7 Incredible Shipwrecks off the United States’ Coast that are Visible from Land

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I didn’t realize it was possible to see an old shipwreck without scuba diving until I was traveling in Oregon a couple of years ago and had the opportunity to see the Peter Iredale shipwreck. It got me wondering what other shipwrecks are visible from land. I love adventure and history, but scuba diving just isn’t my thing. Fortunately, for me, there are a few other really cool shipwrecks off the United States’ coast that you can access from the beach.


1. The S.S. Point Reyes // San Francisco, California
This 380-foot cargo steamship was intentionally grounded on a sandbar on the Point Reyes National Seashore. The owner of the ship had the intention of fixing it up, but never actually got around to doing it, leaving it to rot on the sandbar. The ship sustained fire damage in 2016, but is still visible and accessible today, and is popular spot for photographers and tourists.


2. The Barge // Monterey Bay, California
Not much is known about this barge which blew ashore on a remote beach in Monterey Bay, California, during a storm in 1983. The owners of the barge unsuccessfully tried to remove it, but since it didn’t contain any fuel and wasn’t considered an environmental hazard, it was left to rust. The remains of the barge are still visible at low tide. It’s possible to walk on the deck of the barge, but certainly not recommended as the deck is rusting away and could give way in certain places.

3. The G.A. Kohler // Rodanthe, North Carolina
This beautiful four-masted schooner from Baltimore was pushed ashore by a hurricane in 1933. The following day, Captain George H. Hopkins, his wife, eight crew members and a dog were rescued from the ship. The G.A. Kohler remained beach for 10 years until it was burned during World War II in order to retrieve its iron fittings, leaving behind only charred remnants, which are still visible on the North Carolina coast today.

4. The Peter Iredale
The Peter Iredale, a four-masted steel barque sailing vessel, wrecked on the Oregon shore on October 25, 1906. It was abandoned about four miles from the Columbia River. Even though it’s been a century since the ship ran aground, its rusted bow is still visible today. The shipwreck is a popular tourist sight.

5. The USS Inaugural // St. Louis, Missouri
The USS Inaugural was once an admiral-class World War II minesweeper active in Okinawa. In 1986, she was sent to St. Louis to be a floating museum. Unfortunately, the flood of 1993, ripped her from her mooring and grounded her a mile downstream. The hulk is still visible on the Missouri side of the river.

6. USS Milwaukee // Samoa Beach, California
The USS Milwaukee was once a St. Louis-class protected cruiser in the United States Navy. It was grounded on January 13, 1917, while aiding a grounded submarine. A storm in November of 1918 broke the ship apart. It was then decommissioned and sold for scrap in 1919. Although most of the wreckage is gone, remnants of the wreckage still remain on the beach.

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Wrecked Wednesdays! — USS Milwaukee — USS H-3's failed savior, USS Milwaukee (C-21), was a St. Louis-class protected cruiser displacing 9,700 tons. Commissioned in December 1906, she was placed in reserve in April 1908 and decommissioned in 1910. Assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet and recommissioned in June 1913, C-21 served mostly as a training ship before being assigned to the Pacific Fleet's destroyers and submarines. In this capacity she patrolled the coast with the smaller vessels but also served as a patrol unit off the Pacific coast of Mexico. — Milwaukee was overhauled in 1916 to prepare her for extended future service. The grounding of USS H-3 on 14 December changed this, and Milwaukee was sent to H-3's aid on 5 January 1917. Eight days later, against the advice of the USCG, USS Milwaukee attempted to tow H-3 off the beach with the assistance of two stabilizing tugs; the current proved too strong and she herself became beached at Samoa Beach on 17 January. In rough tides, her crew was shuttled by Coast Guard boat and breeches buoy to the shore, but the ship was left in place to take a beating from the Pacific waves. — Milwaukee was decommissioned on 7 March 1917 and her hull fractured a year and a half later in November 1918. She was stricken in June 1919 after salvage efforts failed. A pier was then built out to the ship, which had itself become a popular attraction, particularly right after her grounding. The top image shows her wreck shortly after her crew was evacuated, while she was still flying the US flag. The upperworks of the ship were cut-up for scrap after she was sold in August 1919, but an estimated 2/3 of her hull still remains at Samoa Beach, buried in the tidal sands as shown in the 2012 photo at bottom. The majority of her wreckage that is still visible consists of bulkheads, recognizable compared to the top photo by degree of starboard list. The pier is marked by rotting pylons but the majority of it has collapsed or been removed. It is not visible here. — #wreckedwednesday⚓️ #ussmilwaukee #c21 #stlouisclass #milwaukee #cruiser #usn #usnavy #warship #navalwarfare #navalhistory #shipwreck #abandoned #wreck #hazegrey

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7. SS Dominator // Pal Verdes, California
This freighter was en route to Los Angeles from Vancouver carrying wheat and beef in 1961 when it got lost in fog and ran aground in the South Bay area of California. For two days the Coast Guard and tugboats attempted to save the ship, but gave up when heavy seas and high winds only forced the ship higher onto the rocks. Though much of the ship was scrapped, large pieces of wreckage are still visible on the beach today.