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Grounded Ship Serves as Coastal Resort Museum

The Ship Ashore Resort on U.S. Route 101 just three miles south of the Oregon border got its name from the 158-foot yacht, the S.S. Castle Rock, displayed on dry land a quarter mile from the ocean.

The vessel’s story began in 1925 when a wealthy New Yorker had a steel yacht named the S.S. Caritas built in Germany and fitted with the finest teak and mahogany interiors. After some time hosting famous people, the owner sold the vessel to the U.S. Navy, which refitted it to be a weather ship, the U.S.S. Garnett.

The vessel served in the Pacific during World War II before being decommissioned in Oakland, Calif., and its engines sold. When Joe Sierka’s Castle Rock Camp main lodge burned down in 1948, he saw the ship as a perfect replacement.

On Feb. 17, 1950, the newly christened S.S. Castle Rock arrived at a Smith River mooring.  Fifteen years later, 12 tractors took 10 hours to drag it to Hwy 101, where today it is a museum and gift shop for the Ship Ashore Resort.

Sources: Hawk, Diane. Touring the Old Redwood Highway. Piercy, California: Hawk Mountaintop Publishing, 20061. 143-45. Print.  "History of the SS Castle Rock." Ship Ashore Resort. Ship Ashore Resort, 2011. Web. 21 Jan. 2015. .

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.