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Oregon Coast Shipwrecks: List of Those You Can See - and Cannot

Published 12/07/23 a 4:25 a.m.
B
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Oregon Coast Shipwrecks: List of Those You Can See - and Cannot

(Oregon Coast) – Oregon coast shipwrecks is one subject that can never be entirely compiled. It's a growing subject matter, due to the way history itself is unveiled. (Above: wreck of the Emily G. Reed in Rockaway Beach / photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

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Here is the largest collection and list of these shipwrecks – and one that will be constantly added to. It's certainly the complete list of shipwrecks you can still see on this coastline.

In actuality, there are hundreds and hundreds of shipwrecks along these shores, many going back centuries. They included a lot of Asian vessels coming through here on trade runs, Spanish ships blown off course and plenty of English, Danish, Norwegian, Russian and other traders. Then there's a large concentration of them going back almost two centuries, especially since Astoria and Portland became major shipping routes. The area around the Washington coast's border with Oregon is known as the Graveyard of the Pacific, primarily because of the Columbia River Bar.

The very first truly documented shipwreck on the Oregon coast goes back to 1808 around what would eventually become Reedsport. Oregon wasn't even a territory yet, it wouldn't become a state for another 50 years and the whole incident should really become a movie.

A 120-ton trading vessel called the Sea Otter had wandered here, a fur trader from England. On August 22, a storm tossled them enough to get stranded, with only six men making it. They eventually walked their way across the undefined western frontier to civilization – much like Lewis & Clark had done a few years before. Oregon Coast's First Documented Shipwreck? Sea Otter in 1808 at Reedsport

The list of shipwrecks by city / area:

Astoria


Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection

USS Shark in 1846. She wrecked in Astoria but parts of her floated down to what would become Arch Cape. There, some of her cannon washed ashore, giving that spot the name Cannon Beach (only later would it become Arch Cape and the town to the north nab the moniker).

It made the news again 150 years later when more of the cannon were found.

Wreck of the Peter Iredale in 1906. Now a tourist magnet, it's one of the few still visible in the U.S. Wrecking the Peter Iredale: How Oregon Coast History Played Out in 1906

The City of Dublin, October 1878. It lashed itself against the Clatsop Spit on October 18, fairly quickly disappearing into the sea.

Going back farther, even explorers like Lewis & Clark described some local tribe members with hints of African-American in their features or even clear descendants from a red-haired Scotsmen.

Also wrecked around here were the barque Architect in 1875; P.T. & B. Co 1685 in '47; the Bell Buoy (owned by the Seaside restaurant company) in 1964; the Allegiance in 1879; and the French ship Sidi in 1874. See Astoria Shipwrecks and the Graveyard of the Pacific on N. Oregon Coast.

Seaside

Numerous ships or their crew fell into the sea off the shores of Seaside, and the Cove area is actually the unmarked graveyard of many, many recently-deceased and unnamed sailors that washed up here until about 100 years ago. They were often buried right here.

Manzanita to Rockaway Beach

Some of the most famous ships go back to the 1700s and include a Spanish galleon yielding beeswax for centuries. Parts of that one was recently – finally – discovered near Manzanita. Pieces of Legendary Oregon Coast Spanish Galleon Wreck Retrieved Near Manzanita - Part 1 OCBC exclusive: how rare a find

The wreck of the Glennesslin is another famed moment in Oregon coast history, with some pieces still visible around Neahkahnie Mountain until about 20 years ago. Manzanita's Wreck of the Glennesslin: Historical Oregon Coast Controversy

In Rockaway Beach, the German ship Mini bit the sand here in 1913. The most famous of all here, however, is the Emily G. Reed (Secret Oregon Coast Shipwreck Shows Up after 35-Year Absence), which managed to pop up again after 50 years and being forgotten in the meantime. This one shows up briefly every few years when sand levels get low enough.

Tillamook Bay to Pacific City

The Argo wrecked in 1909 on Tillamook Bar.

The Struan from Norway smashed itself onto land just south of Cape Lookout in 1890, after captain T.H. Skogland and crew had to abandon ship just offshore. Even crazier, a couple of immigrants onboard that ship settled here right after, but they were also on the Argo 19 years later.

