Thursday, September 16, 2010

104 Years Ago Today: Steamship Wreck in Alaska

The U.S. Lighthouse Service tender Armeria, assigned to Ketchikan, Alaska, ran aground off Cape Hinchinbrook on 20 May 1912 while delivering supplies for the Cape Hinchinbrook lighthouse. Courtesy US Coast Guard.

From the New York Times, Sept. 16, 1906:

Passengers Take to Life Boats and Are Picked Up -- Steamer Doomed.

VALDEZ, Alaska, Sept. 15. -- Passengers and seamen of the steamer Oregon, which ran on the rocks at Hinchinbrook Island on Thursday night, took to the lifeboats the morning after the steamship struck, and were picked up several hours later by the lighthouse tender Columbine, which was surveying those waters for the lighthouse on Hinchinbrook.

The Columbine arrived at Valdez with the passengers and mail this morning. The revenue cutters sent to the wreck have not returned. The Oregon was three miles off her course east of Hinchinbrook and struck the rocks fifty yards from shore, where the bank is perpendicular. There was no chance to land. She slid off until she listed in a few feet of water with several fathoms under the stern. She is hard and fast aground, filled with water to the second deck, and probably will go to pieces in the first good swell from the ocean.

The Captain maintained good discipline and threatened to shoot men who were attempting to get off in a a lifeboat, after which his orders were obeyed without question, and all got off without accident.

If the weather remains calm there is a possible chance of lightening some of the Oregon’s cargo, but as the boat is on the ocean side of the island, exposed to the swell, such salvage is doubtful.

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