V7 N3 Fall 1979 S.S. 'Admiral Benson' Ashore near Peacock Spit

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VOL. 7



S.S. ADMIRAL BENSON ASHORE NEAR PEACOCK SPIT, FEBRUARY, 1930 One of the most spectacular shipwrecks at the mouth of the Columbia River occurred on the foggy evening of February 15th, 1930, when the 300 -foot steamship Admiral Benson, with 39 passengers, a crew of 65, and general cargo on board, ran onto the sands near Peacock Spit. Initially there was little concern, the ship's master, Captain C.C. Graham, expecting that tugs and a favorable tide could refloat the vessel. Removal of the passengers was undertaken as a precautionary measure . One woman was brought ashore in a breeches buoy, and the rest of the passengers were removed by boats from Cape Disappointment and Point Adams Coast Guard Stations. By February 18th, however, a rising surf and storm winds had rendered the ship's situation more perilous. On the 19th, with conditions worsening, Captain Graham ordered the ship's company taken ashore by breeches buoy.

He alone remained aboard, while crew members kept a vigil from shelters erected on the beach. On the following day the Benson began breaking up. Finally, on the 25th, all hope of saving the vessel now gone, Graham was himself brought ashore, abandoning his command to the treacherous sands, which soon all but swallowed her. Apparently the loss of the Admiral Benson was caused when her officers mistook the remains of the steamer Laurel, wrecked just eight months earlier, for a range buoy. The irony in these events still lingers. Nearly half a century later, in early 1979, a fishing vessel operating near the North Jetty was badly holed when she struck the submerged wreckage of the Benson. Had it not been for the efforts of the Coast Guard, she, too, would have met her end in the . "Graveyard of the Pacific" .



JIM GIBBS TO HIGHLIGHT MEETING Museum members and their guests can look forward to a thoroughly entertaining evening on November 2nd, when James A. Gibbs, author of fourteen books on maritime subjects and former editor of Marine Digest magazine, will be the featured speaker at the Annual Dinner Meeting. No bookshelf on ,--...,...,,,,......,


FROM THE QUARTERDECK With the start of a new school year, the Museum's education program is once again under a full head of steam. School visits by Museum staff, conferences with teachers and administrators, and direct mailings to educators throughout the region have resulted in increasing use of the Museum as an important supplement to classroom education. Teachers who plan class visits to the Museum are supplied with materials providing background in Northwest maritime history and suggestions on how their visits can be tied in with specific curricula. It is seldom that a student's inquisitiveness and ima gination are not sparked by what he encounters on such a visit. The knowledge and insight provided by seeing and handling real objects are not soon forgotten. The student comes away with a clearer understanding of - and apprecia tion for - the significance of the maritime aspects of our culture. Rolf Klep, Director

West Coast maritime history is complete unless Mr. Gibbs is well represented thereon. He is perhaps best known for his book, Pacific Graveyard, which chronicles the shipwrecks and marine disasters in and around the mouth of the Columbia River, and Shipwrecks of the Pacific Coast, which deals with major wrecks from Cape Flattery to the Mexican border. His earliest book, Tillamook Light, is the definitive history of one of the West Coast's most famous lighthouses. Its inspiration was a tour of duty as lighthouse keeper that Mr. Gibbs spent on "Terrible Tilly" during World War Two. Besides his many books on shipwrecks and lighthouses, all of which are standard ready references, he is the author of West Coast Windjammers, Pacific Square Riggers, Maritime Memories of Puget Sound (with Joe Williamson), and Oregon s Salty Coast. He has received wide professional recognition for his writing, including twelve "Anchor Awards" from the Port of Seattle and an Outstanding Book Award from the Seattle Historical Society. He is a co founder of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society. Now residing on the Oregon coast near Yachats, Mr. Gibbs and his wife Cherie occupy (appropriately enough) a private aid to navigation, where he continues to write on various aspects of our rich maritime heritage.

ANNUAL M.EEllNG & DINN.ER The Annual Dinner and Membership Meeting has been scheduled for Friday evening, November 2nd, at the Astoria Golf and Country Club. A memorable evening is planned, starting with a no -host cocktail hour at six-thirty. Following dinner (strictly First Cabin - no fo'c's'le fare here!), a short business meeting will be held for the election of six members to four-year terms on the Board of Trustees. Our guest speaker for the evening will be Mr. James A. Gibbs. Invitations for the event were mailed early in October. Space is limited, so members are urged to return their reservations, with remittance, as early as possible.

