Ear: Beard's Hollow

One of the most baffling and haunting wrecks that occurred in 1853 was that of the barkentine Vandalia, which was heading in from San Francisco with Capt. E. N. Beard as master.

Jan. 9 was the last time she was seen by a passing ship, the Grecian, which reported that Vandalia was waiting to enter the Columbia River Bar; struggling a bit, but holding her own, and not in any obvious distress.

A week later, Vandalia was found hull up on Benson Beach. All hands were lost, but four bodies washed ashore; among them were Capt. Beard and a 14-year-old boy.

Capt. Beard's remains were found on the beach at a small cove north of the North Head Lighthouse that was thereafter named for him, Beard's Hollow. Other crew members from the Vandalia washed up on the beach in Dead Man's Cove (or Hollow), which is below and just north of the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. Over the years, several unfortunate souls who were lost at sea have turned up there, hence the name.

An interesting historical tidbit about this particular wreck is that a small Ilwaco, Washington, neighborhood — lying at the east end of town, and somewhat disconnected from it, at 1.6 miles from downtown and the closest park — is named Vandalia, after the lost ship.

"Exact particulars of the accident will never be known, as there were no survivors," Lewis & Dryden's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest reports of the Vandalia's demise. "It is supposed that the bark missed stays while beating in and drifted into the breakers, where she sprang a leak and afterward foundered." (bit.ly/LewDry, bit.ly/vandwreck1, bit.ly/vandwreck2, bit.ly/vandwreck3)

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.

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