On Feb. 9, the shipwreck wandered another 825 yards southeast and landed bow-on to the last tree standing near the end of the North Cove drainage ditch that spills in to Willapa Bay just north of Jacobson’s Jetty. JOHN SHAW | WSBHS

Wandering Wreck of Washaway makes another move

A 19th century shipwreck that first appeared along the North Cove shoreline in late 2009 just south of Warrenton Cannery Road made another recent move on its more than six-year journey south and then east into Willapa Bay.

According to Westport South Beach Historical Society Executive Director John Shaw, “On Thursday, Feb. 9, the shipwreck wandered another 825 yards southeast and landed bow-on to the last tree standing near the end of the North Cove drainage ditch that spills in to Willapa Bay just north of Jacobson’s Jetty.”

Shaw checked on the wreck again the following day. “She survived the big blow and extreme high tides overnight and seems to have settled in, at least for now. This bit of 19th century ship has stayed together due to the massive 80-foot long keelson acting as a backbone for all the remaining frames and planks,” he said.

Seeking origin

Shaw regularly monitors the approximately 125’x20’ chunk of ship remains, fondly referring to it as the Wandering Wreck of Washaway. On behalf of the Historical Society, he initiated a study of its origins in November of last year. Toward that end, he contacted the Maritime Archaeological Society (MAS) headquartered in Astoria, Oregon, to request participation in researching the origins of the shipwreck.

Members of that group, along with Shaw and Historical Society Collections Curator Jeff Pence, explored the wreck and took measurements and photos. Studies are continuing back in Astoria, with the researchers comparing their findings with reported historical shipwrecks in the area.

Travel history

After parts of the shipwreck first appeared near Warrenton Cannery Road, further erosion revealed its entirety in Feb. of 2010. A month later it again disappeared from view, revealing itself again in late March approximately 100 yards south, closer to the mouth of Willapa Bay.

Again, sand covered the wreck until Dec. of 2010, when it showed up around the corner along the Willapa Bay shoreline near the western end of Washaway Beach, visible in all its glory.

At least small parts of the shipwreck have remained visible since then as it has repeated the process of drifting and beaching eastward along Washaway Beach. It rested for several months west of Tumidanski Tongue at the end of Old Tokeland Road.

In mid-October of last year, with erosion slowing along the northern bank of the bay, the wreckage was again totally revealed. Since then, it has continued its southeastward journey. By late November, it settled in east of the Tumidanski property, but still well west of Jacobson’s Jetty.

The weekend of Jan. 21-21, the wreck moved about 100 yards eastward again and up into the bank face, where it remained until its latest move to the mouth of the North Cove drainage ditch outlet.