Mary D. Hume, Rogue River

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Mary D. Hume, Rogue River

by | Aug 18, 2020

Mary D. Hume was a steamer built in 1881 by R.D. Hume, a pioneer and early businessman of Ellensburg, a historical community at the mouth of the Rogue River, now named Gold Beach, Oregon. Mary D. Hume was built of timber cut from the coast range and floated down the Rogue River. The keel is a single beam of Port Orford cedar measuring 10 inches (25 cm) by 36 inches (91 cm) by 140 feet (43 m) long. The ship’s knees were hand-cut from Port Orford cedar roots, and planking was secured with wood pegs. The machinery was salvaged from the wrecked steamer Varuna. When launched the ship measured 150 tons, 96 feet (29 m) long by 22 feet (6.7 m) beam by 9 feet (2.7 m) draft. She was originally rigged as a schooner.

For the first eight years, Mary D. Hume hauled cargo between San Francisco and Gold Beach. In 1889, she was bought by the Pacific Steam Whaling Company, re-rigged as a brigantine, and used for whaling in the Arctic. The first expedition was from 1890-1892, catching 37 whales, and the second voyage lasted from 1893 to 1899. In 1900, Mary D. Hume became an Alaskan cannery tender for the Northwest Fisheries Company. After sinking in ice in the Nushagak River in Bristol Bay, she returned to the Pacific Northwest for repair in Seattle. In either 1906 or 1908, she began work for the American Tug Boat Company of Everett, Washington towing logs and barges on Puget Sound. In 1973, she was bought by the Crowley Maritime Corporation and used as a tugboat. She was retired in 1977 and returned to Gold Beach.

Mary D. Hume was the oldest serving commercial vessel on the U.S. west coast and in 1979 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places when she was afloat and berthed on the Rogue River. Repairs started in 1985, but an accident led to her sinking and she has remained a derelict vessel on the shoreline of the Rogue River. Read more here and here. Explore more of Mary D. Hume here:

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