By Elleda Wilson
Posted: August 26, 2011
“I have an idea that I would like to get some feedback from,” JESSE “CHUCK” DAY told the Ear. “I’ve lived here since 1979, and I’ve watched the PETER IREDALE SHIPWRECK slowly rusting away. It is a great tourist attraction, and I’m sure it brings a lot of people to the Clatsop beach. I do realize that once it disappears it will be gone forever, and some tourists will no longer go to our beach.”
Chuck’s intriguing idea to solve the problem? “Get the U.S. Navy to donate TWO MOTHBALLED BATTLESHIPS. I would love to see them beached bow first about 300 yards apart on the Clatsop beach where Camp Rilea connects to the beach … This would make an artificial cove in the area between the two vessels. The ships could be used in training by the military base and as fishing platforms by the public, when not in use by the military.”
Have decommissioned old Navy ships become tourist attractions before? Yes, indeedy. A marine sanctuary website (tinyurl.com/shipsunk), referring to an isolated beach on Kaiolohia Bay on the island of Lanaii, Hawaii, says: “During the 19th and early 20th centuries the U.S. Navy and inter island navigation companies used Shipwreck Beach as an area for the intentional abandonment of vessels, a ‘rotten row’ of old ships.”
The most famous of the group is an unnamed World War II Liberty ship, pictured above. There’s an intriguing video of tourists exploring the ferrous-concrete wreck at tinyurl.com/wrecklook. Warning: Take Dramamine before viewing.
What do you think about Navy ships being put on Clatsop beach? “I would enjoy comments both pro and con on the subject,” Chuck said, “and also would be willing to help research and promote the idea if enough people would be interested in something like this happening.” You can email him at Chuck97103@hughes.net or join the Facebook page “Ship Ashore” (tinyurl.com/shipbeach) to comment.
“I think it could really be a draw to the North Coast for tourists from all over the world,” Chuck added. “The steel on some ships is 4 to 6 inches thick, so it would take a very long time before they rusted away!”
Reprinted with the permission of The Daily Astorian of Astoria, Oregon.