Stay Eat Events Weather Beaches

More to History of Oregon Coast's Peter Iredale Than Just a Shipwreck

Published 11/07/2011

(Oregon Coast) - In late 1906, a four-masted steel barque called the Peter Iredale set out from Mexico on a long ocean voyage to Portland, Oregon. As the cliché goes, its final stretch on the ocean was a “dark and stormy night,” and the wee hours of October 25 were its last stint on the water, joining a long lineage of dozens and dozens of shipwrecks along this part of the north Oregon coast.

Now, its rusted bones sit immersed in the sand and are one of the coast's biggest tourist attractions, and purportedly among the world's most photographed shipwrecks.

The Iredale was built in 1890 by a British shipping firm called Iredale & Porter, which owned and operated it thereafter. Some historical documents even indicate their shipping business included some slave trading at one point. When the ship left Mexico in late September, under the command of Captain H. Lawrence, it purportedly had two stowaways, and it was to pick up a load of wheat in Portland for the U.K.

In the middle of the night on October 25, it made it safely to the Columbia River Bar and was waiting for a bar pilot boat to haul it over the that bump in the river. At some point, a heavy wind picked up and strong currents took over. Before they knew it, the Iredale and her crew were taken a ways south and wound up in the breakers at Fort Stevens, not far from a huge concrete battlement built during the Civil War, called Battery Russell.

It ran aground.

It hit this section of Clatsop Beach so hard three of the masts were snapped off. No one was seriously injured, even in the push to abandon ship in this inclement weather via life rafts. The crew fired off rockets to alert authorities and ask for help. All 27, including the two stowaways, made it to shore in the rickety little boats.

This was before the advent of the U.S. Coast Guard, but there were lifesaving station crewmembers at Point Adams - part of what is now Fort Stevens State Park - and these men came to the aid of the Iredale crew.

Columbia River Maritime Museum

In a very famous and dramatic moment, Lawrence toasted the ship with a bottle of whiskey on that beach, and told his crew to also take a drink. “May God bless you and may your bones bleach in these sands,” the captain said to the wreckage.

A subsequent inquiry by the British government deemed the crew not responsible for the mishap, agreeing they did everything they could to save the ship.

Newspapers at the time reported it became an immediate hit with tourists, even in the nasty weather of the season. A railroad company even had plans for a while to build a track practically straight to it.

There were actually plans to drop the vessel back into the water as it was still in seafaring shape. But planners waited too long, and the usual Oregon coast storm season buried it in too much sand to make this idea work. It was dismantled as much as possible and the chunks sold for scrap.

Inside Battery Russell

Over the years, the wreck has become increasingly immersed in sand, sometimes showing more during winters where sand levels decrease substantially.

Its propeller is now seen outside the Columbia Maritime Museum in Astoria.

In the early 40's, it was the inadvertent target of the only attack on mainland U.S. soil during World War 2. A Japanese sub shelled this part of the beach late one night, lobbing shots practically right at the wreck. These created craters the size of a man, and some were scattered in and around the wreckage, although none hit it directly. It was unharmed by this one-sided battle between the U.S. and Japan.

The massive guns of Battery Russell did not fire back at the submarine because it did not want to give away the location of American weaponry at that site. Ironically, decades later, the captain of the Japanese sub admitted he did not know such a base was there, and he would not have fired on the area had he known this.

The event opened the eyes of locals and caused them to further fortify and guard the Oregon coast during wartime. This included the planting of barbed wire along much of the length of Clatsop Beach, and the Wreck of the Iredale was utilized in this. The wire fencing was intertwined around the wreck and stayed that way until the end of the war.


More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging this area .....

More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....


A famous little family eatery where the seafood practically gets shuffled from the sea straight into your mouth. Soups and salads include many seafood specialties, including cioppino, chowders, crab Louie and cheese breads. Fish 'n' chips come w/ various fish. Seafood sandwiches with shrimp, tuna or crab, as well as burgers. Dinners like pan fried oysters, fillets of salmon or halibut, saut�ed scallops.
Oregon Coast event or adventure you can't miss
Pacific City, Oregon


Breathtaking high panoramic beach views from oceanfront rooms, spacious family suites & fully equipped cottages.  Known for gracious hospitality, the sparkling clean Sea Horse features a heated indoor pool, dramatic oceanfront spa, great whale watching, free deluxe continental breakfast, conference room, free casino shuttle & HBO.  Fireplaces, private decks and spas are available in select rooms.  Close to shops, golf, fishing & restaurants.  Pets are welcome in select rooms.  Senior discounts.  Kids 18 and under stay free in their parent's room.  Very attractive rates.
Lincoln City’s only resort hotel built right on the beach with all oceanfront rooms - nestled against a rugged cliffside overlooking a soft, sandy beach. Dine in penthouse restaurant and bar, for casual meal or candlelight dinner. An array of seafood specialties, juicy steaks and other Northwest favorites, including decadent Sunday buffet. Rooms range from bedrooms to studios to 1-bedroom suites with microwaves and refrigerators to full kitchens. Also, wi-fi, spa, saunas, exercise room and year-round heated swimming pool. Kids will love the game room and easy beach access. Full-service conference/meeting rooms for that inspirational retreat; extensive wedding possibilities.


LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles

Casting Call This Weekend in Oregon Coast Town; Crabbing, Clamming Workshops
This weekend begins a casting call for video productions, and soon you can really dig in to some delicious outdoor activities. Lincoln City events
Tall Ships Dock on Central Oregon Coast in May
These authentic examples of floating history are currently in Coos Bay and will soon be in Newport. Newport events
Remnants of Halley's Comet Over Oregon, the Coast This Month
Oregon, Portland and the coastline will see the spectacle known as the Eta Aquarids
New Music Fest for Oregon Coast; More Canine Fun Fest
One is a new music festival near Newport, while another in Pacific City gives new meaning to the dog days of summer. Pacific City events, Newport events
N. Oregon Coast Razor Clamming Workshops, Ocean Talk
Razor clamming workshops and a talk on marine reserves are on the menu for the north Oregon coast in the coming weeks. Warrenton events, Manzanita events
Mother's Day Highlights on Oregon Coast Include Trains, Food, Glass Floats
Food, antiques, tours and even an audition for the Survivor TV show are just some of the possibilities. Lincoln City events, Garibaldi events, Rockaway Beach events, Newport events
The Creatures of Spring on Oregon Coast: Birds, Baby Whales, More
A lot happening with migrating birds, whales and their newborn, and maybe more purple jellyfish
Four Frightening Stories of Fire, Volcanoes from Oregon Coast
The really wild stuff happened millions of years ago and comprises much of the coastal landscape today. Geology, science

Back to Oregon Coast

Contact Advertise on
All Content, unless otherwise attributed, copyright Unauthorized use or publication is not permitted