V20 N4 Tugs on the Great River Highway

Page 1


Vol. 20 No. 4 Autumn 1994

Tugs and towboats are the horsepower of the Columbia, the great river highway. These strong boats are dwarfed by the massive ships, but they can maneuver them through small spaces, heavy winds and fierce currents. They can tow tens of thousands of tons at one time and push

"Brix-Astoria," special limited edition print hand-colored by artist L. Cedric "Lowell" Janson, 1992. Courtesy of Bill W. Dodge 10th Street Collection Gallery. The name Knappton Towboat Co. of 1923 was changed to Brix Maritime Co. in 1990. It has recently been purchased by Foss Maritime Co.

It's not uncommon to see people leaning on the rail of the 17th St. pier admiring the little tugboats alongside the great ships. Tugs are generally thought of as whimsical little boats with lots of character, but in reality they are strong and powerful vessels.

500 times their own weight. Some tugs can handle three to five barges at a time.

Tugs on the Great River Highway

A review and newsletter from the Columbia River Maritime Museum at 1792 Marine Drive in Astoria, Oregon

The tug is only as effective as its crew. Harmony and communication are imperative. The demands on the crew can make the job extremely dangerous, with work around the clock and in all types of weather. Deckhands can fall when jumping from one barge to another or between bundles on log rafts. Some work regular days; others are on call at any hour and may work for weeks at a time. It is said that a strong marriage is crucial in this occupation.

Museum staff and volunteers recently experienced the work of tugs at first hand during the lightship Columbia's October trip upriver to Portland. It was fascinating to watch the captain's precise handling of the boat and how he could maneuver it to gently kiss the side of the ship. The tug could turn on a dime, moving to the bow and stern to align the ship perfectly for docking.

In this issue, join guest author Harold Nelson for a look back at Knappton Towboats and the world of tugs and towboating on the Columbia.

Darryl Bergerson

Marietta Donei; Cris Ek


Alan Green, Jr.

J. W. 'Bud' Forrester

Robley Mangold, Treasurer

Museum Staff:

Thomas R. Dyer

Anne Morden

Frank Warren


Herbert Steinmeyer

Evelyn Georges

Richard T Carruthers, Secretary

Anita Decker

Ed Nelson, Jr.

Jerry L. Ostermiller, Director

Eric 'Skip' Hauke

Board of Trustees:

Roy Snell

Rachel Wynne

from the Wheelhouse

These waterfront projects will integrate cruise ship moorage and our Museum with downtown Astoria. The City, visitors, residents, and the Museum will all benefit through this partnership. If this year's cruise ship activity is any indication of what the future holds, then we can say with confidence, "If we build it, they will come. "

Ward V. Cook, President

Karen Carpenter

Eugene Lowe

Russ Bean

Trish Custard

Jack R. Dant

Jerry Ostermiller, Director

John Dirschel

Maurie D. Clark

Anne Witty

The cruise ship business also provides exciting opportunities to increase off season tourism, as half of the ships cruise the Columbia River during the spring and fall. Finally, the basin dredging project provides a fine addition to the City of Astoria's plan to improve the waterfront. As I write, the City of Astoria is beginning construction on a riverside walkway extending from the Museum westward into the downtown core. The walkway, designed for pedestrians, will be 10 feet wide, lighted and landscaped. It will include resting benches and interpretive signage A "people's park" at 16th Street, built by the Astoria Rotary Club, makes an excellent river observation point and picnic area.

Two years ago the City of Astoria built a transient moorage facility at the Columbia River Maritime Museum. This facility, now serving recreational boaters, has also attracted the attention of cruise ship operators desiring a major port of call on the lower Columbia.

Allen V Cellars

Peter Brix

Mark Tolonen

The dredging project will help secure new tourism markets by enabling cruise vessels to moor conveniently close to downtown businesses and the Museum. The newly-emerging cruise ship industry has virtually exploded. Currently, four cruise ship operators Yachtship Cruise Lines, Wilderness Cruises, Alaska Sightseeing/Cruise West, and American Waterways have requested mooring arrangements here.

W. Hampton Scudder

Mitch Boyce

Jon Englund

Robert G. Hemphill

W. Louis Larson

Alan C. Goudy, Immediate Past Pres

James H. Gilbaugh, Jr.

Justine Van Sickle

Willis Van Dusen

Charles Shea

Lynne Leland

Rose Palazzo

Chris Bennett


William T. C. Stevens

While a significant number of recreational boats use the dock, larger vessels are currently limited by the 9-foot depth . To solve this problem, the Museum requested funds for a dredging project from the Northwest Oregon Economic Alliance. The State of Oregon Regional Strategies Funding program, based on lottery dollars, came through with a $52,000 grant to dredge the basin.

Celerino Bebeloni

Charlotte Jackson

Hampton Scudder assists as Director Jerry Ostermiller dons scuba equipment to survey the mooring basin for planned improvements. Trustee Richard Carruthers offers moral encouragement.

Jim Nyberg

"If We Build It, They Will Come ... "

Ted Natt, Vice President

Walter Gadsby, Jr

Steve Kann

Carl Fisher

The cruise ships will have a substantial impact on the local economy, and should not be underestimated. In 1994, cruise ships brought us 12,500 new visitors! These visitors are generally well-to-do and spend significant amounts of money. Most importantly, cruise ship visitors spread the word about our fine Museum.

