Where can I find the Northwest shipwrecks?

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Answered by: Gail, An Expert in the Oregon Travel Guide Category
Sitting in front of a bank of computer monitors, Ned Reed and I are looking for gold. Or at least I am. Ned already knows where the gold is, and with a few key strokes, he shows me.

Oh my, I drool. All those ships had gold on them?

Ned assures me that 39 of the Northwest shipwrecks ferreted from his database of North Pacific Ocean were in all listed as gold-laden. The database covers 200 years of shipwreck history.



And is the gold still there, I ask, trying to stay calm.

Ned Reed smiles at my interest in sunken treasure. I’m guessing that if he could, he’d be scrambling around on the rocks and balancing the decks of boats in search of the shipwrecks that he now charts meticulously, but instead he vicariously explores wrecks via his growing database.

Most of the shipwrecks have been explored, the gold and other cargo salvaged, Ned tells me. I am hanging on his every word. What native Oregon Coastie wouldn’t? We were born poor, before the casinos and lotteries replaced our hopes that riches lay in discovering gold bullion, washed upon the shore or tucked away in the cliffside caves where we played.



But … he continued, salvagers always leave something behind.

That’s all I needed to hear, to ignite my youthful dreams of unearned wealth. I shake my head and refasten my eyes on Ned Reed’s incredible bank of computer screens.

Ned Reed’s charts are a treasure hunter’s dream resource. He has meticulously researched, catalogued and mapped almost every known ship and boat wrecked in his set of five charts between Trinidad, Calif., north to and including the Columbia River in Oregon. Although his database includes information about nearly 14,000 wrecks between the North Pole and Panama, Reed is releasing to the public these five charts with details of about 1,000 Oregon wrecks. Armchair dreamers and explorers alike will find these charts full of enough details to reawaken the treasure hunter in anyone.

Contained in each of the five 18-by-24-inch charts are maps of the coastline on the left, dotted with numbers that correspond with charts on the right that describe each wreck in detail – from the date and place it went down, to the lives lost and the history of the cargo. Because Ned Reed is an accomplished artist, readers will also find drawings of the vessels across the top of each map and historical snippets inset into the data. There’s so much information packed into these posters, that Ned Reed calls them a “book-on-a-chart.”

I don’t want to mislead – these charts will not say “look here for gold.” But they do tell those who want to pursue treasure hunts just where to find more information. The charts also indicate whether the vessels have been salvaged or removed, and the maps show wreck dive sites – wrecks mapped by dive shops and clubs. For those who just want to see a wreck or two, the charts indicate which the Northwest shipwrecks are visible.

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