North Star (sternwheeler 1902)

North Star was a sternwheel steamboat that operated in eastern Washington from 1902 to 1904. This vessel should not be confused with the other vessels, some of similar design, also named North Star.

North Star lining Guthrie Rapids on the Okanogan River
Name: North Star'
Route: Columbia River, Okanogan River
In service: 1902
Out of service: 1915
Identification: US #130967; after reconstruction: US #204761
Fate: Burned July 8, 1915 at Wenatchee, Washington
Notes: reconstructed and enlarged 1907
General characteristics
Type: inland steamship (passenger/freight)
Tonnage: 129 gross/92 registered tons (after reconstruction: 198 gross/125 registered tons)
Length: 84.5 ft (26 m) after reconstruction: 99.7 ft (30 m)[1]
Beam: 17.1 ft (5 m) after reconstruction:21.4 ft (7 m)
Depth: 3.6 ft (1 m) depth of hold after reconstruction: 4.1 ft (1 m)
Installed power: twin steam engines, horizontally mounted (after reconstruction: 9" bore x 42" stroke 5.4 nominal horsepower, 130 indicated horsepower)
Propulsion: sternwheel


The North Star was built at Wenatchee, Washington in 1902 by George Cotterell for the Columbia & Okanogan Steamboat Company, which Captain Alexander Griggs (1828-1903) was the principal owner.[2]


North Star operated out of Wenatchee on the Columbia and Okanogan rivers. On September 3, 1902, North Star was wrecked in Entiat Rapids. The company was able to salvage the vessel. In 1907 at Wenatchee, North Star was rebuilt and enlarged by the veteran shipwright Alexander Watson.[2] (Another source states that the vessel was sold to H.S. DePuy & Will Lake and renamed Enterprise, and a new vessel, also called North Star was built in 1907.[1] A third source states the vessel was rebuilt.[3])

Withdrawn from service

Settlement in the Okanogan region decreased starting in about 1910.[3] As a result, business declined so much that by 1915, the Columbia & Okanogan Steamboat Co. was forced to take all of its boats out of service. The company had made arrangements to sell North Star to Captain Fred McDermott, who was considering taking the vessel further up the Columbia, to run between Pateros and Bridgeport.[2]

Destruction by fire

The sale of North Star had not been finalized when on July 8, 1915, fire broke out on North Star when she was rafted up at Wenatchee with the rest of the company's remaining boats, the Columbia, Okanogan, and Chelan. North Star was the outermost vessel, but the fire soon spread to the other three. All the vessels were rapidly and completely destroyed, and although the hull of the innermost vessel, Chelan remained afloat, the damage to that vessel was beyond repair. There was no insurance. The Columbia & Okanogan Steamboat Co. had so little money that they were planning to use some of the proceeds of the anticipated sale of North Star to pay the insurance premiums on the remaining three vessels. The cause of the fire was never determined.[2][3][4]


  1. Affleck, Edward L., A Century of Paddlewheelers in the Pacific Northwest, the Yukon and Alaska, at 21, Alexander Nicholls Press, Vancouver, BC 2000
  2. Newell, Gordon R., ed., H.W. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, at 4, 80, 81, 83, 97, 140, 256-57, Superior Publishing, Seattle, WA 1966
  3. Mills, Randall V., Stern-Wheelers up Columbia, at 91-94, 198, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln NE 1947 (1977 printing) ISBN 0-8032-5874-7
  4. Timmen, Fritz, Blow for the Landing -- A Hundred Years of Steam Navigation on the Waters of the West, at 74-76, Caxton Printers, Caldwell, ID 1973 ISBN 0-87004-221-1

Further reading

  • Faber, Jim, Steamer's Wake -- Voyaging down the old marine highways of Puget Sound, British Columbia, and the Columbia River, Enetai Press, Seattle, WA 1985 ISBN 0-9615811-0-7

See also

Steamboats of the Columbia River, Wenatchee Reach

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