SS Pacific

The SS Pacific was a side wheel steamer built in 1850 for the California gold rush. It collided with the clipper SV Orpheus on November 4, 1875, off the coast of Washington state. It is the worst maritime disaster in west coast history: 325 souls perished and only two survived.

“Long will be remembered the year 1875, when Death, clad in all his hideousness, rode the wave ; and, while the restless sea has supplied Northwestern history with many pitiful tales of disaster, this fatal year has never been equaled in the number of lives and amount of property sacrificed. No greater calamity was ever visited on the people of this Coast than the loss of the steamship Pacific

– Edgar Wilson Wright, Lewis & Dryden’s Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1895)


The Pacific Project is a collaboration between Rockfish, Inc. and the Northwest Shipwreck Alliance (NSA). On November 23, 2022, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, Senior US District Judge James L. Robart awarded exclusive salvage rights to the wreck of the SS Pacific to Rockfish, to recover the vessel’s express cargo under contract with the original underwriters based in London. The Northwest Shipwreck Alliance is tasked with preserving and displaying the artifacts in a new museum to be located in the Puget Sound region. 

Ad from the Puget Sound Dispatch, September 30, 1875.