Built: 1947 Length: 180' Beam: Draft: Propulsion: 800 HP Union diesel Speed: 12 knots
Auto Capacity: 40 cars
The M.R. Chessman seen near the Megler ferry landing. Author's collection.
The M.R. Chessman was named after Merle R. Chessman, member of the
Highway Commission from April 8, 1943 to October 1, 1946. The Albina Engine and
Machine Works, Portland, Or., built the boat, for the state of Oregon, in 1947, and
went into service April 1948.
The largest ferry on the route from Astoria to Megler, Washington, she ran from
1948 until August 1966, when the Columbia River Bridge opened. This ferry was
sold in 1966 and sent to Vietnam to serve as a ferry on the Mekong Delta as a repair
shop. Renamed the Lieu Lo III (various sources also have her listed as the
HQ9602 ) she was stationed at Cat Lai, about 7 miles E. of Saigon, and served
about sixty river patrol craft, plying the Rung Zat zone channels & inland waterways
What became of the ferry after that is unknown. It is possible she is still somewhere
in Viet Nam, either rusting away, sunk, or possible even still in use.