of. Grant Marsh was a well known steamboat captain.

Explosion of steamboat Lucy Walker

On June 30, Marsh and General Terry received news of the Indian victory over Custer. It loaded wounded soldiers from another battle and traveled 710 miles down the Missouri River in only 54 hours to bring the wounded soldiers and the news of Custer’s defeat to Fort Abraham Lincoln, Dakota Territory. Captain Grant Marsh and the Far West steamed back upriver nine days later with horses and supplies for the troops still there. The 54 hour and 710 mile distance set a record for average steamboat speed at that time. It’s quite interesting that such a speed record was attained in a real life and death situation and involving day and dangerous night running rather than during a staged race event. The Far West lasted another seven years until her sinking in 1883. Steamboats had a very short life span in those days.

A Fatal Hudson River Race

The Hudson River in New York state was a popular steamboat racing venue. In the year 1852 there were plenty of steamboats and plenty of passenger traffic. The book Death Passage on the Hudson by author Kris A. Hansen, gives a detailed account of what took place during this incident, the deaths involved and the aftermath. The 198 foot side wheeler steamboat Henry Clay appeared to be racing the steamboat Armenia between Albany and New York City. The two steamboats had been regulars on that Hudson River run and were in big competition for passengers. The faster you could reach a stop and pick up passengers before the other vessel the more money you would make. What occurred in July of 1852 was not considered a one time event. The two vessels apparently raced each other often. Racing was both a prestige and business goal. Passenger safety concerns in 1852 were secondary.

During this race down the Hudson, it was obvious to all aboard the Henry Clay that her boilers were going to the maximum. The noise and shaking was evident to everyone. Some passengers reportedly disembarked at stops simply because of what was going on. They would find alternate transportation. It was reported that some protested to the crew that they were placing the vessel in jeopardy. Apparently, the protestations had little effect.

Disaster struck when the overheated boiler on the Henry Clay caused the adjacent woodwork to catch fire. The fire spread fast trapping many of the passengers. What’s a bit surprising is that the boilers didn’t actually explode which you would have expected under the circumstances. With the boat on fire, the Henry Clay turned toward the shore and at full speed ran up the river bank just south of Yonkers but not before the fire in the boat’s midsection trapped passengers in the stern area.

Explosion of steamboat Sultana off Memphis Tennessee in April 1865

The Henry Clay slid way up on the river bank allowing most of the people in the front section of the boat to escape, but those trapped on the stern were still about 140 feet off shore in deep water. Dozens of people lost their lives by fire or drowning. The public was shocked and outraged as were the newspapers accounts. Some of the dead were prominent citizens which made the newspaper outcry even louder. The newspapers blamed the disaster on racing. The book, Death Passage on the Hudson, tells a very personal story of the tragedy and a detailed description of the racing.

Apparently, after the fact, there were some conflicting opinions as to whether an actual race did take place. The description of events seem to confirm that a race did indeed take place on that fatal day. When speaking of the Henry Clay officers, one newspaper story stated, ” They are liable, as common carriers, for the property entrusted to them, unless the loss is caused by act of God”. Also, “Let them reap what they have sown. Let them bear the responsibility they have assumed”. Hearings were held and the newspapers condemned the officers of the Henry Clay. Congressional hearings resulted and laws were passed prohibiting steamboat racing. To give you an idea of how dangerous steamboat travel could be,the Scientific American magazine reported that deaths aboard American steamboats totaled 487 in the first eleven months of 1860. This is a huge number even today, and based on the population of 1860, it’s even larger.

Disasters by Intentionally Overtaxing Boilers

Articles written during the steamboat era placed high value on speed. A steamboat race didn’t need to be a side by side event. A steamboat captain knew how long it generally took to travel between ports. Beating that time was considered a good thing. It was considered a noteworthy accomplishment. A captain would be publicly awarded for this type of feat. For a steamboat to travel faster, considering equal loads, it’s boiler pressure would have to be raised. When boiler pressure was raised, and in boilers of the era with their less advanced technology, explosions were a distinct possibility. In these early days, the physics and mechanics of boiler explosions was not well understood. Many lives were lost to boiler explosions caused by captains who intentionally pushed them to the limit and obviously beyond. The Saluda explosion in 1852 just off the docks in Lexington Missouri was such a case. Because of strong river currents, the Saluda was behind schedule going upriver on the Missouri River. The vessel departed the dock with orders to put boilers to the maximum in an effort to get around a bend of swift moving water that the captain had been unable to do for two days. The overtaxed boilers exploded after the paddle wheel barely made one turn. It was still essentially at the dock. Over one-hundred people were killed in the explosion including the captain and several people on shore. Parts of bodies and of the steamboat were found in the town itself. It was a tremendous disaster even during the exploding steamboat era. Today, there is a memorial in Lexington Kansas regarding this tragic event. As a side note, many of the passengers were Mormon pilgrims from England traveling west to Utah. There were similar explosions while vessels were departing and departure was then considered a dangerous part of the voyage. High boiler pressure at departure was the cause of many steamboat disasters.

