Sternwheeler CITY OF ABERDEEN
Commanded by Capt. Gus Soderman.
From the archives of the S.P.H.S. ©
'Gosh all hemlock! Is Nick still alive? I am glad to hear this. You know, Nick is one of the greatest engineers Puget Sound ever had? A great steamboat man.'
This fact was agreed to. It was added that this pioneer marine man had told a bit of the story of the famous race in which the CITY OF ABERDEEN had beaten the famous GREYHOUND in a trifle of a race between Seattle and Tacoma.
'You can bet your life she did!' The ABERDEEN beat her. I saw the finish of the race. This was on Sunday afternoon in the very early 90s. I've got the date in one of my old log books at the ranch.'
So the story of this Puget Sound steamboat race was authenticated by the port commissioner. This was one of the great steamboat races of the Sound. Private, to a great extent, the affair was held closely in the minds of those taking part.
Nicholas C. Perring, 'Nick' to old associates, started his career on the Sound in 1878 on the sidewheel tug GOLIAH. In his time he served on many of the famous steamers, including the GREYHOUND.
'That was quite a race. Old man Willey came aboard one day and asked me if I could best the GREYHOUND with the ABERDEEN. I told him I could, providing I was allowed to have the say in loading the ABERDEEN. She was a deceiving outfit when it came to speed. To run she had to be trimmed just right. I knew the GREYHOUND. She was fast and had a great reputation for speed.
Commanded on race day by Capt. Ed Darrington.
Original photograph from the Marine Salon
Archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
'Well, we began to get ready for the run. I had the boys save the best of the fuel. We stowed in plenty of bark to fill up the holes in the firebox. Bark makes a terrific heat.
The time of the race came and we went to it. I have forgotten who was engineer on the 'HOUND' or who was our skipper. The ABERDEEN hit it up at a good clip. When the boys passed the word back that the GREYHOUND's crew were heaving their cordwood overboard I knew we had them. We beat them into the dock at Tacoma by some distance--in fact, when we docked the 'HOUND' was nearer Brown's Point than the dock.'
When questioned as to the excess steam carried in the boiler, if any, the veteran engineer parried:
'Of course, the greater amount of steam carried will naturally increase the speed to an extent.'
Reporting his observations, Commissioner Marvin said:
'This race was a fixed affair between the crews of the steamers and several interests to settle the question of which of the steamers was the faster. The race was on the quiet so far as publicity went. There were not many passengers on board, but plenty of excitement. I think the ABERDEEN passed the 'HOUND' at Dash Point. But it's a fact you could hear them coming before you could see them. Both boats were wide open and the long exhausts sounded like a half dozen locomotives going up a hill. I guess the crew of this GREYHOUND lost their shirts and payrolls in that race.'
The CITY OF ABERDEEN was built at Aberdeen, WA. The steamer was 127-ft long. The craft plied between Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia for a number of years. In later years the vessel was altered to a tug and operated out of Bellingham"
Above text by James Bashford
Tacoma Times, Sept. 1945.
"James O. Bashford was a 'roustabout' on the Tacoma waterfront, eventually becoming engineer on some of the boats plying the harbor about 1905. Apparently neither a professional reporter nor photographer, Bashford nonetheless put in a stint on the Tacoma Ledger and was ambitious in both capacities, leaving behind copious notes and photographs, many of which now repose in the C. Arthur Foss collection."
The above profile on the Ledger columnist Bashford
by Gordon P. Jones
Puget Sound Maritime Historcal Assoc. newsletter supplement Nov. 1966.