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The Fleets

Great Northern Steamship Company,1900-1918 / Great Northern Pacific Steamship Company, 1914-1917 Portland, Oregon

Both lines these lines were founded by James Jerome Hill to promote business for his Great Northern & Northern Pacific Railways, of which they were subsidiaries.

The Great Northern Steamship Co. was a transpacific line out of Portland, while the Great Northern Pacific Steamship Co. ran coastwise steamers from Portland to San Francisco. The two lines were highly publicized and promoted, but ultimately were business failures owing to Hill's lack of understanding of the shipping business.

The Great Northern Steamship Co. was founded in 1900 and ordered two ships from the Eastern Shipbuilding Company at New London, Connecticutt for services from Portland to Japan the ships were completed in 1904 and 1905 after a long building period and at that time they were biggest passenger vessels built in the United States.
The active career of the Great Northern Steamship Company came to an end in March 1918, but the company remained in existence until September 1927. After 43 voyages, the net loss to the company was $2,887,982.19.

The Great Northern Pacific Steamship Company was formed on September 30, 1914. The line was to compliment the passenger train service on the Astoria Line and compete with the Southern Pacific trains to San Francisco.
The company operated two ships. During the winter season of 1915-1916, the ships also ran to Hawaii. The service was not a success and the line was for sale when World War I intervened. The U.S. government commandeered the ships on September 17, 1917, this was the end of the Great Northern Pacific Steamship Company.

Many thanks to Henk Jungerius and Ted Finch for their assistance in collecting this data. The following list was extracted from various sources. This is not an all inclusive list but should only be used as a guide. If you would like to know more about a vessel, visit the Ship Descriptions (onsite) or Immigrant Ship web site.

  • Routes: GNSCo.
    • Seattle-Yokohama-Kobe-Nagasaki-Shanghai-Manilla-Hong Kong
  • Routes: GNPSCo.
    • Seattle- San Francisco

Yellow with black top.


Funnel Flag Funnel Flag
  Great Northern Steamship Co. Great Northern Pacific Steamship Co.
    Great Northern Steamship Co.  
Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Dakota 1905 built by Eastern Shipbuilding Company, New London, Connecticutt | 03 March 1907 wrecked on reef off coast of Japan, and scrapped in situ. 20,714
Minnesota 1904 built by Eastern Shipbuilding Company, New London, Connecticutt | 1917 sold to Atlantic Transport Company, not renamed, never carried passengers for ATL, 1919 renamed Troy; 1920 reverted to Minnesota, 1921 isolation hospital at New York, 1923 sold for scrap, 1924 scrapped. 20,602
    Great Northern Pacific Steamship Co.  
Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Great Northern 1914 built by Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Chester, Penn. | 1917 to US Government renamed Columbia, 1922 sold to Pacific Steamship Co. renamed H.F. Alexander, 1926 sold to R. Dollar & Co. not renamed, 1942 to US Government renamed George S. Symonds, 1948 scrapped. 8,357
Northern Pacific 1914 built by Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Chester, Penn. | 1917 to US Government, 09 February 1922 burned out and sunk. 8,255

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Last updated: September 16, 2010 and maintained by and M. Kohli