John McGowan

John Davis

Don M. Haskell

David M. Myers

Quarterdeck, Vol. 20 No. 4

Printed at Anchor Graphics, Astoria, Oregon


Columbia's Adventure Upriver

The lightship Columbia and her crew thoroughly enjoyed their stay in Portland. The Trustees of the Oregon Maritime Center & Museum met with CRMM Trustees and enjoyed a warm evening getting to know one another better. Perhaps best of all was the opportunity to celebrate the arrival of the sternwheeler Portland at her waterfront berth at McCall Waterfront Park, a suitably visible place for Oregon's only working steam sternwheeler tug. Congratulations to our colleagues upriver for a job well done with the steamer Portland, and kudos to the many volunteers who made her preservation possible. And, as for the lightship Columbia's 1994 voyage, congratulations and thanks are in order to all the CRMM crew, volunteers and staff alike, greenhorns and veterans. Like any successful voyage, many hated to see it come to an end even though the 17th Street pier makes a mighty nice home for this retired floating lighthouse!

then docked outboard of the sternwheeler Portland.

Columbia serves as the flagship of the Maritime Museum. Her operational skipper for this voyage, Hampton Scudder (who is CRMM Exhibit Specialist when he is ashore), remarked that whether docked or under power, the essence of the vessel is her enthusiastic volunteers. "A trip such as this is a great opportunity to complete some needed projects. Mechanically, the vessel is in excellent shape; it took very little work to get her operational." Hampton skippered the ship under the supervision of various Columbia River pilots, who were aboard whenever the ship was under weigh. The lightship Columbia is not licensed for passengers, but she needed a crew. During the week-long voyage, more than 100 people worked aboard her a volunteer crew capable of everything from running the engines to cleaning the galley. Key crew members stayed aboard for the week, including Curator of Operations Steve Kann, CRMM volunteer Bob Chamberlain, and Executive Director

The QUARTERDECK is published four times a year by the Columbia River Maritime Museum, 1792 Marine Dr, Astoria, OR 97103.

Along the river, the Columbia was guided by the able services of the Columbia River Pilots and accompanied by Foss Maritime tugs. Both groups donated their professional services many thanks!

On October 11th, the lightship left her berth in Astoria to voyage up the Columbia River . Her destination: the Oregon Maritime Center & Museum in Portland, where Columbia took part in the dedication of the historic sternwheeler Portland's new permanent berth on Front Avenue. This also marked the first joint Trustee meeting for these two Oregon maritime organizations. From the moment the Columbia left the dock, her goodwill voyage was a great success.

Volume 20 No.4

Photo and illustration credits: Mooring survey, page 1, photographed by Marietta Doney; Pride of Baltimore II and USS Astoria Bell, page 4, photographed by Anne Witty; Dobbins Lifeboats, Page 5, CRMM archives; The Knappton, page 6, CRMM archives; The Irene, page 8, CRMM archives, The Melville and the diesel Melville, page 9, CRMM archives; Legacy and Testament, page 11, courtesy of CRMM Book Store; Lutheran Church Choir, page 12, photographed by Anne Witty.

Jerry Ostermiller. Chief engineer Dennis McNally and a contingent of excellent engineers from the Oregon Maritime Center & Museum worked alongside new crew members every leg of the trip. And the pilots allowed even greenhorns to take the helm whenever the ship was not maneuvering in an awkward situation

Editor, Karen Carpenter. Editorial Staff: Jerry Ostermiller, Anne Witty, Trish Custard, Rachel Wynne.

The Port of Longview provided overnight berthing, as did Foss Maritime headquarters at St. Johns Bridge. Upon her arrival in Portland, the Columbia was greeted by the Port of Portland fireboat, gushing sprays of colored water, and

Trip planning began months ago in coordination with the Board of Trustees and the Oregon Maritime Center & Museum. As the ship's departure drew near, Trish Custard, Visitor Services and Education Coordinator, and Chris Bennett, Volunteer Coordinator, juggled the logistics of crewing several legs of the voyage. A hundred different schedules who was staying aboard overnight... who needed to meet the ship where they met this tedious task with success. Proving that all CRMM staff can and do wear many hats, Fiscal Officer Marietta Doney supplied tasty provisions to satisfy appetites sharpened by the river voyage and autumn air.

The lightship Columbia tied up to the sternwheeler Portland at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland.


Columbia River Maritime Museum News and Notes


Astoria Mayor Willis Van Dusen unveiled the bell, displayed on the Plaza. A brief memorial service followed, during which flowers were strewn on the river waters under bright sunshine. The American Legion organized a moving and dignified ceremony in honor of all who sacrificed, and those who survived. The City of Astoria World War Two Commemorative City committee, the 2nd U.S. Battery C, and representatives of local government and military units also participated.

U.S.S. ASTORIA Bell Dedicated

The U.S. Navy light cruiser Astoria (CL90), launched in 1942, was named after an earlier vessel lost in 1942 during the pivotal Battle of Savo Island. On August 9th, the 52nd anniversary of that battle, veterans, friends and community members gathered on the Museum Plaza to pay tribute to both gallant ships, their crews, and all who served during the Second World War.


The Summer of 1994 flew by in a flurry of maritime activity at the Museum, dock, and plaza. On August 12th, the magnificent sailing vessel Pride of Baltimore II sailed in stately fashion up the Columbia River to dock at the Maritime Museum. The vessel and her crew were Astoria's honored guests for four days during their first visit to Oregon. The vessel serves as a goodwill ambassador for the state of Maryland and the port of Baltimore.

While she was here, the Pride II lent the flair of maritime heritage to the Astoria Regatta Twilight Boat Parade. With her raking masts and sharp hull lines, the vessel is the only existing example of an 1812-era Baltimore clipper type. She is the successor to an earlier Pride of Baltimore, which was lost at sea in May 1986 with the loss of four crew. Readers may remember that the first Pride of Baltimore visited Astoria in July 1983.

