On January 22, 1906, the ship S.S. Valencia with 108 passengers and 65 crew on board wrecked off Beale Point, Vancouver Island on its way from San Francisco to Seattle. Strong currents in deep fog pulled the ship onto the rocks after a 250 foot sounding just three hours before the wreck. The tragedy that killed 136 people was compounded because rescue boats fearing their own wreck on the rocks could not get close to the Valencia. Many men and all the women on board refused to go into lifeboats after seeing one capsize as it was being loaded, tossing all in to the sea. In total, only 37 people survived, They included two officers, 23 crewmen, and 12 male passengers. All of the women and children perished in what were later characterized as avoidable circumstances.
As indicated on the tombstone, ‘Organized Labor brought the bodies of unknown passengers and crew that were recovered to Seattle and buried them at the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.
The Valencia shipwreck was a tragic loss of life. Following the wreck many reforms were undertaken regarding lifeboats and ship safety.
Here are some places to learn more details about the Valencia shipwreck:
- HistoryLink.org provides the entire story in an essay by Daryl C. McClary, posted on July 29, 2005.
- According to an article by Nicole Brodeur in the Seattle Times on January 10, 2006, maritime safety owes debt to Valencia victims.