Letters to the editor
Steamed about MHF organizers
I was saddened to see that the first significant outing since 2008 of the Steamer Portland on July 13 ended in a collision (see Maritime fest starts off with a literal bang, Spotlight, July 18).
While I was not close enough to witness the collision, I did see the busy aftermath with bilge pumps running furiously and what appeared to be several authorities (county sheriff, coast guard, police) taking witness accounts.
It is a shame that this accident happened at all as several things could have prevented it.
As the event organizer of the 2006 NW Steam Society steamboat meet at St. Helens in 2006, where we invited the Steamer Portland to attend, I have some experience and insight into this.
Yes, the Steamer Portland did the colliding. Yes, the Pirate Ship should not have limited its docking range in the way it did. Both parties share some blame there.
But, in my view, it is the event organizers, its volunteers on the docks and the city of St. Helens that share blame.
First, as the event organizer for the 2006 meet at the docks, I personally made sure no other boats tied up on the outside of the St. Helens dock as the Steamer Portland approached. There was no chance of an incident and none occurred.
By failing to provide the same clear dock space, the event organizers of the 2012 Maritime Heritage Festival unnecessarily allowed the Portland Pirate Ship to be in harms way and put in jeopardy the license and insurance rates of the Steamer Portlands captain.
Second, the city of St. Helens probably still denies (by city charter) the ability of event organizers to formally reserve the St. Helens City Docks. With this policy in place, event organizers are left with only two things to prevent visiting boats from taking up necessary space needed for invited large vessels: Put up threatening or official looking reserved signs and/or ask boat owners to please move their vessels. Given that the pirate vessel was an invited boat, this would not have helped.
Given the above, I personally say shame on you to the event organizers of this meet. They allowed a dangerous situation to be presented and left the responsibility with the volunteers of the Steamer Portland to prevent a collision that wouldnt have happened had they done their part and kept the Pirates away from the dock while the Steamer docked.
Myles Twete, Portland Northwest Steam Society and Oregon Maritime Museum member, Former board member of OMM and NWSS
Regarding coal: Rediscover common sense, please!
I have been reading comments about the deadly coal trains.
It amazes me how some people exhibit their emotions without common sense. In the 1950s, coal-fired trains were still operating in the Northwest. As a kid our home had an alley which was used for the coal man to deliver coal for our furnace. Kids used to play on the coal and had the job of taking out the klinkers from the coal-fired furnace. And we survived!
Now, people are afraid of a train carrying covered coal to the point they are afraid the train will kill salmon and any other life form in its route.
We need to rediscover common sense.
I read one comment in which a person who bought a house near the railroad tracks actually complained about trains travelling on the railroad tracks and actually blowing the horn. It just seems that many people, to feel good about themsleves, cant help but see evil in any company initiative. Remember, the train issue would not be an issue if your president had not made clear of his disdain for coal.
During his campaign he stated he would kill the coal industry through regulation, which is happening. There are coal companies going out of business because of this shutdown legislation. Coal fuels 60 percent of our nations energy.
So, to stay in business and save jobs, the coal industry must sell it to other outlets rather than electrical-producing companies (which the new federal regulations wont allow).
Hence, we as a country can kill an initiave to keep our country producing or we can just watch our country go down the drain but feel good about keeping the evil coal train off the tracks.
Richard Magnuson, Scappoose