Shipwreck Survey Project

The goal of the Coastal Survey Project is to acquire a better understanding of the maritime heritage of each estuary along the Oregon and Washington Coasts by examining and recording wrecks as well as abandoned vessels. These sites can provide an abundance of information about the history of these areas and range from what may be first European contact around 1693, to a fast 1880s luxury Columbia River steamship, and to a 1920s gillnet boat converted to haul milk to market in Astoria.

Oregon Coastal Survey Sites

T.J. Potter

MAS volunteers conducted a survey in June 2016 and a detailed site report was submitted to Oregon’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in December 2016.

T.J. Potter was a luxurious passenger steamboat that courted passengers between Portland and Astoria beginning in 1888, and was refurbished multiple times to compete with other passenger boats near Puget Sound.

See more about T.J. Potter

Silvia de Grasse

Here’s a quick video with the highlights of our first ROV field test in the Columbia River on 07/15/2016. Silvia de Grasse was a lumber schooner that sank in Astoria in 1849.

Learn more about Silvia de Grasse

Lewis and Clark National Historic Park Boat Survey

In partnership with the Park, volunteers from MAS helped survey the remains of a small boat in Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. The findings most closely resembled a gillnet fishing boat built during the 1920s and 1930s.

Read about the Lewis and Clark NHP boat

Peter Iredale

Sometimes it is fun to do site reconnaissance for a future survey. Check out this YouTube video from the Peter Iredale on 05/22/2016.

Washington Coastal Survey Sites

Coming soon.

Research Design (Synopsis)

The Oregon State archaeological records contain various levels of information regarding shipwreck sites. The Maritime Archaeological Society (MAS) has developed a category scheme in which site data fall into one of four categories.

  • Category I sites are those known to the organization (MAS), but no site report information exists in the online database.
  • Category II sites are found in the online database and include a position (latitude/longitude), vessel name (if known), and the estimated year the ship was sunk (if known).
  • Category III sites include the information from Category II reports, but also contain additional information such as photos or excerpts from reference material.
  • Category IV sites are those that are fully documented within the limits of current technology, environment, and federal and state laws concerning site disturbance.

The Oregon Coastal Survey Project plans to provide Category III or IV information for all shipwreck sites in the Oregon site database and all known sites not currently in the database. The scale of such a task requires an incremental approach, and MAS will first examine wrecks along the North Coast including the lower Columbia River and the coast down as far south as Tillamook Bay/Garibaldi. Even this small subset of Oregon state waters will take years to examine fully.