The USS Astoria Bell is on loan to the Museum from the Naval Historical Center in Washington, D.C.

The American Legion color guard flew the Navy flag during dedication and memorial ceremonies on USS Astoria Day.

The topsail schooner Pride of Baltimore II sails into the Maritime Museum dock in August, 1994.

This project was undertaken after a survey of visiting school groups during Spring 1994 In the survey, teachers were asked to list the type of educational materials they would like to see the Museum provide. Pre-visit materials, such as Chart Your Course Through History, were the most requested materials. With funding from Northwest Natural Gas, the Columbia River Maritime Museum is able to meet this important educational need.

ing students to topics they will explore during a tour of the Museum. Separate packets were created for elementary and middle school grades.

In December, the Museum will open an exhibition of ouustanding original photographs taken by the late Victor Jorgensen of Lake Oswego. During the Second World War, Mr. Jorgensen drew photographer's duty with Edward Steichen's special photographic unit in the U.S. Navy. The men's orders were to go wherever they needed to go to document the war in the Pacific. The resultant work was made famous through widespread publication during and after the war.

built for lifeboat stations on the Pacific Northwest coast. I believe they were also used in the San Francisco area The boats in your pho.tograph are of the modified type which was used from the 1890's to the turn of the century time frame This picture of these two boats is the best one I have seen for picking up detail. Most pictures of the Dobbins Lifeboat are side profile views taken from a distance and it is very difficult to pick up the detail. The Dobbins Lifeboat did play a development role in the evolution of late 19th century coastal rescue lifeboat design and for that reason it is for me of strong historical interest. The only thing that perplexes me is that I cannot see anywhere a lifeboat designation painted on either the bow or the stern. As you know, usually each

The Columbia River Maritime Museum is fortunate to be able to display more than 50 works of Victor Jorgensen's vast photographic portfolio. The images, selected by Mr. Jorgensen himself before his death and subsequently by his wife Betty, cover his 1943 and 1944 assignments aboard the aircraft carriers USS Lexington, USS Monterey, and the hospital ship USS Solace. Aboard the USS Albert Grant, Victor Jorgensen followed MacArthur to the Philippines


Another look: In the upper left corner is the Parker House Hotel and in the foreground are two modified Dobbins Lifeboats. 1990.66.35

boat was marked on the bow with the U.S. Lifesav~ng Service and on the stern with the name of the station."

On the vessels, Bill Wilkinson, Director Emeritus of The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia, wrote with great enthusiasm about the image "What an outstanding photograph! It is filled with tremendous interest and of course I am particularly interested in the two lifeboats in the immediate foreground. [They] are modified Dobbins originally developed by the Superintendent of the Lifesaving Service on the Great Lakes in the early 1880s. Capt. Dobbins was looking for a perfect rescue craft. He wanted the lightness and the maneuverability of the surfboat type but, at the same time, the stability and self-righting features of the heavier, larger lifeboat based on the design of the 1873 English lifeboat. As a result the Dobbins Lifeboat was a serious compromise and, if one reads through all the records, it became obvious that after some limited initial success, the boat was gradually phased out. The Lifesaving Service modified the Dobbins design significantly and a few of these boats were

Another Look

The summer 1994 cover photograph showing Astoria's waterfront behind the scenes at a turn of the century Regatta intrigued a number of people. Several readers wrote with the elucidation we requested. Frank Hildebrand of Bend noted that what we had called the "texas and pilot house of a steamboat" is in fact the Parker House Hotel, an opinion corroborated by Bruce Berney, Astoria Public Library Director. Mr. Berney writes that the structure in question is "the north half of the Parker House, a landmark on the corner of 9th and Astor which miraculously survived even the fire of 1922 " Mr. Berney's research using other building evidence in the photograph dates it to 1894 or 1895.

Thanks to all who wrote to contribute to our understanding of Astoria's waterfront in the last 100 years.

Navy Photography Highlighted

Chart Your Course Through History

Thanks to a generous grant from Northwest Natural Gas, the Columbia River Maritime Museum is now able to offer educational materials to visiting school groups Developed to prepare students and teachers for a visit to the Museum, Chart Your Course Through History is a packet of materials including teacher information and student activities. The packet will be sent to all school groups that make reservations for a Museum visit. Designed to meet the curriculum standards of both Oregon and Washington, Chart Your Course Through History reinforces student skills in math, English, social studies and science while introduc-

Quarterdeck, Vol. 20 No. 4

In the next Quarterdeck, we will profile Victor Jorgensen Plan to visit the special exhibition, in the Museum's Kern Room, between this December and June 1995.

Offices Moved

Knappton Towboat - The Early Years

Knappton's first acquisition was Callender Navigation Company of Astoria, Oregon, in 1922. Callender was an oldtime leader on the lower Columbia River, serving the area with towing, freight and passenger service for a number of years.

The Wood Fleet

This narrative is largely a recollection covering 1929 through 1941, resulting from my father's association with the company I myself worked intermittently on most of the boats from 1936 through 1941. Following my graduation from high school, I also worked for Arrow Tug & Barge during 1936-37 as deck hand and skipper. The marine community, especially towboating, has continued to hold my interest through the years.

A few steam tugs were purchased to deliver logs from the rafting grounds to the newly acquired mill. It was not long before the demand for commercial towing service from other mills was increasing. This presented an opportunity to participate and share in this growing log towing industry.

