Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Coos Bay Maritime and History Museum

Coos Bay has an excellent local museum that focuses on Coos Bay history as well as the maritime environment that is so prevalent. 

The early industries in the Coos Bay area focused on coal mining, timber, fishing, and shipping. Coal mining was widespread in the late 1800's with coal being shipped to San Francisco. This picture shows one of the mines -- notice how low the entrance is. We learned that the mules would actually drop to their knees to get through the mine and the men would stoop to dig the coal. Glad we are not doing that job!

 Lumbering was (and is) a huge business in the area, which is not surprising given the huge stands of trees around. This is not an easy occupation, which can be gathered from the picture above showing a truck running on a road of logs using special wheels that can track the log road. Amazing!

 One of the parts of the museum Rick liked the best was the maritime area which had great photos and artifacts of the many ships that have passed through this area.

 Over the years, there have been a number of shipwrecks in the area. Here, the 307' Oliver Olson ran aground on the jetty in 1953. Unfortunately, the rocks opened the ship's bottom and she had to be cut into pieces to remove her.

Here a passenger from the Oliver Olson rides the breeches buoy to reach safety after the ship wreck.  This would be a scary run over the angry seas below. 

 Here is another ship that came to grief in 1915 as waves drive the steamer Santa Clara onto the beach after she hit an uncharted reef. Even though the ship drifted close to shore, the heavy surf caused several people to perish trying to reach the beach.

We thought that shipwrecks were likely a thing of the past given the advances in navigation, but this is incorrect. The freighter New Carissa ran aground in 1999 and again, the heavy surf claimed her. Fortunately, no one was injured in this wreck, but the ship was a total loss.

 Rick had a great time at this interesting museum and learned that the museum is re-locating to a spot near the print museum on the water front. This new location will allow them to display more artifacts, which will be great. We would say the museum is well worth a visit.

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