Pacific, 1850-1875
The Pacific was a sidewheel steamship, 69 m long, built by William H. Brown of New York for $100,000.1 It launched 24 September 1850, and arrived in San Francisco on 2 July 1851.2 The Nicaragua Steamship Company operated it on the coast from 1853 to 1858, and the Merchants Accommodation Line ran it from 1858 to 1863, on the route of San Francisco to the Columbia River.3
On 18 July 1861 it sank in waters off Oregon but was raised and repaired.4 In 1872, the Pacific Mail Steamship Company bought the Pacific, selling it to Goodall, Nelson, and Perkins in 1875.5 On 4 November 1875, it collided with the sailing ship Orpheus, off Cape Flattery, and sank almost immediately.6 Only two survived of the nearly two hundred fifty people on board.7 This tragedy was made all the more grisly as bodies of the drowned washed up along the shores of Vancouver Island, with one young girl landing near her family home.8
On Tuesday morning, November 16, 1875, the British Colonist declared the wreck of the Pacific one of the most terrible calamities the world has ever known.9 And, it would seem that the Orpheus fared better, but barely, as an auction notice for its salvage appears to the right of the Pacific report.10
  • 1. John Haskell Kemble, The Panama Route, 1848-1869 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1943), 241.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. G. P. V. Akrigg and H. B. Akrigg, British Columbia Chronicle, 1847-1871 (Victoria: Discovery Press, 1977), 407-08.
  • 8. Ibid., 408.
  • 9. The Veil Lifted, British Colonist, November 16, 1875.
  • 10. Wreck of Ship Orpheus, British Colonist, November 16, 1875.
Mentions of this vessel in the documents