The SS Valencia wrecks on Vancouver Island with a loss of 136 lives on January 22, 1906.

  • By Daryl C. McClary
  • Posted 8/03/2005
  • Essay 7381
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On Monday, January 22, 1906, the coastal passenger liner SS Valencia, en route from San Francisco to Seattle with 108 passengers and 65 crew aboard, passes the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca in foul weather, and runs aground on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. The ship is on a reef, trapped between sheer rock cliffs and pounding breakers. Uncharted rocks and fierce storms make it impossible for rescue vessels to approach the Valencia from seaward. Scores of passengers drown when their lifeboats are wrecked or capsize in the surf. Over the next 36 hours, terrified people huddle on the hurricane deck or cling to the rigging as huge waves slowly break the ship apart. Finally, as rescuers watch, horrified and powerless, a huge wave sweeps the remaining passengers and crew into the sea. There are 37 survivors, but 136 persons perish in one of the most tragic maritime disasters in Pacific Northwest history.

Sources: Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Wreck of the SS Valencia (1906)" (by Daryl C. McClary), (accessed July 12, 2005).

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