Friday, March 10, 2017

Homage to the Paddlewheelers

This awesome paddlewheel is all that is left of the M.F. Henderson, a combination freighter and tow boat that plied the Columbia River for 50 years.  It sits in front of the Hood River History Museum like an honored guest.  Indeed it is.

The Henderson was built in 1901, and had one of the longest careers of any wood-hulled sternwheeler on the river.  It towed log rafts and pushed barges up and down the river between The Dalles and Portland.  It met its demise in 1956 when heavy swells at the mouth of the Columbia forced the crew to beach it near Columbia City.  It languished there until 1964, when it was finally burned to salvage scrap metal.

Many of these sternwheelers also carried passengers and that is why I pay homage to them.  What beauties they were!  Today, modern ships with paddlewheels can still be seen on the great rivers of America.  Any day now I am expecting to see the Queen of the West, an American Cruise Lines ship, floating by my window.  It is, by far, one of the most romantic ways to travel.

Closer to home (and far less expensive) is our own Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler, with boarding at Cascade Locks, Oregon.  Both dining and sightseeing cruises are available.  My travel buddy and I took the dinner cruise in September of 2015 and it was a memorable evening.  If you happen to be traveling in the Columbia River Gorge, put it on your itinerary.  You won't regret it.

Floating down a river
in a paddlewheeler.

Pure Magic.

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