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Clean-up work resumes at Ocean shores shipwreck

OCEAN SHORES, Wash. (AP) -- Clean-up work has resumed at the old Catala (kuh-TALL'-uh) shipwreck at Ocean Shores.



For picture enlargement click here or on the picture


The Ecology Department is removing remaining fuel oil from the ship's tanks. Workers plan to cut up the hull and return the beach at Damon Point State Park to a natural state.


So far, workers have removed 25,000 gallons of oil from four tanks. Work had stopped over the winter.

The floating hotel used at the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle ran aground in 1965 at Ocean Shores.

Source: Writer Joseph Kreiss, KBKW, Aberdeen

From Reign to Relic


The steamer Catala rests near the end of a narrow remnant of the old Schwabacher Wharf at the foot of Union Street in 1962, in what is now the open water of Waterfront Park. The contemporary photo of the site without the steamer was taken from a park ramp on its Pike Street side. The Seattle Tower shows near the left border of both views.


As the "Queen" of the Union Steamship Fleet, the Catala was a tramp steamer dressed in a formal. For nearly 35 years its pointed bow was eagerly greeted at the logging camps, canneries and isolated villages between Vancouver and Prince Rupert, B.C. Here, it rests on the Seattle waterfront waving the Stars and Strips as a sign of a new service.

Headed for scrap in 1959, the Catala was instead gussied up to perform as a "boatel" on Seattle's waterfront during the Century 21 World's Fair of 1962. The 682-foot Dominion Monarch and the 537-foot Acapulco were similarly outfitted to serve as floating hotels. According to Gene Woodwick, the vessel's chronicler, the Catala was the only one to make a profit and stay for the duration of the fair. Many of the guests who enjoyed its plush quarters during the fair were the loggers, fishers and shore-huggers who had once ridden the ship in Canada.

Built in 1925 in Montrose, Scotland, the Catala's last stop was in 1963 at Ocean Shores, where it was again set up as a "boatel" with 52 staterooms, a restaurant and lounge this time for fishers. On New Year's Eve, 1965, the Catala was driven ashore by 70-mile-an-hour winds. Picked by scavengers and salvagers, it remained a picturesque wreck until bulldozed over.

Gene Woodwick (she is also director of the Ocean Shores Interpretative Center) is pleased to note that on New Year's Eve 2001 another storm exposed the keel and remaining ribbing of the Catala, which then resumed its service as a maritime relic.

If you have a Catala story (or photograph) to share, Woodwick would love to hear from you. Her phone number is 360-289-2805; her address is POW 1531, Ocean Shores, WA 98569.

Source: Paul Dorpat specializes in historical photography and has published several books on early Seattle.

Historic ship rising from the grave

Click here to view the S.S. Catala shortly after it ran aground near Ocean Shores in 1965.

OCEAN SHORES, Grays Harbor County A ship that carried Northwest loggers and miners, housed visitors to the 1962 Seattle World's Fair and served as a charter-fishing base before it was grounded in a storm is emerging from a sand dune like a ghost unearthed by a howling wind.

The once-buried hulk of the S.S. Catala was first exposed by erosion in early January 2002 and was further uncovered this February by high winds and seas that rearranged beaches at Damon Point State Park, said Ranger Jim Schmidt and local historians.

A dramatic shift of the sand on the Protection Island spit uncovered about 100 feet of the hull maybe four or five feet deep, Schmidt said. Hundreds of people have since crunched through the sand to look. The rust is part of an evolving sculpture with sand, carved by wind and water.

The Catala still carries a lot of history, say docent Diane Beers and curator Gene Woodwick of the Ocean Shores Interpretive Center.

The 229-foot ship was launched in 1925 in Glasgow, Scotland, and carried coastal freight and passengers from Vancouver, B.C., to Southeast Alaska, Woodwick said.

It ended its career with the Union Steamship Co. in April 1958 and was to be turned into a fish-buying ship when developers refurbished it as a floating hotel on the Seattle waterfront for World's Fair visitors. Engines were removed to make room for a theater, she said.

After the fair it was brought to Ocean Shores, where it was tied up at a causeway and used by charter fishermen. Something else fishy was going on, too.

There was gambling and "there were ladies of the evening available, so it was quite a deal," said Beers.

"I don't know about that. Certainly there were wild parties in two lounges and a dining room," said Woodwick.

On New Year's Day, 1965, a storm with 70 mph winds and high seas tipped the Catala 30 degrees on its side in the sand and it could not be righted.

"Then it was looted, set on fire, partied on and written on for 20 years," Beers said.

People climbed on it, and, when a young woman injured her back and sued, a contractor was hired to cut the ship up for scrap. What couldn't be reached by cutting torches was covered with sand.

"Over the ensuing years you couldn't tell where it was," said Woodwick.

With beaches, the ocean gives and takes. Protection Island became a spit connected to land. "Now it looks like nature is reversing the process. I wouldn't be surprised if we have an island again," said Ranger Schmidt.

The emerging Catala will never float again, but it still sails in memories. People who see its picture at the interpretive center "just remember so many things," Woodwick said.

"It was a special ship, the people's ship. It was used by common people" loggers and fishermen, she said. "There were people who took it as an ocean cruise."

Woodwick, who "ogled it on the docks in Seattle" and is writing a book about it, is not pleased to see the Catala again, like this. It was more appealing as a buried mystery, she said.

"It's kind of sad to see more of the hulk, for me," Woodwick said. "It's kind of like seeing someone you love and they're all curled up in a rest home."


Source: Writer DOUG ESSER, The Associated Press


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