Wreck of the S.S. Enterprise

The Enterprise was a sidewheel paddle steamer.  She was launched at San Francisco in 1861 by William Curry and Peter F. Doling.  Her wooden hull as 142.5 feet in length, 27.7 feet in breadth, with a hold 6.9 feet deep.  She displaced 380.3 tons net.    Initially registered in the US, the steamer was re-registered in Victoria in 1862.

The afternoon of July 28, 1885, was sunny and clear.  The enterprise was nearing Victoria with a load of freight, livestock, and about 50 passengers from New Westminster.  Captain Rudlin had taken her close to the Vancouver Island shore so a back eddy would help her buck the strong flood tide.   Even so, she was weaving in the current as she neared Ten Mile Point.

Another steamboat hove into view directly ahead.  The R.P. Rithet had plenty of sea room but steered a course which brought her perilously close to the Enterprise.   The R.P. Rithet cut into the Enterprise’s port side, smashing the wheelhouse and bringing down the mast.  Despite efforts to keep the ships together, a wall of water flooded into the gash.  Pandemonium ensued.  Passengers and crew panicked, cattle stampeded.  There was o tie to lower the lifeboats so everybody went over the side.

As the R.P. Rithet fished people out of the water, another steamer, the Western Slope, rushed to help.  it took the shattered Enterprise in tow, breaching her at Cadboro Bay.

For more information on the S.S. Enterprise Shipwreck and other shipwrecks of the Southern Vancouver Island, go to: UASBC.Com. You can order the publication Historic Shipwrecks of Southern Vancouver Island from the Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia publications.

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