Sternwheeler Runs Aground
WASHOUGAL - The sternwheeler Empress of the North, a 360-foot cruise ship, ran aground Friday morning in the Columbia River near Washougal.
Lt. Michael Shults of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office said it appeared wind and currents conspired to force the ship onto a sandbar about 350-yards from the Washington shore, just south of Washougal. A final determination of what caused the grounding will be made by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Coast Guard officials said the ship was carrying 178 passengers and 79 crew members. It came to rest outside the shipping channel. No one was injured in the 10:10 a.m. grounding, the second grounding for the cruise ship since November 2003.
April Matson, a spokeswoman for American West Steamboat Company of Seattle, which operates the ship, said it was scheduled to dock in Washougal Friday morning so passengers could take a bus tour of the Columbia River Gorge with stops at Vista House and Multnomah Falls.
The ship was then scheduled to stop in Portland for a day, before arriving Sunday at it's starting point in Astoria, where it began its journey on March 19.
The coast guard said the ship carried 35,000 gallons of fuel, and as a precaution officials set up Pollution response equipment nearby.
learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs