S.S. Shasta: Ghost of the Portland RiverfrontS.S.
Shasta: Ghost of the Portland Riverfront
The Bethlehem Steel Company shipyard was in the middle of
building the steam-powered ferries Shasta, Yosemite and San
Mateo for the Six Minute Ferry Company in 1922 when the ferry
line abruptly went bankrupt. Southern Pacific Railway purchased
the ferries and put them to work for their well-established ferry
service across San Francisco Bay. The ferries worked until 1939
when the bridges killed the business.
Coming up to Puget Sound for PSN in 1941 were the sisters
Shasta and San Mateo The Yosemite had been purchased by a
South American company and taken to Argentina.
The Shasta went to work on various routes on the Sound: 1945
had her on the Seattle-Manchester route, then the Winslow-Seattle
run alongside the Kehloken starting in 1946 and through 1947.
Summer of 1950 she was the spare boat on the Bremerton run.
After the State took over ferry operations, she again saw limited
service, working alongside her sister on the Vashon run between
1952-54. She went into lay-up from September of 1954 until May
of 1957. In 1957 she was called into service for the summer
season, working the Kingston route with the Nisqually.
Unfortunately for the Shasta, she had a rather bad habit of
leaving a long trail of jet black smoke behind her. Even in 1958 this
wasn't environmentally acceptable, and she was retired after the
1958 summer season. With the new Klahowya and Tillikum in
service, the Shasta was no longer needed.
She was sold and briefly worked for a time running up and down
the Columbia River as the Centennial Queen, celebrating the State
of Oregon's 100th year as a statehood. Before long though, her
new owner couldn't make any money and sold her. She changed
owners was converted into a restaurant. She has enjoyed relative
success as the River Queen was moored along the banks of the
river in downtown Portland.for decades.
However, she was left in a bit of disrepair and the restaurant
closed in 1995. On the register for historical vessels/landmarks,
the Shasta was moved to St. Helens Oregon. At last report she
was for sale and looking for someone to redevelop her.
Moored today in Goble Oregon, the ferry appears to be waiting
for someone to rescue her still,as there has been no effort to save
the ferry yet.
Official Number: 222598 Radio call letters: WH6754 Built: San Francisco, CA, 1922. Length: 216' 7" Beam: 63' 8"" Draft: 12' Auto Deck Clearance: 11' 5" Speed: 13 knots
Horsepower: 1200 Propulsion: Steam Autos: 55 Passengers: 468 Gross Tonnage: 919
Name Translation: Shasta is taken from the mountain of the same name in northern California.
FINAL DISPOSITION: Limbo. Still moored on the Columbia, with nothing being done to her.
The Shasta departs Kingston in the 1950's, leaving her trademark trail of black smoke. Photo Courtesy of Bill Bailey.
At top, the River Queen Restaurant in Portland, 1971. She was a familiar sight for thousands crossing
the river into town. Middle, the empty, abandoned dining room, showing the stained glass clearstory
windows. Above, as the Shasta looked in 2009. Author's collection.