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The Beeswax wreck of Nehalem

May 6, 2008
Manzanita, Oregon, United States-A team of scientists, archaeologists and divers are planning a dive this week with the goal of locating information, or even proving the identity of what is known as “the Beeswax wreck” of Nehalem.
They are hoping for some cold, hard facts in order to separate the vast amount of fiction surrounding one of the oldest known shipwrecks on the Oregon coast.
Chunks of beeswax dating from as long as four centuries ago have been washing ashore on Oregon beaches. Some as recently as this past Winter.  A piece found in Gold Beach, Oregon in December, 2007, is likely from the shipwreck off of Manzanita.
The origin of the wreck near Nehalem is most probably a Spanish “Manila” galleon, either the Santo Christo de Burgos or the San Francisco Xavier, traveling eastbound and off course when they met their fate:
“The galleon “San Francisco Xavier”, General Don Santiago Zabalburu says, sailed from Cavite in August. “Nothing is known of its fate; not a fragment, no object whatever, large or small, has ever been found to serve as evidence or support for even a conjecture as to its fate, whether it was shattered on some unknown rock or was swallowed by the waves, crew and all—commander, seamen, and passengers, among whom were whole families of high rank. The ocean has kept the secret of this terrible tragedy.””
(quote taken from the Beeswax project website)

Other past speculations as to origin have included Chinese or Japanese origin of the
wreckage found at Nehalem. beeswax from a Nehalem oregon shipwreck

                                                                                                                  Frank J. Kumm of the Tillamook Historical Museum holds a chunk
of beeswax found on
the Nehalem Peninsula

The evidence, however, strongly points to the San Francisco Xavier, whose last known voyage from the Phillippines was in 1705. Laden with silk, porcelain from China and spices, she had also been carrying 75 tons of beeswax.

dead reckoning shipwreck chart by bill brooks of nw limited in astoria oregon
Detail of the stamp displayed on NW Limited‘s Dead Reckoning of the
Pacific Graveyard
shipwreck chart, published in 2007

One of the reasons for the beeswax wreck’s likelihood to be the Xavier rather than the Santo Christo de Burgos is the tsunami of January, 1700, which would have forced the remains of any wreck in existence at the time further inland than the site of the current location.
Beeswax in itself helps to date the wreck, as well as locate its origin.
There were no native bees in the New World. Any beeswax, which was favored among Catholic churches in Mexico, would have come from Asian honeybees. This was proven to be the source of the beeswax originating from the Nehalem wreck.
Radio-carbon dating of the wax and wood from the site confirms 17th-century origin. The porcelain and miscellaneous wood also found near the site dates to around 1638.
How did that beeswax arrive as far south as Gold Beach, Oregon?
Simple: The wax was traded up and down the coast by native people.
The impact of a shipwreck to local surroundings was not always measured in the worth of its cargo, however.
When Lewis & Clark arrived here in 1805, they observed a young male living among the native Clatsop tribe who appeared to them to be half-white. 
Was he perhaps a descendant of a survivor of the very same beeswax wreck?

Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard” for sale by NW Limited…History in VogueTM
(pictured above-click for larger) includes the beeswax wreck of Nehalem in its listing of shipwrecks.
The chart, completed in late 2007 by Astoria’s Bill Brooks of NW Limited, is the newest, most complete list of shipwrecks on the north Oregon and south Washington coasts, including the mouth of the Columbia River, the area known as the Pacific Graveyard.
His research spanned more 3 years and 8 months, from concept to publication. Local museums, noted shipwreck authors and historians as well as local residents helped to confirm the facts, and has resulted in the most complete, unique and beautiful sunken ship chart ever published for this region.
Each chart is numbered in an edition of 500, and hand-built beginning with the lithograph.
When finished, they are custom-framed and ready to hang.
Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard is the ultimate collection of shipwreck facts and lore, and the framed variation includes lost fishing vessels as well as US Coast Guard tributes.
For more information, or to purchase Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard, call 503-338-6056 or click bill@nwlimited.com

Links:
NW Limited…History in VogueTM
Beeswax is not typical treasure hunt October 25, 2008 article at the Olympian newspaper
The BeesWax Project
Columbia River Maritime Museum
Scientists Search for Buried Treasure off the Oregon Coast
The Manila Galleons (Treasure Expeditions)

Treasure hunting free-for-all

Do you know where there is a hidden treasure?

