Monday, October 20, 2008

Age of X Begins On Thursday!

Since becoming a docent, I have had the great pleasure to give tours to groups of Boy Scouts, high school and middle school student as well as to the eclectic groups of cruise ship passengers who visit during the summer and fall months. Without a doubt, the most fun and demanding group to work with are those in the primary grades, mainly grades four through six. For this group, we offer a tour call the Age of Exploration, AKA the Age of X; the tour is fast paced and packed with lots of hand on activities. During the ninety minute tour, the kids get an opportunity to learn about the daily life of the local Native Americans and their interactions with the fur traders beginning in the 1790s. We also provide a hands on experience working with the tool used for celestial navigation. Finally we provide the kids with an insight as to why the waters of the Columbia River are dubbed the “Grave Yard of the Pacific”.

To me, the Age of X tour is my favorite because of the student’s participation and enthusiasm. Frequently, their hands are raised and waving just in anticipation of your question. Kids of this age group also answer your questions directly and openly; suffice to say they never pull any punches! It certainly keeps a docent on his toes at all times!

As I prepare for the first Age of X tour for the new school year on Thursday, I am reminded of an incident that occurred this past spring. While sharing the story of the grounding of the sailing ship Peter Iredale in 1906, the docent asked the kids to decide if it was caused by mechanical failure, weather, or human error. Without missing a beat, one little voice from the group loudly announced that the cause had to be because of a “lousy captain”. While attempting to suppress my laughter, the docent calmly explained that it would be more appropriate to refer to this as human error. Kids, you have to love them!!

Just in case you are wondering, the British government ruled during the court of inquiry that the grounding was not the result of human error. Score one for the captain and crew.

The Peter Iredale in 1906 shortly after running a ground during a fierce storm

The bones of the "Iredale" in April of 2008. Fierce winter storms have revealed the ribs of the ship's hull.

The bow of the Peter Iredale looking south

The bow and a portion of the mast seen while looking north

If you have never seen a ship up close, come to Fort Stevens State Park and explore the wreck of the Peter Iredale. You can even do it at low tide and not get your feet too wet!


Ptelea said...

Very nice story - I love the terms: bones & ribs!

Amy said...


Your blog is great. I love this post, s I'm weirdly attracted to old ships that have met their demise or are in disrepair (think SS United States). I'd never heard of the Peter Iredale until I read this. Thanks!