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The Pesuta Shipwreck Story

November 18, 2019

Pesuta Shipwreck credit DBC/Owen Perry


Allow 3 hours to hike from Haida House to the site of the Pesuta.

The “Pezuta” was built as a wood-hulled steam freighter in Raymond, WA, as an addition to the US Shipping Board’s (USSB) WWI Emergency Shipbuilding Program.

At 264 feet long, the coal-fired ship was an impressive vessel. Its construction contained 1.8 million board feet of lumber, 20,000 treenails, 10,000 pounds of clinch rings, 200 tons of round iron, 30 tons of strapping, 400 bales of oakum and 600 gallons of paint.*

Shortly after the end of the war in early 1919, the ship was delivered to Seattle where it was considered excess by the USSB and subsequently slated for liquidation. Eventually finding its way to T'agwan Vancouver in 1927, the Pezuta was retrofitted for reuse as a lumber carrier, capable of carrying an incredible 800,000 feet of logs.

Regrettably, the Pezuta did not last long in its revived career as a barge. Seas were exceptionally treacherous on the Hecate Strait on December 11, 1928. Gale winds battered the tug Imbricaria as it struggled to tow the heavily laden carrier past the mouth of the Tll.aal Gandlaay Tlell River. Suddenly the Pezuta broke free of its towline, running aground deep in the sand. After hull recovery efforts failed, local salvage operations stripped what they could before leaving the remnants of this massive vessel high on the beach.

Despite being subjected to nearly 100 years of punishing coastal weather, the iconic ship’s bow still juts from the sand exposing weathered wood, various metal implements, and rusted portholes. Presently known by the misspelled name "Pesuta”, this historic shipwreck is both easily accessible and exceptionally fascinating.

From the Haida House at Tllaal, curious guests can access where the Pesuta lies on foot– just north of the Tlell River on East Beach in Naikoon Provincial Park. Be sure to allow at least 3 hours to complete the flat-ground 10-kilometer round-trip hike.


*Source: Willapa Seaport Museum

Top Image Credit: Destination BC/Owen Perry

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