The Story of Chilean Memorial

Olympic National Park


Backpacking Olympic National Park’s rugged Pacific coastline is one of the most unique wilderness experiences in the National Park Service. These rugged beaches with towering sea stacks provide solitude and contemplation. These imposing shores have also been the site of human tragedies. The Olympic Coast has played a harrowing role for transnational trading vessels traveling between Chile and the Puget Sound area.

The Chilean ship the Leonore ran into bad weather on October 3, 1891 near the mouth of the Quillayute River when its captain mistook a sea stack for a passing ship. The ship’s captain, his family and a few crew members abandoned ship, perishing at sea. The rest of the crew drifted back to shore, clutching pieces of the Leonore’s wreckage. They then had to walk for three days up the coastline to find help in the village of Neah Bay on Makah Indian lands.

Nearly thirty years later at a eerily nearby location, the Chilean ship Santa Rita was pulling behind the barge W.J. Pirrie carrying a heavy cargo of lumber when they met with 85 mile an hour winds near Cape Flattery. In distress, the Santa Rita had to cut ties with the W.J. Pirrie. The crew of the W.J. Pirrie hoisted its sails, which winds soon shredded. It tried to drop anchor, but could not find the bottom. The wind forced the ship onto a reef where it broke apart. The crew did not even have time to release their lifeboats. Only two crew members, Carlos Roberto Peterson and Ernesto Aravena were found unconscious after three days by Quilleute Indians and were taken to safety in La Push.

This area is called Chilean Memorial for the small plaque that commemorates the shipwreck site. You have to book wilderness permits to backcountry camp at the area on the website


Two harrowing shipwrecks on the Olympic Coast.


3 minutes, 6 seconds

Copyright and Usage Info