After more than two years of brainstorming, planning, fundraising, negotiating, engineering, fabricating and permitting, a solid steel, 14-foot diameter, 7-ton prop is in place at the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center. It was installed where the old Smuggler’s Cove waterwheel once stood across from Port Dock 5. This unique effort posed a very long check list of challenges, not the least of which was that no one involved had experience installing a 7-ton prop on a stand.
The ship propeller is from the C.W. Pasley, a World War II era concrete-hulled Liberty Ship purposely sunk in the 1950s to serve as part of the Port of Newport’s International Dock. The prop was salvaged a few years ago when remains of the C.W. Pasley were demolished during a major dock renovation. The Historical Society negotiated the prop’s loan from the Port of Newport, June 2014, to make it a centerpiece of the PMHC streetscape. “This was a unique project – you don’t buy a stand for a seven ton prop complete with instructions off the shelf,” remarked Executive Director Steve Wyatt.
The ship was named for Sir Charles William Pasley (1780-1861), a British military engineer who wrote several textbooks and experimented with improving concrete. Another concrete-hulled vessel purchased by the port, the Joseph Aspdin, was also named for a Brit who worked to perfect cement. The Aspdin is remembered as “the ship that committed suicide.” It broke loose of its moorings in the dark of night, left Yaquina Bay, went aground, and sank near the north jetty.
In addition to the prop, the Society will also install interpretive signage on the colorful history of these two ships and of the Port of Newport, pavers, landscaping and stairs, all leading up to the Maritime Center. The streetscape/prop undertaking is part of a larger project – renovating the lower floor of the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center, which will include the Doerfler Family Theater – a multi-use area complete with a projection system, stage, and seating for over 100.
The Society was recently awarded a $45,000 challenge grant from The Collins Foundation for this project. It must raise $45,000 more from businesses and individuals before December 1st, this year. Any and all donations are sincerely welcomed and appreciated. If you are interested in helping the Society meet the Collins Challenge and complete this project, contact Executive Director Steve Wyatt at the Lincoln County Historical Society, (541) 265-7509.