It was one year ago this weekend I first stumbled (literally) upon the Emily G. Reed shipwreck. December 5, 2010, is a day etched in my mind as you can see from my journal entry from that fateful day...
Today is an unseasonably warm December day on the Oregon Coast. As I stroll along the beach, I am nearly alone. The few people I do pass have their coats tied around their waists as I do. The sun shines on my face as I think about how many times I have walked across this sand in the past fifty years. It is a familiar, safe and comfortable hike. That was about to change.Now as the winter storms slam down upon the beach, I eagerly check to see if she will show herself to me once more. I can only hope and wait.
Shielding my eyes from the glare of the sun on the wet sand, I see something ahead in my path. Huge square beams are exposed in the sand like the ribs of a skeleton. What in the world could this be? I blink my eyes a few times and continue squinting in the same direction. It appears each timber is nearly 12 feet long and a foot in diameter and they continue 80 feet down the beach.
My mind searches madly for an explanation. I listen as it goes through its checklist trying to make sense of the information coming through my eyes.
These weren’t here yesterday. Check.
Yet, they are buried in the sand so they must have been here for a while. Check.
No one else seems concerned. Check.
The wood looks as if it has been hand hewn. Check.
The huge bolts holding them together are bright orange with rust. Check.
My mind--which is very fertile ground under the most boring of circumstances-- has unleashed itself and is galloping towards some wild assumptions. Its wildest theory is that I have discovered a shipwreck. Not just any old ship, but a pirate ship cast ashore during a fierce storm carrying treasures from the Far East. I glance around for gold doubloons or jewels to confirm my zealous assertions. But find only sand and black pebbles. My mind stays vigilant for Blackbeard, Captain Kidd or Black Bart the Pirate.
Desperate to maintain reality, I explore every inch of this wooden relic. Later, an older couple wanders down the beach and stops briefly. Almost as an aside they say, “Oh, this must be the remains of the “Emily G. Reed.” She was shipwrecked here on Valentine’s Day in 1908. Every 35 years or so, when the winter storms wear down the sandy beach, you can catch a glimpse.” Seemingly unimpressed, they move along down the beach.
I, on the other hand, I am jumping around like a two-year old with a new toy. It IS a shipwreck! What incredible tales of far away adventures lie within? What happened on that fateful day?
Full of excitement at this discovery, I cannot believe during my years in this sleepy coastal town, no one has ever mentioned it. Yet, here I stand here next to her hull, just the two of us on this bright winter’s day.