shipwreck

LighthouseBy Finn J.D. John
It was late December, 1856, and Thomas Smith, proud owner of the intrepid little 104-foot barque Desdemona, was in a hurry.
Smith stood to make a particularly nice profit if the shipment of general merchandise the Desdemona was carrying out of San Francisco reached Astoria on or before New Year’s Day. So he proposed a deal to the captain of his ship, Francis Williams: Get the cargo into port by New Year’s Day, and he would be rewarded with the price of a new Sunday suit.

S.S. Great RepublicBy Finn J.D. John
If you had been an expatriated American in the South American nation of Costa Rica in the early 1880s, you might have run across a fellow American named Thomas Doig. Perhaps you might have met him at a saloon, or maybe at a dinner party someplace.
You’d soon learn your new friend was a bit of a V.I.P. In fact, he was the top admiral of the Costa Rican navy ... but he’d probably hasten to add that that was not as big a deal as it sounded. In fact, the Costa Rican navy had just one ship, a converted commercial vessel formerly known as the Pelican.

Gussie TelfairBy Finn J.D. John

On September 25, 1880, an old and battered but sleek steamship drew into the mouth of Coos Bay, at the end of its voyage from Portland.
As the vessel churned its way into the bay, it suddenly and definitively veered out of the channel and slammed directly into the bank of the bay, close by Rocky Point — hard aground.

By Finn J.D. John

Lifeboat from S.S. CongressPortland Sunday Oregonian
Passengers in lifeboat from  the burning steamer S.S. Congress

If you’d walked into the town of Marshfield — now called Coos Bay — on the afternoon of September 13, 1916, you probably would have found the streets eerily empty.
Storekeepers, restaurateurs, bank tellers — everybody in town was clustered around the beach south of the harbor opening, watching a 7,985-ton passenger liner belching smoke and flames, and praying the 428 passengers and crew members would be able to get off the ship before the whole thing became engulfed.

McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/subscriptions-0. Purchase copies online at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/back-issues-0. Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.