What a find this is!!!!!!!
In June of 2013 I posted a blog entitled, “Sailing Schooner Charles R. Wilson”. It contained a picture. No text. No story. Nowt.
It would have stayed that way had I not received this e-mail from Ulrich Normann Pedersen: “I have [knew] a person on board the schooner ‘Charles R Wilson’. The person is Poul Edward Frandsen who wrote in a last letter on August 1925 to the family that they depart from Seattle and go up into the Bering Sea (cod fishing) they sailed along the coast towards a number of islands of the Aleutians. This is the last time you hear from him. Can you tell us more about the shipwreck?”
I started looking for more pics and found three
The e-mail said “shipwreck.” So, I started through my library of California/West Coast Ships searching for details of the Charles R. being shipwrecked. No cigar.
Next was a rather exhaustive internet search and lo and behold I struck gold in a magazine (dah!) called “Sea History.” Here’s what it said:
“Charles R. Wilson, named for one of the original brothers of “Wilson Brothers Lumber Company” of Aberdeen was employed in the coast-wise lumber trade for over twenty years.
She was sold in 1913, five years after the man for whom she was named had died, to the Pacific Coast Codfish Company of Seattle, a company which was partially owned by Mr. J.E. Shields and
other stockholders. Fifteen years later Mr. Shields bought the ship’ outright as a wholly-owned vessel for himself. She continued to operate steadily in the Bering Sea codfishing trade with a couple of voyages to San Francisco Bay with cargoes of cod for the Alaska Codfish Company. During World War I she made a couple of winter-time, offshore voyages with lumber and was laid up in the
mid-1920s for a couple of seasons.
When the schooners C.A. Thayer and Sophie Christenson, two of Capt. Shields’ schooners, were taken by the U S. Army for service as barges during World War II, Charles R. Wilson continued
to fish. at least up through 1943. But the freeze on wages and prices by the O.P. A. , a war-time regulatory agency, made it unprofitable to operate the ship, so she was laid up a year till some restrictions were lifted. She fished again in 1945. a difficult season considering the hostilities in the Aleutians and war-time shortages in gear and manpower.
The end of World War Il presaged a hoped-for return to some sort of normalcy in the fishing industry, and the reduced codfish fleet was sorted out and returned to its owners. But time, the ever flowing and often inimical current. ran against the few surviving and aging vessels.
Though reasonably sound. Charles R. Wilson was laid up and never used again. though she remained moored at the Shields plant at Poulsbo, Washington till 1952. After seven years of idleness she was sold for $2,500 and towed to Canada to bc sunk as a breakwater near Stillwater, BC. a log dump fifteen miles north of Powell River. Within a year her battered and worn hulk was obliterated.”
So the Charles R. so far as I can figure out, was not sunk but died of neglect and old age.
I hope this helps Mr. Pedersen.
What did folks do for fun “back then.” There are lots of books and pictures demonstrating the harshness of life. But fun? There are a few pics of works picnics. In Fort Bragg there were dances most Saturday nights. We know there were brothels and bars. We know there was hunting for deer and bear. But fishing? These are the first pics I have collected showing men fishing. I can’t tell when the pics were taken or where. They are sepia so the chances are they are late 1800s or early 1900s.
The following snippets were gleaned from the Advocate:
“The steamer Arctic sailed for San Francisco Saturday afternoon with a full cargo of lumber.”
The Arctic was a wooden steam schooner built in 1901 by H.R. Reed at Bay City, Oregon for J.S. Kimball of San Francisco. She was used for the coastal lumber trade, was 392 tons, 145 x 32 x 11 feet with a single deck. She had a 350 h.p. triple expansion (3 – Cylinder) engine and 325, 000 board foot capacity. Other owners of the Arctic were Hammond Lumber Company; sold in 1908 to National Steamship Company and sold again in 1919 to Union Lumber Company. The Arctic wrecked at Point Arena on July 5th, 1922.
The second snippet:
“The steamer Noyo towed the three-masted schooner Allen A. several miles offshore and started her on her voyage to Honolulu. She had about 400,000 feet of lumber, ties and posts aboard.”
The Noyo in question was likely the second (of four) of that name.
Of the Allen A., sadly, I can find no trace.
In our website’s section on ships we have three pics of the S. S. Jeannie. What we knew before this blog was very little: “One of ships that plied her trade along the Mendocino Coast. She was wrecked at Point Arena in 1900.” One of the three photos we have turned up in Lynn Catlett’s amazing Facebook page, “You know you are from Mendocino if…….” Of itself that was not unusual. Many of the photos I have collected since I have been historian turn up all over the place.
One of the contributors to Lynn’s page is Chuck Ross. Chuck is incredibly knowledgeable about Elk/Greenwood which is where he grew up and where his family owned a lot of land. In addition he “works” with Lynn to add germane info to her posts. His initial comment on this pic:
“Always been intrigued by this photo. Just north of Point Arena wharf. This ship was probably launched as a sailing vessel, I suspect it was square-rigged. The conversion to steam probably came later. Who she is I just cannot find out. There were too many shipwrecks at Point Arena (fifty or more) to sort this one out.” Lynn then identifies the ship as the S.S. Jeanie.Chuck responds, “Well, that would make it 1900. I cannot seem to locate another picture of her in better times.” Chuck then posts this drawing:
He also posts this newspaper cutting (you’ll need to click on it to be able to read it):
Lynn then notes: “I’m confused. The Jeanie was refloated at Point Arena. Then a couple of months later she was overdue but we don’t know the outcome of that trip.”
Chuck replies that the outcome of the trip was known, “We do. Just a long passage. She appears in the shipping news regularly up until this, in 1913” “This” is this cutting:
Make sure read the last para in the above cutting.
Thank you Lynn and Chuck.
Gordon McNutt was a founder member of our club, The Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Historical Society. His railroad modelling interest was in small gauges – Z and N scale. He had two exquisite layouts in attache cases. When I found the two photos below a bell went off in my brain that Gordon owned and operated the Trout Farm in Fort Bragg. But, who to ask to confirm this? Well, today, his great grandson’s wife came to the layout and generously gave us boxes of stuff that once belonged to Gordon. Whilst she was at the layout I asked her if, indeed, Gordon was the owner of the Trout Farm. “Oh, yes!!” was the answer.
How about them cookies!!!!!!
Whether this pic is what it says, “Loading lumber at Westport, CA in the 1890’s” may not be correct. The sailing schooner seems to be too close to the shore to be Westport and the view of the town through the rigging doesn’t seem quite right either. Be that as it may this pic is another tiny sliver of local Mendocino Coast History:
One likes to think that the list of ships we have in the website is complete. Well, apparently not. I have unearthed two pics of a Steamship named Sequoia that are not in our list. Alas, I know nothing of her save for the fact that these two photos attest to her operating along the Mendocino Coast.
Please contact me if you have any more info on the Sequoia.