Bit of Oregon Coast History Demolished Due to Damage, Lack of Financial Support
(Newport, Oregon) – A famed vessel from the Oregon coast, one that was on a historic national register, had to be demolished last week to the great sorrow of local history enthusiasts.
The Tradewinds Kingfisher was built in 1941 and was then headquartered out of Depoe Bay. It quickly became a part of the World War II effort, serving as a patrol craft from Coos Bay to Astoria, keeping a watch for enemy invaders. It then became a charter fishing boat out of Depoe Bay, placed on the National Historic Register in 1991, and then retired from service in 2000.
The Lincoln County Historical Society was forced to have the Port of Toledo Boatyard demolish the wooden vessel because of the extent of damage to the vessel and a lack of any response in fundraising efforts to restore it to a condition fit for public display. The society said the Tradewinds Kingfisher was in an advanced stage of deterioration and posed a potential environmental hazard should it sink. During the demolition process it was discovered the deterioration of the boat was even worse than imagined.
Earlier this year, a 3D laser scan produced a very exact electronic record to be utilized by future researchers, model builders, and boat builders. The scan was so exact it was discovered the hull had actually twisted to one side, perhaps from a collision in its past, or with deterioration.
Numerous parts of the vessel were salvaged and then added to the Historical Society’s collection to be used in exhibits. Its vintage 1950s engine and other parts were recycled.
Historical Society Director Steve Wyatt expressed his gratitude for the salvage work carried out by Port of Toledo staff. “They were very respectful of the boats’ history and carefully removed all that could be salvaged.”
Like many locals and tourists, Wyatt has fond memories of the Kingfisher.
“I was aboard the Kingfisher when I experienced the thrill of the open ocean for the first time - I loved this boat,” Wyatt said. “As a museum professional my job is the preservation of objects, this was a difficult decision. While removing parts of the Kingfisher a couple of weeks ago I fell through the deck when it collapsed, reaffirming how bad its condition was.”
The Historical Society offered the vessel to other museums including the Smithsonian and the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle and others, all of whom turned the Kingfisher down. Upkeep costs far exceeded the Historical Society's budget, and subsequent attempts at raising money and grants received almost no response.
Upcoming is an exhibit on the Kingfisher at the Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center that will incorporate pieces salvaged from the boat and possibly the computer laser scans.
The Burrows House Museum located at 545 SW Ninth Street in Newport, and the Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center at 333 SE Bay Blvd. in Newport. For more information, call 541-265-7509.
Photos above: Kingfisher as it looked in 1941 (top) and the digital scans of the ship (at bottom).
More about Newport below, and at the Newport, Oregon Virtual Tour, Map.
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