S.S. Shasta: Ghost of the Portland Riverfront S.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.
The sisters Shasta and San Mateo were purchased by PSN in
1941 and b rought to Puget Sound. 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 went to work on various routes on the Sound. 1945
had her on the Seattle-Manchester route. Starting in 1946 and
through 1947 the steamer was put to work on the
Winslow-Seattle run alongside the Kehloken. The summer of
1950 found the Shasta working as the spare boat on the
After the State took over ferry operations, the ferry again saw
limited service, working alongside her sister San Mateo on the
Vashon run between 1952-54. The Shasta 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.
Unfortunately for the Shasta,it had a rather bad habit of
belching out a black cloud of oil smoke from her 47-foot high
smokestack. Even in 1958 this wasn't environmentally
acceptable, and the ferry was retired after the 1958 summer
season. With the new Klahowya and Tillikum in service, the
Shasta was no longer needed.
The Shasta 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, still leaving
behind that characteristic cloud of oil smoke. Before long
though, her new owner couldn't make any money and sold her.
The ferry changed owners was converted into a
As the River Queen, the old Shasta was moored along the
banks of the river in downtown Portland for decades, a highly
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. 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 old San Francisco steamer 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. 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.