In 1876 Mr. R.D. Hume of Astoria, Oregon, decided to move his commercial salmon fishing, processing and shipping business to the mouth of the Rogue River. Mr. Hume anticipated huge profits due to the large run of "King" Salmon which entered the mouth of this river on their annual spawning migration.
The long and unique history of the Mary D. Hume started on a rough and windy day in Gold Beach when Mr. Hume's small steamer "VARUNA" sank on the Rogue River bar in 1880. Mr. Hume salvaged the steam engine and began immediate plans to replace his lost freighter. Mr. Hume first located a 141 foot tall White Cedar tree 13 miles upriver on the north shore Rogue River shoreline. The tree was cut and floated downstream to what is now the Port of Gold Beach, within two hundred feet of where you are currently standing. This tree became the keel for the new vessel. White Cedar roots were cut for their natural curve to shape the ribs and Myrtlewood dowels were used to join ribs to keel. A severe flood January of 1881 almost destroyed the vessel during final construction. January, 21, 1881 the new vessel Mary Duncan Hume was launched. (named in honor of Mr. Hume's wife) This day was the start of her 97 years of active commercial sea service. This is the longest active sea service for any commercial vessel on the Pacific Coast. Also unique in maritime history is the fact the Mary D. Hume has retained her original name of registry from 1881 to present.
The Mary D. Hume served her first ten years as a coastal freighter hauling wool, canned salmon and other goods from the Oregon Coast to San Francisco. 1890 was the peak of the Arctic whaling industry and small steam sailing vessels were selling at premium prices. 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 Arctic 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.
The Mary D. Hume recorded the largest catch of whale baleen, valued at $400,000 after a 29 month voyage. She then made Arctic Whaling history with the longest recorded whaling voyage of six years. During her long Arctic voyage numerous sailors died from scurvy, cold and lunacy caused by privation. Their bodies were stored frozen in ice until the spring thaw allowed burial on nearby Herschel Island. Her last whaling voyage was recorded in 1889 and on her return trip she was caught in a horrible storm which tore whaling boats from the decks and washed two sailors overboard to their deaths in the frigid sea. The Mary D. was then retired to towing service on the Nushagak river in Alaska.
May 20, 1909 The American Tug Boat company purchased the Mary D. Hume and she was fitted as an ocean tugboat. 1914 she was refitted with 10 Halibut Dories for a brief career in the Alaska halibut industry. This Halibut voyage lost money and the Mary D. Hume soon returned to ocean towboat duty. She served proudly as a Tugboat under numerous owners for 60 years Her final retirement was the summer of 1978, she sailed under her own power, into the Port of Gold Beach and her final resting place within a few hundred feet of her birthplace.
August 1, 1979 The Mary D. Hume was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Built in Gold Beach in 1881 The Mary D. Hume is:
Length: 97.6 feet long
Tonnage: 158 tons
Width: 22.8 feet wide
Depth: 10 feet deep