The 144 foot long steamboat Lucy Walker exploded her three boilers on the Ohio River near New Albany Indiana in October of 1844 resulted in the deaths of thirty-six passengers and twenty crew members. The passenger manifest and records were lost and there was no way to know if the death toll actually may have been higher. There was newspaper speculation that the boilers had construction flaws and there was some speculation that the vessel was racing. Nothing definitive was ever decided on the cause.

The biggest steamboat disaster occurred in April 1865 when the Sultana exploded just after leaving Memphis Tennessee. This vessel was grossly overloaded with passengers including Union soldiers returning to the North at the end of the Civil War. Many of these soldiers had been in Confederate prison camps. Witnesses confirmed that the steamboat was extremely overcrowded with some deciding to disembark. The steamboat would be paid by the government per passenger carried therefore the more passengers the more it’s profit. The heavy load required the boilers to be at maximum pressure as the boat was leaving the dock and heading upriver against the strong current. Just after the Sultana rounded a bend north of Memphis it’s boilers exploded with the result of thousands of deaths. Theses numbers then were staggering. They’re staggering for today. It was by far the worst disaster on an American inland waterway. All investigations later concluded that the overloaded conditions made it necessary for the boilers to be overtaxed in order to move the vessel against the current. There was also a question about the boilers maintenance. The fault was placed on the boats owners and master for allowing the extreme overcrowding. The effort to make more money caused a disaster like no other.

The prohibiting of steamboat racing, whether competitively or for cutting time off the run, was seen as a step forward in passenger safety. It was always assumed that some racing did continue and I think that was a fair assumption. It certainly occured in 1870 during the Great Race. Little by little, laws were enacted, licenses required, training enforced, inspections were made mandatory and technology advanced. All of this together helped to prevent future disasters of the scale that occurred when steamboating was an anything goes proposition.

Additional related articles that you will find interesting are the Day of the Saluda Explosion, the Columbia River and the King of the Steamboatmen and High Piracy on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

(Photos are in the public domain)


Soo Locks

The biggest event in Great lakes shipping history was the construction of the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie Michigan. Just as in the case of Lake Ontario being at a higher elevation than Lake Erie, Lake Superior is at a higher elevation than Lake Huron. For commercial shipping to exist and to exist at a profit, canals and locks would have to be built connecting several of the Great Lakes.

soo locks 1800's

Soo Locks in the 1800's

The first locks constructed that reached the Great Lakes was the historic Erie Canal which connected the Hudson River to Lake Erie. In fact, the Erie Canal which cut across New York state had a total of 36 locks over it’s 363 mile distance. That 363 miles covered an elevation differential of some 565 feet. That was how much higher Lake Erie was compared to the Hudson River. The Erie Canal was a great success. Not only did it make trade between the east coast and Great Lakes region much more convenient and efficient but it also opened up a gateway for immigration into what is now called the midwest. When the Erie Canal was built, the midwest of today was the western frontier. It was where immigrants, many from Europe, traveled to settle in areas such as Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.

In the case of the Soo Locks, the necessity of having a way for commercial vessels to travel to and from Lake Superior was the result of iron ore being discovered and mined in the upper peninsula of Michigan. The actual discovery of iron ore predated what we refer to as the industrial age, but nevertheless, it’s value was appreciated. The iron ore was first discovered in the Marquette Range. In the early 1840’s, a man named Douglass Houghton, today’s namesake for the city of Houghton Michigan, was Michigan’s first geologist. Houghton surveyed the area and did determine that there were iron ore deposits, mostly on the southern shore of Lake Superior. At this time, the amount of the deposits were not yet determined. In 1845, the first large deposit was discovered near the site of Negaunee Michigan.