• GRANTS! News of two important federal grant awards has reached the Museum this fall. The first, from the Heritage Conservation and Recrea tion Service, an agency of the Department of the Interior, is a matching grant of $20,400. It will partially fund a program of boat restoration. Under the project, six traditional wooden small craft closely associated with the Co lumbia River and the Northwest Coast will be completely restored for eventual exhibit in the Great Hall of the Museum's new building. Two of the craft involved are gasoline -powered, 28foot Columbia River salmon boats: a 1928 double-ender and a 1940 square -stem boat. The third is an Astoria-built, spritsail -rigged gillnetter used in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The three remaining craft are former Coast Guard boats used in

rescue work at the mouth of the Columbia: a 36 -foot, selfrighting, self-bailing motor life boat; a 26 -foot, self-bailing motor surf boat; and a 20-foot, lapstrake surf dinghy. The second grant comes in the form of General Operating Support from the Institute of Museum Services, De partment of Health, Education and Welfare. This award, in the amount of $23,063, will supplement income during the initial period of transition between old and new facilities. As the new building nears completion, it will require heat, lighting and security. These and other needs will result in substantially increased operating costs. Mean while, the existing Museum will be operating with regular programs and services. This grant will assist in reducing an anticipated 1980 operating deficit to a tolerable level.

NEW MEMBERS, INCREASED MEMBERSHIPS (*) SUSTAINING Dr. & Mrs. Thomas R. Montgomery, Gearhart Pape' Bros., Inc., Eugene Mr. C. W. Regorrah, Hood River Mr. & Mrs. L. F. Van Dusen*

Capt. Howard A. Linse, Oregon City* Mr. & Mrs.John D. Montgomery, Milwaukie Mr. W. Calder McCall, Portland* Mrs. Norma Saunders, Seaside CONTRIBUTING

SUPPORTING Mr. Jim H. Branson, Anchorage* Mr. & Mrs. T. F. Clark* Mr. & Mrs. Harry Claterbos III Mrs. Vera W. Gault* Mr. & Mrs. Jack Graham, Oregon City Mr. & Mrs. K. C. Hadley, Salem* Mr. & Mrs. Stetson B. Harman, Portland* Ms. Gay! F. James, Tigard Mr. & Mrs. Fred A. Lindstrom*

Mr. & Mrs. Robert C. Macdonald* Mr. & Mrs. Edward K. Neubauer, Milwaukie* Capt. & Mrs. B. R. Shannon, Gearhart* Mr. Ben Silverman Mr. & Mrs. Richard Stemper *

Mr. George Exum, Cathlamet, WA Mr. Peter T. Ferrero IV Mr. Raymond H. Harlow, Portland Mr. & Mrs. James R. Harvill, Orinda, CA Mr. Nelson Hazeltine, Portland Mr. & Mrs. Don B. Marshall Mr. & Mrs. James Morrell, Selah, WA Mrs. Cheryl McGrew, Cannon Beach* Mr. Philip Poling Mr. & Mrs. Doug Ross, Ilwaco, WA Mr. Steven Schlip, Pacific City Mr. Merwyn Speer, Tigard Ms. Nina Westerdahl, Portland STUDENT

ANNUAL Mr. A. Cavallo, Santa Rosa, CA Mr. & Mrs. Jack Creswell

Mr. LincolnJordan Miss Brehn Lindauer, Energy, IL Mr. Daniel Robertson


RONALD N. COCHRAN Mrs. Gertrude E. Eide


MORGAN COE Mr. & Mrs. Robert Anderson Mr. & Mrs. Frederick]. Bearsch Mr. & Mrs. Deskin Bergey Mr. & Mrs. E. E . Brown Dr. & Mrs. C. W. Browning Mr. & Mrs. Don Budde Mr. & Mrs. Ted Bugas Mr. & Mrs. Eben Carruthers Mr. & Mrs. Howard Coleman The Daily Astorian Mrs.Joseph Dyer Mrs. Willard Ewing Mr. & Mrs.J. W. Forrester,Jr.

