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Sternwheeler Days and
The Great Steamboat Race


A mechanical failure on the Steamer Portland has suspended the competition but the Sternwheeler Columbia Gorge will operate as usual and the rest of the Sternwheeler Days festivities will continue unaffected. Please call the office with questions. We apologize for the inconvenience.

The Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler was to race against the Steamer Portland in the 1st Annual "Great Steamboat Race" on the Columbia River — the first steamboat race on the Columbia in fifty-six years. The Race was scheduled for June 28 and 29, 2008 as part of the 33rd Sternwheeler Days Festival in Cascade Locks, Oregon, unfortunately, a steering failure necessitated the cancellation of the race but the "Sternwheeler Days" will continue to run from June 27th through June 29th, 2008 at the Port of Cascade Locks, Oregon, just 45 minutes from downtown Portland. The festival, which is sponsored by the Cascade Locks Lions Club, celebrates its 33rd year.

The Steamer Portland, a stern-wheel tug boat, was built in 1947 for the Port of Portland. The Steamer Portland has previously raced against the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler in annual races on the Willamette River in Portland (1995-2001). The Steamer claims to be the winner of the majority of races. Presently the home of the Oregon Maritime Museum, the Steamer was used as the dedication platform for the dedication of Lower Granite Dam in 1976, but is perhaps best-known as the floating star of the Mel Gibson/Jodie Foster movie, "Maverick."

The Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler was built by Nichols Boat Works of Hood River and launched in 1983. The Great Steamboat Race is part of her 25th anniversary celebration. Owned by the Port of Cascade Locks, the Sternwheeler is operated by the Portland Spirit.

After an investment of one half million dollars, mostly in private donations, and more than one million dollars of volunteer labor (valued at $20 an hour) the steamer was certified by the U.S. Coast Guard to carry up to 100 passengers on special voyages.

The last steamboat race on the Columbia was held in 1952. More a publicity stunt than a true race, the Steamer Portland raced the Henderson. As part of the promotion of the movie "Bend in the River", Jimmy Stewart narrated the race for KEX Radio.

Contact Portland Spirit at 503-224-3900 or 800-224-3901 for information, race tickets or brunch or dinner reservations aboard the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler. Entry to Sternwheeler Days is free and open to the general public.

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