"The past actually happened but history is only what someone wrote down." A. Whitney Brown.

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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.

07 November 2016


River steamboat HARVEST QUEEN
846 t. 200-ft., built at Celilo in 1878.
She and 8 or 9 other vessels were transferred to
the lower river in 1881, where this story begins.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

The term 'Mosquito Fleet' may, to readers not familiar with the Puget Sound Country, suggest only very small craft. It was however, a phrase universally employed by the people and publications of that section to differentiate the Sound steamers from ocean and coastwise fleet. Some of the inland ships were as large as the deep-sea vessels, but their trade placed them in the 'Mosquito Fleet.' The term enjoys the authenticity of tradition and long usage. Author, historian Gordon Newell, 1951.

"The serenity of this scene as the HARVEST QUEEN moves out of her slip heading for the Columbia River is in sharp contrast to an earlier run of the HARVEST QUEEN––one that took her over Celilo Falls.
In 1881, hard times on the Middle River above the rocky barrier at Celilo Rapids had prompted the passage. It was a risky one. To breach the falls meant a 20-ft drop over a basalt ledge. Then followed the hazards of rock strewn Tenmile Rapids. This churning gutted into a mile long cauldron that compressed the Columbia between sheer rock walls less than 300-ft apart.

      Running the Celilo Rapids was first accomplished in 1866 when Capt. Thomas Stump threaded the OKANOGAN through the hazardous chasm, followed by other sternwheelers of similar size: the NEZ PERCE CHIEF, the classic ONEONTA, the HASSALO (II), and now one of the river's finer steamers, the HARVEST QUEEN. At the helm was Capt. James W. Troup, 29, who six years earlier had entered the HARVEST QUEEN's pilot house as her skipper. Peter De Huff, a veteran riverboat engineer, manned the engine room throttle as she moved from her Celilo slip. A slight rise in the low River had prompted the young captain to make his move. For a few minutes it seemed as though it might be his last for, as the HARVEST QUEEN swept into the narrow chute, she was unable to clear the ledge.
The rocks tore into the stem of the 200-ft steamer, ripping off her rudders and disabling the engine supports. Legend has it that Capt. Troup picked up his speaking tube and shouted:

'Back her, Pete! Back her if you love me!'
'I can't. Everything's busted,' came the doleful reply.

      Captain Troup, with the skill of command that was to make him an outstanding riverboatman on the Columbia and the Fraser, left his useless wheel. Anchors and kedges were dropped to pull the drifting HARVEST QUEEN out of the whirlpools and away from the threatening rocks into the eddy. The worst was over. Defying the chill waters, the steamer's crew completed repairs. Within two days, the HARVEST QUEEN was ready and defiant, sweeping at railroad speed through the remaining rapids to be greeted by cheering crowds at the Dalles."

Above words by author Jim Faber, The Steamers Wake. Entetai Press, Seattle. 1985.
6-ft long ship model by Spencer W.Young, 1953.
Young took 13 months to make the craft of birch, oak, pine, and
mahogany. Boilers and twin engines drive walking beams,
11" long, that turn the paddlewheel. The lounge is furnished
with a grand piano, armchairs, tables, all to scale.
LIghts come on in cabins and smoke pours from the stack.
Unknown photographer.
Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

1928: Capt. Troup had a truly great maritime career that closed with his retirement at age 73 years of age––having passed the age limit set by BC Coast Steamship Service by 8 years.

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