It’s rare to see an accident with such size and historical significance sit in its original location. Due to environmental concerns, historical shipwrecks are typically cleaned up and purged for their artifacts. That’s exactly why the S.S. Point Reyes, still sitting on the coast of Tomales Bay, is so rare.
The S.S. Point Reyes is a 380-foot steamship that crashed on a sand bar in Tomales Bay over a 100 years ago. The owner of the oceanfront property pulled the shipwreck to a location closer to land and decided to use it as a fun restoration project. As most restoration projects go, it was never completed and for decades the boat sat on the beach bar in the small town of Inverness attracting the eyes of passerby.
As the legend of the beautifully settled shipwreck began to grow, so did the visitors. When a restoration group announced its plan for removal of the ship, photographers voiced their opposition and the shipwreck was made into a destination. Eventually, a sign and trail were constructed to allow people to get up close the the ship, depending on water levels.
The place became a destination for the regions best photographers, each glamorizing the shipwreck as a gateway to Northern California’s fascinating past. The popularity of the shipwreck grew until one person nearly ruined it for everyone.
According to rumors, some Instagrammers were creating a photo using steel wool (where sparks fly in circles) when they accidentally lit the shipwreck on fire. Today, only half of the charred shipwreck stands in its place, pointing to an obvious conclusion of dwindling and unmanaged landmark.
You can still visit the Point Reyes shipwreck today, with photographs shining bright from the front (the back is nearly fully charred). If you are driving North on Sir Francis Drake Blvd it will be on your right side. Parking is easy and you will see a small picnic area just footsteps away from the abandoned boat.
Who knows how long the artifact will sit in its current place, but we know one day it will be gone. Enjoy it while you still can and always respect its place in Northern California’s history.