Historic Hood River
Sternwheeler Columbia Gorge
Here’s another fine image from Rodger Nichols. This is the “new” Nichols Boat Works building at the south end of Nichols Basin. The ship being constructed to the east of the building is the sternwheeler Columbia Gorge, built for the Port of Cascade Locks in 1983. Here are Rodger’s notes on this ship:
The sternwheeler came about because the port wanted to build a tramway from the river up to the top of the cascades above Cascade Locks. This was long before the Friends of the Gorge, but a number of people were opposed, and the project was killed. Sen. Mark Hatfield, who had already gotten the money appropriated, was able to switch it to a different tourist project for the port, and two and a half million dollars later the sternwheeler became the first on the Columbia in decades. The boat is 147 feet long, 36 feet wide, and the paddle wheel is 17 feet in diameter. It can carry 600 passengers comfortably on its three decks, and it carries the bell from the pride of the sternwheeler fleet based in The Dalles, the legendary Bailey Gatzert, the fastest paddle wheeler on the Columbia (20 miles per hour in 1890.)
Tags: 1980s, boatworks, Columbia Gorge, marina, Nichols, Nichols Basin, Nichols Boat Works, ship, sternwheeler
Interesting that the stern-wheeler was built for 600 passengers, but the Coast Guard today limits it to 500 passengers.
Interesting history. Thanks.
Arlen L Sheldrake
great posting !!! I remember the failed tram but not the story about Hatfield re-directing the federal money; a true statesman my pea brain sure had this build before 1983..
I have always had an admiration for people who take an idea and stick with it until they make it a successful business. And the Nichols family is one of those who fit that mold. Iconic picture.
I think Americans are getting fatter. A load of 500 people in 2019 probably weighs more than 600 people in 1983.
I remember when this was built. I was in the pilot house of the Dauby (tug boat owned by sds lumber co) when the boat came down the greased rails of Nichols boat works dry dock. My father Lonny Rodgers was the tug boat captain at the time. It was cool experience.