Elleda Wilson: In One Ear: Where are you, Cairnsmore?

·2 min read

Jul. 22—Last week there was a story about the 1883 wreck of the Cairnsmore on Clatsop Spit and the uncertainty about its current location. Building the South Jetty caused sand to build up, and land that was once shoreline moved inland, including the site of the Cairnsmore.

"The late Clarence Sigurdson knew where the Cairnsmore was located," Patrick Lines, of Seaside, wrote. "He detailed it in his 1973 book 'Raised by the Sea.'

"When he was a young boy, he lived briefly at the homestead on the west side of Coffenbury Lake, and remembered seeing her laying partially above the sand. In the 1960s, he borrowed a large metal detector from Camp Rilea and searched for the ship. He detected a large mass laying north and south in a boggy area west of Burma Road.

"I had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Sigurdson at length at the 1996 Clatsop County Fair. I followed his instructions to go several hundreds of feet north on Burma Road from the east/west road at the south of Coffenbury. Look for the trail with the limbs cut off on one side of the pine trees, and stay to the left when the road forks. I found myself in one of the low-lying wet areas laying north and south in between the dunes. Could it be?"

Don Marshall's 1984 book "Oregon Shipwrecks" agrees with the location. And, in 2003, the late Richard Fencsak wrote about how he and his companions "trudged through a swampy morass and scrambled gingerly over logs buried in waist-high cut grass" to get to what little was left of the mostly-buried Cairnsmore wreck. The only clue he gave of the location is to find "the distinctive tree that marked our entry through a grove of shore pines."

"Unfortunately, after the Great Coastal Gale of 2007, the marked trees and the trail were wiped out," Patrick noted, but "I believe Mr. Sigurdson."

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