Klamath History
Captain Courageous, The Seagoing Bull
Captain Courageous, The Seagoing Bull

Klamath's history is punctuated by the great floods. The most recent was in January of 1997 and it devastated several local RV parks and homes. 
In the fall of 1964, Bahamas was an unremarkable Angus-Jersey cross bull about two years of age. He belonged to Larry and Audrey Bush and lived a bucolic life in a pasture in the Terwer
Valley, adjacent to and about 2 miles up the Klamath river from the mouth. He was all black, favoring his Angus side in appearance. 
On December 22nd, 1964 the mighty Klamath topped out at 52 feet, covering Terwer Valley in a maelstrom of churning logs, brush, lumber and debris. Bahamas was swept up in all the debris and carried down river 2 miles to the mouth, then out to sea. He must have climbed on top of a raft of flotsam or he would have drowned long before he reached the ocean. 
The Klamath is the second largest river in the entire state of California. It is more than twice as large as the third largest river. It drains a 12,000 square mile watershed that extends more than 260 miles inland to the Klamath Basin in Oregon. The most devastating flood of the Klamath and the one that has had the greatest effect on the town of Klamath was the 1964 flood. The 1964 flood put and end to the old Klamath forever as it swept away all of the downtown and a fairly new school, destroyed the 101 bridge and carried many, many homes out to sea. This flood brought the highest river level ever recorded of 55.2 feet. The river was flowing over 550,000 cubic feet per minute. The 1964 flood of the Klamath was brought about by a combination of heavy snow pack back in the mountains combined with warm weather and lots of warm pineapple connection rain.
From the mouth of the Klamath to Crescent City Harbor is just about 16 miles in a straight line. Bahamas rode there on the open ocean on a constantly disintegrating raft of logs and brush, through huge storm waves. Imagine if you will what the 800 pound bull must have gone through trying to stay aboard his accidental raft of slippery tossing logs and brush.
He was discovered the next day 200 feet offshore in the 10 acre mass of floating, churned debris that plugged Crescent Harbor. A watcher from Citizens dock noticed him toss his head as that was all that was sticking out of the mess.
After many hours of labor, helping the exhausted bull from log to log, Bahamas was finally brought to shore. The bull fought for life right until he came ashore, where he collapsed. He spent the next few days balancing on the narrow sill between life and death, nursed by his rescuers.
The bulls travail struck a note with the many loggers, open ocean fishermen and the residents of Klamath wiped out in the flood. As one of Bahama's rescuers, Dave Stewart, put it: "He symbolizes everything that goes with a flood disaster, the courage, the will and the struggle for life that paid off with a rescue. I want him to be available to this area as a mascot, a living memorial to this disaster."
Bahamas was renamed "Captain Courageous" in honor of his inspiring fight for life. A novel was written about him titled "Beloved was Bahamas". Captain Courageous lived out his life comfortably in his own grassy paddock in Klamath, his feat commemorated by a large sign on the fence. He was visited by many people over the years who regarded him as a living touchstone of courage and will. Captain Courageous, the symbol of the fight for survival,  lived a long and peaceful life. He died in the spring of 1983 and was buried in his green pasture.
In 1997,  E. Vitus Clampus installed a permenant monument to Captain Courageous at the south end of the Klamath Townsite. It's right next to the teo original Golden Bears salvaged from the bridge destroyed by the 1964 flood.

Klamath Chamber of Commerce
   PO Box 476 · Klamath, California 95548 · 800.200.2335

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