God bless you, and may your bones bleach in the
sands."-Captain Lawrence's final toast
Peter Iredale shortly after grounding in 1906
The Peter Iredale was built June 1890
in Maryport England by R. Ritson &
Co. The ship was built for Peter
Iredale & Porter and named after
one of the owners who was a well known
figure in England. About September 26,
1906, the Peter Iredale left Salina
Cruz, Mexico bound for Portland. On
the night of October 25 Captain H.
Lawrence noticed the Tillamook Rock
Lighthouse, the crew altered course so
that they could enter the Columbia
River. Strong winds made it hard to
turn the ship from the shore and a
squall forced the ship to ground on
Clatsop Spit. On the ship 27 people,
including 2 stowaways, were evacuated
by a lifeboat dispatched from Hammond
and taken to Fort Stevens, no
In Astoria on November 12 and 13 a
Naval Court inquiry was held by the
British Vice Consulate to find out the
cause of the wreck, no blame was
assigned to the crew or Lawrence.
Plans were made to tow the ship back
to sea, but after weeks waiting for
weather, the ship became embedded in
During World War II the coast saw the
only bombardment of the U.S. mainland
from the Japanese submarines when they
fired at Battery Russell on June 20,
1942. Luckily no damage was done the
wreckage and the next day the ship was
entwined in barbed wire that was
strung from Point Adams to the south
to help hamper invasion. It
stayed that was until the end of the
war and even today you can see the
remains of the Peter Iredale!
pictures were taken in 2005 by Scott Braucht.
(Illinois) Daily Republican from
October 13, 1893
A WHEAT-LADEN BARK DRIVEN
San Francisco, Oct.
13-The British bark Peter Iredale,
heavily loaded with wheat, was driven
ashore during a gale at Astoria, Ore.
[**I don't really
know anything about this wreck,
seems strange to have happened
twice. If anyone has any information
to share please contact me, Shauna
Williams, through the main pages.
(California) Tribune from May 23, 1906
....Br ship Peter Iredale, for Salina
Reno (Nevada) Evening
Gazette from October 25, 1906
VESSEL IN DISTRESS OFF
OLD POINT ADAMS
Astoria, October 25.- A telephone
message from Fort Stevens reports a
four-masted dismasted vessel ashore
near the Old Point Adams lighthouse.
the life saving crew and soldiers
from Fort Stegens[sic] have gone to
The name of
the vessel is not yet obtainable.
The bark Iveria sailed from Acalpa
on August 310h[sic] for Portland,
under charter to carry wheat to the
Or., October 25-Local Weather
Forecaster Beals informs the
Associated Press that the vessel
ashore near the mouth of the
Columbia river is the four-masted
British bark Peter Iredale, Salinas
cruise[sic] Mexico to Portland, to
load wheat for United Kingdom.
News from November 23, 1969
By Charles Hillinger
Astoria, Ore. (PTS)- Capt.
Harry Lawrence, master of the 287-
foot British bark Peter Iredale out of
Liverpool, waded ashore through the
surf armed with the ship's log,
sextant and a bottle of whisky.
He turned and
saluted his ship-its four masts
snapped from impact on beaching,
covering the decks with wreckage.
bless you and may your bones bleach in
the sands," the skipper intoned.
He passed the
bottle to each member of his crew.
Like the captain, all had made it
Iredale ran aground off the mouth of
the Columbia River Oct. 25, 1906.
Its bones are
still bleaching in the sun 63 years
bark isn't alone. Remains of more than
2,000 schooners, brigs, barks,
sternwheelers, junks, sloops of war,
army and navy transports, freighters,
trawlers, whalers, fishing boats and
passenger ships are buried beneath the
sand and sea within 30 miles of the
More than 1,500
sailors died with their ships on the
shifting sands of the Columbia River
bar and other bars and spits where
the river meets the sea.
"As long as
there are ships, there will be
shipwrecks," declared Reino Mattila,
captain of the Salvage Chief,
berthed between salvage operations
always be human and mechanical
failures, steering breakdowns over
$3-million Savage Chief is equipped
with helicopter, pumps, air
compressors, welding machinery and
six winches-each capable of lifting
for Lloyds of London on a no-cure,
no-pay basis." explains the rugged
Finnish sea captain. "If we don't
save the ship, we don't get
run as high as 60 per cent of the
value of ship and cargo.
James A. Gibbs, who chronicled the
stranding, foundering, burning and
other disasters to 234 major ships
in his book "Pacific Graveyard."
describes the mouth of the Columbia:
"A section without parallel in ship
U.S. Navy Lt. Charles Wilkes in
making the first official survey of
the river, wrote:
description can give little idea of
the terrors of the bar of the
Columbia: all who have seen it
have spoken of the wildness of the
scene, and the incessant roar of the
waters, one of the most fearful
sights that can possibly meet the
eye of the sailor.
1,214 mile race to the sea the
Columbia carries sand and silt to
where it meets the Pacific.
the ocean meeting the river build up
deposits of sand.
area of great turbulence during high
winds and heavy seas, and ships at
times ride 25 to 40 foot swells
where the river and ocean meet.
exploding surge and shifting sands
at the entrance to the Columbia have
sent ships and sailors to the bottom
ever since the discovery of the
river by the Yankee Sea captain,
Robert Gray, in 1792.
Contributed by Shauna Williams