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SS NORTHWESTERN Shipwreck Site

  • Also Known As: S.S. ORIZABA also AHRS Site No. UNL-195
  • Also Known As: The Broadway of Alaska
  • Also Known As: The Ship That Always Came Back

  • Vicinity: Her bow can be seen at the head of Captains Bay
  • Travel Genus: Sight
  • Sight Category: Structure

They used to say in Alaska towns that the Northwestern hit every rock in the Inland Passage - but they couldn't keep a good ship down. - Cuttlefish Five, Editor Ray Hudson
... passengers danced, played cards, had a drink and dined.... A great many families resulted from these voyages when boy met girl on the Northwestern.... - Northwestern general passenger agent Robert C Rose

Aboard the Northwestern, first-class passengers sail in spacious accommodation with in-room piped hot water, a dining salon, and saloon. On the hurricane deck they may watch the Alaska scenery pass in a glass-enclosed observation room or read (with the aid of electric lamps) the SS Northwestern Radio News - a typewritten shipboard daily containing news and sports gathered from the airwaves.

For 34 years, the SS Northwestern runs the Alaska Route as passenger and transport ship. She lays telegraph cable from Unalaska to St Michael and Nome. In her hold, she carries copper ore from Kennecott, livestock, and railway track. The steamer ferries gold from Nome; transports mail, coal, and salmon pack. Bound to a schedule, the Northwestern sails, summer and winter, through bad weather and dirty seas. There are few buoys in the Alaskan waters of the early 1900s, few navigation lights. Often the vessel is lost in fog, relying upon ship's whistle and depth soundings to find its way. In its career, the Northwestern runs aground 14 times. She strikes other vessels 10 times-rams docks; drops propellers, a rudder, and an anchor. Time and again, newspapers incorrectly announce the ship's loss and salvage for scrap, but it is not until October 1940, when the Northwestern is far gone in years, that she is brought to shore for what is believed is the final time. - NPS


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Timeline

Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
1889/11/23 Delaware River Iron Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Naval Architect Built for the New York and Cuba Mail Steamship Company, SS ORIZABA (NORTHWESTERN) is launched by the Delaware River Iron, Shipbuilding and Engineering Company. It slid down the ways and struck a tugboat.
1889/11/23 Chester Iron Foundry, PA Manufacture Built for the New York and Cuba Mail Steamship Company, SS ORIZABA (NORTHWESTERN) is launched by the Delaware River Iron, Shipbuilding and Engineering Company. It slid down the ways and struck a tugboat.
1890/03/01 Ward Line Owner SS Orizaba sails to Havana, Cuba on her maiden voyage.
1898/00/00 Orizaba is chartered as troop ship in the Spanish-American War.
1906/03/00 Northwestern Steamship Company Owner SS Orizaba and her sister ship, SS Saratoga, are purchased by Northwestern Steamship Company. The Orizaba is renamed the Northwestern.
1908/01/00 Copper River and Northwestern Railway Recipient Winter of 1908, the Northwestern transports heavy cargoes of freight and equipment to Cordova for construction of the Copper River and Northwestern Railroad (CRNW).
1909/00/00 SS Northwestern delivers to Valdez the first "White Steamer" (steam-powered automobile manufactured by the White Motor Company in Cleveland, Ohio) to take-on the Richardson trail.
1909/07/24 24 July to 12 August, Northwestern is chartered by the National Editorial Association (NEA) for a Alaskan cruise, which included visits to Native villages, glaciers and coal mines, a ride on the Copper River and Northwestern Railway and a ball at Valdez. Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition
1911/00/00 Northwestern Steamship Company Shipper NORTHWESTERN hauls $250,000 worth of copper ore from the Kennecott Mine in Cordova to a smelter in Tacoma, Washington.
1933/07/25 Northwestern Steamship Company Owner At full speed, NORTHWESTERN strikes a reef off the northwestern tip of Sentinel Island despite the Lighthouse's light and fog horn. With a breached hull, she is safely beached at the mouth of Eagle River. 1933 Voyage of the NORTHWESTERN
1935/00/00 In 1935, Northwestern passengers could purchase for 35 cents an "Old Fashioned" cocktail. 35 cents in 1935 is roughly equivalent to $5.50 in 2014.
1937/10/03 Northwestern Steamship Company NORTHWESTERN Owner As the NORTHWESTERN departs Ketchikan, she collides with the Union Oil Dock, three gas fishing boats and the oil barge FALLS OF CLYDE. Final Voyages of the Northwestern
1942/06/04 United States Army Defenders Eleven Japanese Zeroes and 19 bombers attack Unalaska hitting Naval structures, fuel tanks, the hospital and a direct hit to the Northwestern' forward port deck. Battle of Dutch Harbor
1942/06/04 Japanese Navy Belligerent Eleven Japanese Zeroes and 19 bombers attack Unalaska hitting Naval structures, fuel tanks, the hospital and a direct hit to the Northwestern' forward port deck. Battle of Dutch Harbor
1946/00/00 In 1945, the Northwestern filled with scrap metal by the Navy and towed to Captains Bay in anticipation of being towed to Seattle. She eventually sank around 1946.

Data »

Particulars for SS NORTHWESTERN Shipwreck Site:
Historic Use Battle site
Area of Significance Commerce
Criteria Historic Event
Level of Significance Local
Area of Significance Military
Historic Use Military facility
Attribute Moved property
Disposition Shipwreck
Event Spanish-American War Contributors
Level of Significance State
Sight Category Structure
Area of Significance Transportation
Historic Use Water-related



US National Registry of Historic Places Data »

Accurate at time of registration: 12th September 1994

PLACE DETAILS
Registry Name: S.S. NORTHWESTERN Shipwreck Site
Registry Address: Address Restricted
Registry Number: 94001065
Resource Type: Structure
Owner: State
Architect: Chester Iron Foundry, PA
Contributing Structures: 1
Other Certification: Date received-pending nomination
Certification: Listed in the National Register
CULTURAL DETAILS
Level of Significance: State; Local
Area of Significance: Military, Commerce, Transportation
Applicable Criteria: Event
Criteria Consideration: Moved property
Period of Significance: 1925-1949, 1900-1924
Significant Year: 1906, 1942
Historic Function: Transportation, Defense
Historic Sub-Function: Military facility, Water-related, Battle site
Current Function: Vacant, not in use
Current Sub-Function:

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