Knappton Towboat Company began at Knappton, Washington, in 1920, moving to Astoria in 1923, where under succeeding ownership it still occupies the same office and moorage as a branch at the foot of 14th Street. The company enjoyed exceptional growth and prosperity over the years despite adversity This was accomplished through the vision, strength and direction of its management, together with the performance of a loyal and dedicated professional workforce. Corporate headquarters in recent years has been on the shore of the Willamette River near Linnton, Oregon.

On October 14, 1920, Knappton Towboat Company was incorporated under the laws of the State of Washington and the towing interests were spun off from the Knappton Mill operation. One might say this was the birth of the company. From relatively small beginnings and local stature it would grow into one of the major towing companies on the West Coast, serving both river and ocean customers from the Columbia River, Puget Sound and Alaska.

The Brix family, company founders, settled during the 1880s in Pacific County, Washington, becoming involved in the Frankfurt, Naselle, Grays River and Deep River areas. In 1909, Knappton Mills & Lumber Company, situated on the north shore of the Columbia River at Knappton, Washington, was acquired from Simpson Lumber Company . This was an ideal business combination. Cut your own timber and mill it in your own mill. And also do the towing.

The Office Force

During this period, the men staffing the office (not all at the same time) were Art Bell, Charlie Callender, Harry Flavel, Frank Humble, H. B Settem, Henry Skibbe and Fred Meyer. In 1931, young and handsome Fred Meyer was assigned to the Astoria branch of the company, which he covered for a number of years. Later, he was transferred to Portland. Under his guidance the company experienced steady growth and, in 1960, he became the president. The assignment in Astoria had served him well, not only honing his managerial skills, but also finding a wife and fathering two sons before returning to Portland.

Pioneers of Pacific County

In September 1923, the decision was made to move the operations office from Knappton to Astoria and locate in the former Callender dock and moorage at the foot of 14th Street. The Astoria branch office and moorage have been maintained here until the present, except for several years during and after World War II, when facilities were moved to the slip between Piers 2 and 3 at the Astoria port docks.

The Knappton as a steam tug, Clark Bell skipper, Ed Shatto engineer 1963.105

In 1942, the Portland office was made headquarters, with Astoria becoming a branch office, as it is today. Necessitating this management shift was the business development of a much larger area of the Columbia and Willamette River systems.


The upper Columbia, especially, was on its way to becoming one of the nation's major transportation waterways.

Converted to diesel were the Myrtle with a 325 H P Washington Estep, the Little Myrtle (renamed Tonquin) with a 200 H P. Atlas Imperial, and the Melville with a 440 H P Washington Estep These were the reliable, popular, heavy-duty, l ow r p m engines of the period. The Washington was built in Seattle, the Atlas in Oakland. The Melville was altered by lengthening the stern by about 12'-15', deckhouse remodeling and a new air driven tow winch for outside towing. She made many a tow up the coast from the Siletz and Nehalem Bays with Davis log

by Harold Nelson

The vessels varied in age, power and size; many were previously owned by towing, passenger and freight interests. Some were eventually converted from steam to diesel. The original wood-hulled steam vessels were Defender, General Washington, Ida W., John F. Cudahy, Knappton, Little Myrtle, Myrtle, Melville and Shamrock. Earlier the Shamrock operated as a passenger and excursion boat between South Bend and Nahcotta on Willapa Bay before being acquired by Knappton.


Old Time Skippers

Barge and Digger Equipment

Coastal Ocean Rafts

Vessels Moved to Portland

Occasionally, an unwelcome breakup would occur in the winter on the way up the coast. Art Bell, one-time skipper of the Tyee, told me of one of his winter tows out of Nehalem. Soon after clearing the bar, a sou'wester picked up, giving him a good tail wind up the coast. However, by the time he reached the Columbia, gale force winds had developed He eventually pulled into the slip at Pier 2 in Astoria with about 1 /3 of the raft and a tangled mess of binding cable on the end of his towline. Years later, the Tyee was caught in storms off the Nehalem bar and twice blown ashore. She was refloated after the first grounding but was a total loss after the second. Were those the "good old days" the boatmen talk about when they gather to reminisce?

On occasion a trip to Astoria by the North Shore residents provided an opportunity to enjoy "the outside world."

Of special interest, I feel, is the family following that occurred in the rivermen fraternity John's son, Delbert Sigfridson, also worked for Knappton before becoming a Columbia River pilot. Delbert passed away recently. His son, Reed, follow ed in his father's footsteps to become a pilot also. I had the pleasure of meeting Reed recently at Delbert's funeral.

The 100' steel hull Noydena was built in 1932 at Slidell, Louisiana, for LouisianaTexas Waterways Corporation. She was powered by twin 350 H.P. Atlas Imperials. She was christened the Jennie Barbour for her trial run August 26, 1932. Western Transportation purchased her in April 1934, brought her under her own power to Astoria on a 36-day, 5500 mile trip. Following a few minor additions in Portland, she received a new name : Chief. She was based in Astoria for years, towing rafts out of Youngs Bay to Blind Slough for Crown John Ostergaard was skipper and Al Wrangile mate. She was acquired when Knappton purchased Arrow Tug & Barge in 1961. Renamed Noydena and given a new superstructure and a lot more horses, she is still doing her share of pulling and pushing.

Vessels relocated to operate out of Portland were the steamers Ida W , Shamrock and the newly diesel-powered Myrtle. Clark Bell and Connie Johns, skippers of the Shamrock and Myrtle, went along. Clark and Art Bell were brothers. Their father was old Captain Tom Bell, a pioneer steamboatman at South Bend on Willapa Bay. He was a one-time owner of the Defender, an early training ground for Art and Clark. Bringing us up to more recent times, we have Clark, Jr., better known as Tom Bell, the grandson of Old Tom. Tommy put in about 42 years, 8 months with Knappton in Portland, retiring in 1988 as one of its long-time and well liked skippers. Tom died in 1994.

