Clo-oose, Chewhat River

Clo-oose, Chewhat River

by | Feb 24, 2019

Clo-oose is a village of the Ditidaht people located about 1 mile (1.6 km) southeast of the Nitinat Narrows in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The name Clo-oose is derived from the Nitinaht word for “camping place”. It is not clear when Clo-oose first became a permanent village, but in 1892 there were seven houses. Before its establishment as a village, it served as a favorite resting spot for the Native halibut fishermen.

Clo-oose is on the West Coast Trail, originally called the Dominion Lifesaving Trail, now a backpacking trail of 47 miles (75 km) following the southwestern coast of Vancouver Island. It was built in 1907 to facilitate the rescue of shipwrecked survivors along the coast, part of the treacherous Graveyard of the Pacific. The West Coast Trail passes through the traditional territory of the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht, Huu-ay-aht, and Nuu-chah-nulth peoples, who have inhabited the area for more than 4,000 years. Native trails, used for trade and travel, existed in the area before European settlement. European use of the trail area was originally to facilitate the construction and maintenance of a telegraph line between Victoria and Cape Beale. The Dominion Lifesaving Trail was constructed because of the hundreds of shipwrecks that occurred along this coast in the late 1800s.

Skagit was a 3 masted barkentine of 506 tons that wrecked on the reef in front of Clo-oose. This sailing ship was 156 feet (48 m) long and built in Port Ludlow, Washington in 1883, and primarily used to transport lumber down the coast to San Francisco. The Skagit was sailing in from San Francisco in ballast to Port Gamble, Washington to load lumber. The crew ran into a storm and grossly misjudged their position. They sighted the light at Cape Flattery and believed it to be the light from the Umatilla lighthouse off Cape Alava and proceeded north instead of turning into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The storm drove the Skagit on to the reef at 4 am on October 25th, 1906. The impact of the ship hitting the rocks was so powerful that it instantly killed the captain and cook. The remaining 8 crew members escaped by scrambling over the bow at daybreak and clawing their way to shore. They found help and shelter at Clo-oose and were later brought to Victoria. All that remains of the wreck today is one of the Skagit’s anchors on the beach marking the spot where the wreck occurred. Read more here and here. Explore more of Clo-oose beach here:

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