soo locks

Soo Locks, circa 1910

There are six main iron ore regions in the upper peninsula of Michigan extending into Wisconsin. The three Michigan ranges are the Marquette, Menominee and the Gogebic. The Gogebic extend to Wisconsin. In respect to shipping, the iron ore had to be transported from the shores of Lake Superior down to the steel mills in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The first iron ore to be shipped out of upper Michigan occurred in 1852 when six barrels of iron ore were shipped to Pennsylvania. The problem of course was the task of negotiating the rapids of the St. Marys River between Lake Superior and lake Huron to the south. During these very early times, boats would literally have to be pulled by horses through the streets of Sault Ste Marie Michigan. To make shipping possible on a large scale, Congress in 1852 passed a bill for the construction of a canal to bypass the rapids. Work began on the canal the next year. To pay for the canal and locks construction, the federal government granted the state of Michigan 750,000 acres of land to sell and raise the money.

soo locks in sault ste marie michigan

Modern day Soo Locks

Much of the labor for the construction was supplied by immigrants from the region south around Detroit and northern Ohio. These men found that building a canal in the upper part of Michigan would be a daunting task mostly due to the very harsh winter weather in Michigan’s upper peninsula.

The work was difficult and there were some labor disputes which caused some temporary work stoppages but finally on May 31, 1855 the first locks were completed. The locks were originally operated by the state and then turned over to federal control in the 1870’s.

The Soo Locks now consist of two canals and four locks. These allow vessels  to safely travel the 21 foot drop in elevation of the St. Mary’s River between Lake Superior and Lakes Michigan and Huron.Estimates are that about 10,000 vessels go through the locks each year. These include both Great Lake and ocean vessels. Since the locks were established there have been several additions and alterations made to accommodate the modern vessels of today.

The Soo Locks today are not only a necessary aid to Great Lakes navigation but is also one of Michigan’s more popular tourist attraction. The Soo locks are closed due to ice during the winter months. The Visitors Center is open from mid May to mid October and just might be a good addition to your Michigan vacation planner. Michigan’s upper peninsula is a great place to visit during the summer months and a visit to Sault Ste Marie and the Soo Locks make a good family vacation stop. The park Visitors Center can also give you a schedule of vessel arrivals to help plan your visit. Boat tours of the locks are also available. Tour boats travel along the international shoreline of the lower harbor letting you experience all the sights, sounds, and excitement of Sault Ste Marie which is Michigan’s oldest city.

Another related article that also makes an excellent addition to your Michigan summer vacation is the Copper Country Scenic Highway in Michigan’s upper peninsula.

(Photos are from the public domain)

History of Shipping / Wapama

steam schooner wapama

Steam schooner Wapama in dry dock at Point Richmond, CA

The history of shipping along the California coast is a colorful subject. At this writing there is a old and historic steamer schooner in dry dock at Point Richmond California, across the bay from San Francisco. The steam schooner Wapama (sometimes referred to as the “Tongass”) is a National Historic Landmark and brings us back to the day when the west coast lumber industry was booming. Timber products were in great demand and the northwest Pacific coast has plenty of trees. Oregon lumber was in great demand and the west coast of America offered a lot of opportunities for steamship concerns. There were a total of about 225 steam schooners built especially for the lumber trade and the Wapama has the distinction of being the last one still surviving.

The Wapama is a wooden hull vessel made from Douglas fir . The Douglas fir tree was  popular with shipbuilders of the era. The ship was built in 1915 and was in service until 1947. During the early 1900’s, both shipping and railroad companies transported quite a lot of lumber in northern California and Oregon. The vessel Wapama was originally built for the steamship company of Charles R. McCormick, a former lumberman. The McCormick Steamship Company was in business between 1903 and 1040. McCormick initially had several investors with an interest in a fleet of vessels. In 1921, he acquired everyone’s interests and issued stock. McCormick managed the company successfully and with his profits was able to enlarge his fleet of steamers. The Wapama plied the ocean regularly between California and Oregon. The vessel has a length of 216 feet and a beam of 40 feet. It’s gross tonnage is 951. The Wapama is best noted for it’s high superstructure on the stern and a high forecastle on the bow. The Wapama had one main hatch for loading. The ship could carry an enormous amount of board feet lumber in addition to about 60 passengers. This steam vessel was powered by water tube boilers burning diesel fuel.  The engine was triple expansion with 800 horse power.

wapama steamer

Current deteriorated condition of steamship Wapama

The Wapama was sold to the National Park Service in 1977. This was for inclusion in it’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area. In the history of ships, the Wapama was a unique artifact. The old ship had been on display in San Francisco at it’s Maritime Museum at Fishermans Wharf.  In 1979, due to it’s deteriorating hull condition, the Wapama was put on a barge to avoid it’s possible sinking. Today, as mentioned above, the Wapama sits in dry dock at Point Richmond and is not open to visitors. The photos on this page show just how far the wood hull has deteriorated over the years. You can get good views of the steamer on the road passing it’s dry dock.

