Thursday, March 27, 2008

Here Lies T J Potter

By the early 1900s, rapid travel on the Columbia River became a reality with the introduction of the steam boat. Just a mere sixty years after Lewis and Clark departed Astoria in 1806, some estimates place the number of steam boats working on the Columbia River at 500. The steam boat provided a ready means for transporting all sort of commodities along the river corridor.
The T.J. Potter, commonly referred to as the Potter, was constructed entirely of wood in Portland, Oregon in 1888. When built, the Potter was reported to be one of the fastest and most luxurious steamboats in the Pacific Northwest. Her overall length was 230 feet and 33 feet across the beam. For it's time, the Potter defined elegance in every sense of the word. The boat boasted a divided interior curving staircase that led up to the grand saloon. The boat's interior was also lit with the colored sunlight from numerous stained glass windows. Except for a short time spent working the waters of Washington's Puget Sound, the Potter faithfully serviced the people who lived and worked along the Columbia River.

But all good things must come to an end, and so did the Potter. Just before the beginning of tourist season in 1916, the Potter was deemed unworthy for passengers. Her service continued as a barracks for boat construction crews until the early 1920s when she was abandoned on Young's Bay in present day Astoria, Oregon.

This is all that remains of the once elegant steamer. If you want to visit, her remains lie directly across West Marine Drive from the Astoria Dairy Queen. During low tide, you can even walk on the remains and perhaps ponder what it might have been like to stand upon her decks while floating down the mighty Columbia.


Anonymous said...

My great grandparents and grandparents rode the Potter a lot back in the glory days of the river steamers. I was always envious of them. I still see her from time to time when I go by there-as a kid it was always pointed out to me that the sad looking skeleton in the mud was once the pride of the river.

Mother Church said...

Well, I have the dinning room table from the T.J. Potter. My Great Grandfather William McGregor salvaged it.

Mother Church said...

My Great Grandfather salvaged some things from the T.J. Potter. I inherited the dinning room table. It is narrow and has many leaves so that it extends to 12 or 14 feet.

Steve Skinner said...

You certainly inherited a great piece of history!