Shallow draft steamer "Chester" used on waters of the Pacific Northwest 1897-1919
This photo is of a shallow draft steamer named "Chester" which was built in Portland, Oregon in 1897 and used until 1919 when it was abandoned. It was one of a new design of very shallow draft boats built specifically for operation in shallow waters. It was able to slide up onto sand bars and spin its wheels and suck out the sand so that it could inch across. In narrow spots it could just stop at landings and the horses and wagons could pull right up to the boat to load and unload as seen in the picture, or a deckhand could just roll up his pants and wade ashore to deliver small packages. It operated on the Cowlitz River in Washingnton until 1910 when the river fell so low they could not even maintain a channel one foot deep. The original photo is from the collection of Captain WernerEckhart.