The Unknown Titanic of the West CoastApproximately 6 years after the sinking of the Titanic, the Princess Sophia, also named the “unknown Titanic of the West Coast,” remains one of the worst shipwrecks on the west coast of North America. The tragic sinking of the Princess Sophia, a Canadian Pacific Steamer, occurred in late October 1918.
At least 353 passengers and crew lost their lives in the wintery waters near Vanderbilt Reef. The shipwreck occurred days before the end of the First World War. Newspapers were highlighting the Armistice that ended the war and headlines focused on the increasing fear of Spanish influenza rather than the news of a tragic shipwreck in Alaskan waters.
On Wednesday October 23rd, 1918 the Daily Alaskan announced, “Steamer Princess Sophia leaves Skagway P.M. -- Tickets Take Same Rate to: Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Everett, Bellingham, Anacortes and Port Townsend.” At 10:10 pm on October 23rd, 1918, the Princess Sophia departed from Skagway on her last run of the season to Vancouver and Victoria, 3 hours behind schedule. The 353 aboard the Sophia included miners, territory and city government officials, businessmen, civil servants, their wives and children, and crew members. It was a diverse group representing individuals from the Yukon and Alaska. Four hours into the journey out of Skagway, the Princess Sophia had shifted course.