S.S. Shasta: Ghost of the Portland Riverfront S.S.
Shasta: Ghost of the Portland Riverfront
The Shasta, San Mateo, and Yosemite were still being finished at
Bethlehem Shipyard in 1922 when in March of that year a landslide
destroyed the Six Minute Ferry north shore terminal on Morrow
Cove. Unable to recover from the loss, the ferry company went out
of business and the three sisters were sold to Southern Pacific,
taking their place in the company’s already extensive fleet.
Out of work with the opening of the bay bridges, the sisters Shasta
and San Mateo were offered for sale and purchased by the Puget
Sound Navigation Company in 1941. (The Yosemite had been
purchased by a South American company and taken to Argentina,
where after a some years in service it was wrecked, turned into a
barge for a time and finally scrapped.)
The Shasta, like the San Mateo was not used consistently for PSN,
spending much of her time in lay-up. The ferry worked in 1945 on
the Seattle-Manchester route, and in 1946 through 1947 the
steamer was put to work on the Winslow-Seattle run alongside the
Kehloken. She was brought out of lay-up in the summer of 1950
the Shasta working as the spare boat on the Bremerton run.
After the State took over ferry operations in 1951, the ferry saw a
little more service, working alongside her sister San Mateo on the
Vashon run between 1952-54, but went into lay-up from
September of 1954 until May of 1957. In 1957 the ferry was called
into service for the summer season, working the Kingston route
with the Nisqually.
The reason the San Mateo was used far more than the Shasta was
the Shasta’s bad habit of belching out a significant black cloud of
oil smoke from her 47-foot high smokestack. Even in 1958 this
wasn't environmentally acceptable, and with the addition of the
Evergreen State Class, the steamer was retired after the 1958
The Shasta 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 of statehood. The change of name
didn’t change the ferry’s proclivity leaving behind a black cloud of
oil smoke. The Centennial Queen didn’t turn a profit and her
owners were soon bankrupt. The ferry changed owners was
converted into a stationary restaurant.
As the River Queen, the old Shasta was moored along the banks
of the river in downtown Portland and for the next and a half
decades operated very successfully.
Losing her moorage, the River Queen restaurant closed in 1995.
On the register for historical vessels/landmarks, the Shasta was
moved to St. Helens Oregon. She was listed for sale and it was
hoped she would be restored.
After changing owners, the ferry was on the Columbia River at
Goble, Oregon. The years passed, the ferry was vandalized and
decayed, the roof collapsing in sections. Finally, the Coast Guard
had enough, declaring the site where she was moored and the
ferry a hazard. She was ordered to be scrapped by the USCG,
and the process began in the summer of 2018. By July, she’d
been stripped to the hull, ending the nearly century-long life of
once elegant San Francisco Bay steamer.
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. Williamson photo, courtesy of MOHAI. Color by Nevermore Images
|At top, the Shasta as she looked working for WSF. Second photo, the River Queen Restaurant in
Portland, 1971. She was a familiar sight for thousands crossing the river into town. Above, as the Shasta
looked in 2009. Below, the stained glass clerestory windows. Author's collection.