West Central Alaska Shipwrecks ( A )

ACUSHNET (1851)     On August 16, 1851 the 359 ton whaling ship Acushnet went ashore in a fog and sank in 10 fathoms of water at Saint Lawrence Island.  250 Barrels of her 1300 barrel cargo of whale oil were salvaged, but the remaining cargo and the vessel were lost.  She was listed as having departed Fairhaven, MA for a whaling voyage in the Arctic.  It was said that this is the same ship Herman Melville deserted in the Marquesas in 1842.

Mapping and Location: West Central Alaska   63 N 170 W   Chart 16006

Additional Information: Vessel value with cargo $50,000.

Source: Shipwrecks of the Alaskan Shelf and Shore (1992).

AJAX (1851)    On June 19, 1851 the 474 ton whaling ship Ajax out of LaHavre, France hit the rocks approximately 10 to 12 miles south of Saint Lawrence Island and became a total loss.

Mapping and Location: West central Alaska   63 N 168 50 W   Chart 16006

Comment: There are no rocks 10 to 12 miles south of Saint Lawrence Island.  WG

Sources: 1. Shipwrecks of the Alaskan Shelf and Shore (1992), 2. Daily Union (April 8, 1852) “Proposed Reconnaissance of the Seas Around China and Japan” Col. 2-3

ALASKA (1900)     At 10:00 a.m. on the morning of June 6, 1900 during a gale, the American whaling bark Alaska stranded 200 yards south of the A.E. Company warf at Nome while the towboat Mary D Hume was endeavoring to tow her offshore.  The following is an excerpt from the wreck report filed by her Master and Owner, B. Cougan of Oakland, California:

“Gave chain and held ship, set signal for assistance, hailed towboat Hume, which offered to tow me out for $1,000.  He ran his hawser and I made fast, then slipped my port chain.  While she was towing ship struck bottom aft, unslipped her rudder.  Sounded pumps, making no water, about five minutes afterward still in tow of Hume, ship struck heavily twice, knocking false keel off and commencing to fill rapidly.  I let go hawser, set the jib and ran her as high up as possible to keep her deck above water.  In about three minutes after, ship grounded heavily in about three fathoms, her spar deck nearly even with the water, then cut her spars away.  After launching her lee boats, then watched our opportunities and launched the other lifeboats, of which we had four, then divided passengers and crew among the boats and pulled out through the breakers, when steam launch Islam took boats and towed them alongside U.S.R. steamer Bear, who received us onboard and treated us as well as they could.  Later in the day, seas moderating, Captain Tuttle sent an officer with the first officer of the Alaska onboard the wreck to protect the cargo.  There was then hopes of saving a portion of the cargo, hull being intact, except full of water, but that evening gale increasing with heavy sea ship commenced to break up.  The lieutenant was brought ashore by a boat sent out by Captain Jarvis.”

According to the wreck report the Alaska was carrying a 300 ton cargo of coal, lumber, machinery, provisions and liquors valued at $15,000.  The vessel herself was valued at $40,000 and both vessel and cargo were listed as total losses.

Mapping and Location: West central Alaska 63 29 N 162 02 W   Chart 16200

Additional Information: Construction Wood, Tonnage 337, Built San Francisco 1868, ON 1378, Last port San Francisco April 14, 1900, Bound for Nome and whaling, Passengers 41, Crew 30, Vessel Insurance none.

Source: U S Customs Wreck Report

ALASKA (1906)     The steel steamer Alaska burned while at winter quarters at Saint Michael on May 2, 1906.  The vessel was used for inland towing and had a crew of eight men.

Mapping and Location: West central Alaska   63 29 N 162 02 W   Chart 16200

Additional Information: Tonnage 60 Gross 19 Net, Length 73.7, Breadth 18.9, Depth 5.2, Built at Seattle 1899, ON 107458

Sources: 1. U S Customs Wreck Report, 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1906) Pg 385

ALASKA UNION (1899)     In December of 1899 the American stern wheel steamer Alaska Union, after leaving the Yukon River, encountered a heavy NE gale at the northeast end of St. Michael Island.  Both anchors were put out to keep the vessel offshore to no avail, as she stranded and became a total loss.  The crew made it to shore.  No cargo was onboard but the vessel, valued at $10,000 was lost.

Mapping and Location: West central Alaska   63 30 N 162 05 W   Chart 16240

Additional Information: Construction wood, Tonnage 141 Net 214 Gross, Built 1898, Registration Saint Michael, ON 107495, Owner Alaska Exploration Company.

Source: U S Customs Wreck Report of August 20, 1901 by company agent I N Hubbard

ALLAVINA JOHNSON (1900)     At 8:00 a.m. on August 14, 1900 the wood schooner Allavina Johnson drug her anchors during a 50 mile an hour gale in Goodnews Bay and blew ashore becoming a total loss.  George Tyler, who had leased the schooner from a party at Nome, had left Bristol Bay on July 22 and had accumulated 7 tons or $900 worth of salmon and furs when the casualty occurred.  He and his crew of two managed to save approximately $700 worth of cargo, but the Allavina Johnson was lost.  The following are comments from the wreck report filed by Tyler on August 31 at Unalaska:

“22 miles north of Cape Newenham…Blew Ashore, dragging anchors.  Heavy gales, and wind shifting.  Very heavy sea.  Wind 50 miles per hour.  Day time.  Impossible to avoid on account of no room to make sail.”

