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Two Other Shipwrecks Pop Up on S. Oregon Coast, One a Rarity near Coos Bay

Published 1/22/24 at 7:25 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Two Other Shipwrecks Pop Up on S. Oregon Coast, One a Rarity near Coos Bay

(Coos Bay, Oregon) – Every once in awhile, all that inclement weather on the Oregon coast does something good, like those storms unburying cool stuff. (Photo of Sujameco near Coos Bay, Kara J. Long)

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Case in point: two thoroughly killer shipwrecks were just recently uncovered near Coos Bay on the south Oregon coast, including one that's a tiny bit of a mystery at the moment.

At Horsfall Beach, the Sujameco has not only popped out of the sand but the bulk of its length is showing. It's a unique shipwreck on these sands in that way: most you find here don't have much sticking out when and if they appear.

The photos of it here were taken just in the last 24 hours.

The other shipwreck popped up just a ways south. It was captured Sunday in this photo (below) from Elkhorn BBQ & Food Truck in Coos Bay. They believe it's the wreck of the Helen E., which smacked these sands on March 5, 1951 – very close to the anniversary of the Sujameco.

However, the Elkhorn folks tell Oregon Coast Beach Connection they were at that spot today and it was already covered back up. That likely means it's gone for a bit, but if you're heading down to see the Sujameco it's a good idea to keep checking south. It's about a mile and a half south of that wreck.

Photo of Sujameco near Coos Bay, Kara J. Long

Last year, the Sujameco didn't show up for a bit, and then it was uncovered for an unusually long amount of time, all the way into early summer. Slow But Epic Oregon Coast Drama, Coos Bay's Sujameco Wreck Still Visible

Others have said the second wreck is likely the George Olson, which had its own curious story of unearthing a couple decades ago. Elkhorn BBQ says it was not: it was the Helen E.

Photo of Sujameco near Coos Bay, Kara J. Long

The Sujameco is really the other big shipwreck of the coastline, but much less heralded than the wreck of the Peter Iredale. The Iredale was unbelievably visible last month, having most of its length uncovered for a time (More of N. Oregon Coast's Wreck of Peter Iredale Showing Than Ever Before: Astoria / Warrenton).

After crashing on these shores on March 1, the next four days were spent trying to dislodge the ship from Horsfall back in '29. Then something odd happened which isn't clear to this day: the crew were made to spend another four weeks aboard the ship while it was stranded, even though no attempt to free it was working at all.

It gets rather poignant here. See the full story Slow But Epic Oregon Coast Drama, Coos Bay's Sujameco Wreck Still Visible

Likely the wreck of the Helen E., photo courtesy Elkhorn BBQ

The Helen E. had a rather dramatic life. It was built in 1943 as a submarine chaser in World War II, called SC-1316. After the war, it became a fishing vessel owned by Isaac Flannery of Oklahoma City.

Also see South Oregon Coast Shipwrecks At A Glance: There Are Hundreds

About a week before, the 110-foot vessel came out of Astoria on a commercial fishing run and then ran into heavy weather, according to news coverage at the time in '51. Onboard were Flannery and his friend Richard Anderson. The Helen E. had no radar or radio equipment, so when harsh conditions hit early on the two get lost fairly quickly. They spent a week wandering up and down the coastline trying to make a landing, and at one point the engine gave out.

While trying to repair it, the Helen E. came aground at Horsfall, just north of the jetty. The pair thought they were near Newport. Both were uninjured.

Sujameco in the '20s, courtesy Coos History Museum

The ship was later burned on the spot when it was decided it was unsalvageable.

Like the George Olson (George L. Olson wreck), the Helen E. popped up in the late 2000s and no one knew what it was at first. By 2010, researchers figured out it was the Helen E. (source)

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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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