1909 Rainier, Oregon Regatta
Columbia River, Oregon, October 16, 1909

The Willamette Motor Boat Club’s Rainier Cruise
By James B. Welch

The morning of October the 16th was the date set for the start of the Willamette Motor Boat Club’s cruise to the city of Rainier, fifty miles down on the bank of the Columbia River from Portland. Much discussion of the various phases of the cruise had occurred and the general belief was that the small boats could not make the trip, if the Columbia was as rough as it usually is. But the committee in charge had promised that if any small boats got into trouble the larger ones would take them in tow, so on this set date at 5 o’clock in the morning the boats began to arrive at Von der Werth Brothers’ boat building establishment, the appointed place of gathering.

The Lollipop was the first boat to arrive. She is a big cabin cruiser, well able to take care of herself in the average bad sea. R. F. Cox, owner of the Pacer, the club’s fastest boat, had chartered the Lollipop to take his invited guests down and also to tow the Pacer to Rainier, where he had promised to give an exhibition run. Mr. Cox’s guests were Mr. And Mrs. J. D. Whitaker, Commodore George S. Kelly, Secretary and Treasurer James B. Welch, Gus Flemming and E. von der Werth. The balance of the Lollipop’s party were Capt. John Delaet at the wheel, engineer and owner John R. King at the engine, Engineer Crowley of the Pacer and the two Cox boys, Harold and Everett.

The second boat to hove in sight was the Augusta with her owners aboard, Adolph, Rudolph and John Groeger. Then came the Alta, a little twenty-four-foot boat manned by Harry Siegfried, her owner, and Frank Beck. The next to show up was Annabael, a big cabin boat which had been chartered buy Otto Ranft of Happy Heinie fame. Mr. Ranft had with him his wife, Al Klingbeil and W. H. Curtis. Otto reported that the Billiken and the Artisan were tied to a big log raft up near the club waiting for the dense fog to rise. As Commodore Kelly was to be aboard the Lollipop, his flag was run to the top mast and this fine boat, the pride of the club, started down river at 7:45 a.m. Immediately following the Lollipop was the Alta, then the Augusta and lastly the Annabel.

As to how many boats were following, it was impossible to tell, owing to the dense fog, which did not rise until we passed the town of Linton. It looked to us as though we were going to have a beautiful day, but before we had reached the town of St. Helens we had run into very rough water and a strong wind was blowing. The waves were breaking high over the bow of our boat, and we could look back and see the little Alta and Augusta simply plowing through the big breakers. We felt certain they would have trouble, and just as we were passing St. Helens we saw the Alta drifting into shore. We went on to Kalama and put in there to wait for all the other boats so we could make the balance of the run, which was then seven miles, together.

Just as we were casting anchor was aw Alta being towed in our direction by a Kalama fish boat. On landing we learned that her gasoline pipe was broken and Siegfried made for the nearest tin shop for repairs. After waiting one hour we could not see the Billiken or the Artisan, so we cut the Pacer loose and made the balance of the way fairly close together. We reached Rainier at noon and after making fast, Captain Milton Smith of the reception committee, notified us that a big spread was awaiting us at an uptown restaurant. While we were at dinner the Billiken, with her owner Jack Yates, accompanied by Ray Jameson, and the Artisan with her owner, C. W. Boost, with Vice-Commodore Kinnear and Oliver McClelland as invited guests, arrived. This made up the last of boats that started.

After dinner we all went down to the river and with a little skirmishing managed to make up a couple of races. The first was a scratch race over a two-mile course. The entries were Alta, Billiken and Augusta of Portland, and the Big H and Beryl of Rainier. This proved a closely matched race and was won by the Augusta, with Billiken but a few feet behind. The other three came in neck and neck.

The second race was a four-mile event between the Pacer and the Happy Heine. The committee in charge took the two fastest records these two boats had ever made, and from this worked out a three-minute handicap for Heine. This looked like a one-sided race, but the start of both boats was excellent and the Pacer was gradually gaining, but when the Heine was on her last lap she turned before she reached the stake and started back. Cox, who was steering the Pacer, saw this and made the same turn. The Heine won by about sixty feet, but both boats were disqualified. There had been no arrangements for any other races, so the boys gave a number of exhibition runs, and was were all called together at six o’clock for a banquet that had been prepared at the K. of P. Hall. This was surely a dandy spread, and was thoroughly enjoyed by all the club members, along with a number of prominent citizens.

After the banquet we all gathered in a big lodge room, where a general meeting was held. After an address of welcome by W. C. Fry, which was answered by Commodore Kelly, the advisability of an annual event of this kind was talked over, and it was decided to have similar events each year. Sometime between July fourth and Labor Day.

After the meeting was over the boys were all taken downstairs, where they found a crowd gathered together for an evening of dancing and card playing. This was indulged in until the wee hours of the morning, when the boys were provided with rooms for the night at some of the homes of the citizens of Rainier.

Sunday was spent in giving the citizens of this enterprising little city a run on the river, which proved to be one of the most enjoyable events of the trip to the club members, as they were shown the points of interest and the great advantage of their triangular race course in front of the city. It would be an easy matter to map out a five-mile triangular course which would keep the boats in sight through the entire race, and this would make a much more exciting contest. There is not another city between Portland and Astoria that has the racing advantages of Rainier, and next year some world’s records will surely be made here.

At eleven o’clock the boats began to start homeward and all arrived in good shape, which ended the first long cruise ever attempted by the Willamette Motor Boat Club, and which will be remembered as one of the most enjoyable events in the history of the club.

(Transcribed from Pacific Motor Boat, January 1910, pp. 19-20.)

[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page --LF]

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