The Oregon Coast Beaches – The Bella

Attempting to maneuver into port in 1906 after returning from San Francisco, the Bella lay off shore at Florence, Oregon waiting for better weather in which to cross the then rough bar. The winds were too strong and she blew aground south of the jetties. The crew made it ashore by walking through the surf and salvaged the supplies on board but the Bella was lost.

Built in 1897 upriver from Florence at what is now Cushman on the Siuslaw River, the Bella was a 121 foot long, three masted schooner that hauled lumber from Florence to San Francisco, CA, returning to Florence with supplies. Florence had no road access at that time and The Bella was one of few ships to ferry supplies in.

 ThreeMastedSchooner

There is a room at the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum in Florence, OR dedicated to The Bella.  http://www.siuslawpioneermuseum.com/

Hiking south from the south jetties at Florence involves driving a few miles to the jetty and then hiking up over the dunes eventually landing on the beach. The beach stretches south for many miles and I have hiked it several times. Hiking about 45 minutes from the south jetty in 2007 one day I came upon the ruins of an old wooden ship I knew nothing about. This far along the beach is often deserted but this day there was a gent there waiting for the tide to go out a bit more to better see the structure in the sand and water.

 BellaRevealedFlorence

We were both fascinated by this unique find as we discussed having hiked here many times and never before seeing it. Later research identified the skeleton boat, its history and the fact that it is normally not visible. Occasionally the winter winds erode this intertidal area a bit lower and she can be seen. This was the case in 2007-2008.

 BellaOnTheBeach

I hadn’t timed the hike going out but did returning because I knew this would be a great adventure in hiking, beach, ocean, sand and a bit of Oregon history for my two grandchildren when they visited during the coming summer.

And it was. They came to visit in the summer of 2008 and without telling them our real goal we headed out hiking from the south jetty at the mouth of the Siuslaw River. After hiking 45 minutes we came upon the Bella as I had done several months previous. They were intrigued and walked around her, inside her frame and discovered many interesting things about her as they explored.

Since she seldom appears, it was a rare treat for them and for me to be with them as they discovered the Bella.

 Bella-1

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