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Roanoke (#110515) (1882-1916), 267-foot iron-hulled commercial passenger cargo steamer built in Chester, Pennsylvania. She had three decks and two masts, and was operated by the North Pacific Steamship Company between Portland and southern California from 1905-1916. According to Santa Cruz Island Company records, Roanoke serviced the island in 1915 and 1916. On May 9, 1916 en route out of San Francisco to Valparaiso, Chile with a cargo of commercial explosives, Roanoke foundered in heavy seas off Port San Luis, California. Only three of her 48 crew members survived the accident. Her loss was blamed on the shifting of the vessel's cargo.

In the News~

December 9, 1915 [SBMP]: “The North Pacific steamer Roanoke came in from the south yesterday morning and sailed at 10 o’clock for San Francisco with 500 boxes of lemons, sixteen tons of wool from Santa Cruz Island and various articles of merchandise shipment.”

January 5, 1916 [SBMP]:Roanoke in late. The North Pacific steamer Roanoke arrived from San Francisco at 6 o’clock yesterday morning with 14 tons of merchandise for this port… She is off her schedule…”

February 23, 1916 [SBDN]: “Captain Rosaline Vasquez, of the launch Otter, was brought home from Los Angeles this morning on the steamer Roanoke, having somewhat recovered from the injuries he suffered a month ago in an automobile accident at San Diego. The injury affected his spine, and he is partially paralyzed from his waist down. The doctors look for his completed recovery.”

May 11, 1916 [SBMP]:Roanoke is a total loss. The three survivors of the Roanoke regained consciousness tonight at a local hospital...”

May 12, 1916 [SBMP]:Roanoke on final trip no trim for voyage. Craft said to have been improperly loaded by inexperienced hands... The three survivors, in a hospital here, are slowly regaining their strength and were able to tell something of the events on the Roanoke leading up to the vessel’s tragic end…”

May 12, 1916 [LAT]: “San Luis Obispo. That the three men found in the lifeboat which came ashore at Port San Luis yesterday are the sole survivors of the ill-fated steamer Roanoke, was strongly indicated today when the vessels that have been searching the waters for signs of wreckage and the missing lifeboats reported their efforts fruitless… The Roanoke turned turtle after the boats got away and sank about half an hour later…”

May 13, 1916 [SBMP]: “Death-piloted life boat is picked up… The Pacific Mail liner City of Para, which sailed for Balboa, reported by wireless today that it had picked up a boat containing one body from the sunken steamer Roanoke. The body is believed to be that of John G. Dennis…”

May 16, 1916 [SBMP]: “The loss of the California-South Seas Navigation Company steamer Roanoke somewhere off the southern California coast last Thursday was caused by the shifting of the vessel’s cargo, according to the testimony today of one of the survivors before the federal investigators. Manuel Lopez, one of the three men picked up from a lifeboat last Wednesday near Port San Luis, testified that the Roanoke had a list to starboard before she passed out of the port [San Francisco]. The list increased until the water poured in through the main deck portholes, he said. Lopez, who was an oiler, also testified that the wireless apparatus was not in working order…”

May 18, 1916 [LAT]: “Santa Barbara. U. Dardi, manager of the Italian Bank here, returned today from Port San Luis, where he was directing the employment of patrols to watch the coast for 100 miles for Roanoke wreckage, and states that there are so many mystifying circumstances about the affair that he ahs almost concluded that the vessel did not founder… Dardi states that the Channel Islands will now be searched for wreckage and bodies.”

July 11, 1916 [LAT/SB]: “Wreck of boat but no bodies. Broken life raft found on Santa Rosa Island. None of Roanoke crew alive near the wreckage… Lifeboat Number 7 of the steamer Roanoke, which sank off San Luis Obispo May 9, has been found on the west coast of Santa Rosa Island by Captain George Nidever of this city. Only half the lifeboat remains intact…”