Peter Iredale at Fort Stevens
At the beach. A sunny day.
“On October 25, 1905, with an empty cargo hold and only 28 days out of Salina Cruz, Mexico, The Peter Iredale ran aground. Bound for Portland and a new load of cargo. Captain H. Lawrence offered his crew a bonus if they cut five days off the normal sailing time.
“Perfect sailing conditions allowed them to make good time, and the crew anticipated a rewarding voyage. Nearing their destination, they encountered a strong southwest storm. The captain gave the order to stand off the mouth of the Columbia. A few hours past midnight, the Peter Iredale was lost as a gust of wind pushed her into a surging mass of waves breaking on shore. The ship’s bottom raked the sand, crashing sections of the main mast, rigging, blocks, and tackle onto the deck. Tossed in the surf, the ship struck bottom for good, the remaining masts snapping as she came to rest.”
“Miraculously, no hands were lost during the thundering shower of rigging pounding the deck. The ship, however, was declared a total loss. For the most part, the wreck of the Peter Iredale was unremarkable, merely reflecting navigational problems in bad weather. Her fame came a popular attraction that lives on as a well-known landmark on the northern Oregon Coast.”
In 1960, there was some amount of controversy over the wreck, as an Oregon City man claimed his father had purchased the remains for salvage.
But after some litigation, and searching through public records, things turned out for the better, and the Peter Iredale remains a tourist destination for thousands of people every year.