“I was working at the A.W. Hurd store at the time and remember the date as November, 1906.
Other reports give 1905 as the time of the wreck”.
Warner C. Waite, 1883 – 1975
November marks the anniversary (about 118 years) of when a schooner, the Bella became stranded six miles south of the Siuslaw River during a storm. Records vary as to whether the incident occurred in November, 1905 or January, 1906.
The Bella was a three-masted schooner built in 1896 at Acme (later renamed Cushman). It was purchased by William Kyle, launched in 1897, and thought to have been the largest vessel built on the river. Some say it was one of the fastest schooners on the coast, able to reach San Francisco from the Siuslaw River in just 4 days. It regularly transported lumber, canned salmon, barrels of salted salmon, and returned with supplies for folks of the Siuslaw area.
Whether it was during a November or December storm, the Bella encountered rough conditions when approaching the Siuslaw River bar. The crew attempted to return to sea and await more favorable conditions when the Bella ran aground. The three masts were snapped and the schooner ripped in half. Waves pushed portions of the vessel to sea, and other parts to shore. Crew members were able to safely make their way to shore despite the waves and current. Some, but not all of the cargo was salvaged.
In more recent years, during extremely low tides and when the sand shifts just so, remnants of the Bella’s bow becomes visible at the South Jetty. Its brief exposure (a few days) provides a chance for an up-close look at what remains of a historic vessel and its connection to the area’s early lumber trade. More information on the Bella can be found at The Pioneer Museum in Florence. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. The museum’s Kyle Research Library is open Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.