Parts of the Struan went into making one pioneer home on Sandlake Road, which was for many years an outstanding BnB. How a Shipwreck Became an Oregon Coast BnB

In 1914, the steamer Francis H. Leggett left Grays Harbor with some 67 passengers and a full load of railroad materials. Some sixty miles down the Oregon coast, in the Oceanside area, its bits and pieces came ashore. Only one survived.

Pacific City has had a few smaller shipwrecks scattered throughout the century, and there was even one that was visible on and off over the decades. The Pioneer was a three-masted schooner that crashed in 1900, and there are small chances it could be seen again right near Cape Kiwanda if sand levels ever get low enough once more.

Lincoln City to Newport

Somewhere around 1864, the brig Blanco wrecked in Siletz Bay, but back then news was so slow it took a whole month to report it. By the time anyone came looking, the crew were missing and the cargo gone. It's an intense story that gave rise to the ghost ship of Lincoln City legend.

At Cascade Head, rumors persisted for decades of not just a treasure-laden ship or two, but evidence of a skeleton of a tall African man and other oddities that all indicated a ship had wrecked here in the 1700s. In the 1920s, one man caused a media sensation by claiming all these things and that he'd found the wreck of a ship in Three Rox Bay.

It makes a fascinating tale: Oregon Coast Mystery Involves Giant Skeleton, Pirate Ship near Lincoln City. However, recent evidence points to something else – look for that soon in Oregon Coast Beach Connection.

Near Depoe Bay, Boiler Bay has the only real remnant of a shipwreck in all of Lincoln County that you can see without going to a museum. The boiler from the J. Marhoffer sits here after a raucous end, where the ship did circles in the ocean by itself while on fire, without a soul onboard, eventually crashing into the cliffs in a massive blaze. Boiler Bay and the J. Marhoffer Shipwreck: Oregon Coast History

In Newport, the concrete barge S.S. Paisley, left over from World War 2, was sunk in Yaquina Bay in the '50s to provide solid ground for a log shipping terminal. That chunk of debris started creating an environmental hazard in the '90s and was removed.


Oregon Coast Beach Connection

At Waldport, the area has the odd claim to fame for being one of two high-profile shipwreck spots for awhile. The New Carissa in the '90s was like the Schroedinger's Cat of shipwrecks: in two places at once. The other half was near Coos Bay. Bizarre Oregon Coast History: Crazed Chaos of the Shipwreck New Carissa

Southern Oregon Coast Shipwrecks

There are some 200 known shipwrecks in these parts in the last two hundred years: scores more if you count the centuries before.

As noted before, the Sea Otter wrecked at Reedsport in 1808.

One of the other more spectacular wrecks still visible on the coast is the Sujameco, which is on and off most of the time due to sand levels at Horsfall Beach. In mid 2023, it was still unusually visible. Slow But Epic Oregon Coast Drama, Coos Bay's Sujameco Wreck Still Visible


Photo of George L Olson Tiffany Boothe / Seaside Aquarium

The George L. Olson wrecked near Coos Bay in the '40s and people forgot for decades. Then it resurfaced. It may yet again.

See S. Oregon Coast Cottoneva Shipwreck a Tense Drama for Port Orford. One of the few shipwreck chunks you can see on the Oregon coast sits at Port Orford..

Still viewable is the wreck of the Mary D. Hume in Gold Beach.

See a larger list of Oregon coast shipwrecks below, with more added periodically.

Another especially tragic one took place in 1919: the J.A. Chanslor left 36 dead near Cape Blanco.

Coos Bay's Santa Clara Shipwreck Among Deadliest on Oregon Coast November 2, 1915 she was on her way into Coos Bay

Coos Bay's Czarina Shipwreck a Heart-wrenching Oregon Coast Tale

 

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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: Shipwrecks of Oregon coast, Washington coast, Brookings, Gold Beach, Port Orford, Bandon, Coos Bay, Charleston, Reedsport, Florence, Yachats, Waldport, Newport, Depoe Bay, Lincoln City, Pacific City, Oceanside, Tillamook, Garibaldi, Rockaway Beach, Nehalem, Manzanita, Cannon Beach, Seaside, Astoria, history, science