The Peter Iredale began for us as a dot on the map, far out on Oregon’s north coast and at the end of a very long road trip. We knew almost nothing about it and were too enthralled by the passing forests to look at our phones. So we pressed on, driven forward by one word: shipwreck.
We’d spend the night in Astoria, and the next morning set out through forests that grew smaller and more tangled the closer we got to the ocean. After about 20 minutes, the road opened up to sand dunes. We walked up a bluff and finally saw the wreck, wind battered and just barely above the rising tide.
The Peter Iredale ran aground on Oct. 25, 1906. The ship — which was built in England in 1890 — had four masts and was en route from Mexico to Portland when it was wrecked. The crew survived, but the ship was abandoned on the beach and never removed.
Over the years the wreck slowly broke down in the wind and the surf, but the skeleton remained and soon became a tourist attraction.
Today, it’s part of the Fort Stevens State Park.
During our visit, it was cold, windy, and wet. There was a small but steady stream of visitors there, though between groups we had the site all to ourselves. We used the time to dart over the waves as we explored the wreck.
If you go: Though the wreck is part of a state park, we were told by a worker that it is free to enter. There are no fences or barriers, so visitors are free to interact with the wreck as they see fit. Here is a map:
— Jim Dalrymple II