Might want to keep it on the hush-hush or you could find yourself in court!

Looks like treasure hunters in Florida are exactly there, when they retrieved over $500 million worth of silver coins believed to be from the Spanish galleon “Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes y las Animas” which was sunk in the Atlantic Ocean off of Portugal in 1804. 
Spain also wants their share (which may be all of it, thank you) of the loot, but the company that found it would like to at least keep the location of the find secret.  They fear there will then be a treasure hunting free-for-all, and these intrepid divers will make off with the rest of the treasure.
May 9th, 2008 is the deadline for Spain’s claim in the 17 tons of goodies.
Do we know where a Spanish galleon or two rest off the coast of Oregon or Washington?  Wrecks dating from the 17th-century have been noted, and another wreck hundreds of years older have been speculated. 
We’re not telling…

Or are we?
To get a treasure map, call Bill 503-338-6056 or email him: bill@nwlimited.com

Lucky 13

The number 13 is attached to many superstitious beliefs.  Often thought to be an omen for misfortune, there are still others that prefer the opposite approach, believing the number to be the symbol of a charmed existence.
Here are a couple of NW Limited‘s “lucky” 13s for you to consider:
A Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard (#13!) has gone home with its fortunate owner:

Number 113 “little” Lewis & Clark States Map, home from the front lines:



Bill likes to send his work out into the world to see how they handle the stress and strain, the mishaps of existing in a messy environment, or a high-traffic one. Placement is key, and History in Vogue can often be found in the most rigorous conditions.
We’re not divulging the location where this little number did its time, but it looks damn good for its veteran status.
N(ot) F(or) S(ale).
Others like it can be had for $85, and with a minimum of care, it will never look like ol’ lucky, there.
Have you encountered NW Limited…History in VogueTM somewhere in your travels?

Dead Reckoning, what it is

…other than the short version title of NW Limited’s shipwreck chart.
(a click on that link will take you to a slideshow of images with accompanying radio ad for the chart)

Dead reckoning (DR) is the process of estimating one’s current position based upon a previously determined position, or fix, and advancing that position based upon known speed, elapsed time, and course.”  (from Wikipedia)
The term, which is where Bill derived the title of his most recent project,  sounds ominous enough.
Rightly so when you consider that a good percentage of shipwrecks resulted in loss of life, sometimes on a tragically large scale. 
Dead reckoning as a form of navigation is only so accurate. 

It is interpreted in some circles as “You’re dead if you don’t reckon right.” 

It’s a sure thing, however, to score one of these for yourself.  
As a gift, they will make a lasting impression.  
Not to mention you’ll get shipwreck author Don Marshall’s quote concerning Dead Reckoning, printed at the top of each chart.
Available in three variations:


Lithograph on high-quality paper (this is no mere “poster”): $50

Custom-framed as well as coated with vinyl linen for protection (no glass necessary): $225

The top of the line (shown above), the pinnacle of shipwreck history complete with photos, handmade paper accents (list of lost fishing vessels), stamps and more: $500

1000 total first printing “Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard” charts are available.
This is the perfect gift, acquisition, or investment in local history and culture.
A stellar complement to the “beach house” or a respectful nod to the intrepid souls who lost their lives in the maritime industry, and to those that beat the odds.

Detail of lost fishing vessels list, on handmade paper using an antique letterpress by Oblation Papers and Press of Portland, Oregon.
For more information,  call 503-338-6056 or email bill@nwlimited.com
NW Limited…History in VogueTM accepts credit cards, and will ship, too!

On the radio today KAST 1370

Did you catch it?
Tuned to KAST am Radio 1370  from 4 pm to 5 pm, you would have heard Bill Brooks of NW Limited as a guest on the Dezmo Zone.

March in the Pacific Graveyard

“George W. Prescott -3/9/1902- Schooner: Founders off the Columbia- 1 dead”

106 years ago on this day in history, the Pacific Graveyard claimed another life and ship. The insatiable appetite of the river’s mouth is plainly evident on the shipwreck chart by NW Limited…History in VogueTM.
The names listed there represent so much more than initially meets the eye…


The next day, March 10, in 1875 the bark Architect was lost. $8500 ( approximately $154,136.99 by today’s reckoning) worth of ship was salvaged for a paltry $52.00 (or $942.96 today).
Just five years later, the Delharrie would also be lost, and $112,000 investment is gone. That would be akin to a  $2,463,824.00 loss in 2008.Luckily, these events are less frequent now, with the advent of dredging and modern navigation aids.  The challenges of fog, weather and shifting channels have been minimized, not to mention the mitigating presence of the United States Coast Guard.
The Columbia River bar, known aptly as the Pacific Graveyard will never be fully appeased, however, and continues to claim lives and vessels.

