The Fighting Kingfisher succumbs to the elements and general aging. She’s being scrapped with important parts being preserved for exhibit at Pacific Maritime Museum.
HISTORIC CHARTER BOAT DEMOLISHED
Faced with no other option, the Lincoln County Historical Society hired the Port of Toledo Boatyard to demolish the historic wooden charter vessel Tradewinds Kingfisher.
The 50 foot National Historic Register vessel, long associated with Depoe Bay, was in an advanced state of deterioration and posed a potential environmental hazard should it sink. During the demolition process it was discovered the deterioration of the boat was even worse than imagined.
Prior to demolition, the exterior of the boat was scanned using 3D laser technology. The laser scan produced an exact electronic record to be used by future researchers, model builders, and boat builders in fashioning future craft with fealty to The Kingfisher if they so choose. The scan was so exact it was discovered the hull had actually been twisted to one side, perhaps from a collision in its past or due to normal deterioration.
During the demolition, all salvageable parts were removed and added to the Historical Society’s collection to be used in exhibits at the Pacific Maritime and Heritage Center. Its vintage 1950s engine and other parts were recycled. Historical Society Director Steve Wyatt expressed his gratitude for the salvage work performed by The Port of Toledo staff. “They were very respectful of the boats’ history and carefully extracted all that could be salvaged for posterity.”
“It had to be scuttled,” lamented Wyatt. Like many locals and tourists, he has fond memories of the Kingfisher. “I was aboard her when I experienced the thrill of the open ocean for the first time. I loved this boat. As a museum professional, my job is to preserve iconic objects and artifacts. But while removing parts of the Kingfisher a couple of weeks ago, I actually fell through the deck when it collapsed, reaffirming the craft’s deteriorated condition.”
The Tradewinds Kingfisher was built in 1941 by Westerlund Boat and Machine Works of Jantzen Beach, Oregon. Just months after the Kingfisher owner and skipper, Stan Allyn (1913-1992) took possession of the Kingfisher, the U.S. entered World War II. Allyn offered his new boat up for wartime use. The Kingfisher served as a boarding and patrol craft from Astoria to Coos Bay, always on the lookout for any possible enemy invasion. At war’s end, the Kingfisher returned to Depoe Bay to serve as Allyn’s flagship charter boat. Many charter boats built in the 1950s copied the Kingfisher’s then-innovative styling. The Kingfisher was placed on the National Historic Register in 1991 and was retired from service in 2000.
In 2001 the Historical Society accepted the Kingfisher as a donation, and went to work trying to drum up private financial support that would enable the Society to properly preserve the vessel. The Society’s long-term goals for the Kingfisher included offering Yaquina Bay tours for those who appreciated not only the beauty of our coastal home but also the storied past of the vessel they were riding.
Properly caring for the Kingfisher required an annual investment of approximately $15,000, far exceeding the Historical Society’s annual budget for curating all other 40,000-plus historical artifacts in its collection. Moorage fees alone were $395 per month. A shipwright’s survey in 2012 concluded the Kingfisher needed over $70,000 in renovations and repairs. To date the Historical Society has invested over $54,000 in the Kingfisher just keeping it as-is. Donations from a small, dedicated group of individuals and businesses, plus time and materials, totaled $81,000.
Previous public outreach campaigns aimed at generating awareness of the Kingfisher’s plight received virtually no response. Without supplemental public support, outside grants were not forthcoming. The Historical Society offered the vessel to other museums, including the Smithsonian and the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle, among others, but all turned the Kingfisher down. A few individuals came forward wanting to assume ownership of the Kingfisher in order to save her, but were unable to rally the needed support.
The Board of Directors of the Lincoln County Historical Society eventually voted to begrudgingly dismantle her. For the Society and a small band of Kingfisher aficionados, it was like pulling the plug on a terminally ill family member.
An extended article on the history of the Kingfisher appears in the Society’s best selling book “The Bayfront.” The Society, in conjunction with the Allyn family, is planning an exhibit of the Kingfisher at the Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center that will incorporate components salvaged from the boat and possibly the computer laser scans. The Historical Society also has in its archive collection papers and records from Stan Allyn, the designer and longtime owner and operator of the Kingfisher.
For more information, call 541-265-7509.
The Lincoln County Historical Society is a nonprofit organization that operates the Burrows House Museum located at 545 SW Ninth Street in Newport, and the Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center at 333 SE Bay Blvd. in Newport. Admission to the Burrows House is by donation. Admission to the Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center is $5 for adults, $3 for children 3 through 12. Members are free. Both museums are open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.