31.3.09

Misery Of The Francis H. Leggett

She left Grays Harbor, WA in 1914 with a belly full of railroad timbers headed on a southern course for San Francisco, and she carried 67 passengers and crew. But some 60 miles southwest of the Columbia River tributary, the Francis H. Leggett caught strong winds and with them, an angry roll of sea. The waves were unprecedented, rising high enough to pitch the steamer wildly in the escalating winds. To the horror of all aboard, the Chief Engineer reported the Leggett was taking on water. Both passengers and crew worked every bilge pump aboard to empty the hull, but nothing could be done. Water rushed in faster than it could be pumped out, and every greyback pushed the steamer lower in the water. Distress calls went out, but no one would answer in time. The captain was at a loss. Horrified with his options, he ordered the steamer abandoned, the crew and passengers lowered in lifeboats a fraction of the Leggett's size into the same waves that continued to pound his command. But before it could be done, another wave washed over the steamer proving more than she could bear. The Leggett went down amidst screams and wailing terror.

Three ships responded to the distress calls, but none found more than wreckage and drifting timber. Two survivors were found clinging hypthermic to hunks of debris and the body of a woman was pulled from the water, but the rest of what was left would be returned to shore with the tides.

Despite the misery of loss, timbers salvaged from the tragedy were used to construct a home in Manzanita, Oregon.

3 comments:

  1. I.F. Dellius Rotterdam The Netherlands6:34:00 PM

    With much interest I read this article
    I am in possession of a letter of one of my wifes ancestors in which he describes that he survived this shipwreck.
    He was a Dutch guy travelling through the US 1912-1914.

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  2. I am a grand daughter of one of the survivors - George (Geert) Poelman. I would be interested in getting a copy of this letter.
    M Doyle

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous8:36:00 PM

      hi. i'm not sure how old your posting is but i have a slightly unusual question. my grandfather george pulkin (or polk) was apparently on the Leggett. It was assumed he died however there were often questions about this; it was rumored that he was leaving his wife and a further rumor that he showed up sometime later in new york. he was from aberdeen. do you have any pictures of him? It has been one of those great family mysteries. thanks bill polk seattle xbearfellow@earthlink.net

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