Framed, matted with photographs,
stamps and the list of lost fishing vessels,
to name a few of the extras you get with
this shipwreck chart option.

$500 (that’s $27.57 in 1875 money)

Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard shipwreck chart

The “Pacific Graveyard” has been claiming victims ever since man endeavored to set sail over these treacherous waters. 
Ships, boats, men and cargo have been lost over centuries.
Bill Brooks spent the better part of four years researching this chart, and fine-tuning every aspect. 
There were literally oceans of material to sort through and condense into what you see before you, “Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard.” 
Dead Reckoning is a gathering of unprecedented proportions, a gift of local maritime history.

Here is a preview  (click for slideshow and to hear the radio ad currently running) of what you’ll receive if you purchase one for yourself (click on the image and you’ll be able to almost read the text and get a better idea of the infinite detail in these handsome lithographs):



Framed version #3 of 500  “Framed tube” $225 Lithograph-$50
           $500. 

Much of this region’s history revolves around the sea.
Even before Lewis & Clark’s arrival, there are records of shipwrecks, and of their mysterious circumstances; tales of treasure, heroic survival and tragic losses.
Within this one document you will find the stories of hundreds of Oregon and Washington shipwrecks.
Enough to whet your intellectual appetite, and quench your thirst for American history as well as staunch your cravings for a visual feast for they are truly a work of art.

Available now through NW Limited…History in VogueTM
call 503-338-6056 

In Portland, Oregon

Happy Leap Day from NW Limited…History in VogueTM!

Our weekend at the Portland Expo-Mart is now complete.

There was lots of greatness displayed to the teeming masses, including Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard shipwreck chart:   The ultimate in shipwreck memorabilia; tales of tragedy and intriguing mysteries are presented within this four-year gathering of history.
The Beatles, James Bond, American Motorcycle, Jamestown, VA, Lewis & Clark, DC and Marvel Comics, USS Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Stewart…and the boxes!!! (Click for a slideshow of examples of each)
Each piece is off the chart cool, and it’s as always: First-come, first-served!
Call for your chance to view, and have:
503-338-6056 or email Bill: bill@nwlimited.com

(Paul sends a shout-out to his homies…’cuz)

Wreck of the Lupatia – Jan. 3, 1881

An excerpt from NW Limited’s ‘Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard’ chart reads:
“Lupatia -1/3/1881- British bark: A south-easterly gale throws Lupatia onto Tillamook reef; a dog survives -16 dead”

One can imagine her final hours. A bleak, January night with the wind and surf shattering her against the rocks mere weeks before the Tillamook Lighthouse, a/k/a “Terrible Tilly” was to be lit.
The crew working on construction of that lighthouse saw Lupatia’s running lights as she approached.  In the near-miss incident,  they could hear Lupatia’s crew shouting orders of “Hard apart!” as they scrambled to keep her off the rock which so desperately needed a light as warning. 
 The construction crew kindled fires, and used lanterns to try and assist the captain as he navigated the rock-strewn reef.   Narrowly missing the rock itself, she disappeared into the darkness.
Lupatia’s debris littered the rocks below the nearly complete lighthouse the following morning.  16 lives lost…
 Would her fate have been the same had her captain had that light to use as guide?
 Unlike the Peter Iredale, or the George L. Olson, nothing remains of the Lupatia, no structure to climb and explore, no resting place to visit.
NW Limited’s historic achievement of the most detailed and complete shipwreck chart to date, immortalizes her.
The lithograph alone is a great place to start when looking for shipwreck history, but the framed and matted version  (left) is an adventure of its own with its photographs of shipwrecks, United States Coast Guard insignia and USPS stamp, the lost fishing vessels and more, all displayed within a high-quality, hand-finished frame.

Each chart is custom-built by Bill Brooks of NW Limited in Astoria, Oregon and no two will be exactly alike.
While you can’t take home the George L. Olson,
or the bowsprit of the Peter Iredale, you can
have “Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard,” your own magnificent gathering of maritime history in the Pacific Northwest.
bill@nwlimited.com or 503-338-8215