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|Oregon Coast Shipwreck Peter Iredale|
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This photo of the Peter Iredale wreckage by Gary Randall inspired an article.
The Peter Iredale was launched in June 1890 from the Maryport shipyard of R.Ritson & Co. Ltd. She was a four-masted iron and steel barque, provided with royal sails above double top and topgallant sails, and was Ritson's largest sailing vessel. She was originally owned by P. Iredale & Porter of Liverpool, and her first commander was Capt. G.A. Brown.
On September 26, 1906, the Iredale sailed from Salina Cruz, Mexico, with 1,000 tons of ballast, and a crew of 27, including two stowaways. She was bound for Portland, under the command of Captain H.Lawrence where she was to pick up a cargo of wheat for the United Kingdom.
Captain Lawrence, later recalled that, as they waited for a pilot, "a heavy southeast wind blew and a strong current prevailed. Before the vessel could be veered around, she was in the breakers and all efforts to keep her off were unavailing." The 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 that the ship be abandoned, and rockets were launched to signal for help.
The lifesaving station at Point Adams quickly responded, sending a team of men to rescue the crew. It was a dangerous task, but the lifesavers managed to bring all twenty-seven crewmen, including two stowaways, safely to shore. William K. Inman, one of the lifesavers who helped Captain Lawrence ashore, remembered that the red-bearded captain stood stiffly at attention, saluted his ship, and said "May God bless you and may your bones bleach in these sands." He then turned and addressed his men with a bottle of whisky in his hand. "Boys," he said, "have a drink."
A Naval Court was held at the British Vice-Consulate, Astoria, Oregon, on the 12th and 13th November, 1906, to investigate the loss. The British Naval Court ruled that the sudden wind shift and the strong current were responsible for the stranding of the ship, and that the captain and his officers were "in no wise to blame."
The wreck of the Peter Iredale is shown in this photograph, taken by Portland photographer Leo Simon on November 13, 1906, nineteen days after the ship ran aground near Ft. Stevens.