The General Washington was replaced by the Pioneer, a small car ferry providing service between Astoria and Knappton twice a day. A round trip took about two hours. Ollie Layzell, a former captain of the General Washington and his deckhand, Frank Ross, were now winding down long careers on the river Gay Munson, engineer, took care of the 65 H.P. Fairbanks. Gay was a close friend of my family, so I would enjoy a "free" ride every so often during my teens. To accommodate a car slip for vehicle loading, a special angled moorage was cut into the face of the Knappton dock and warehouse at the foot of 14th Street. The present dock and warehouse have been restored to the original alignment.

To the best of my knowledge, all the old timers are now deceased. Among the skippers were Clark Bell, George Gaither, Mark Gaither, John Hanhela, Bill Jacobson, Connie Johns, Arve Larson, Mike Lawlis, Ollie Layzell, Oscar Nelson (my father) and John Sigfridson. Clark Bell and Mike Lewis later joined the Columbia River pilots.

To serve the needs of the lower Columbia, Knappton had three wood barges, No . 5 and No. 7, plus an oil barge equipped with a steam oil pump This limited some oil jobs to the steamers Defender and Knappton Many jobs were logging camp needs. Railroad locomotives and steam donkeys required a lot of oil. A creamery at Grays River was a regular customer and furnished its own steam for the barge pump. The Irene handled this job. No . 5 and No. 7 were used for transferring lumber from the Prouty Mill at Warrenton to ships docked at the Astoria port dock and upriver milldocks. Logging locomotives and donkeys were moved by barge from one operation to another.

Passenger, Freight and Ferry Service

Deck Hands, Skippers of the Future

Quarterdeck, Vol . 20 No. 4

This type of transportation was gradually coming to a close. Improvements and the opening of new highways from Longview through Cathlamet to Skamokawa, Grays River, Deep River, Naselle and Ilwaco opened the way for motor vehicle competition. An all-weather improved highway now joined Knappton with the Ocean Beach Highway at Naselle .


An old barge digger called the Buster was used for digging sand. Its use was ended by a severe winter "blow." She was about to be retired anyway.

If one aspires to be a towboat skipper, there is only one place to begin as a deckhand . During this period of time the following worked as deckhands: Frank Boebert, Arne Bummala, Ralph "Jumbo" Carlson, Peter Heldt, Frank Johnson, Ben Sarijarvi Lake, Andy Larson, John Lassila , Lawrence Lawlis, John Van Osdel and Frank Ross Bummala, Carlson , Lassila and Van Osdel eventually became skippers . It was typical back then for a crew to work the same boat for many years together I think first place goes to Connie Johns, Pete Heldt and Henry Wrangila, who worked together on the old wood Myrtle and the new steel hull Myrtle.

rafts. Mike Lawlis, skipper, Bill Truman, engineer, Harry Chatterton, mate, and "Jumbo" Carlson, deckhand, crewed at the time. I don't recall the cook's name The first boat built for Knappton was the Irene, built in 1925 at Wilson Shipyard on Youngs Bay. She was powered with a 110 H.P. Atlas. The Irene was named after one of the Brix girls.

Lincoln County Boom on the Siletz above Taft had two tugs, the Chahunta, 400 H P , and Dodeco, 200 H P , which reg ularly towed rafts to Astoria

The Davis rafts were about 250' in length, 10' deep and consisted mainly of spruce and hemlock bundled and lashed together with 2" cable and clamps. You might say they were a miniature Benson "cigar" raft of rather crude construction. They did allow ocean towing for log delivery up the coast, weather permitting, in winter. A breakup grounds for sorting logs into flat river rafts was maintained in Youngs River near the Callender dolphins and later at Burnside. Nick Warila ran the booms.

Besides towing, Knappton provided other services in the late 1920s and early 1930s . The General Washington was a freight and passenger steamer, running daily except Sunday between Astoria and Deep River, Washington. She docked at the foot of 14th Street. Stops were made at a number of landings between Knappton and the town of Deep River, which consisted mostly of a planked float moored to a piling placed by farmers along Deep River. Milk cans, a sack of feed or a bale of hay were typical freight cargoes .

time. The boiler was fired by hogfuel supplied by Prouty and Youngs Bay Lumber mills on the Skipanon at Warrenton. This kept my dad busy on the Irene making round trips every three days or so.

Pearl Harbor

Engineers No Longer Needed

Over on the Lewis & Clark were Eastern-Western and La Dee Logging. In later

years Crown Willamette finished up their Youngs River show and moved to Lewis & Clark, using trucks by replacing the rails with a road. There was also a truck dump and booming ground on lower Youngs River near the old Highway 30 bridge, one near the bridge on Lewis & Clark, as well as a dump on the Skipanon at Warrenton above the highway and railroad bridge. Ole Nygaard had both the latter dumps. Nick Warila had the Youngs River dump.

One of the most enjoyable periods I experienced on the river was decking on the steamer Defender with Johnny Sigfridson and Jimmie Walgren. No other way can you capture the comfort of a wood hull and the smooth, quiet, rhythmic sound of a triple expansion steam engine pulling a 600 thousand scale old growth fir raft behind.

The author's father, Oscar Nelson, was skipper of the Irene for 28 years.

