Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Peter Iredale 2008
This was once a 2075 ton, Liverpool built, 4 masted barque. It was the largest vessel built by Riston and Co. in 1890. In 1906, during a squall at the mouth of the Columbia, she ran a ground. This is all that is left of her.
Many people come and visit this most famous wreak on the Oregon Coast. Her rusting hulk, including the bases of all four masts, rests on a broad beach for all to see.
She has not ventured to sea since coming to rest here over 100 years ago. Her last port of call was Santa Cruz Mexico. Still the rusting iron and steel that remains knows not of her condition. It awaits, such as it is, riveted together awaiting the next voyage.
The ships hull still lives with the sea, while almost all of its brethren, long since turned into railroad iron, bridge steel, or nails, has broken that connection. Its barnacle encrusted hull tastes the salt sea each day at high tide, doing battle with the elements. She arguably has more visitors in her and on her than any other barque in the world.
And still her steel plates, whose surface resembles the surface of Mars, wait for the crew to heave away at the capstan that no longer exists, and hoist anchor to sail away.
Peter Iredale, the owner of the ship, has bones probably turned to so much dust, while his namesake rests in her still multi-tonne glory waiting. Waiting for a voyage that we know will never come. To the visitor she looks dead, is dead. But to the steel there is no thought to death or life.
It is a thing made for a purpose. And even though its original purpose ended 102 years ago, the iron and steel have a new purpose. It is a monument, a talisman, a rune as well as a ruin. What men walked her decks? What was life like back then? Where did that world go and why? So much is brought up to the surface of the mind by old rusting steel and iron.
As I write this the tide is in. The wreak is surrounded in the inky darkness by the cold North Pacific, its steel and iron doing battle with the sea, as it was meant to be.