The Greyhound Of Puget Sound
By James Donahue
When Captain Claud Troup launched his new stern wheel steamship Greyhound at Portland, Oregon, in 1890 many old salts
along the waterfront were scratching their heads at what they were seeing. The giant wheel at the stern of the long, lean
hull and small superstructure made the vessel look like a misfit. Some said the vessel was too flimsy to be seaworthy.
Boy, were they wrong.
Designed by Troup’s brother, Captain James W. Troup, the 139-foot-long Greyhound was built to offer express passenger
service on Washington’s Puget Sound. And that is exactly what it gave. The little steamboat not only offered speed of
service, but it outran every other steamship on the coast. And there were numerous ship’s captains willing and anxious
to race the Greyhound when the opportunity arouse.
Greyhound began offering express passenger service between Tacoma and Seattle on September 7, 1990, with Capt. Howard
Bullene on the bridge and Claude Troup acting as chief engineer. On the first trip Greyhound was challenged by and defeated
Captain U B. Scott’s propeller Fleetwood in the first of many races across the sound.
Before Greyhound arrived on the scene, the Fleetwood dominated the passenger service between Seattle and Tacoma. Captain
Scott brought the fast propeller Flyer in from Portland to run in competition with Greyhound. Eventually Scott offered the
owners of Greyhound a subsidy if they would take the vessel off the route.
The payoff must have been good enough because Troup agreed. In 1891 he sold Greyhound to the Seattle & Tacoma Navigation
Company and the vessel operated on a regular run between Everett and Seattle.
In 1903 Greyhound was replaced on the Everett route by the new sternwheeler Telegraph. The aging Greyhound was then
put on a run between Olympia and Tacoma.
During these years and Greyhound was involved in races against various “fast” steamships of that period,
including the Willamette River, Multnomah and the Capital City. The Greyhound had such a reputation for its speed that people
said the ship was “all wheel and whistle.” The crew mounted a figure of a greyhound on the roof of the pilot house
and hung a broom on the ship’s foremast signifying that the steamer had “swept the sea of her competition.”
Like all fast gunmen of the west, the day was bound to come when Greyhound met her match. That day came when a race
was arranged against the infamous Bailey Gatzert, whose owners boasted the ship to be the fastest steamer on the water. Bailey
Gatzert won the race and the crew mounted the dog on its pilot house roof and the broom on its foremast.
As it was with wooden hulled ships near the turn of the century, their days of glory were short lived. By 1911 Greyhound
was replaced by a new propeller, the Nisqually. The Greyhound was relegated to relief boat service. The last known of her
was in 1924 when the hull was towed to Tacoma for calking and painting, probably for use as a barge. Her fate after that remains