When steamboats were a dominant mode of transportation, the Troup family of Vancouver was well-known to passengers along the Columbia River. The Troups were linked by marriage to the Turnbulls, also Vancouver residents. Four Troups and two Turnbulls were steamboat employees, mostly as captains.
Capt. William H. Troup, born in London in 1828, worked on the Pacific Mail Co. route between Panama and San Fransico in 1850, when gold miners were swarming to California. Then he came north to the Oregon Territory.
William Troup launched the steamboat Belle, which operated on the Cascades route above Vancouver in 1855. He later built the Vancouver, the first steamboat on a regular run between Vancouver and Portland. He also operated the Fannie Troup, named for one of his daughters, and had an interest in the second steamboat named Vancouver.
Lewis and Dryden’s Marine History also mentions that William Troup spent time in navigation at Coos Bay, Ore., Lake Tahoe, the Stickeen River in British Columbia and in Alaska. Troup’s occupation was listed as engineer.
William Troup’s father-in-law was Capt. James Turnbull, born in England in 1811. He came to Oregon Territory and began his steamboat career with the Eagle, and later was involved with Troup in the son-in-law’s boating activities.
Turnbull died in 1874, and William H. Troup in 1882.
The three Troup sons, James, Claude and Charles, all started their boating careers when they were boys. By the time he was 20, James Troup was captain of the steamboat Wasp on the Vancouver route. Later he was in charge of Oregon Steam Navigation Co. boats on the Columbia River. Then James Troup went to the lakes of British Columbia and Fraser River for more steamboating. He was appointed superintendent of Union Pacific water lines after the UP had taken over the Oregon Railway and Navigation Co.
He then became superintendent of the Columbia and Kootenai Steam Navigation Co., and later headed the Canadian Pacific steamer fleet.
Steamboat careers of W.H. Troup’s other two sons were cut short by early death.
Capt. Charles Troup was employed on the steamboat Orient on the Willamette River, and later worked on boats on the lower Snake River. He had to resign command of the Washington on the lower Columbia River because of health reasons, went to California and died there in 1882.
The other son, Capt. Claude Troup, worked for the Oregon Railway and Navigation Co., then became owner of the Greyhound steamboat, built at Portland in 1890. He took that craft to Puget Sound.
He died in 1886.
William Turnbull, son of James, also followed a steamboat career until his death in 1877. He started with his father on the Fannie Troup in 1864 and later was captain of that boat.