Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hundreds of Miners Arrive in Portland on Steamship Brother Jonathan

“Steamship Brother Jonathan, S. J. De Wolf, commander, arrived at this port from San Francisco on the 11th inst. at five o’clock A. M. She brought dates to the 7th from the East, about three hundred and eighty passengers, and a large quanity [sic] of freight. The passengers are mostly miners, bound for the John Day, Powder river, and Boise mines.” This item from the Oregonian newspaper (April 13, 1863), in Portland, was just one of many such reports documenting the stream of miners who rushed through Portland during this period.

Impatient gold-seekers favored the Brother Jonathan because it was the fastest steamer on the Pacific Coast at that time. Its owners, the California Steam Navigation Company, made huge profits from the vessel, and kept it busy. The Oregonian item also said, "Sails To Day. – The steamer Brother Jonathan sails for San Francisco via Victoria this afternoon at four o’clock."
Steamship Brother Jonathan, ca 1862.

Captain Samuel J. De Wolf was one of the most experienced commanders on the coast. Tragically, two year later, a violent storm drove the steamship onto a reef near Crescent City California. De Wolf and over two hundred passengers went down with the ship.

Reference: Alfred L. Lomax, Brother Jonathan: Pioneer Steamship of the Pacific Coast, University of Oregon (1959).

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