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Survivors of Shipwreck on Central Oregon Coast: Part 2 of Boiler Bay History (Video)

Published 12/19/2018 at 4:59 PM PDT
By Andre' Hagestedt

Survivors of Shipwreck on Central Oregon Coast: Part 2 of Boiler Bay History (Video)

(Depoe Bay, Oregon) – A remnant of a rather dramatic shipwreck still haunts part of the Oregon coast to this day: the boiler in a cove near Depoe Bay that gave Boiler Bay its name. (All historic photos courtesy Lincoln County Historical Society in Newport. Above: the J. Marhoffer crew on land).

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The rusted, crusty object comes from the steamer J. Marhoffer, which wrecked here in 1910 in nothing less than a fiery scene after it roamed without a pilot for miles. A fire had broken out on board and the crew jumped out, leaving this manic vessel to its own random decisions of physics. Before crashing onshore, it did a strange loop while still on fire, edging so close to the bluffs of what was then called Briggs Landing that it caught the trees aflame, then finishing the circle and exploding just after it hit the reefs.

That’s the first part of this wild Oregon coast historic tale, documented in Boiler Bay and the J. Marhoffer Shipwreck. This article - part 2 - documents the second half of the tale. It picks up just after the crew made landfall at was then called Big Cove, now known as Fogarty Beach.

Survivors of the vessel had found themselves on land, where the cook (Mr. Tiffney) died. They had no clothes other than what was already on their backs and no provisions, so many of them went different directions in search of help. Being a very sparsely populated section of Oregon coast back then, most found nothing and returned to the landing site to at least keep close to a warm fire.

Captain Peterson, his wife and first officer Johnson happened upon a cabin in the dark, finding it unoccupied. They broke in and spent the night, stumbling out in the morning to eventually find a farm owned by the Chatterton family. At their homestead the trio were fed breakfast, then set out again – apparently heading south.

Chief engineer Hastorf managed to find the road to Newport in the pitch black, eventually leading him to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse and its crew sometime in the morning. One of the lighthouse keepers, a man named Wilson, took a team on foot towards the shipwrecked crew and bumped into the captain, his wife and the first officer. He walked them back to Newport.

Meanwhile, some of the Chatterton family and their neighbors, the Greenwoods, made a sizable feast with coffee and walked the pile of food down to Fogarty Creek where the rest of the crew sat in misery.

Hastorf had traipsed up to the Life Saving Station in Newport and reported the wreck to officials there – what would eventually become the Coast Guard. A crew from that station, along with Hastorf, went back towards the wreck, grabbing Captain Peterson along the way, with the whole bunch reaching the landing site around 1 p.m. Glad to see the men scarfing down all the free grub, the captain and some of the station team went back up to Briggs Landing (currently known as Boiler Bay) to see if anything could be salvaged. They found only charred chunks of useless metal and no materials of any use.

Later that afternoon, the county coroner, Dr. FM Carter, ventured down to the site to investigate the death of Tiffney, interviewing all crewmembers. He found that “Tiffney had come to his death through fright, chill and exposure for which no one was in any way responsible,” the Yaquina Bay News writes.

Tiffney is buried in Newport still, alongside the graves of other sailors lost in the area, including the steamer Minnie F Kelton that had wrecked right around Boiler Bay just two years before.

According to another article by the paper, within a day or two of the event, three local men by the name of Corgan, Davies and Walker drove down to that cove around 1 p.m. and rigged sails onto the two lifeboats left by the men, setting out down Oregon coast waters in a salvage effort.

“One of the boats arrived at the whistling buoy off the mouth of the bay at 3 o’clock, beating the second boat by an hour” the newspaper goes on to say. “At 9 o’clock they arrived here, sailing the entire distance of sixteen miles on the ocean fourteen miles up the bay. They report a pleasant trip although a heavy sea was running. One of the boats will be used as a tender and life boat for the steamer Truant.”

The two small boats were later sold to the Modern Improvement Company of Toledo, according to a June 2 edition of the paper. The men snagged a handsome $52.50 for the salvage. Part one of the story here: Boiler Bay and the J. Marhoffer Shipwreck.

You can find more on the Marhoffer at the Lincoln County Historical Society and museum in Newport. 545 SW 9th Street, Newport, Oregon. 541-265-7509. Lodgings in Depoe Bay - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours

 





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