McArthur River starts at the terminus of McArthur Glacier and flows southeast for 33 miles (53 km) to Trading Bay in Cook Inlet, 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Kenai, Alaska. The river was named in 1910 by U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey for the survey ship McArthur. Trading Bay is a shallow bight that extends northeast for 25 miles (40 km) on the west shore of Cook Inlet, from the West Foreland to Granite Point. The bay was named in 1786 by Captain Nataniel Portlock who anchored here and traded with the Dena’ina Athabascans.
The USC&GS McArthur was a survey ship for the Coast Survey from 1876 to 1878 and for the Coast and Geodetic Survey from 1878 to 1915. McArthur was built by the Mare Island Navy Yard in 1874 at Vallejo, California and named after William Pope McArthur who was an American naval officer and hydrologist involved in the first surveys of the Pacific Coast of North America. The ship was powered with a steam engine and was 121.5 feet (37.0 m) long, with a beam of 20 feet (6.1 m) and draft of 7 feet (2.1 m). She served almost exclusively in the waters of the Territory of Alaska. On 16 January 1915, McArthur was at Seattle, Washington when a fire broke out on the docks. The survey ship USC&GS Explorer, which had steam engines already running, towed both McArthur and the USC&GS Thomas R. Gedney to safety, but McArthur was surplussed later that year. A series of survey vessels have since been named after William McArthur, including a survey ship for the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey from 1966 to 1970 and for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from 1970 to 2003, and NOAAS McArthur II, an oceanographic research ship for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration since 2003.
William Pope McArthur was born in 1814 in Sainte Genevieve, Missouri, and in 1832 was appointed midshipman in the U.S. Naval School at Norfolk, Virginia. In September 1849, Lieutenant Commander McArthur was placed in command of the US survey schooner Ewing to begin surveying the recently acquired coast of California and the west coast of the United States. Upon reaching San Francisco, Ewing and the USS Massachusetts were hampered from progress in the survey due to desertions of their crews to the California goldfields, including a mutiny when crew members rowing into the city threw an officer overboard in an attempt to desert. McArthur and the remaining crew managed to survey Mare Island Strait in San Francisco Bay before steaming to Hawaii to obtain additional crewmen. They returned to San Francisco in the spring of 1850 to resume the coastal survey of northern California and continue to the mouth of the Columbia River. Later that year, McArthur became ill with dysentery and died in Panama, and the body was returned to Mare Island for burial. Read more here and here. Explore more of McArthur River here: