Pacific Northwest | May 15, 2005Pacific Northwest MagazineMay 15, 2005seattletimes.com home Home delivery

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COVER STORY
PLANT LIFE
ON FITNESS
TASTE
NORTHWEST
LIVING
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NOW & THEN
PREVIOUS ISSUES OF PACIFIC NW


WRITTEN BY PAUL DORPAT
 
Headed For Disaster
Recorded at the end of Yesler Wharf in 1875 by an unnamed photographer, this is one of the earliest photographs of any part of Seattle. It may also be the last surviving record of the sidewheeler Pacific, on the left.
COURTESY OF PUGET SOUND MARITIME SOCIETY
Then: Recorded at the end of Yesler Wharf in 1875 by an unnamed photographer, this is one of the earliest photographs of any part of Seattle. It may also be the last surviving record of the sidewheeler Pacific, on the left.
Now: The historic site of Yesler Wharf is part of the staging grounds for Washington State Ferries.

 The historic site of Yesler Wharf is part of the staging grounds for Washington State Ferries.
PAUL DORPAT
 

ON WHAT IS perhaps the earliest (and only) surviving print of this scene, a caption is scribbled along the border: "Steamships Salvador (middle) and Pacific (left) and bark Harvest Home (right) at Yesler Wharf in 1875." The bible on the subject, "Lewis and Dryden's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest" (published in 1895), describes 1875 as "The Disastrous Year." And of all the ill-fated vessels that year, the Pacific had by far the worst ending.

Here the sidewheeler leans against the outer end of a Yesler Wharf that had been lengthened considerably in the preceding year with a dogleg. Perhaps this is the ship's last visit.

The Pacific was then involved in a rate war, and the passengers considered themselves extremely lucky to be paying a fraction of the normal $30 fare to San Francisco. After steaming from Victoria at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 4, and rounding Tatoosh at about 4 p.m., the Pacific then met stiff winds and hard going. The ship would have easily survived the weather except that 15 miles offshore it improbably collided with the collier Orpheus, headed north to Nanaimo for coal.

Of about 240 passengers on the Pacific, only one survived, by clinging to some wreckage. It is still a grim regional record. Seven years later, the Harvest Home was wrecked about eight miles north of Cape Disappointment. With its chronometer broken, the barkentine went aground, to quote again from Lewis and Dryden, "in thick weather . . . and the first intimation the man on watch had of danger was when he heard a rooster crowing in an adjoining barnyard . . . When day dawned, all hands walked ashore without dampening their feet." The wreck was for years a Long Beach attraction.

Paul Dorpat specializes in historical photography and has published several books on early Seattle.


 

 
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