Columbia River, WA British Ship ABERCORN Sinking, Feb 1888



Olympia, W.T., Feb. 10. -- The following additional particulars are learned in regard to the wreck of the Abercorn, which occurred near the mouth of the Columbia River Sunday night. The weather was foggy, not stormy, as previously stated. Immediately after striking all hands went into the cabin, as the sea was breaking badly forward, and while they were there the foremast and mainmast broke and the deck split. In the afternoon a heavy sea broke into the cabin, drowning several inmates. The three survivors escaped from the cabin and ascended, the rigging of the mizzenmast. There they saw Pilot JOHNSTON as he came out of the cabin, which was filled with water. Just as he appeared a wave struck him. He tried to grasp the bar of the companionway, but missed it. Just at that moment a second wave struck him and carried him into the ocean. He kept afloat for some time, but kept looking back at the vessel and swimming parallel with her. He sank to rise no more. One of the survovirs says: "A little later the mizzen-mast gave way and the ship opened and let us all into the sea. As the mast was going I jumped to clear the side of the ship, and was under water for some time. As I came up the second time I saw near me a plank about thirteen feet long, which I seized and steered for shore."
The next survivor, a man about 25 years of age, came ashore with a piece of plank under each arm. Both men were in the water about half an hour. A boy who was saved is an orphan, and was one of the first boys from the training ship, all of whom were making their first voyage. He came ashore with two pieces of plank, and was the last to reach the shore, having been about an hour in the water, and having drifted two miles up the coast from where the others landed. He was unconscious when found by white men and Indians. The boy says he saw several persons in the water after he left the wreck, and that he was the last to see the captain alive. At one time the captain was within fifteen feet of him, and told him to hang to his plank and not be scared, and he would reach the shore all right. Then a heavy wave struck them, and that was the last he saw of the captain or any of the ship's crew. Shortly after they reached shore a body was seen floating ashore a short distance from land, but it sank immediately after being sighted. Sixteen bodies are reported found, including those of the pilot JOHNSTON and the captain, the former having been recognized by a note-book in his pocket. All the bodies were found from sixteen to nineteen miles up the coast. There are still six bodies unheard from.

Winnipeg Free Press Manitoba 1888-02-11