The Portland Steamer steamboat was paddling upstream past The Bridge of the Gods by the Best Western Columbia River Inn. As the boat proceeded past the trees near the shoreline, it appeared to be trying to enter the marina. Then the boat's paddle stopped moving. The river current pushed the boat back, and it hit the shoreline. The aftermath showed that the paddle was destroyed, and the boat was incapable of moving under its own power. The boat was then pulled down stream by the current. The crew managed to get its anchors down and avoid the bridge as it went downstream. Everyone on the boat put their life vests on, and the boat came to a stop on the downstream side of the bridge.
After the inital hit, a Coast Guard or police boat came by to assist the Portland Steamer. About 10 minutes later, the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler came to the help move people off the other steamboat.