SS Oregon (1878)

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Steamer Oregon - 1900.jpg
The Oregon in 1900.
Career US flag 45 stars.svg
Name: Oregon
Owner: Oregon Steamship Company
Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company
White Star Steamship Company
Route: San Francisco, California to Portland, Oregon
Alaska to Puget Sound
Builder: Delaware River Iron Ship Building and Engine Works (Chester, PA)
Launched: February 1878
In service: 1878-1894
Out of service: 1 September 1906
Fate: Wrecked, 1 September 1906, Point Hinchinbrook, Alaska
Notes: Ran aground and declared a total loss
General characteristics
Type: Coastal passenger/cargo ship
Tonnage: 2,335 tons[1]
Length: 283 ft (86 m)[1]
Beam: 37 ft (11 m)[1]

The SS Oregon (1878-1906) was a coastal passenger/cargo ship constructed in Chester, Pennsylvania by the Delaware River Iron Ship Building and Engine Works in February 1878.[2][3] Originally delivered to the Oregon Steamship Company,[4] she was used on the Portland, Oregon to San Francisco, California route for many years.[1] In 1879, the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company became the Oregon's new owners after purchasing the Oregon Steamship Company. Also included in this purchase were the steamships George W. Elder and City of Chester.[4] While in O.R. & N service, Oregon served alongside the Columbia, which was the first commercial use of Thomas Edison's incandescent light bulb.[5] Like the Oregon the Columbia was also built by John Roach & Sons in Chester, Pennsylvania.[6] Over time, Oregon's hull became breached after a number of incidents. Furthermore, the hull had been weighted with concrete to the point where she was considered un-useable for service as a passenger liner.[1] After operating as a freighter, she was laid in 1894 at Portland.[3] In 1899, the Oregon was re-qualified to carry passengers once more. She was sold by O.R. & N the same year.[7] Despite this, she was viewed as a cursed ship by her crew.[1] The Oregon was owned by the White Star Steamship Company from around 1902 to 1905 (not to be confused with the White Star Line).[8] Around this time, the Oregon was being operated between Alaska and Puget Sound.[3]

On September 13, 1906, the Oregon ran aground on the rocky shoreline of Cape Hinchinbrook, Alaska. At the time, there was no active lighthouse at Cape Hinchinbrook (although one was under construction). It is unknown whether poor navigation or reduced visibility caused the wreck. Shortly after the collision, the bottom of the vessel was torn open and water began flooding the ship. The Oregon became stuck on the rocks without any barrier from the open sea. After crewmembers began boarding the lifeboats, Captain Horace E. Soule threatened to shoot any man attempting to steal one. This led to the crew obeying any further orders and a small party were sent off in a lifeboat to report the disaster in Valdez. When the report of Oregon's wreck reached Valdez, many ships set out to rescue the passengers and crew. Remarkably, all 110 remaining people on board the Oregon were rescued by the revenue cutter Columbine. The Oregon however, was reported as a total loss.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Pocock, Michael W. (2010). "Daily Event for September 13, 2010". Original. MaritimeQuest. Retrieved 17 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Colton, Tim (4 August 2010). "The Delaware River Iron Shipbuilding & Engine Works, Chester PA". Original. Shipbuilding History: Construction records of U.S. and Canadian shipbuilders and boatbuilders. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Unknown (11 June 1904 (Uploaded digitally 2001)). "Steamship OREGON in the ice at Nome, June 11, 1904". Reprinted. University of Washington Libraries. Retrieved 17 August 2013.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ a b "The Railway World, Volume 5". Reprinted. United States Railroad and Mining Register Company. 1879. p. 734. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  5. ^ Jehl, Francis Menlo Park reminiscences : written in Edison's restored Menlo Park laboratory, Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, Whitefish, Mass, Kessinger Publishing, 1 July 2002, page 564
  6. ^ Belyk, Robert C. Great Shipwrecks of the Pacific Coast. New York: Wiley, 2001. Print.ISBN 0-471-38420-8
  7. ^ "May run to Cape Nome - San Francisco Call, Volume 86, Number 161". Archive. California Digital Newspaper Collection. 8 November 1899. p. 9. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  8. ^ Unknown (Undated (Digitally uploaded in 2001)). "S.S. OREGON, with logo of White Star Steamship Co. on funnel, n.d.". Reprinted. University of Washington Libraries. Retrieved 17 August 2013.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

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