“…Cargo is my own, which I have saved partially.  Vessel is total loss.  4 years experience in these waters, and this is the hardest blow I have seen at this point and time of year.”

Mapping and Location: West central Alaska   59 03 N 161 49 W

Additional Information: Tonnage 35.85 Net, Age four years, Registration Port Angeles Washington, ON 136601, Vessel value $500, Insurance none

Source: U S Customs Wreck Report

ALTHEA (1943)     The 12 ton 63 foot wooden gas screw Althea foundered during October of 1943 at Unalakleet.

Mapping and Location: West central Alaska   63 52 25 N 160 47 W   Chart 16006

Additional Information: Tonnage 12 Gross 11 Net, Length 63.3, Breadth 16, Depth 2, Built 1912 at Nome, Horsepower 10, Service freight, Owner Charles A Traeger, Registered Juneau, ON 210447

Sources: 1. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1945) “Vessels Reported Lost” Pg 774, 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1944) Pg 78

AMETHYST (1885)     The 102 foot 356 ton wooden whaling bark Amethyst left San Francisco February 21, 1885 on a whaling voyage.  The bark was last seen October 6, 1885 north of Saint Lawrence Island.  She was leaving the whaling grounds for San Francisco. When the whaling vessel did not arrive at her destination, the Amethyst was presumed to have been crushed in ice in the Bering Sea with none of her crew of 38 men accounted for.  Her value was said to have been $50,000 with cargo.  The following crewmen were reported as lost when the Amethyst disappeared:

  1. Captain P H Coaty
  2. 1st Mate Moses Walker
  3. 2nd Mate Ferdinand Lee
  4. 3rd Mate A W Harris
  5. 4th Mate Jose Fortedo
  6. Steward James K Polk
  7. Cook Hollis Johnson
  8. Cabin boy J H Hyers
  9. Steerage boy Rudolph Aguerre
  10. Cooper John Long
  11. Engineer John McHughes
  12. Boat steerer John Roderiguez
  13. Boat steerer Lenza Foster
  14. Boat steerer Emanuel Carson
  15. Boat steerer George Antonio
  16. Boat steerer Frank d’Avellar
  17. Sailor Peter Williams
  18. Sailor Robert Wackwitz
  19. Sailor Michael Williams
  20. Sailor J B Chromo
  21. Sailor Jose Rodriguez
  22. Sailor Joseph Borellos
  23. Sailor Mariano Riez
  24. Sailor William Andrew
  25. Sailor William Dunn
  26. Sailor William Boggs
  27. Sailor Frank Taylor
  28. Sailor J A Brown
  29. Sailor William Lynch
  30. Sailor Thomas Brobhy
  31. Sailor H E Hagen
  32. Sailor B F Christy
  33. Sailor Fred Trobell
  34. Sailor Eugene Tracy
  35. Sailor Frank Emmanel
  36. Sailor William Thurlow

In addition to those lost from the crew of the Amethyst, the Amethyst had picked up five of the crewmembers of the whaling bark Rainbow which had wrecked in Arctic ice near Russia in the spring of 1885. In late October of 1885, the Abram Barker reported seeing an abandoned hulk thought to be the Amethyst 100 miles south of Unimak Pass. Wreckage thought to have belonged to the Amethyst was found on the north shores of Akutan Island in November of 1885 by local hunters. Hatch covers from the Amethyst were reported washed up on the beaches of Copper Island in the western Bering Sea in 1886. This was the same area that the Rainbow had been lost in the ice in 1885. The broken hulk of the Amethyst washed up on Castle Rock at the north end of the Shumagin Islands and was discovered there in September of 1887 by the sealing schooner Angel Dolly. There was no sign of crew or passengers of the Amethyst. All told 43 sailors were lost, 38 from the Amethyst and 5 from the Rainbow.

Mapping and Location: West Central Alaska   55 17 N 159 30 W   Chart 16540

Additional Information: Tonnage 356.2, Length 102, Breadth 28, Depth 18, Built 1822 at Boston MA, ON 1157, SL HTBQ

Sources: 1. Shipwrecks of the Alaskan Shelf and Shore (1992) Pg 73, 2. San Francisco Bulletin (August 27, 1886) “The Lost Amethyst” Pg 3, 3. The Daily Inter-Ocean (September 17, 1887) “A Wrecked Whaler” Pg 3, 4. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1885) Pg 73, 5. San Francisco Chronicle (February 20, 1886) “The Missing Amethyst” Pg 4, The San Francisco Bulletin (August 26, 1886) “The Whaler Amethyst” Pg 3, 6. San Francisco Bulletin (December 14, 1885) “The Bark Amethyst” Pg 1