Sunday, December 7, 1941, was a work day for the Irene. I was decking for my dad. We towed 2 sets of boomsticks from

Logging Company Operations

Logging camps required oil for firing their donkeys and engines. This provided towing work in Youngs, Lewis & Clark and Deep Rivers. A large volume of logs was being dumped on the Washington side of the river in Deep River. Some of these logs were towed to the mill at Knappton.

There were a number of gypos truck logging in the area. Included were Lewis and Malone, Jens Lerbeck, and Ernie Dawson and Bill Hollenbeck. Trucks were their method of transport from woods to water, as they didn't have large stands of timber to justify railroads.

Art Zimmerman, Astoria, and his partner Fred Devine, Portland, were commercial divers who required assistance. One job I remember was the collision and sinking of the Italian freighter Fe/tre near Prescott in late 1936. I was on the Arrow No. 3 at the time. The Feltre was refloated, towed to Portland for dry docking and returned to service. On another occasion, the Nightingale, a converted purse seiner taken over by the Navy before Pearl Harbor, hit a buoy opposite Fort Stevens on December 26, 1941, and sank. General Construction's new digger, Astoria, was used in the raising. The Knappton and Irene assisted. Strong east winds, coupled with a sizable ground swell, hampered what turned out to be an allnight job.

Tidewater Timber and Chester-Potter dumped logs in the Klaskanine, Crown Willamette below the falls on Youngs River. Labiske dumped in the Walluski from trucks. Tidewater had their own boat, the Florence B, which dropped rafts to the rafting grounds on lower Youngs River.

Pacific Power & Light was operating their steam power-plant on Youngs Bay near the old Highway 30 bridge at this

With this amount of timber being rafted, one can see the need for towboats. Knappton, Arrow, Shaver, Westport Towing, Walter Lendten, Shephard, Smith and Western Transportation all shared the work to varying degrees. I remember on one occasion counting five tows of one or two rafts each going up river in front of town. The tows would come out of Youngs Bay on the last of the ebb. On a low runout a fair ebb would still be running at Pier 3. The flood would eventually help them along.

Gilpin Construction, later absorbed by General Construction, maintained a pile driver in Astoria. This provided tow jobs to move the driver about. Fish traps were still operating on the Washington shore and required maintenance.

Dolphins for log storage, booms, jetties, navigation aids and beacons, dock and bridge repairs provided plenty of work and enough variety to make each day something to look forward to. Rafts were processed by the numerous sawmills on the river. This meant delivering rafts and returning empty sticks to the rafting grounds. An occasional anchor was lost by a freighter when a weak link gave way. A grapple dragged from a barge with a winch would soon find the chain and retrieve it. Repairing or building dikes, cleaning debris from log dumps and digging sand were among the jobs requiring bucket digger tow jobs. An occasional submarine telephone cable installation required a towboat.

This is what makes towboating fascinating. You never know what you will do or where you will go.

With the conversion from steam to diesel, particularly the lower powered boats, an engineer was no longer required. Those still around were Al Anderson, Gay Munson, Ed Shatto, Bill Truman, Jimmy Walgren and Henry Wrangila. Henry's brother, Al, was mate on the Chief.

Variety Made the Work Interesting

Log towing accounted for the bulk of the work. Large railroad operations were cutting huge amounts of old growth fir plus lesser amounts of hemlock, spruce and cedar. An occasional alder raft went to B. P. John Furniture in Portland.


The company experienced phenomenal growth under the stewardship of Peter Brix, CEO, great-grandson of one of the original founders. To honor the family founders, the company adopted the name of Brix Maritime in 1990.


While working on this article, Peter Brix furnished me with some information which I hope will be of interest to the reader. This additional material also stimulated my own memory of events. I learned a bit more of Knappton's "Early Years," for which I extend my thanks and appreciation to Peter.

The mention of Foss brings back memories of one of the most exciting experiences of my teenage years in Astoria. It was about 1937-38. The Arthur Foss was about a 90' wood hull converted from steam to a Washington 700 H.P. in 1934. She berthed occasionally at the Knappton dock in Astoria. Her skipper

These were heavy duty, low R.P.M. engines. I alternated 6 hours on, 6 off with Bob, the Chief. We dropped a barge off at Newport on the way south, hitting the bottom once when crossing the bar at Newport. No leaks were detected and we proceeded south to San Francisco. Our tow back north was a converted freighter equipped to process pilchards (sardines). This fishery was developing at Astoria and continued for a number of years. I remember two things on the way north. The Northwest wind was strong the first night out. I didn't feel too well and stuck my head out the partially-opened engine room door most of my watch that night. Another night I had to awaken Bob. One of the fuel injectors clogged and we had to replace it. It turned out to be a fairly easy task, considering what happened. Bob knew his diesels pretty well.

Quarterdeck, Vol. 20 No 4 9

My Last Trip Outside

The Melville as a steamer with passengers at Astoria Regatta. She was built as an 86' steamer in 1903 at Astoria. First owned by Callender Navigation, she was acquired by Knappton Towboat about 1922. 1963.112.la

Blind Slough to Deep River, returning to our dock in Astoria about 3:30 in the afternoon . All the other boats were in that Sunday As we pulled in, I noticed Fred Meyer standing near the ladder of our tie-up space. Did he have another job for us? No. What he had to tell us was the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. My last workday on the river was December 31, 1941.

The Melville after being converted to diesel. Photo taken off Nehalem River entrance. As an "outside" tug, she had her stern extended 12-15 feet. She was not really built for ocean service too light, too limber. 1963.112.lb

Harold C. "Harry" Nelson is an Astoria native now living in Portland. Mr. Nelson is a frequent contributor to historical journals in the Columbia Pacific region.

