Valencia Bluffs, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

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Valencia Bluffs, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

by | Apr 14, 2019

Valencia Bluffs is about 11 miles (18 km) south from Pachena Bay, the northern endpoint and trailhead for the West Coast Trail in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, British Columbia. The bluffs were named for the steamship Valencia that wrecked here in 1906.

SS Valencia was an iron-hulled passenger steamer built in 1882 as a minor ocean liner for service between Venezuela and New York City. The ship displaced 1,598 tons and was 252 feet (77 m) in length. In 1898, Valencia was sold to the Pacific Steam Whaling Company, which brought her around Cape Horn to the U.S. West Coast to provide passenger service between San Francisco and Alaska. On 19 June 1898, Valencia was chartered by the United States Army at a rate of $650 per day as a troop transport. Valencia also supported a survey of College Fjord in Prince William Sound led by Captain E.F. Glenn.

In 1902, Valencia was sold to the Pacific Coast Steamship Company. After several incidents including a collision in Elliott Bay off Seattle, and a grounding at Saint Michael, Alaska, Valencia was moored in San Francisco and used only as a backup vessel. In January 1906, she was used for a run from San Francisco to Seattle. The weather was clear on departure, but at Cape Mendocino, the weather took a turn and a strong wind started to blow from the southeast. Unable to make celestial observations, and out of sight of land, Valencia missed the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Shortly before midnight on 22 January, she struck a reef 11 miles (18 km) off Cape Beale. To prevent her from sinking, the captain ordered her run aground on Vancouver Island but instead struck another submerged reef within sight of the shore. In the ensuing confusion, most of the ship’s lifeboats were launched but three flipped while being lowered, spilling their occupants into the ocean, two more capsized at sea, and one disappeared. The death toll was 136, only 37 men survived, and every woman and child onboard Valencia died in the disaster. Valencia was one of the worst shipwreck disasters on the west coast and the final impetus for the creation of the West Coast Trail and the construction of the Pachena Point Lighthouse. Read more here and here. Explore more of Valencia Bluffs here:

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