About Us History
For more than a century, Shaver Transportation has been a leader in the tug and barge business on the Columbia Snake River System.
In 1880 George Washington Shaver and partners founded People’s Freighting Company. Our first vessel was the steamboat Manzanilla, which we piloted on the Willamette and Columbia rivers between Portland and Clatskanie, Oregon.
In 1893 Shaver Transportation was incorporated by George W. Shaver and sons James W. Shaver and George M. Shaver. Our next two steam-powered sternwheelers were the George W. Shaver and the Sarah Dixon, named for his wife. Shaver soon shifted away from transporting people and cargo in favor of barge towing, and the fleet grew to seven tugs by 1914. In the 1920s, Shaver’s main venture was log towing, and our fleet grew to ten tugs. At that time, Shaver installed diesel engines into the Echo and converted the steam –powered stern-wheeler Shaver into a twin-screw, semi-tunnel diesel tug. Following Shaver’s lead, diesel power and scientific hull designs soon dominated towing on the Northwest waterways.
In 1937, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers built the first Navigational lock equipped dam on the Columbia River – the Bonneville Dam. Shaver responded by providing service as far as The Dalles.
In the 1940s, the United States entered World War II and shipyards in Portland and Vancouver worked around the clock. Shaver assisted more than 1,000 ship launchings during that time.
By 1950, Shaver Transportation had two-dozen steel-hulled diesel engine tugs. And by 1960, Shaver established itself in ship assist work in Portland’s booming harbor and in ocean towing up and down the coast from Alaska to the Panama Canal.
In 1970, the U.S. Army completed eight dams and locks, allowing Shaver to barge wheat from farms of southeastern Washington’s Palouse country down the Snake River to deep-water grain docks in the Portland area. These new dams and locks prompted Shaver to start a barge-building program to meet the demands for service all the way from Portland, Oregon to Lewiston, Idaho.
In the 1980s, Shaver commissioned construction of the tractor tug PORTLAND. It featured the latest innovation in propulsion – Z-drive technology – the first of its kind on the West Coast. As more grain facilities opened, Shaver established a permanent moorage in Longview to better serve our Kalama, Longview, Port Westward and Astoria vessels.
In the 1990s Shaver built three more tugs: VANCOUVER, DESCHUTES and WILLAMETTE. All three tugs had sophisticated features such as electric winches, cranes and Z-drive technology.
From 2013 to 2018, Shaver expanded our grain fleet by 40 percent. Shaver introduced a Cold Iron mooring facility at Port of Portland T6 and built a new moorage facility in Rainer which allows our fleet to provide faster service to the ports of Kalama, Longview and Astoria. With the environment and continued safety top-of-mind, Shaver upgraded the fleet by repowering twelve boats, and designed two state-of-the-art tractor tugs, SOMMER S (2012) and the SAMANTHA S (2019).
In 2020, the company completed construction of its 4040 sq. foot Operations Center at Shaver’s headquarters. Currently, we are building a sister ship to the Sommer S. Similar in design, the 5,000 hp tug will be a great addition to Shaver’s ship assist and harbor/marine divisions.
Steve Shaver and his sister, Samantha Shaver, own the company today. Shaver Transportation and its 140 employees focus on four lines of business: ship assist, bulk commodity transportation, harbor/marine services, and emergency response and rescue.
Shaver will remain invested in the growth of the Pacific Northwest by providing safe, reliable service to the maritime industry. Shaver’s success is a result of the hard work, adaptability and tenacity of its employees and its relationships with its customers and strategic partners.