To share in this business, an aggressive acquisition program was pursued during the next decades, through 1979, in which the following companies were acquired: Carl Bernet, 1943; Jones Towboat Company, 1945; Arrow Tug and Barge Company, 1961; Westport Towboat Company, 1963; Lafferty Transportation, 1968; Columbia Pacific Towing Corporation, 1971; Brusco Towboat Company, 1978; Smith Tug and Barge, 1979; and Washington Tug and Barge, 1979.

was Vince Miller, a veteran of the Sound. They needed an assistant in the engine room for a trip to San Francisco, so they hired me sight unseen. Someone in the Knappton office said I could handle it. In those days, Atlas, Washington, Enterprise and Union engines were the mainstays of power. Automatic self-oiling systems probably weren't even thought of. Lubricating with an oil can was necessary for the overhead rocker arms on top of the cylinder, as well as oil cups at various locations.

After completing the above story, I learned the company was being sold to Foss Maritime of Seattle, a company dating back to the mid-1800s in Tacoma. I hope the Brix name will remain Time will tell. [Editor's note: The Brix name is not being retained]

On arrival at the mouth of the Columbia, the freighter was moored to dolphins just above Hammond, near where the present Bio-Products plant is located. This was my last coastwise trip on a tug. I shall never forget it.

Once you have spent time on the water you never lose that longing for it. I still take an occasional ride for the day in the Portland area. Log rafts, barges, ship jobs, they all brought back the memories that helped me write this story.



Mr. & Mrs. Sven B. Lund Dennis Larson

Increased Memberships April 1- June 30, 1994

Captain & Mrs. Martin West CAPTAIN Charles Shea

Joy R. Black

Douglas G. Houser KenKakuk

Mr. & Mrs. Russ Fluhrer

Gib & Linda Williamson

Bill & Madonna Pitman

Mr. & Mrs. Stuart Lahti Clarence & Carol Barendse Leo & Elna Marlantes


Laura Goodson

JOE H. PARNELL, JR. Ed Lundholm Theresa Wilson Dorothea J. Handran Helen & Ralph Clendening Jack & Ruth Parnell

William Gavin


David & Dorothy Milholland Dana & Tobi Nason

ALBERT J. MITTET Stephen, Pamela & Logan Dorothea J. Handran





Mr. & Mrs. Eino Mattson KEN CRUSE

Mrs. Arthur C. Johnson

Mr. & Mrs. Ernest J. Barrows David & Debbie Craig

Dorothea J. Handran

Mr. & Mrs. John Estoos Violet F. Skipper

Peter Pan Market

Mr. & Mrs. Harry L. Larson William & Shirley Lee ROBERT B. KING

Mr. & Mrs. Ernest E. Brown

New Members - April 1- June 30, 1994

Mr. & Mrs. Frank M. Thorsness Homer Davenport Douglas & June Bracher Jim & Evelyn Hanks Captain & Mrs. Joseph Bruneau Mrs. Vern Mogenson Don & Alice Oetinger

Brenda Hood


Lyle Kreps Donald Magnusen Richard B. Mathiot Connie & Bruce McCornack Irwin McFadden

Mr. & Mrs. Ken R. Dorothea J. Handran

EDWARD MORGAN Yergen & Meyer, CPA's


Dr. & Mrs. David I. Williams

Susan Schnitzer

Ricardo Perez

JOHN BURR 0sBURN Yergen & Meyer, CPA's

William J. Hanable Leroy Koski


Mr. & Mrs. Harry L. Larson

Mr. & Mrs. George Abrahamsen Lewis V. Boyle

Phil L. Nock



John Neece Stephen E. Thompson Doris M. Willis

Dr. & Mrs. David I. Williams Earl & Zona RonMalinen & Vicki Westerland Mrs. Vern Mogenson

Mr. & Mrs. Eldred Olson

Joseph & Gwynn Bakkensen

Ralph Wirfs & Karen Kenyon Mr. & Mrs. C. A. Harrison Vern Cook Supply, Inc. Mark & Margaret Freeman

Mr. & Mrs. Allen V. Cellars Ed Lundholm Eugene & Virginia Walters CELIA E. HILL

James & Lucille Scarborough Mr. & Mrs. John P. Walsh Joseph L. Heinz Judge & Mrs. John L. Price

Memorial Donations - April 1- June 30, 1994

Stanley K. Anderson

John Shearer

Frances M. Straumfjord Hawkes Mr. & Mrs. Ward Paldanius Susan & James Skidmore NELSA. HOWE Donald & Nancy Hoff Friends of Jean Badewitz at Mr. & Mrs. Robert M. Oja Anna Basel & Family Willamette Industries

John & Elfi Nordgren Hickenbottom



Marguerite S. Moyer

Mr. & Mrs. Gerry E. Backanen Walt & Doris McManis

Mr. & Mrs. Alan Takalo

Mr. & Mrs. Raymond A. Willis Mr. & Mrs. Robert E. Frame Mr. & Mrs. Robert C. Macdonald


Richard Pettersen John Platt & Elizabeth Furse Ron Rucks


Mr. & Mrs. Raymond V. Mr. & Mrs. Clarence Barendse G. John Haglund Johnson Mr. & Mrs. Robert Erickson Emmy Oren Donald V. Riswick Mr. & Mrs. Harold C.


