Graveyard of the Pacific

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Graveyard of the Pacific.jpg

The Graveyard of the Pacific is a somewhat loosely defined stretch of the Pacific Northwest coast stretching from around Tillamook Bay on the Oregon Coast northward past the treacherous Columbia Bar and Juan de Fuca Strait, up the rocky western coast of Vancouver Island to Cape Scott. [1] Unpredictable weather conditions, fog and coastal characteristics such as shifting sandbars, tidal rips and rocky reefs and shorelines have claimed more than 2,000 shipwrecks in this area. Although major wrecks have declined since the 1920s, several lives are still lost annually.


Unpredictable and frequently heavy weather and a rocky coastline, especially along Vancouver Island and its northwestern tip at Cape Scott, have endangered and wrecked thousands of marine vessels since European exploration of the area began in earnest in the 18th century. More than 2000 vessels and 700 lives have been lost near the Columbia Bar alone,[2] and one book lists 484 wrecks at the south and west sides of Vancouver Island.[3]

Combinations of fog, wind, storm, current and wave had crashed hundreds of ships in the region by the middle of the twentieth century, including famous wrecks in regional history.[4] Charts of the region show its famous, and dangerous, landmarks:

Shipwreck charts are studded with sites.[5] Salvage attempts are often unsuccessful or of limited success, and physical wreckage is usually minimal anyway due to the age of many wrecks, the unpredictable weather and sea conditions, and the extensive damage often suffered by vessels at the time they were wrecked.[6]

The term is believed to have originated from the earliest days of the maritime fur trade, not only as increasing numbers of traders' ships began to be wrecked, but also because of the ongoing state of incipient warfare in the area between Russia, Spain, Great Britain, and native tribal peoples, making it one of the most dangerous and deadly regions to trade in the Pacific for political as well as climatic reasons.

The rate of major wrecks has decreased considerably since the 1920s, but several lives are still lost each year.[1]

See also[edit]


  • First Approaches to the Northwest Coast, Derek Pethick
  • A Historical Atlas of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest, Derek Hayes


  1. ^ Saddler, Russell (29 January 2006). "Graveyard of the Pacific; Gateway to the Northwest" (Blog). Article. BlueOregon. Retrieved June 28, 2007.
  2. ^ Rogers, Fred (1992). More Shipwrecks of British Columbia. Heritage House—Douglas & McIntyre. ISBN 1-55054-020-3. Archived from the original on 2007-06-26.
  3. ^ Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (June 2014). "Places to Visit: Graveyard of the Pacific - Columbia River Bar (brochure)" (PDF). Oregon State Legislature. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  4. ^ "Interactive Map of the Wrecks of the Graveyard of the Pacific". BC Maritime Museum. Retrieved 2007-06-28.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Graveyard of the Pacific". Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-06-28.

Coordinates: 48°45′N 128°54′W / 48.75°N 128.9°W / 48.75; -128.9