The Mary D. [Duncan] Hume
[photo: Steven Astillero]
This week’s postcard features a photo by Steven Astillero and shows the Mary D. Hume a commercial steamer built at Gold Beach, Oregon, in 1881 by R. D. Hume who was a pioneer and early businessman in the area. The card was distributed by Nature’s Photography, Medford, Oregon (www.lighthousecollectibles.com).
In 1886 R.D. Hume of Astoria, Oregon, moved his commercial salmon fishing, processing and shipping business to the mouth of Rogue River. Following the sinking of Mr. Hume's small steamer "Varuna" he salvaged the steam engine and began plans to replace his lost freighter. A 141 ft. (42.9 m) tall White Cedar tree was harvested 13 miles (20 km) north and floated downstream to what is today the Port of Gold Beach. Naturally curved White Cedar roots were used as the ribs and Myrtlewood dowels were used to join the ribs to the keel. Mr. Hume named the boat in honor of his wife, Mary Duncan Hume. [Information from: the a placard at the site]
This ship had a remarkable 97-year career as an active commercial working vessel, the longest active sea service for any commercial vessel on the Pacific Coast. . Originally she hauled goods from Oregon to San Francisco for 8 years. Later in 1889 she was purchased by the Pacific Steam Whaling Company and used to haul baleen from Arctic waters. From 1890 to 1892 she was used as a whaler and caught 37 whales. In the early 1900s she received a new steam engine and was used as cannery tender in Alaska for the Northwest Fisheries Company. After sinking in the Nushagak River she came to Seattle and began working as a tugboat for the American Tug Boat Company of Everett, Washington towing logs and barges on Puget Sound. Another new engine was installed in 1939 and in 1954 a diesel engine was installed and the superstructure was altered. The Crowley Maritime Corporation bought the Mary D. Hume in 1973 and she was still being used as a tugboat. In 1977 she was retired and was returned to Gold Beach in 1978. In all her years of service and through changes in ownership she retained her name, unique in maritime history.
Some effort was made to preserve the Mary D. Hume but a mechanical failure occurred and she slipped off into the mud at Gold Beach where it is today and insufficient funds have hampered the effort. Despite the condition the wreck is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and can be seen berthed on the Rogue River at Gold Beach, Oregon.
We visited the site in 2018 and Bob took the photo below. Looking closely it is possible to see that not only is part of of ship collapsing, grass and other vegetation is now growing on the boat.
The Mary D. Hume, Gold Beach, Oregon, 2018
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