Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram
 

The wreck of the Mary D. Hume: A historic whale vessel rotting away on the Rogue River, Oregon

David Goran

Mary D. Hume was a steamer built by R.D. Hume, a pioneer and early businessman, for his Cannery in Gold Beach. He named the ship after his wife. R. D. Hume was a pioneering businessman at Wedderburn and Gold Beach, then known as Ellensburg. By 1881, he had established a fish cannery and built Mary D. Hume, to support the cannery operation.

Mary D. Hume passed through several owners and a number of changes and reconstructions, and served as late as the 1970s. Source

She was built in 1881 by R. D. Hume, a pioneer and early businessman in Gold Beach, Oregon. Source

Over the years different owners reconstructed it and she has been used for many purposes around Gold Beach and along the pacific coast. Back in the 1970s it even had the title as the oldest serving commercial vessel.

The Hume measured 150 tons, 96 feet (29 m) long by 22 feet (6.7 m) beam by 9 feet (2.7 m) draft. Source

The Hume measured 150 tons, 96 feet (29 m) long by 22 feet (6.7 m) beam by 9 feet (2.7 m) draft. Source

 

Mary D. Hume passed through several owners and a number of changes and reconstructions, and served as late as the 1970s. Source

Mary D. Hume passed through several owners and a number of changes and reconstructions, and served as late as the 1970s. Source

 

The Mary D. Hume hauled goods between the Rogue River and San Francisco for ten years. Source

The Mary D. Hume hauled goods between the Rogue River and San Francisco for ten years. Source

The first eight years of the Hume’s career were spent hauling cargo between San Francisco and Gold Beach. On December 5, 1889 the Pacific Whaling Co. purchased the Mary D. Hume for $25,000 and the Mary D. Hume started her career as a Artic Whaling vessel.

The Mary D. Hume soon departed for the Bearing Sea and a 10 year career that made her famous in Arctic Whaling history. During her long Arctic voyage numerous sailors died from scurvy, cold and lunacy caused by loneliness and isolation.

The vessel was purchased by the Pacific Steam Whaling Company of San Francisco in 1889 to be used to haul baleen from Arctic waters. Source

The vessel was purchased by the Pacific Steam Whaling Company of San Francisco in 1889 to be used to haul baleen from Arctic waters. Source

Her first expedition spanned 1890-1892, catching 37 whales for a cargo worth $400,000. She then made Arctic Whaling history with the longest recorded whaling voyage of six years, from 1893 to 1899.

In 1900 she was sold to the Northwest Fisheries Company for use as a cannery tender in Alaskan waters, and four years later she sank in ice in the Nushagak River; was raised and taken to Seattle for repair.

The Mary D. Hume recorded the largest catch of whale Baleen, valued at $400,000 after a 29 month voyage. Source

The Mary D. Hume recorded the largest catch of whale Baleen, valued at $400,000 after a 29 month voyage. Source

May 20, 1909, The American Tug Boat company purchased the Mary D. Hume and she was fitted as an ocean tugboat. Housing of two levels was added sometime in the early years of the 20th century.

When the whaling boom died out, she continued in service as tugboat, a tender for halibut fishing boats, and a towboat. Her steam engine was exchanged for Diesel power in 1954, and she kept working until 1978.

The boat fell and sank in four feet of water and less of her remains each year. Source

The boat fell and sank in four feet of water and less of her remains each year. Source

 

Efforts were made to survey and raise her, but there were no funds to make the effort. Source

Efforts were made to survey and raise her, but there were no funds to make the effort. Source

 

Hume is on the National Register of Historic Places, and her wreck can still be seen in Gold Beach. Source

Hume is on the National Register of Historic Places, and her wreck can still be seen in Gold Beach. Source

When Mary D. Hume retired, the historical society tried to make her into a museum ship with no luck. Although Mary D. Hume is on the National Register of Historic Places, she is not maintained and she is slowly breaking apart and sliding into the Gold Beach muddy waters.