Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture

W.J. Pirrie

The W. J. Pirrie was built in 1883 in Belfast. She was an iron-hulled, four-masted bark 308 feet long. In 1904, while unloading coal in Chile, she was gutted by fire. The hull was abandoned until World War I when she was purchased by the W. R. Grace Company and refitted as a schooner-barge; capable of sailing, but more often towed behind other ships carrying lumber along the coast.

November 24, 1920 the steamer Santa Rita left Tacoma for San Francisco, towing the Pirrie. The following evening they rounded Cape Flattery and encountered such severe weather that the Santa Rita was forced to cast off the tow line and return to the Straits, leaving the crew of the Pirrie to fend for themselves. Sails were raised, but they were shredded by 85 mph winds. The starboard anchor was lowered, but couldn't find bottom. At the mercy of the storm, the Pirrie was driven onto a reef near Cake Rock, where she broke in half. Before lifeboats could be launched heavy seas washed over the decks carrying off the crew, the captain, his wife and small child.

Only two crew members survived the wreck. They swam to shore near Cape Johnson where they wandered about without food or dry clothing until they were found by Quileute searchers who helped them to safety in La Push. In the following days searchers recovered the bodies of 18 victims, including those of the captain's wife and child. They were buried in a common grave at Big Bay, southwest of Cape Johnson, at a site now known as Chilean Memorial.


Read about individual shipwrecks in the sanctuary:

Austria

H.M.S. Condor

Emily Farnum

Lamut

Leonore

Pacific

Prince Arthur

Skagway

Southerner

St. Nicholas

Temple Bar

See Shipwreck Map



Contact for page content: George Galasso
Photo of peach coral
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