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Ghosts of Siletz Bay: Oregon Coast Shipwreck Appeared Sometimes

Published 06/14/2020 at 6:24 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Ghosts of Siletz Bay: Oregon Coast Shipwreck Appeared Sometimes

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(Lincoln City, Oregon) – There has long been talk of something paranormal lurking in the waters of Siletz Bay in Lincoln City. Purportedly, a ghost ship periodically pops up on foggy days (notice how it’s never sunny days), slowly cutting its way through the atmospheric murk and then disappearing again. A promotional video once sold by the Lincoln City Visitors Bureau for many years even had interviews with some who had seen it, a video tape and DVD about ghost stories of the central Oregon coast that had plenty of interesting and eerie tidbits.

However, there is some stranger truth behind the fiction – or rumor, or legend. There is indeed a ghost of a shipwreck lodged in the muck of the bay, farther west of the Three Brothers rock structure. It’s been there closing in on 200 years now, back to the very beginning of European settlers on the central Oregon coast. Even stranger: it was visible less and less over the last century or so and finally disappeared by the ‘60s. For awhile there, it would only make periodic appearances out of the sand and mud, much like its legendary ecotoplasmic counterpart.

Buried there is likely a brig called the Blanco which apparently wrecked somewhere about 1864. It took a whole month for this to be even be reported by local newspapers, and by then no one really knew what had gone on. The crew was long missing, the cargo was all gone, and its hull was split in two.

There are no local native legends about what happened to the crew, largely because the tribes located here at this point were forcibly moved shortly after during another wave of the U.S. government's genocidal treatment of indigenous people. No tribes living here now are descended from that original group so no word-of-mouth stories were passed on.

Clearly, the ship was looted, and at least one white man at the time blamed a few of the local tribesmen for this and possibly the disappearance of the crew. An Indian agent named Simpson overseeing the reservations claimed he’d seen some of the ship’s supplies, even the crew’s clothing, in their hands. However, local residents blamed the wreck itself on the crew’s disappearance. It was common practice for Oregon coast homesteaders to raid shipwrecks for construction materials like lumber, as that sort of refined material was scarce.

Oddly, the ship departed from San Francisco headed for Coos Bay on the southern Oregon coast. How it wound up this far north is also still a mystery.

In the early 2000s, a group of scientists from around Oregon and Washington – who all specialized in fields other than archaeology – took some high tech equipment out into the bay to try and uncover what was there. That was a difficult if not impossible endeavor, as the thick sand layers didn’t allow ground penetrating radar. Using a cart full of different kinds of gear, they dragged it along the bay in the narrow two-hour windows of extreme low tide and came up with mixed results.

One scientist came out in 1951 to examine the wreck and determined it was the right dimensions of the Blanco, and the findings in 2005 found something with a similar size laying under the bay. What exactly it was they couldn’t say, but it was likely a shipwreck. There are also plenty of theories this may not be the Blanco, as this part of the Oregon coast had plenty of ships go missing.

For now, the mystery ghost ship of Lincoln City’s Siletz Bay is still just that. It’s one of those legendary parts of Oregon coast history you’re near when goofing around those sands, but you just don’t know it. Hotels in Lincoln City - Where to eat - Lincoln City Maps and Virtual Tours


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