Admiralty Trading Company, Gambier Bay

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Admiralty Trading Company, Gambier Bay

by | May 22, 2020

The Admiralty Trading Company built a cannery in 1911 on the northern shore of Gambier Bay, on the east coast of Admiralty Island, about 60 miles (97 km) northwest of Petersburg and 23 miles (37 km) east of Angoon, Alaska. The bay was named after Point Gambier on Stephens Passage in 1889 by Lieutenant Commander H.B. Mansfield of the U.S. Navy.

In 1913, the steamship State of California was bound from Puget Sound for Alaska with passengers, mail, and freight and made a quick stop at the Admiralty Trading Company cannery in Gambier Bay. After pulling away from the cannery dock, Captain Thomas H. Cann, Jr. steered a course thought to be clear of hazards. Steaming at 13 knots (24 kph), the massive liner passed over a submerged pinnacle that ripped open her hull. The captain attempted to run the liner onto the beach to keep her from sinking, but the flood of icy seawater was too great. The vessel sank in deep water with the loss of 31 lives.

The shipwreck was located by sport divers in the 1960s when the purser’s safe was raised and found to contain a shipment of gold pocket-watches that had been consigned to a jeweler in Skagway, and never delivered. The State of California lies upright at a steep angle, with her bow in 70 feet (21 m) of water and her stern in 210 feet (64 m). Read more here and here. Explore more of Gambier Bay here:

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