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1906 Sinking of the SS Valencia #maritimehistory

The SS Valencia was an iron-hulled passenger steamer built as a minor ocean liner for the Red D Line for service between Venezuela and New York City.

She was a 1,598 ton vessel (originally 1,200 tons),[7] 252 feet (77 m) in length.

In 1897, the Valencia was deliberately attacked by the Spanish cruiser Reina Mercedes off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The next year, she became a coastal passenger liner on the U.S. West Coast and served periodically in the Spanish–American War as a troopship to the Philippines.

Shortly before midnight on 22 January 1906, she struck a reef near Pachena Point on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island and sank.

The scene at the wreck was horrific, as one of the few survivors, Chief Freight Clerk Frank Lehn recounted:

“Screams of women and children mingled in an awful chorus with the shrieking of the wind, the dash of rain, and the roar of the breakers. As the passengers rushed on deck they were carried away in bunches by the huge waves that seemed as high as the ship's mastheads. The ship began to break up almost at once and the women and children were lashed to the rigging above the reach of the sea. It was a pitiful sight to see frail women, wearing only night dresses, with bare feet on the freezing ratlines, trying to shield children in their arms from the icy wind and rain.[19]

Estimates of the number of people killed vary widely. Some sources list it at 117; others claim it was as high as 181.

According to the federal report, the official death toll was 136. 37 men survived, but every woman and child aboard was lost.


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