While the vessel is quite old and in obvious need of restoration, viewing it yourself is an impressive experience. In 2011, the National Park Service announced that the Wapama would be dismantled but as of this date it has not been. What eventually happens to this historic steamer is still officially undecided. The cost of restoration would be quite costly. There has been a lot of concern voiced by people in favor of preservation but the economics will probably prevent that from occurring. The idea of perhaps saving it’s engine has also been suggested.

The Wapama certainly is a big piece of west coast history and it would be a good thing if somehow the vessel could be saved and made into an historical exhibit. If that is not possible, something from the ship, such as the engine, needs to be preserved for future generations. I think that destroying what is the last of a fleet of over 200 unique vessels would not serve very well. The ship has been condemned but historians have continued to make arguments against the NPS directive. If you feel strongly about this yourself I would suggest you contact the NPS by phone or email to express your support for saving the Wapama.

Two additional articles we’ve published which you’ll find interesting are the GP Griffith Lake Erie Disaster and the Mosquito Fleet of Puget Sound.


(Photos are from author’s private collection)

The Columbia River and the “King of the Steamboatmen”

The Columbia River was and still is the aorta of the American Northwest. Along with it’s tributaries such as the Snake and the Williamette, the famed Columbia River stretches for thousands of miles. What was once a mighty river that needed to be tamed now is a mighty river that Oregon tourists enjoy continually. Riding up the Columbia River to the beautiful Columbia Gorge and viewing the scenery that Lewis and Clark did is a fascinating trip into history. A Columbia River map will show you just how large this river is. The Columbia River has a rich history that the following story will help tell.

The Columbia was recognized very early on by the Native Americans to be a highway through otherwise difficult and sometimes impossible terrain. The Columbia ran it’s course through jagged mountains and remote flat lands. This amazing river spread so far to the east into Montana and Idaho that it almost converged with the Yellowstone River which flowed in an opposite direction. A some points, a rain drop could run in either direction, west to the Pacific Ocean or eastward down the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers to the Gulf of Mexico near New Orleans. The Columbia River of course made it possible for Lewis and Clark to reach present day Oregon.

john AinsworthOne of the best ways to fully understand the significance of the Columbia River and learn what it took to make it a navigable route, is to take a glimpse into the life and feats of one of it’s very first river pilots. This man was named Captain John C. Ainsworth ( pictured left) and many referred to him as the “King of the Columbia River Steamboatmen”. He arrived in Oregon in 1850.

Like many experienced steamboat men, John Ainsworth gained his river piloting skills along the Mississippi River. He recognized the opportunities present in the northwest. Fellow steamboatmen would ask John Ainsworth the  question…why would a skilled river pilot waste his time in the relative wilderness of Oregon when there was plenty of money to be made down in California?

Ainsworth had the good fortune at the time to meet a man by the name of Lot Whitcomb (pictured below right). What Whitcomb didn’t have in knowledge of piloting a steamboat, he did have in industriousness. Whitcomb was buying up materials to construct the first home built steamboat made in Oregon. The boat that Lot Whitcomb would build was named, unsurprisingly, after himself, the “Lot Whitcomb”.The vessel was 160 feet long with a 24 foot beam, two boilers producing 140 horsepower and capable of 12 MPH on the open river. It was a sidewheeler boat. The Lot Whitcomb steamboat was roomy, had a dining room and an interior of polished wood. Whitcomb’s new vessel offered elegance in the wilderness. It was the best looking boat in Oregon.

lot whitcombAlthough it was a very impressive vessel, the “Lot Whitcomb” was a sidewheeler. The feeling however among boatmen was that a sternwheeler would have better control on a swift flowing current. The Columbia River promised to have many such currents. Sternwheelers were  known to be able to penetrate narrower waterways for the very reason they could be narrower by design, not having wide paddles on each side of the vessel. With the rudders placed close to the rear paddlewheel,of a sternwheeler,  quicker maneuverability could be expected. All good things to have on a river like the Columbia.

