Tale of Disaster
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TALE OF DISASTER
from the Victoria Daily Colonist, 10 Jan 1904, pg.8

Survivor's Tale of the Loss of the Steamer Clallam

Port Townsend, Jan. 9. - Information furnished by survivors of the 'Clallam' state that a terrific cross sea was encountered off Trial Island. This cross sea was pelting the vessel, retarding her progress and making life uncomfortable for those on board. Little fear was manifested until word came up from below that the vessel was leaking. Investigation showed that the waves on the windward side had stove in a deadlight, through which the water rushed in a volume, resisting all efforts to stop. Seeing the effort futile the passengers, particularly the women and children, and all who desired were put off from the steamer in the ship's boats.
The heavily laden boats were thrown about wildly in the choppy sea, and one after another, after succeeding in getting away from the vessel, were either capsized or swamped. The terrible fury of the storm is attested by the fact that not a woman or child of those on board the small boats which left the ship when she was first in danger, lived to tell the tale. Word had come from Victoria of the vessel's predicament, and a fleet of powerful tugs was dispatched from Port Townsend to render assistance. The 'Richard Holyoke', in command of Capt. Robert Hall, was the first to reach the 'Clallam', which had by this time careened partly over from the inrush of water which had put the engine out of commission. The 'Holyoke' reached the 'Clallam' about 11 o'clock Friday night, and about 1 a.m. today succeeded in getting a hawser aboard. She started to tow the 'Clallam' to safety. The 'Clallam' took a heavy lurch and those on board were compelled to climb to the roof of the pilot house for safety.
Without a moment's hesitation the tug's boats were lowered and the work of rescue began. At this time the tug 'Sea Lion', Capt. Mantha, arrived, and her men rendered valuable assistance. Before all the struggling people had been taken off, the 'Clallam' commenced to break up, and soon afterwards went down. All possible assistance to the rescued people was given by the two shipmasters and their crews, and the tugs hurried to Port Townsend. The passengers surviving and the remainder of the crew then took passage on the 'Dirigo' bound for Seattle.

The tug 'Bahada' arrived here this afternoon with five bodies recovered in the vicinity of Smith's Island. Four bodies were encased in life preservers. Three of the bodies have been identified as W.R. Gibbons, of Tacoma; Eugene Hicks, of Friday Harbor, and Captain Livingston Thomson, of Victoria.

When the 'Clallam' sank the main deckhouse and the texas and pilot house became detached and remained afloat. These were carefully searched at daylight this morning by the crews of the 'Bahada' and 'Magic'. The pilot house and texas had then drifted about one mile from the wreckage of the main deckhouse. One body was recovered from the deckhouse by the crew of the 'Bahada'.

After landing the 34 survivors, the 'Sea Lion' and 'Holyoke' return to search in the vicinity of the San Juan Island, where wreckage would drift owing to the southeast wind which had prevailed today.

Although their names were not included in the passenger list of Purser Freer, it is known that at least five children were lost. Of these three were children of Thos. Sullivan of Westholm, and two of Wm. La Plant of Friday Harbor.

Three watches found on the bodies had stopped within three minutes of each other showing that the three were drowned about 1:22 a.m. One of the bodies unidentified is that of a man about 60 years old, five feet ten inches tall with chin whiskers, moustache and hair white. The only papers found on his person was a letter to Chief Justice Hunter, of Victoria, apparently written by Mrs Hunter in Portland, and given to the unfortunate man to be personally delivered to Chief Justice Hunter.
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