- Associated Press - Sunday, February 1, 2015

SEASIDE, Ore. (AP) - Three friends last fall discovered a shipwreck beneath the dunes in Seaside. Now the state hopes to unravel the ship’s background.

Oregon’s state archaeologist, Dennis Griffin, took two wood samples from the boat’s 21-foot keel last month and sent them to Eugene for testing, The Daily Astorian reported (https://is.gd/WjUQf1 ).

The results expected later this month will determine the type of lumber used in construction, narrowing the potential points of origin.

“Let’s say it’s Douglas fir,” Griffin said. “If that’s what it is, that’s usually used in more West Coast shipping.”

If that were the case, lost ships from the East Coast and abroad could be crossed from the list of candidates. The list isn’t a short one. There have been thousands of wrecks at the mouth of Columbia River over the years.

The tests won’t account for age, but a Columbia River Maritime Museum volunteer examined the site and believes the ship was built in the 20th century.

“It’s really a process of elimination,” Griffin said. “You look at reported wrecks in the area and try to determine would this size of an artifact be from one ship rather than another? Trying to nail that down to one particular wreck - that can be very difficult.”

That is, in part, because where a ship was known to sink and where it may wash up can be vastly different.

“We’ve known boats to hit a sandbar off the Columbia but found the wrecks had floated down 20-some miles or so to Arch Cape,” Griffin said.

The ship will likely remain buried in the sand. Once a ship that’s been in a water-logged state leaves the beach, it will dry and fall apart, Griffin said.

“The best environment it could be in is right where it is now,” he said. “It’s being preserved right there.”

The value of discovery, he said, is purely for historical purposes.

“The wreck itself might be important because, perhaps, it was a fishing trawler that sunk in a storm in the 1930s,” Griffin said. “If so, it tells us more about the expanse of people going out there to harvest fish to feed the growing cities.”

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Information from: The Daily Astorian, https://www.dailyastorian.com

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