It was a blue bird sky day with perfect visibility on October 1, 1913, when beachgoers witnessed the steel-hulled square rigger Glenesslin strike straight into Mt. Neahkahnie under full sail. Captain Owen Williams and his officers secured a line from the ship to people on the shore and abandoned Glenesslin with no causalities.
The speculation about this shipwreck has never died down. Many have wondered if there was a need for an emergency landing. Why not ground the ship to the south near Manzanita or to the north at Cannon Beach? Why choose to sail straight into a windless pocket of a 1,600-foot cliff when there are other nearby beaches that could do minimal damage to the ship? Another aspect being speculated at the time was the absence of cargo on board the ship when it crashed. Many wondered if the lack of cargo was lucky or planned, such an extra financial loss would be costly.
Glenesslin was a total loss for its British owners as its steel hull was blown out from hitting the rocks. At the time the ship was valued at $30,000.00, a price which insurance paid out in full. Penalties ranging between three- to six-month suspensions were given to Captain Williams and his first and second mates. It did not help the rumours to dissipate when Captain Williams and his crew refused to explain the crash or identify who was at the wheel.
Glenesslin still holds the world speed record for a 1,000-mile voyage under sail for travel from Portland, Oregon to Port Elizabeth, South Africa in 74 days in 1902.
The photo used for the post is part of the VMM collection.