Nez Perce Chief (sternwheeler)

Nez Perce Chief was a steamboat that operated on the upper Columbia River, in Washington, U.S., specifically the stretch of the river that began above the Celilo Falls. Her engines came from the Carrie Ladd, an important earlier sternwheeler.[1] Nez Perce Chief also ran up the Snake River to Lewiston, Idaho, a distance of 141 miles from the mouth of the Snake River near Wallula, Wash. Terr.[2]

News item on Nez Perce Chief from the Walla Walla Statesman, December 25, 1868
Name: Nez Perce Chief
Owner: Oregon Steam Navigation Company[1]
In service: 1863 (built at Celilo, Oregon)
Out of service: 1874[1]
Identification: US registry #18399[1]
Fate: Dismantled
General characteristics
Type: inland shallow-draft passenger/freighter, all wooden construction
Tonnage: 327 gross[1]
Length: 126 ft (38 m)
Beam: 25 ft (8 m)
Depth: 5.0 ft (2 m) depth of hold
Installed power: steam, high-pressure twin engines, horizontally mounted 16" bore by 66", stroke, 17 horsepower nominal[1]
Propulsion: sternwheel

Operations in gold rush

During the 1860s there was a gold rush in Idaho, and Nez Perce Chief and other steamboats of the Oregon Steam Navigation Company were key links in the transportation of miners and equipment upriver to the gold fields, and in transporting gold mined from the fields out. On one trip downriver at the height of the gold rush Nez Perce Chief carried $382,000 worth of gold dust and bars locked in the captain's safe.[3]

Transfer to other parts of the Columbia River

In 1870, Nez Perce Chief was brought down through Celilo Falls to The Dalles, where she operated on the middle river, that is, the stretch between The Dalles and the rapids downriver known as the Cascades of the Columbia, that began near where the modern town of Cascade Locks is located.[1] On July 6, 1871, with Capt. John C. Ainsworth in personal command, she was brought down through the Cascades to the lower Columbia River.[4]


  1. Affleck, Edward L., A Century of Paddlewheelers in the Pacific Northwest, the Yukon, and Alaska, at 28, Alexander Nicholls Press, Vancouver, BC 2000 ISBN 0-920034-08-X
  2. Mills, Randall V., Sternwheelers up Columbia -- A Century of Steamboating in the Oregon Country, at 43, 83, and 205, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE (1977 reprint of 1947 ed.) ISBN 0-8032-5874-7
  3. Timmen, Fritz, Blow for the Landing -- A Hundred Years of Steam Navigation on the Waters of the West, Caxton Printers, Caldwell, ID 1973 ISBN 0-87004-221-1
  4. Wright, E.W., ed., Lewis and Dryden Marine History of the Northwest, at 197, Lewis and Dryden Publishers, Portland, OR 1895

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.