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As It Was: Surging Klamath River Carries Steer into Ocean

When he was born, Bahamas was weak and not expected to survive.  He was an unremarkable crossed Angus-Jersey steer on a farm two miles upriver from Klamath, Calif.  With bottle feeding and tender care he grew strong, gentle, beloved -- and lived to inspire a community.

On Dec. 22, 1964, a combination of heavy snow pack, warm temperatures, and torrential rains raised  the Klamath River to record heights, its deluge sweeping Bahamas and debris downriver to the ocean.

The next day, he was spotted 200 yards offshore, struggling to stay afloat in a mass of churning brush and logs that plugged the Crescent City harbor.  He must have climbed onto flotsam and ridden storm waves for 16 miles north of the river’s mouth.  Rescuers spent hours guiding 800-pound Bahamas to safety.  Reaching shore, he collapsed exhausted.

Bahamas’ ordeal struck a chord—his courage and will to live symbolized recovery for the community. He was renamed “Captain Courageous” and sent to live out his years in a grassy pasture. 

A permanent monument pays tribute to Bahamas at the Klamath townsite, noting that at age 20 he “passed peacefully on to greener pastures.”


Sources: Weaver, Harriett E.  Beloved Was Bahamas-A Steer to Remember. New York, NY, The Vanguard Press, 1974; “Klamath History - Captain Courageous, The Seagoing Bull." Klamath Chamber of Commerce, www.klamathchamber.com/home.cfm?dir_cat=37748. Accessed 17 Feb. 2018.

Laurel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. Laurel is the author of "Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery", a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.