A Shipwreck in the Woods?

All or most of us have seen the movie The Goonies. Set in Astoria, Oregon in the 80’s, this most classic of a tale centers on some kids stumbling into an underground cave system and ocean grotto complete with a criminal enterprise, a pirate ship and treasure. Well, I’m here to say that not at all far from Astoria, in fact just over the Columbia River into Washington, we found a very old shipwreck up in the woods, above the beach. Complete with our kids in-tow, we heard about this mysterious wreck from a neighboring camper who’d heard about it from a local. Instructions…head north at Cape Disappointment, as far as you can go on Benson Beach, find an area marked on the map called “Deadman’s Hollow (it’s on Google Earth, see below), find the trail on the left side of the large, protruding rocks…and follow it. You will have to navigate through some pretty rough driftwood to find the trail area. Up there, high above the beach, is a shipwreck, lodged there long, long ago by what must have been a giant storm.

Here is a real-life treasure map (of sorts). A real shipwreck lies hidden in the woods above Deadman’s Hollow at Cape Disappointment. There are also several caves, including one you could fit a semi into! Image Courtesy: Google Earth (and labeled in Photoshop by Dan Meyers)

Here is a real-life treasure map (of sorts). A real shipwreck lies hidden in the woods above Deadman’s Hollow at Cape Disappointment. There are also several caves, including one you could fit a semi into! Image Courtesy: Google Earth (and labeled in Photoshop by Dan Meyers)

Well, after camping at Cape Disappointment for 3 days…we heard this tale and decided, as a group, to explore this mystery on the last day, after packing up. So, we did just that. Below is the journey, chronicled via iPhone. What we found was indeed amazing.

This is the largest cave in the area (and when you actually get to it it is HUGE). This cave is marked on the above map. Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

This is the largest cave in the area (and when you actually get to it it is HUGE). This cave is marked on the above map. Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

Two of the kids working their way “on point” along the trail. It was just up ahead here, where you can see my white furred dog, that we found the first deck spikes (below). Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

Two of the kids working their way “on point” along the trail. It was just up ahead here, where you can see my white furred dog, that we found the first deck spikes (below). Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

When we found these ship timber spikes sticking up out of the ground, well, we knew we had arrived. From here the wreck was spread out over an approximate 100’x200’ distance (or more), essentially running NW from this location. Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

When we found these ship timber spikes sticking up out of the ground, well, we knew we had arrived. From here the wreck was spread out over an approximate 100’x200’ distance (or more), essentially running NW from this location. Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

After first seeing large timbers and finding the first large deck spikes, we hit the “motherload.” This area, just NW of the above spikes picture, had what appeared to be a large part of the decking barely covered by the forest floor. A criss-cross pattern was very obvious and entirely unnatural. More spikes, timbers and even rusted machinery! So cool. Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

After first seeing large timbers and finding the first large deck spikes, we hit the “motherload.” This area, just NW of the above spikes picture, had what appeared to be a large part of the decking barely covered by the forest floor. A criss-cross pattern was very obvious and entirely unnatural. More spikes, timbers and even rusted machinery! So cool. Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

Here is a wider view of the shipwreck area. I’ve obscured some of the kids’ faces here for privacy reasons. That said, our whole crew was floored by this discovery and the vastness of it all. It had to have been a truly magnificent storm to push this wreck up so high into the woods! Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

Here is a wider view of the shipwreck area. I’ve obscured some of the kids’ faces here for privacy reasons. That said, our whole crew was floored by this discovery and the vastness of it all. It had to have been a truly magnificent storm to push this wreck up so high into the woods! Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

Details on Cape Disappointment State Park

https://parks.state.wa.us/486/Cape-Disappointment is one of the best places to camp in the NW. Set right on the beach, a number of tent campsites make up this great location that has no development on the shoreline (except for two lighthouses). The beach is totally natural. No houses, no businesses…just like it was 100’s of years ago. Just like it was when the mystery ship spread its wreckage into Deadman’s Hollow! Here is a link to the park. Be sure to book your camping sites early as they go very, very fast!

Dan Meyers