Wreck of the Peter Iredale
On September 26, 1906, the Peter Iredale left Salina Cruz, Mexico, for Portland, Oregon, where it was to pick up a cargo of wheat. Despite heavy fog, the crew managed to safely reach the mouth of the Columbia River early in the morning of October 25. The captain of the ship, H. Lawrence, later recalled that, as they waited for a pilot, “a heavy southeast wind blew, and a strong current prevailed. Before the vessel could change course, she was in the breakers, and all efforts to keep her off were unavailing.” The Peter Iredale ran aground at Clatsop Beach, hitting so hard that three of her masts snapped from the impact. Fortunately, none of the crew were seriously injured. Captain Lawrence ordered everyone to abandon ship.
All twenty-seven crewmen made it safely to the shore. Captain Lawrence stood at attention, saluted his ship, and said, “May God bless you and may your bones bleach in these sands.”
The shipwreck became an immediate tourist attraction. The day after the ship ran ashore the Oregon Journal reported that the wreck “proved a strong attraction and in spite of the gale that was raging scores flocked to the scene of the disaster.” They noted that the Astoria & Columbia River Railroad was already planning to run excursion trains to the site. Back home in England, Captain Lawrence had to appear before the British Naval Court because of the loss of the ship.
The ship has been broken up by wind, waves, and sand over the years. Even though the shipwreck happened 110 years ago, the wreck of the Peter Iredale continues to be a popular tourist attraction.
Oregonshorebeachoceanshipshipwreckship wreckPeter IredaleFort Stevens State ParkClatsop Beach