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Rare, Ghostly Shipwreck Emerges Again on Oregon Coast

Published 02/25/2017 at 3:49 AM PDT - Updated 02/25/2017 at 3:51 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Rare, Ghostly Shipwreck Emerges Again on Oregon Coast

(Rockaway, Oregon) – Recent storm action this winter has been especially severe, perhaps even more so on the north Oregon coast. Indeed, you can spot bedrock, ghost forests and all sorts of other oddities in places like Arch Cape and Hug Point near Cannon Beach, but the ancient tree stands (some 4,000 years old) are also visible around Seal Rock and just north of Newport. (Above: shipwreck photo courtesy Rachel Sip).

Rockaway Beach had some unusually destructive waves earlier this winter, which knocked around cars and even broke into a condo unit. So it's no surprise an old and ghostly sight has returned to this north Oregon coast town: the rarely-seen wreck of the Emily G. Reed.

Rockaway Beach resident Rachel Sip spotted the ancient and elusive wreck this week, sending in these recent photos. It's appeared from beneath the sands here only three times since the '70s. Once was was briefly in 2007, the next was a longer stint in 2010 where about 100 feet of it was visible, and then now.

Sip said she was able to count 23 wooden boards of its ribcage. Comparing these current pictures to those of 2010, much less is visible now. Most likely even this will disappear soon as storm season closes out and the tidal action wanes in severity.

The Emily G. Reed crashed into the mouth of the Nehalem River back in 1908 as it struggled to look for the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse near Cannon Beach. It was still operational back then, but it was about 30 miles to the north. The Reed had set sail from New Castle, South Wales, and was at sea 102 days before it wrecked here on Valentine’s Day, February 14.

Photo courtesy Don Best: the Emily G. Reed in its early days

Rockaway Beach historian Don Best talked to Oregon Coast Beach Connection back in 2010, and he said the ship snapped in half. Pieces scattered all over, and back in those early pioneer days its goodies were raided fairly quickly. Some of those raiders included his own ancestors, Best said.

The ship stayed visible for a few decades, finally mostly disappearing by the '50s. It made a few cameos until 1975, after which it stopped showing through the grains.

Best, who was born in 1943, remembers playing in the wreckage as a young child.

The Reed came from a family of Reeds – quite literally. A New England clan had numerous ships named Reed with the first names of relatives, including Mary.

After the ship ran aground, Best said that historical accounts are varied. One tale has seven or eight that died after getting swept out to sea, but apparently the captain and his wife were able to cling to a chunk of wreckage and made it to land. Another account says crew and captain were stuck in a lifeboat that was carried back out by the tides, and one died from drinking seawater before they made landfall in Washington.

You can find this mysterious shipwreck near the bottom of 2nd Street. Other smaller pieces do exist in other spots, including in Nedonna Creek, but these are mostly known by locals. It is illegal in Oregon to take any piece of an historical object such as this. More details on the Emily G. Reed and its 2010 appearance. More of the Rockaway wreck from 2010 below. Where to stay for this - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour

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