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As It Was: Lumber Workers Ride Ewauna Lake Steamboat to Work

The Chelsea Lumber and Box Company announced plans in 1917 to build a new sawmill in Klamath Falls at the county fairgrounds at the south end of Lake Ewauna.

The mill had some 40 workers and had a daily production capacity of 60,000 board feet of lumber.  Most of the workers lived in Klamath Falls, at the north end of Lake Ewauna, and faced a daily commute of several miles over poor roads around the lake.  The company solved the problem by purchasing a steamboat that had plied Upper Klamath Lake for years. 

The boat, known as the “Curlew,” constructed in 1908, had carried mail and passengers from Klamath Falls to resorts at Eagle Ridge and Odessa on the upper lake.

The company moved the boat to Lake Ewauna, and renamed the craft the “Chelsea.”  It comfortably transported 40 men, who caught the boat in Klamath Falls in the morning and rode back to town at day’s end.

A fire destroyed the box company in 1924, seven years after its opening.  Another lumber company used the site later, but the old steamboat never saw much action again.

Sources: "Curlew." Klamath Echoes, vol. 1, no. 2, 1965, p. 53; "Local Firm to Run Boat For Employees." Evening Herald, 28 Jan. 1918 [Klamath Falls, Ore.] , p. 1; Lamm, Wilfred E. Lumbering in Klamath. P. 18.

Todd Kepple has been a Klamath Basin resident since 1990. He was a reporter and editor the for the Herald and News from 1990 to 2005, and has been manager of the Klamath County Museum since 2005. He enjoys volunteering at Crater Lake National Park, the OC&E Woods Line State Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also a founding member of the Klamath Tree League.