The steamboat was built simply because Lot Whitcomb believed in the potential for steamboats in the northwest just as John Ainsworth did. Whitcomb eventually offered the job of commanding his new steamboat to Ainsworth. He accepted. Unfortunately, the two found out they didn’t get along too well. Most historians attribute this to the fact that Whitcomb could have been envious of Ainsworth steamboat piloting abilities. He knew river navigation much better than Whitcomb. Regardless, John Ainsworth stuck it out with Whitcomb and kept envisioning the potential for himself to operate a fleet of steamboats on the very river that Lewis and Clark in 1804 used to explore to the Pacific Ocean. relations with Whitcomb didn’t improve and as far as Ainsworth was concerned it was only a matter of time that he would leave and strike out on his own. The problem however was money. Ainsworth didn’t have the needed funds to begin his own operation. His plan was to convince fellow Oregonians to fund an able steamboat captain like himself. He would need to convince them of the economic potential of Columbia River steamboating. As time went on and John Ainsworth was piloting on the Columbia River the population was growing. That also meant that the commerce was growing. Competition from other boats grew and Ainsworth had the uncomfortable thought that perhaps some other experienced boat men from the Mississippi would emerge and steal his dream.

steamboat lot whitcombA strange thing happened shortly after the official brass band accompanied launch of the Lot Whitcomb ( sketch at left). The steamboat got itself hung up on a reef. At first, people who heard the news blamed Ainsworth, but as it turned out, he had taken the day off and the boat was piloted by none other than Lot Whitcomb himself and an assistant. Whitcomb of course called Ainsworth for help in freeing the vessel at which he flatly refused. he didn’t want to get aboard until the boat was back where he left it. The story is that Whitcomb had spread rumors that the hang up was Ainsworth’s fault even though he was nowhere near the accident scene. The rumors started to tarnish Ainsworth’s reputation as an excellent steamboat pilot. That signaled the end of the association between the two men. Ainsworth received a payment of $3,500 for his time with Whitcomb. At the same time Whitcomb had severe financial problems and sold had to give a controlling interest to an Oregon City Company. Ainsworth stayed on piloting the “Lot” and plowed his money back into the steamboat. For this he received a share of the ownership. In 1854 the Lot was sold for $40,000 and was to be sent to work on the Sacramento River in California. Ainsworth received $4,000 from the sale as his ten percent share.

John Ainsworth, now with his $4,000 to get started, befriended a Mississippi River man who was an excellent engineer, and they together made plans to build a sternwheeler for Ainsworth to operate. The boat envisioned was to be built and named the “Jennie Clark”. She would be 115 feet long and 18.5 feet at the beam. The boiler was centered on the vessel and the rudders were to be placed very near the rear paddlewheel to give maximum control. The Jennie Clark was built and launched in 1855 and didn’t take long at all to start making a profit with both passengers and freight. The story of John C. Ainsworth and his steamboat company only grew from here. The public domain image below is of Astoria, Oregon in 1868.

astoria oregon 1868John Ainsworth and a group of investors incorporated the Oregon Steam Navigation Company in 1860. Ainsworth’s company was so large it controlled the shipping routes of steamers, railroads, and freight lines. It essentially became the biggest transportation monopoly in the Pacific.Northwest. The company also began operating steamers between San Francisco and ports along the Columbia River such as Astoria and Portland. By the year 1869 the OSN Company virtually controlled Columbia River traffic. Then, In 1872, Ainsworth exchanged a controlling interest in the OSN to the Northern Pacific Railroad in return for the railroad’s bonds.In less than twenty years John Ainsworth turned an idea and a dream into vast wealth. To be sure, it was the right idea at precisely the right location.

In April 1879, Henry Villard purchased the Oregon Steam Navigation Company for its full capitalized value of $5 million. Ainsworth then relocated to Oak Lawn, California, a very wealthy man. This was not however the last of Ainsworth business ventures. After selling out his shares in OSN, in 1883 he entered the banking business. Ainsworth founded the Ainsworth National Bank in Portland and later in 1892 he started the Central Bank of Oakland.

The Columbia River and it’s famed Columbia Gorge continue to marvel visitors. Today, tourists have the opportunity to ride up and down the river enjoying cruises lasting a week or longer or they can simply take a picturesque day cruise and get some great photo opportunities. Many people also enjoy the dinner cruises on the boat Portland Spirit. If you have the opportunity to do any of these things you just may want to remember the dream of John C. Ainsworth and the great success he had operating a fleet of steamboats.

John C. Ainsworth passed away on December 30, 1893 near Oakland California. He was seventy-one years of age.

(Photos and images are in the public domain)