James & Ellen Sedell


Mrs. Audrey Leslie Elsie C. Osterlund

Bev Christman

Erin House

Jerry Nichols

Paul Seamons & Dee Vadnais James W. Young


Theodore C. Edquist A. J. Field


0oROTHY ANN MOHN Oliver A. Schulz

Mr. & Mrs. J. E. Grove

Oliver A. Schulz

Ray & Alice Ala Jim & Bonnie Beeks Arnold & Rosie Biskar Harvey & Elese Claussen Captain & Mrs. Cliff Craigie Mr. & Mrs. John J. Dirschel Leonard H. Ellis & Charleen Hadfield David & Diane Fry

PAULA GRACE ANET BARBARA L. GLIMSDALE EUGENE DANIEL LUKOSZYK Mr. & Mrs. Don E. Link Mr. & Mrs. Raymond A. Willis Mrs. Harry L. Larson

Jeremy A. Snow Bob Ward

Mr. & Mrs. Arvid North

The Wheeler Foundation Ted Natt La Fete Galante

Mr. & Mrs Carl Bondietti


Mr. & Mrs. J. W. Forrester

Mr & Mrs. W. Dennis Hall James H. Jensen


Mr & Mrs. Don M. Haskell

Mildred L. Nicholas, Susan Hoffman & Joseph Totrault Beverly Aspmo

The Pacific Northwest exists not only as a region but as an idea, formed in the dreams and disillusionments of those who came to stay and those who were only passing through. This compelling anthology traces the evolving nature of that idea, revealing the underlying spirit that forms the foundation of the Northwest identity .

Amelia Bristow Dan Foley Mr. & Mrs. Hobe Kytr Donald V Riswick Mr . & Mrs. Jon W. Westerholm

A Literary Anthologtj of the Pacific Northwest From Coyote Tales to Roadside Attractions, edited by Bruce Barcott. Sasquatch Books, 1994. softback 15.95/14.35.

Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Leslie Howard & Mary Lovvold FANNIE C. TAYLOR

Captain & Mrs. C. S. Wetherell Henningsen Cold Storage Company Gainor 0. MrMinott . & Mrs. Albert Luukinen Georgia Maki Ed Lundholm

Tracking David Thompson Across Western North America, by Jack Nisbet. Sasquatch Books, 1994. softback 12.95/11.65.


Considered one of the most valorous organizations ever run by the U.S. government, the Service carried out thousands of rescues, and many of its men lost their lives in the effort to save others


Maurie Mr.Clark & Mrs. George E. Siverson Mr . & Mrs . Carl F. Aarnio Armas & Thelma Niskanen Mr & Mrs. Fred Leslie

For sailors and general readers who enjoy sea adventures, as well as buffs interested in learning about an aspect of maritime heritage that has been largely overlooked This story of the forgotten soldiers of the surf will both captivate and educate.

COLLEEN THOMPSON Rosanna Tuveng & Family

Sedgwick James, Inc.

This book tells the whole story of the Baltimore Clippers from their birth on Maryland's Eastern Shore through their fall from grace to their rebirth in the 1970s along the shores of Baltimore's renovated waterfront. The true account of the tragic loss of the replica schooner Pride of Baltimore and the building of her new, larger sister ship, Pride of Baltimore II, are thoroughly told in this book.

Perhaps no environmental issue facing the Pacific Northwest has the potential to affect more lives than the controversy over endangered salmon on the Columbia River system. Now, for the first time, Legacy and Testament gives a human dimension to the issue, providing the first in-depth look at the life of the Columbia River gillnetter.

Now is the time for all good members to come to the Museum Store and take advantage of their 10% discount on holiday purchases. We've stocked it with the newest books and baubles; everything that is sure to please the hard-to-please sailor or armchair historian in the family. With the holidays fast approaching, stop by and investigate the stacks and shelves. We enjoy seeing our members visit the store because it gives us a chance to re-establish old friendships and develop new ones.

In this true story adventure the author re-creates the life and times of David Thompson, fur trader, explorer, surveyor, and map maker. From 1784-1812, Thompson explored western North America, and his journals provide the earliest written accounts of the natural history and indigenous cultures of the inland northwest. Thompson was the first person to chart the entire length of the Columbia River. His wilderness expeditions have become legend.

Howard & Ruth Ann Gray Mr. & Mrs. Grant Orr Dorothea J. Handran

Quarterdeck, Vol 20 No. 4


Dr. & Mrs Jukka Perkiomaki


Mr. & Mrs. Eugene Lowe




DR. JAMES P. WHITTEMORE Mr. & Mrs Richard Tevis


Special Donations

The U.S. Life-Saving Service, 1878-1915, by Dennis L. Noble . Naval Institute Press, 1994. hardback 27.95/25.15.


The Story of the Columbia River Gillnetters, by Irene Martin. WSU Press, 1994. softback 20.00/18.00.

The Story of the Baltimore Clipper, by Thomas C. Gillmer. McGraw Hill Pub., 1992. hardback 24.95/22.45.

FREDRICK MAXON WING Lucille & Bill Perkins


Mr & Mrs Toivo Mustonen Mr & Mrs Carl Bondietti Mr & Mrs John W. Schiffer



The Museum will be hosting a great program of musical entertainment and a book-signing party with four Pacific Northwest authors who have new books available. Irene Martin of Skamakowa, Washington, will sign her book Legacy and Testament and Bob Cortright from Portland, Oregon, will be here to sign his book, Bridging, a beautiful photographic tribute to the building of bridges locally, nationally and worldwide. Sharlene and Ted Nelson of Federal Way, Washington, visit us with their book The Umbrella Guide to Oregon Lighthouses.


Columbia River Maritime Museum's Annual Holiday Program

Sunday, December 11th


ISSN 0891-2661

Among many entertainers, The Lutheran Church Choir brings in the holiday spirit at the Annual Holiday Program in 1993.


Non-profit Organization U.S. POSTAGE PAID Astoria, Oregon Permit No. 328

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