The Abandoned Wreck of Peter Iredale

Nikola Petrovski
Photo credit: Pdxvector CC BY-SA 3.0

When the words Peter and Ship comes to mind it is inevitable for one to immediately start thinking about Peter Pan.

But there is also another Peter, and this one just by mere accident happens to be a four-masted steel barque sailing vessel. Peter Iredale is a ship that ended its sailing days on October 25, 1906. As many sailors refer to their ships, she was abandoned 10 miles south of the Columbia River channel.

Four-masted ship Peter Iredale at anchor. (Taken some time in 1900). 

Four-masted ship Peter Iredale at anchor. (Taken some time in 1900). 

The ship was named after its owner Peter Iredale and bears this name to this day in memory of this well known Businessman from Liverpool.

Built in Maryport in June 1890, by R. Ritson & Co Ltd for P. Iredale & Porter, she was weighed some 2.075 tons and was 270′ long. After the iron frame was done the steel plates were added making this ship one strong vessel. Even Ritson admitted that Peter Iredale was the biggest ship he ever made.

Peter Iredale with the mainsail lowered. 

Peter Iredale with the mainsail lowered. 

But no ship is complete without a captain and for this ship that happens to be, first Captain G.A. Brown and later Captain H. Lawrence.

On its way from Salina Cruz, Mexico to Portland, Oregon loaded with 1,000 tons of ballast and a crew of 27, Peter Iredale met its destiny. According to the official report, Captain H. Lawrence sighted the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse at 3:20 in the morning.

Then the crew changed its course, first east-northeast and then northeast to enter the mouth of the Columbia River. But that day as if a curse was laid upon it, was more than foggy and thick mist and rising tide made the sailing harder.

Peter Iredale entering a port. 

Peter Iredale entering a port. 

Then strong winds came from the west and the crew made daring efforts to keep the ship away from the shore. At the end, High seas and wind drove the ship ashore. Luckily there were no casualties.

After the investigation held by the Naval Court was done, no blame was placed on Lawrence and his crew for the loss of Peter Iredale, on the contrarily they were commended for what they have done in order to save the ship.

Rust eating what is left of Peter Iredale. Author: Katie CC BY-SA 2.0

Rust eating what is left of Peter Iredale. Author: Katie CC BY-SA 2.0

No major damage was done to the ship except for the hull and plans were made to bring her back to sea again after a quick fix.

Today it remains as a popular tourist attraction. Author: Waqas Mustafeez CC BY 2.0

Today it remains as a popular tourist attraction. Author: Waqas Mustafeez CC BY 2.0

But high seas and unfavorable weather stubbornly kept her ashore. Days went past and Peter found its final resting place.

And may your bones bleach in the sands – Quote from Captain Lawrence. Author: Robert Bradshaw CC BY 2.5

And may your bones bleach in the sands – Quote from Captain Lawrence. Author: Robert Bradshaw CC BY 2.5

Like an eaten fish, all that is left from this ship today is a few ribs. Quoting Captain Lawrence “May God bless you, and may your bones bleach in the sands.”