Jamieson, Capt. Arthur B.

Died March 17, 1857 when his steamboat, Portland, was swept over Willamette Falls.

Old Cemetery, Lot 36.

Name is spelled Jamison in cemetery records.
Capt. Jamieson’s brother,  Andrew F. C. Jamieson, who died January 3, 1854, is buried in the same Lot.

Oregon Argus, March 21, 1857


We have to record another melancholy accident this week, which has added two more to this list of persons who have already lost their lives around the Falls at this city. The steamer Portland came over the Falls on last Tuesday afternoon, with Captain Arthur Jamieson, and Alexander Bell, a deck hand, on board, who, of course have not been heard of since. The Portland had left the basin of the works on the other side of the river, where she had been to unload her freight just brought down from Yamhill. The regular engineer was on this side of the river attending to repairs of the rudder which had given way while up the river, and which had been lashed with ropes for temporary use. The engineer for the time was Dutch Pete, a fireman. When the boat shoved off from the Mills her rudder became unmanageable, and she went broadside upon the breakwater, her stern slewing around, and she went over stern first. Just at this juncture, Dutch Pete jumped overboard into the basin, but was carried over the breakwater, when he caught hold of a sawdog that was fast, and he was soon roped out by persons in the mill. The boat darted with great rapidity down the chute toward the falls, stern foremost, her engine working all the time. Before she reached the brink of the falls, broke in two and whistled. She was torn into ten thousand fragments, which soon came drifting past the city. Her pilothouse came down almost entire, containing trunks, clothing, bedding, guns, and other articles which were nearly dry, showing that it escaped being submerged in making the frightful passage.

Both men who lost their lives were single. Captain Jamieson has two brother here, one of whom runs the Enterprise, and the other was engineer on the Portland, but was on this side of the river at the time of the accident. The one who is lost is the same person we mentioned a year ago, as having periled his life with Len White in rescuing a boy that was about going over the falls in a skiff. He was noted for coolness and intrepidity in time of danger, and, by his steady habits, industry, and honest, he had won the confidence of all who knew him. We sincerely sympathize with his afflicted brothers, who have met with an irreparable loss, far from home, in a strange land.

For the Argus

Captain Arthur Jamieson

The melancholy and sudden destruction of the steamer Portland on Tuesday last, is most deeply deplored as the case of the awful death of her master, ARTHUR JAMIESON. Of him, it can be said, with absolute truth, he lived without an enemy, and died mourned by all. No one who knew him, and few among us were better known, could fail to esteem and love him, and honor the amiable and excellent qualities that composed and adorned his character. With three brothers he came to Oregon from Scotland several years ago, and their lives here since have been marked with the sterling integrity which is characteristic of the best of their race. One, the youngest, died three years ago, beloved by all who knew him; the oldest is the present popular master of the Enterprise, and the other, though regularly employed on board the unfortunate Portland, was providentially engaged elsewhere, at the time that Arthur met his untimely fate. While we grieve that he “the young, the strong, the cherished,” has fallen so early in the weary path of life, and deeply sympathize with the survivors in their bitter fraternal sorrow, we rejoice in his manly and honest virtues, and especially in that generous heroism that always marked his character, and that promoted him, only a few months since, close by the spot where the boiling, angry waters engulfed him, to risk his own life to save the unwary boy whom he rescued from imminent death. Alas! that no friendly arm was near enough or strong enough to save the gallant hero in his hour of fatal peril.

The newspaper articles variously spelled his name Jamieson or Jamison. Capt. Arthur Jamieson did jump from the Portland before she went over the falls, but was swept over by the strength of the current. His body was later recovered at the base of the falls and he was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. Natives of the Isle of Arran, all four Jamieson brothers employed on steamboats died in accidents on the rivers of the Northwest. From Hubert Hugh Bancroft’s History of Oregon, In 1855 a new class of steamboats was put upon the Willamette above the falls stern wheels being introduced which soon displaced the side wheel boats This change was effected by Archibald Jamieson, A. S. Murray, Amory Holbrook and John Torrence who formed a company and built the Enterprise a small stern wheel boat commanded by Jamieson. This boat ran for three years on the Willamette and was sold during the mining rush of 1858, taken over the falls and to Fraser River by Thomas Wright. She finished her career on the Chehalis River. Her first captain, (Archibald) Jamieson, was one of a family of five steamboat men who were doomed to death by a fatality, sad and remarkable. Arthur Jamieson was in command of the steamer Portland which was carried over the falls of the Willamette in March 1857, another brother died of a quick consumption from a cold contracted on the river, another by the explosion of the steamer Yale on the Fraser River and, finally, Archibald and another brother by the blowing up of the Cariboo at Victoria.


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