The Perils of Columbia River
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The Columbia River Bar or the known as the Columbia Bar consists of bars and shoals at the mouth of the Columbia River. It stretches along the states of Oregon and Washington. The total length of the river is 1,243 miles which 498 miles of it is found in Canada. The river is depth goes about 43 feet to 600 feet.
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The Columbia River is known for its treacherous waters and has a long history of shipwrecks ever since ship s passed through it in 1792. It empties into the Pacific Ocean adjacent to Astoria, Oregon, where freshwater meets saltwater. Considered as the most difficult crossing of all the rivers in the world. It has claimed at least 200 ships and countless lives. It is also known as the Graveyard of the Pacific.
https://www.carvedlakeart.com 3D Nautical Wood Chart MapsThe mouth of the rivers is one dangerous passageway because of the strong river flows that collide with the strong ocean waves. Strong currents are used to power 14 hydroelectric dams that can generate power. Three of the hydroelectric facilities are found in the borders of British Columbia, Canada.
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Similarly, three Columbia River were built in Canada as part of a treaty between the United States and Canada. The Columbia River Treaty paved the way for the construction of Mica Dam, Duncan Dam, and Hugh Keenleyside Dam. All of these three dams were built during the 1960s up until 1970s and used mainly to store water for the region.
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Sediments that surround the river mouth are one of the major reasons for the shipwrecks in Columbia River. The current of the water also brings peril to the ship because it can cause them to turn sideways. Even today, it is common for the ships to wait at least a week for the bar to calm and allow them safe passage.
Shipwrecks litter the mouth of the river. Some of the ships are visible even after years since it is struck on land. Some of the most famous shipwrecks in the Columbia River Mouth are:
In February 1930, a steamship named Admiral Benson carrying 39 passengers and 65 crews was unluckily stranded in the sand. The ship was stuck on Peacock Spit near the Columbia River mouth. All of the passengers and crew abandoned ship, with high hopes that they can still refloat Admiral Benson. However, after several days of windstorm, harsh winds and ruthless waves forced the ship to sink further. Admiral Benson broke apart and was buried deep in the sand. You can still the smokestack of the ship while the remaining of the ship is buried deep only visible in extreme low tides.
On January 15, 1909, a French square-rigged ship, the Alice sunk near Ocean Park. The Alice sunk in the river because it was overloaded with cement. The cement cargo hardened when the ship sunk and water entered the cargo vessel. After all these decades, the Alice was still upright because of the hardened cement. Over time, the current and the waves deteriorated the wooden vessel and the remains are still visible at low tides.
The Bettie M is a trawler built in 1972 and the gross tonnage of the ship weighs about 997 tons. The ship is also known as a tuna boat that was stranded in the Columbia River in 1976. When it went aground it has a cargo hold of 900 tons of tuna. It sunk near Cape Disappointment lighthouse. During extremely low tides, the wreck can easily view from Cape Disappointment and Jetty A.
Isabella is the second-oldest wreck in the Columbia River of the 1830s but the oldest to be discovered. One of the most intact wooden shipwrecks, Isabella was not discovered until 1986. The Hudson Bay Company supply ship owned the Isabella and the ship ran aground in 1830, just a few meters away from Sand Island near the mouth of the Columbia River. The government made the shipwreck as an archeological site and closed for sports divers.
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One of the most photographed shipwrecks in the Pacific Northwest, The Peter Iredale still remains in the Columbia River more than 100 years after it succumbed to the treacherous water. The wreckage of the four-mastered ship is still visible in the area. During a heavy fog combined, with the rising tide, the steel ship ran aground in September 1906. Windstorms heavily pounded the ship at Clatsop Spit, the crew and some of the cargo was able to offload. They also hoped to have the ship refloated when the gale stop but unfortunately it becomes stuck in the sand. Some parts of the ship were eventually sold for scrap leaving the skeletal remains behind. However, the Columbia River Maritime Museum showcases the rudder of the Peter Iredale.
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