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5 Quirky Facts About Wreck of Peter Iredale on N. Oregon Coast

Published 11/01/23 at 5:33 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Warrenton, Oregon) – Everyone knows and loves the Wreck of the Peter Iredale on the Oregon coast. It smacked these beaches on a stormy night: October 25 of 1906, to be exact. There, Captain H. Lawrence and his crew somehow hit the sands instead of the mouth of the Columbia River, and the result was the archetypal example of the “rest is history.” (All photos except historic shots Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

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It's been an enormously popular attraction for over 100 years now. There's a lot in that history, including five rather quirky facts you may not know.

One Heckuva Beach Party After Wrecking. Luckily, everyone onboard the Peter Iredale made it off safely after stranding. What many don't know is that when locals showed up in droves to help rescue everyone, many of them showed up with bottles of booze.

It was right there on the beach, in the storm, that Captain Lawrence and his crew toasted the stranded frame: “May God bless you and may your bones bleach in these sands.”

They evidently had more time on their hands after getting off, because the crew proceeded to get really, really drunk on the beach. They were eventually taken up to Point Adams to be lodged for the night, as well as dry off and be fed. Then, the next morning all were supposed to head by train to Astoria where they would stay for a time. However, two men were still in hospital and couldn't leave on that train, while another few had gotten so drunk the night before they didn't make the train.

One article at the time rather shamed the men for their imbibing. See Wrecking the Peter Iredale: How Oregon Coast History Played Out in 1906 

Wreck Almost Hit By Submarine Volley. June 21 of 1942: Fort Stevens and this small stretch of north Oregon coast was the only place in the continental states to be fired upon during World War II (other incidents were eventually revealed in later decades). Out in the dark, a Japanese submarine shot at the land. The Ellensburg Daily Record in Washington State reported that at least “nine projectiles from a submarine peppered the Fort Stevens area...for approximately 16 minutes, beginning at 11:30.”

A tree was lopped off, a few hit the beach and exploded, but otherwise no damage and no injuries to locals or military.

One of the shells, however, hit very close to the Iredale. It left quite a crater in the sand, which eventually filled back up. See When a Japanese Submarine Fire Upon Fort Stevens

What a sad day for Oregon coast history that would've been had the wreck been hit.

Barbed Wire Covered Shipwreck of Peter Iredale. For a brief time during World War II, the Oregon coast was considered a very possible front line in the war, and the military patrolled just about every beach in the state. Barbed wire was strung along many beaches here. Yet there are no pictures of this, and very few of anything to do with World War II on these beaches as taking photos of anything military during this time was a big no-no. It was wartime, and not a time for “selfies” of any kind.

The Wreck of the Peter Iredale actually had barbed wire strung through it during these patrol portions of the war. Imagine that crazy sight. See More to Peter Iredale Shipwreck Than Mere History

One of the Most Photographed Shipwrecks in the World. It's often called that, but that factoid is hard to pin down. Yet there's undoubtedly some amount of truth to it, as there are not a lot of shipwrecks still standing around the world. Also, this Oregon coast spot is very accessible.

There does appear to be less of it just about every few years. Parts are coming off in the surf, and other sections have completely sunk beneath the sands.

Wreck Used In The Movie The Road. One helluva bleak post-apocalyptic film called The Road used the wreck in a brief scene. 2929 Productions filmed here in 2008, in a scene where the two main characters played by Viggo Mortensen and then-child actor Kodi McPhee were walking along a foggy, post-nuclear war beach. The Iredale made a perfect spot, helping to further impart that sense of desolation and ruin.

The film managed to portray that element of horrible life after such a war very well, utilizing various locales of half-destroyed buildings or roads as part of their journey.

The Road also had Charlize Theron playing a brief part.

While well done, the film was a serious downer, with its depiction of the worst of humanity and a lot of cannibalism taking place.





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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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Keywords: Oregon coast, Astoria history, Seaside history, Peter Iredale, science