"Of all national assets, archives are the most precious:
they are the gift of one generation to another,
and the extent of our care of them marks the
extent of our civilization." Arthur Doughty.

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San Juan Archipelago, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 650, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

25 June 2017


sailing here under her movie name RIVER QUEEN
Click image to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

1901: Built as the M.F. HENDERSON by Shaver Transportation Co, Portland, OR. She was used as a freight boat as well as a towboat.
1911: In an overhaul she lost her initials "M.F." and became HENDERSON.
The M.F. HENDERSON, towing a Standard Oil Co barge from Astoria toward Portland, was run down by the well-known steam tug DANIEL KERN towing rock barges to the jetty. The M.F. HENDERSON capsized and sank in shallow water, lying on her side. No lives were lost. She was afterward righted by five sternwheelers pulling on her at once, and was then taken to the Portland Shipbuilding Co where she was dismantled and her engines and other equipment, except the boiler, installed in the new HENDERSON the following year. 
H. W. McCurdy's Marine History of the PNW.
1912: This year the HENDERSON was built by the Portland Shipbuilding Co for Shaver Trans. Co receiving most of the machinery and fittings from the wreck, but receiving a new locomotive boiler built by James Monk, having twice the capacity of the old boiler. 
1952: An old-time Columbia River sternwheeler she played an important part as the River Queen, in the historical movie the Bend of the River, based on a novel Bend of the Snake by Bill Gulick. The movie starred Jimmy Stewart and Rock Hudson, released 13 February. When first released, the film received poor reviews but since then gained more critical acclaim and is recognized as a great western.


In 1952, to promote the release of the new movie, the Henderson participated in the last sternwheeler race on the Columbia River, commanded by Capt. Sidney J. "Happy" Harris.  The filming was done in Mt. Hood, Sandy River and Timberline, OR. Although favored to beat the new steel-hulled sternwheeler, the Portland, commanded by Capt. Bob Williamson, the Henderson fell behind early in the race when she lost steam. The engine crew quickly shunted live steam into her low pressure cylinder until the paddlewheel approached 30 rpm. Actor Jimmy Stewart and other cast members of the film Bend in the River were on board to cheer the vessel on––the Henderson came from behind to beat the Portland in the 3.6-mile race.
      Trivia on imdb.com––some of the river scenes were filmed on the Sacramento River in CA.
Sternwheeler PORTLAND
Her last day of duty helping to move the 930-ft
for the Port of Portland.
PORTLAND was the last remaining vessel of its kind
in commercial service in the world.

Click image to enlarge.
Original photo dated 27 October 1981
from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
1956: In December, with a grain ship in tow, the Henderson encountered heavy swells near the mouth of the Columbia River. Declared a "constructive total loss," she rested on shore until she was burned for scrap in 1964.
In 1981: After almost 30 years of service in and around the Portland harbor, the stately Portland yielded the harbor to Diesel-powered youngsters. The Port of Portland faced economic realities, and decided to retire the labor-intensive steam tugboat in 1981. 
      She sat some years at Terminal One, quietly rusting. Her wheelhouse and Texas were removed and rested on the dock. Her wooden super structure rotted away down to the steel housing of her machinery space. The powerful sternwheel dried and cracked where exposed; the underwater surface grew long tendrils of marine plants.
      In 1991, the sad remains of the Portland were deeded to the Oregon Maritime Museum. With funds from Meyer Memorial Trust, Murdock Trust, and the Port of Portland, a group of dedicated volunteers began restoration of the last steam powered sternwheel tug. The work is never ending; the results are well worth the effort. Today the Portland gleams inside and out. 
1997: She was entered into the National Register of Historic Places.

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