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Looking Back: Ferry Steamboat Service in Oregon's Coastal Towns
Published: 07/11/2018
 
The steamer ferry Newport towing the passenger barge Julia, likely traversing Yaquina Bay near Newport, Oregon. Circa 1920, photo courtesy of Oregon State Library.
The steamer ferry Newport towing the passenger barge Julia, likely traversing Yaquina Bay near Newport, Oregon. Circa 1920, photo courtesy of Oregon State Library.

Transporting supplies and people, ferries have always been a lifeline for many small towns up and down the Oregon Coast.

Before the development of modern road and rail networks, transportation in many Oregon coastal towns was mostly by steamboat. Known as the Mosquito Fleet during the late 19th century, these small wooden vessels operated on the Rogue River, Coquille River, Coos Bay, Umpqua River, Siuslaw Bay, Yaquina Bay, Siletz River and Tillamook Bay.

Pictured here is the steamer ferry Newport and Julia barge. The Newport was built in 1908 at Yaquina City, Oregon. Now a ghost town, Yaquina City was then the terminus of the Corvallis & Eastern Railroad. For many years, the Newport steamer transported excursionists in the summer months across the short water route between Yaquina City and the town of Newport. During peak travel times, an unpowered barge would be lashed to the steamer to increase the passenger capacity to 500.

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