The Chronicle -

By Finn J.D. John
Chronicle Columnist 

Offbeat Oregon History: Ship captain doubled down on ill-considered wager ... and lost


May 16, 2019

Image provided/Oregon Historical Society

Ships of the grain fleet are shown being loaded at a dock in Portland circa 1900. Most grain-fleet ships were barques, which, although slower than a full-rigger, required less manpower.

One gray October day in 1898, three British ship captains were sitting in the parlor of the Seamen's Rest, a sort of YMCA for sailors located in the bustling port of Tacoma. They were in a betting mood.

One of them, although he didn't know it, was gambling with his life.

All three skippers captained full-rigged windjammers. They were H.A. Lever of the Imerhorne; David Thompson of the Earl of Dalhousie; and Charles McBride of the 265-foot clipper Atalanta.

Atalanta, you may recall, was the virgin-huntress character in Greek mythology who challenged all her suitors to bet their lives on a foo...

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