Secret Oregon Coast shipwreck shows up after 35-year absence

Emily G. Reed


From Beach Connection


An old and forgotten resident of Rockaway Beach, on the north Oregon coast, is showing up again. She's a little over 100 years old to be exact, and she hasn’t been seen for the better part of 35 years.

The wreck of the Emily G. Reed has been unearthed by recent winter wave action, which has cut a wedge out of the sandy slope towards the waves as much as four or five feet deep.

It’s a treasure hunters dream of sorts, with around 100 feet of the ribcage-like structure now visible – the most in decades.

The Reed hit the mouth of the Nehalem River in 1908, back when there was no jetty. Apparently, the Reed was looking for the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse to guide its way, and for some reason made a wrong turn and grounded itself.

“It snapped in half,” said Don Best, a longtime Rockaway Beach resident, historian and photographer. “Pieces were scattered all over. There’s still a piece in Nedonna Creek."

This portion is the largest chunk still around, though it had been thoroughly raided pretty quickly, like anything else left of it. Some of the raiders included Best’s family, back in the early pioneer days of the area.

The Emily Reed has been a secretive, shy shipwreck, hiding beneath the sand for most of its time on these shores. After this part came to rest here, it was visible most of the time until the 40’s and 50’s, when its visibility became less and less.

Then it just disappeared, until three years ago.

“That was the first time it was visible in around 35 years,” Best said.

The Reed was built in New England by the Reed family, which created a small fleet of ships bearing the name. “There was a Mary Reed; there were a bunch of different ships with that name Reed,” Best said.

It was bound for Portland, carrying a load of coal from New Castle, South Wales in stormy and foggy weather. It had been at sea 102 days and ran aground on Valentine’s Day, February 14.

From there, accounts vary. Seven or eight crewmembers apparently lost their lives after getting swept out to sea. The captain, his wife and some others clung to a chunk of the wreck and supposedly made it ashore.

Another account has a group of them in a lifeboat that was carried back out to sea, and never made it back until they got to the central Washington coast. One died along the way after drinking sea water.


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Oregon coast Secret Rockaway Beach the Emily G. Reed Nehalem River Tillamook Rock Lighthouse