ANGLO SAXON (1907)     At 8:00 p.m. on Sunday October 27, 1907 the wood gas screw Anglo Saxon struck a reef of boulders three quarters of a mile off shore, seven miles southeast of Cape Wooley, stranded and was lost.  The vessel, valued at $3,500, had departed Nome October 19 with two tons of general merchandise valued at $200, with David Hull of Nome as captain and one other crewman.  She was headed for Tin City, but the very dark thick weather, strong northwest wind, heavy sea and snow squalls led to her demise.  As the captain put it in the wreck report filed at Nome on October 29th :

“Had line in propeller wheel when at Teller, so preceded to Nome under sail.  Could not hold her on course.  In storm and darkness got too close in, and struck on reef.  Put her about and headed for shore.  Struck in about two and a half feet of water.  Frank Kleinschmidt with two white men and natives rescued us from the wreck after twenty hours exposure.  Nome life saving crew brought us to Nome.”

Mapping and Location: West central Alaska   64 43 N 166 30 W

Comments: This same vessel had been reported a total loss during a gale in October of 1905 between Bonanza and Solomon Rivers while owned by one T A Whistler.

Additional Information: Tonnage 9, Built 1890, Registration Nome, ON 107556, Owner R D Hunter of Council.

Source: U S Customs Wreck Report

ARCADE (1899)     The steamer Arcade out of Nome was wrecked at Saint Michael during a terrible storm in December of 1899 and became a total loss.

Mapping and Location: West central Alaska   63 29 N 162 02 W

Comments: This same storm caused loss or damage to many vessels including St Michael No 1, St Michael No 5, St Michael No 8, Alaska Union, Anna B, Fay and Barge No 2.

Source: U S Customs Casualty Reports

ARIEL (1925)     At 11:00 p.m. on Friday September 25, 1925, the gas screw Ariel stranded, with her crew of seven, 14 miles southeast of Point Spencer and became a total loss.  The following accounting is from the wreck report filed at Nome by crewman N F Hoiger on the 7th of October:

“14 miles southeast of Point Spencer….stranded in severe storm because of engine trouble.”

“Severe storm and weak motor.  Strong SE gale, stormy rough sea and very dark.  We tried to make out to sea but the engine failed us.”

“….on the 1st day of October the U S Coast Guard crew from Nome came to our assistance and brought N.F. Hoiger to Nome, the balance of the crew remaining with the vessel to try and save anything they could.”

The value of the vessel at the time of the casualty was $5,000 and her cargo $1,000.  The Ariel carried about four tons of coal and general merchandise of which $200 worth was salvaged.

Mapping and Location: West central Alaska   65 17 N 165 50 W

Additional Information: Tonnage 26 Gross 23 Net, Built 1916, Registered Seattle, ON 224859, Master George Torro of Nome, Owner Uno Brower of Paulsbo Washington, Last Port Nome September 4th, Destination Little Diomede Island.

Source: U S Customs Wreck Report

ARIZONA (1914)     At 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday September 1, 1914 the American gas screw Arizona was destroyed by a strong SE gale which had stranded her on the spit at Chiukak, 10 miles west of Golovin.  The casualty report filed at Nome mentions that no one was aboard and the Arizona (valued at $1,000) was pulled out on the beach at the time; nothing could be done to save her.

Mapping and Location: West central Alaska   64 31 N 163 22 W

Comment: The publication Safeguard the Gateways of Alaska has this wreck mapped at Chignik.

Additional Information: Construction wood, Tonnage 11 Gross 9 Net, Built Golovin Alaska 1903, Registered Nome, ON 201296, Owners Pfaffle, Porter & Sugg, Cargo none.

Sources: 1. U S Customs Report of Casualty filed at Nome September 4, 1914 2. Safeguard the Gateways of Alaska (1918) Map.

ARTHUR B (1900)     A violent storm pounded the beaches at Cape Nome September 7th and 8th , 1900 damaging or destroying many of the vessels nearby.  Included in the loss roster is the small schooner Arthur B which was driven ashore by the harsh winds and high seas and ground to pieces.

Mapping and Location: West central Alaska   64 26 N 165 W

Source: The H W McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1966) Pg 63

AURUM (1917)     The 26 ton 50 foot stern wheel steamer Aurum struck an obstruction and was lost near Golovin August 2, 1917.

Mapping and Location: West central Alaska   64 33 N 163 02 W

Comment: H W McCurdy spells the name Aurrim. WG

Additional Information: Tonnage 26 Gross 16 Net, Length 50, Breadth 10.8, Depth 3.2, Service Freight, Crew 1, IHP 30, Built 1904 at Golovin, Registered Nome, ON 203357

Sources: 1. The H W McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1966) Pg 294, 2.  Merchant Vessels of the U S (1918) “Vessels Reported Lost” Pg 438, 3. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1916) Pg 88

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.