Pesuta, Tlell River

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The wreck of the steamship Pesuta lies buried in sand near the mouth of the Tlell River, on the east side of Graham Island, 29 miles (47 km) south-southeast of Masset in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia. The ship was launched in 1918 as the SS Pezuta, the name is from the Lakota Sioux word for “medicine”. Sometime after the ship ran aground the name was likely transliterated as “Pesuta”.

The SS Pezuta was built in Raymond, Washington on Willapa Bay by the Sanderson & Porter Shipyard for The Emergency Fleet Corporation that was established by the United States Shipping Board to acquire merchant ships to meet national defense needs during World War I. Construction of the ship required 1.8 million board feet of lumber, 20,000 tree nails, 10,000 pounds of clinch rings, 600 gallons of paint, 400 bales of oakum, 200 tons of round iron, 30 tons of iron strapping, and 2 tons of lead preservatives. Following the launch, the ship was towed to Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island for installation of coal fired steam engines, and then to Seattle for sea trials and acceptance by the United States Shipping Board. However, the armistice on November 11, 1918 ended the need for ships and Pezuta was sold to reduce inventory of excess ships and hulls.

By 1922, Pezuta was no longer on the official U.S. Merchant Ship Registry and most likely was abandoned. A large number of the surplus wooden ships were obtained by the Washington Tug & Barge Company, which joined with Canadian ship builder John Coughlan to form the British Pacific Transport Company Ltd. Pezuta was then refitted as a barge for hauling logs. On December 11, 1928, Pezuta was under tow by the steam tug Imbricaria during a heavy southeast gale when the tow line broke and she went aground at the mouth of the Tlell River on Graham Island of the Queen Charlotte Islands, now Haida Gwaii. She was almost a complete loss, but logs were salvaged by locals and the Prince Rupert Salvage & Towing Company determined the hull was not worth refloating. Three truckloads of machinery was striped and the remainder of the wreck remained high on the beach to be gradually broken up by waves and weather. Read more here and here. Download the latest version of the CoastView app and explore more of the SS Pezuta here:


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