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Old 07-03-2013, 09:13 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Posts: 53
Default Fast Columbia River Sternwheelers

John is right about the Columbia River steamer HASSALO holding the speed record for sternwheelers. Shortly after her launching she reportedly made a two-mile run down the Columbia River averaging an astonishing 26 miles-per-hour. I haven't found any documentation on this, only a couple of mentions in old books. What can be verified is that on June 18, 1899, the HASSALO (3rd of the name) made a high-speed run from Portland to Astoria, Oregon (105 miles) in 4 hours, 22 3/4 minutes averaging 23.80 miles-per-hour. The HASSALO was owned by the Oregon Railway and Navigation Co. and was specifically prepared to make a high-speed run to break the record of another very fast Columbia River speedster, the TELEPHONE. There is still some debate as to which was actually the faster vessel. The TELEPHONE was owned by Capt, Uriah B. Scott and had set the pegs between Portland and Astoria on July 2, 1887 with a time of 4 hours, 34 3/4 minutes averaging 22.93 miles-per-hour. The TELEPHONE made its' 1887 run with 200 passengers, a load of freight, using regular fuel and on a normal run. The HASSALO was carefully prepared for this run to specifically beat the TELEPHONE'S 12-year-old record. She used "special" fuels, was stripped of all superfluous weight, and carried no passengers or freight. She also left on an earlier than normal schedule to avoid stiff morning headwinds. Although the HASSALO beat the TELEPHONE'S time by 12 minutes, it is still debated which was actually the faster boat.

The BAILEY GATZERT was also a fast sternwheeler. I'm not sure she was as fast as the HASSALO or TELEPHONE, but she did make some spectacular runs. In 1914, she ran from The Dalles to Portland (115 miles) in about five hours, averaging about 22 miles-per-hour. In her early years (on Puget Sound) she frequently raced the sternwheelers GREYHOUND and CHAS. R. SPENCER and the big sidewheeler T.J. POTTER. On June 14, 1891 the GATZERT lost a much publicized race with the POTTER between Tacoma and Seattle, Washington when, after running neck-and-neck to the halfway point, blew out her nozzle and lost steam pressure. The POTTER won the 28 miles race in a time of 82 1/2 minutes (20.36 miles-per-hour).

The HASSALO, TELEPHONE and BAILEY GATZERT were all very fast sternwheel boats. It would have been interesting to put them against the likes of the big sidewheelers ECLIPSE, J.M. WHITE III or the CITY OF LOUISVILLE and let them have a go at each other.
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