GEORGE EDWIN BEALE Capt. & Mrs. John P. Beale GEORGE L. CRAIG II Mr. & Mrs. Lauren H. Conley Mr. & Mrs. Rolf Klep CLINTON J. CALDWELL Mrs. Joseph Dyer

Mr. & Mrs. George Fulton Mrs. Ruth D. Gleason Mr. & Mrs. Robert A. Hardison Dr. & Mrs. Edward Harvey Mr. & Mrs. Maurice Hendrickson Dr. & Mrs. Blair Henningsgaard Mr. & Mrs. Clifford L. Hey Mrs. RoscoeJones Mr. & Mrs. Rolf Klep Mr. & Mrs. H. Ruben Kuratli Mr. & Mrs. A. J. L'Amie Mr. & Mrs. S. H. Lee Mr. & Mrs. Robert Lovell Mr. & Mrs. Eugene Lowe Mr. & Mrs. Stewart T. Macdonald Mrs. Caroline D. Mills Mrs. Clayton Morse

THE STEAMER D.S. BAKER RUNNING THE GRAND DALLES OF THE COLUMBIA RIVER. From Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, November 17, 1888

MEMORIAL CONTRIBUTIONS, CONTINUED Capt. & Mrs. Kenneth McAlpin Mrs. Esther McCullough Mr. & Mrs. John McLoughlin Mr. & Mrs. Michael Naab Mr. & Mrs. L. C. Nordeen Ms. Elizabeth H. Nusbickel Mrs. Mary Nyland Mr. & Mrs. Walter W. Phelps Mr. & Mrs. Robert]. Phillips Dr. Harvey C. Rones Mr. & Mrs. Frank E. Ross Mr . & Mrs. Leslie Spokany Mr. & Mrs. Harry Swanson, Jr. Mr. & Mrs. Milton M. Teague Mr. & Mrs. L. F. Van Dusen Mrs. Grant Wagner Mr. & Mrs. J. Dan Webster Mr. & Mrs. A. V. Young SHERYL D. DURHEIM Mr. & Mrs. A. J. L'Amie HAROLD EDDINS Mr. & Mrs. George Stadelman RUTH C. ELSENSOHN Mr. & Mrs. Eben Carruthers Mr. & Mrs. Rolf Klep Capt. & Mrs. Kenneth McAlpin FRANKLIN J. EWERS Mr. Raymond G. Jubitz SIGFRID FOWSER Mr. & Mrs. Earl B. Schenk

EDNA R. HOWELL Mr. & Mrs. Rolf Klep Mr. & Mrs. A. J. L'Amie E. PALMER HOYT Mr. & Mrs. Rolf Klep MARION E. JOHNSON Mr. & Mrs. Irving B. Iverson Mrs. Jordis Tetli EVERT V . KANKKONEN Mr. & Mrs. Trygve Duoos Mrs. Ruth Howton Mr. & Mrs. Frank E. Ross DOUGLAS LA FAYE Capt. & Mrs.John P. Beale ALAN LANE Mr. & Mrs. Earl B. Schenk BORGHILDE LANGDON Mr . & Mrs. Larry Tel en

CA THERINE PIPER Mrs. Walter Church GORDON F. PROUTY Mr. & Mrs. Earl B. Schenk WALFRED K. RAUTIO Mr. & Mrs. Earl B. Schenk WILLIAM E. REED Mr. & Mrs.John P. Syvanen WILLIAM ROSS Mr. & Mrs. Rolf Klep HAROLD M. SEELYE Capt. & Mrs. Kenneth McAlpin

MARSHALL LEATHERS Mr. & Mrs. L. F. Van Dusen

LAWRENCE C. SHAW Mr. & Mrs. Rolf Klep Mr. & Mrs. Robert L. Sabin

LEWIS LUND Mr. & Mrs. A. J. L'Amie Mr. & Mrs. Sven Lund


LILAH MCFADDEN Mr. & Mrs. L. F. Van Dusen

MEL VEL GOODIN Mr. & Mrs. Rolf Klep

EDWARD L. MCKEON Mr. & Mrs. Henry McCall Mr. & Mrs. L. F. Van Dusen

HAZEL HAMIL TON Mr. & Mrs. George Fulton

EMMA E. OLSON Mr. & Mrs. Axel R. Englund



VERNA PALMROSE Mr. & Mrs. Jordon Benfield Mr. & Mrs. Warren Skaggs Mr. & Mrs. Frank Steiner Mr. Robert Steiner

NELS SWEDBERG Mrs. Berenice Baker Thompson & Taylor Realtors ARTHUR J. WOHLFEIL Mr. & Mrs. Trygve Duoos Mr. & Mrs. A. J. L'Amie Mr. & Mrs. Earl B. Schenk Mr. & Mrs. L. F. Van Dusen

Non-Profit Organization U.S. POSTAGE

PAID Astoria, Oregon Permit No. 209

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