Hope you were there! It was terrific!

Apr 3, 2024 | 0 comments

Phil Allen talks about his great-grandfather, the ship-wrecked Billy Begg. Looking on from l to r: Michael Lemeshko, Doug Knutzen, me.

The History Forum met at the Oysterville Schoolhouse this morning — our next to last meeting for this Sept ’23 – May ’24 season.  The subject:   Wrecks’n’Rescues — the main speakers Michael Lemeshko, Phil Allen, Doug Knutzen and me (a little bit.)  For the wrecks part, our focus was on a few of the wrecks that have most obviously had a direct and lasting impact on the Peninsula.  When you consider that there have been at least 2,000 large ships wrecked in the area of the Columbia River Bar and over 700 lives lost (and that’s not counting fishing boats or fishermen), picking and choosing was difficult.

Both Michael and I talked about the Strathblane — I, because one of the rescued crew members was 16-year-old Jack Payne (who miraculously became 19 when he hit the beach!), vowed never to return to the sea, and stayed on the Peninsula long enough to share honors with George Hibbert for getting the Chinook Observer under way. And the Observer has certainly been a force in our history for more than a century!  Michael talked about the direct influence the 1891 wreck of the Strathblane had on getting the North Head Lighthouse built — long talked about, but finally acted upon after the ill-fated end of the British ship.

The Alice, wrecked January 15, 1909.

And there was more — Isabelle le Coquille who came here the summer of 2018 looking for the rest of her grandfather’s story,  He had been rescued from the French ship Alice in 1909 but the story he told his family years later was quite different from the way it is remembered here at the beach!  Isabelle and I are still Facebook friends and, though her return trip to the Peninsula was interrupted by the pandemic, she still hopes to return to get to the bottom of granpère’s story.

Phil Allen, the great-great grandson of Adelaide and Will Taylor (of the Taylor Hotel in Ocean Park) told about his great-grandfather Billy Begg’s rescue from the Glenmorag of Glasgow, how he fell in love with young Maud Taylor and stayed here on the Peninsula.  Many of Maud and Billy’s descendants still live in the area.  Phil talked about his boyhood treks out on the beach with his great-grandfather who would pace off so many steps, tell Phil to “dig!” and there would be the Glenmorag’s bow!

“The Life Line” by Winslow Homer — showing breeches buoy

And, finally Doug Knutzen, founder and current president of the South Pacific County Technical Team talked about some of the old equipment used in the rescues we’d been discussing — the Lyle gun and the breeches buoy, in particular, and how they have been adapted and improved upon for modern rescue purposes.  He told about some of the new rescue techniques that are being developed for new situations, and answered numerous questions from interested, admiring Forum members.

It was super!  Hope you were there.  If not, don’t miss next month’s Forum — the last until next Fall.

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