Wreck of the Peter Iredale

One hundred-seven years ago, in foggy seas, the Peter Iredale, a four-masted steel barque sailing vessel ran ashore on the North Oregon Coast at Clatsop Beach. We were at the Coast on a day with similar conditions. It was rather eerie to imagine what must have run through the minds of the Captain and crew on that fateful day.

Sailing from Salina Cruz, Mexico, on or about September 26, 1906, Peter Iredale was bound for Portland, Oregon with 1,000 tons of ballast and a crew of 27, including two stowaways. The voyage up the coast was unremarkable until the night of 25 October, when Captain H. Lawrence sighted the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse at 3:20 a.m. local time. The crew altered course first east-northeast and then northeast to enter the mouth of the Columbia River in thick mist and a rising tide. Under strong winds out of the west, an attempt was made to wear the ship away from shore, but a heavy northwest squall grounded Peter Iredale on Clatsop Sands (now called Clatsop Spit). High seas and wind drove the ship ashore. A lifeboat was dispatched from Hammond, Oregon and assisted in evacuating the sailors, who were tended to at Fort Stevens. No casualties occurred in the accident.

A Naval Court inquiry was held in Astoria on November 12 and 13, 1906, by the British Vice-Consulate to determine the cause of the wreck. After investigating, no blame was placed on Lawrence and the crew for the loss, and he and his officers were commended for their attempts to save the ship.

There was little damage to the hull and plans were made to tow the ship back to sea, but after several weeks waiting for favorable weather and ocean conditions, the ship had listed to the port (left) and become embedded in the sands. The salvage rights to the ship were sold in 1917, though the wreck was never actually broken up. 

Cut from Wikipedia 10/25/2020: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Iredale

“May God bless you, and may your bones bleach in the sands.”

Captain Lawrence’s final toast to his ship

The Captain’s toast has been fulfilled through the decades… as her bones rust into the sands.

I think the Captain and crew would be pleased to know that their vessel has been blessed. She’s been admired by countless numbers of visitors since the day she ran aground.

As if to agree, the sun winked in a small puddle… before it was washed away by the incoming tide.

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