The Mary D. Hume is a beloved relic of times past...
Robert Deniston Hume arrived in the community that was then known as Ellensburg (today Gold Beach) in 1876. He purchased land at the mouth of the Rogue River and established a commercial salmon canning business. Recognizing that the phenomenal natural runs of wild salmon were not inexhaustible he built the area's first fish hatchery in what became known as Hatchery Gulch (near Indian Creek) in 1878. Two years later, Hume's small steam powered freighter Varuna sank in the Rogue River. He salvaged the steam engine and constructed another somewhat larger vessel which he christened the Mary Duncan Hume on January 21, 1881. (Named in honor of his wife.)
From her launching until 1890 the "Mary D.," as she is usually called, served as a coastal freighter carrying wool and canned salmon to San Francisco and returning with the goods necessary to support the Gold Beach community. In 1890 she headed up to Alaska and served for ten years as a whaling ship. While in the whaling fleet she set records for the amount of whale baleen taken. From 1899 to 1909 she served in the rivers of Alaska as a towboat. In 1909 she transitioned to work as an ocean going tugboat. In 1914 she served briefly as a halibut fishing boat, but returned to tugboat service soon thereafter. In 1978 she returned to Gold Beach to be decommissioned within a few feet of the spot where she was built nearly a century earlier.
The "Mary D." can boast the longest active sea service of any commercial vessel on the Pacific Coast. Gold Beach aspired to preserve her as a memorial to an important part of the town's history, but unfortunately she was accidentally damaged beyond repair and it was reluctantly decided to leave her just as she is. In 2009, at 128 years of age, her cedar beams and myrtle wood dowels are beginning to weaken, but she is still indisputably a grand old lady of another time with a formidable past.
PS: If you let your eye follow the line of the bow up above the ship you can just barely see a small home tucked into the trees on the far bank. That is "Pacific Sunset on the Rogue Channel," one of our vacation homes. Although secluded, it has a commanding view of everything that happens in the mouth of the Rogue. When the Mary D. was built most of the land at the mouth of the river belonged to R.D. Hume. The land on the north bank in this picture is part of the community of Wedderburn, a kissing cousin to Gold Beach on the south bank. Hume is credited with founding Wedderburn and naming it after Wedderburn Castle, the home of his Scottish ancestors. Obviously, Pacific Sunset was built long after Robert and Mary were gone, but it is a wonderful spot to think about the early pioneers and the unbelievable runs of fish that were typical in their day.