SS Valencia

Passenger ship wrecked on Vancouver Island and destroyed by the pounding surf. 136 people lost their lives in what is generally considered the worst maritime disaster in the Graveyard of the Pacific.
by Matthew Anderson


Year Built

1882

Year Sank

1906

Depth

25 ft (7.6 m)

Difficulty Level

Advanced


SS Valencia

Wreck Location

The wreck of Valencia

(The wreck as seen in January 1906.)

Valencia lies immediately off the rocky, treacherous and isolated coastline of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The position is reachable on land by the West Coast Trail, a hiking trail originally established as a means to help rescue wrecked sailors in response to the Valencia disaster. The nearest major structure of any kind is the Pachena Point Lighthouse, established in 1908 also as a response to the Valencia disaster. Numerous myths and legends have surfaced in the region by both Native Americans and non-natives, claiming the ghost of Valencia prowls along the sea where she was wrecked. The only proven eerie occurrence was in 1933 when Valencia's empty number 5 lifeboat was found drifting in Pachena Bay several miles northwest of the wreck. The lifeboat looked fresh as it did the day the ship sank. The nameplate was salvaged and is now in a museum.

~ GPS Shipwreck Location ~
Latitude:   48° 42' 20.0016" N      Longitude:   -125° 0' 20.9988" W

Description

The wreck of Valencia lies in very shallow waters and its remnants are highly visible to underwater divers as the sun's light still penetrates at her depth. Be warned that the same treacherous currents, sharp jagged rocks and pounding surf which killed 144 of Valencia's passengers can still mame and hurt divers, so experience is required when diving. Valencia is very much a protected site, therefore, permission may be required before diving the wreck. Valencia is a grave site to one of the worst maritime tragedies on the Pacific coast, so it is highly not recommended that any artifacts be recovered whilst diving. Furthermore, recovery of artifacts is illegal as per the wreck's legal protection. The wreck also lies in several small or large pieces, as the majority of hull was destroyed completely in late January 1906. Succeeding years and rough currents finished the rest of it off. The most recognizable feature of the wreck is its bow section, which lies upright wedged between two rocks. All that remains recognizable at the stern is the propeller and its shaft. Unfortunately, the boilers and engine did not survive the test of time and are completely destroyed. For those adventurous enough, some remains of the hull lie along nearby beaches on dry land for hikers to explore.

Footnotes

Valencia in 1904

 The Valencia was built by William Cramp and Sons in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the Red D Line in 1882. Originally sailing between New York and Venezuela, she was sold in 1897 to the Pacific Steam Whaling Company and brought to the US west coast. In 1901, she was transferred to the Pacific Coast Steamship Company. Usually a backup vessel kept moored in San Francisco, she left for Victoria, BC and Seattle on January 20, 1906. On the 22nd, she ran aground in dense fog off Vancouver Island due to poor navigation by her clueless Captain. Over the next week, the ship was smashed apart against the rocky reef she had come to rest on, the surf tearing her to pieces and killing countless passengers. The ship was completely destroyed on the 24th. 136 people were killed, including all women and children. Only 37 men, mostly crew, survived.




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