Note: The Rossland Museum will be open Tuesday, Feb. 18 to Saturday, Feb. 22 from 12-6 p.m. Come and hear Jamie Forbes’ presentation on the Columbia River Steamboats on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 4 p.m. The public is welcome.
By the Rossland Museum
SS Rossland was launched at Nakusp, Nov. 18, 1897 and without furniture, fittings or window panes, was pressed immediately into freight service so that Lytton could be withdrawn for major repairs.
Rossland became even more valuable when the fine new SS Nakusp, launched in 1895, was burned to the waterline at Arrowhead on Dec. 24, 1897. This left Rossland and Kootenay (launched in April 1897) to handle all of the then heavy traffic.
Rossland was fitted up for passenger-express service in March 1898. Her powerful engines could drive her at speeds above 22 miles per hour and she was capable of negotiating all the rapids between Northport, Wash. and Arrowhead at any stage of the water level without resorting to “lining up.”
The CPR built bigger and costlier sternwheelers than Rossland but none of the later rivals ever improved on her speed. In June 1898, Rossland and Kootenay commenced the daily service between Arrowhead and Robson which was to continue for 17 years.
SS Minto was launched at Nakusp on Nov. 19, 1898 and replaced Rossland on the Arrowhead-Robson run during the winter months thereafter.
In 1909, Rossland was withdrawn from service for construction of a new hull and her passenger accommodation was increased by the addition of 12 staterooms on the Texas deck. The following year, 1910, another two staterooms were added to the same deck. The old hull served as a wharf at Captain Forslund’s ranch near Needles.
SS Bonnington entered service in July 1911 and thereafter displaced Kootenay in summer service with Rossland. Bonnington proved no match for Rossland as to speed but had much more accommodation for passengers. Kootenay and Minto maintained the winter service for the next eight years.
Rossland developed boiler trouble late in 1916 and was withdrawn for repairs. Before these were accomplished, Rossland was allowed to become overburdened with snow and ice while lying at the shipyard at Nakusp and foundered there in December 1916.
The loss of Rossland broke the heart of every interior steamboat man. Her speed was legendary and she was loved by all Arrow Lakes residents, save those who swore her heavy wash was responsible for eroding half their orchards into the lake.
SS Rossland was raised in the spring of 1917, dismantled and disposed of. Her hull was purchased by Hall Brothers of Hall’s Landing (north of Arrowhead) and used as a wharf.
*Excerpts from Sternwheelers, Sandbars and Switchbacks by E. L. Affleck