Chacon is a 72 ft (22 m) dry docked wooden vessel and roadside curiosity in Chugiak, Alaska, United States. The former fishing vessel currently serves as a memorial for its most recent owner, Thillman Wallace of Chugiak (1932 – 2015).

Operational history

Chacon resting on beach before salvage. Another unknown boat behind her.
Chacon resting on beach before salvage. Another unknown boat behind her.

Chacon and her sister Celtic were designed by world-famous naval architect Leslie Geary and built in Seattle by Johnson Brothers and Blanchard in 1912 as fish trap tenders for Fidalgo Island Packing Co. cannery operations in Ketchikan, Alaska and Port Graham, Alaska[1]

Chacon was featured in the Port Graham Independence Day Parade in Seldovia, 1930.[2]

In March 1964, Chacon assisted with the evacuation of Old Harbor Village on Kodiak Island after it was leveled by 50 ft (15 m) tsunami waves. Chacon with 43 persons on board, radioed the US Coast Guard to request the evacuation of a woman having a miscarriage. Chacon requested meeting with Coast Guard plane at Ugak Bay. USCG instructed Chacon to proceed to Kodiak at "best speed".[3]

During her period owned by the Tillions; Chacon reportedly struck a boom cable in Icy Bay causing damage to the bow, and was subsequently beached alongside another wreck in Kachemak Bay. Chacon was originally powered with a 125 hp gasoline engine[4] that was later replaced with a General Motors "Jimmy" Detroit Diesel Series 71.[citation needed]

Recovery and salvage

In 1984, Thillman Wallace spotted the half-sunken ship while on a fishing trip near Homer, Alaska and became fascinated by it.[5] The next day Wallace purchased the Chacon for $5,000 [6] from William "Willie" Tillion, whose family has fished out of nearby Halibut Cove for decades, with the intent of restoring her to sail around the world. The vessel was refloated with crude patches and several bilge pumps in August 1984 and towed to Anchorage, Alaska where she would be lifted from the water and taken to Chugiak to be restored.

To haul the vessel onto land for transport, Wallace paid for the removal of debris that had illegally been dumped on the shore as well as sand and gravel to facilitate the lifting operation.

The ship was transported by truck to its current site in Peters Creek using a trailer designed for moving buildings, but the additional weight required frequent tire replacement and supplemental braking by dump trucks from Wallace's concrete business. When she arrived in Peters Creek she was put on blocks at the edge of Wallace's property along the Old Glenn Highway. Although sadly Wallace has died now but she still rests in her spot.

Current status and preservation

Her hull is badly deteriorated with abundant moss and plant growth. Over the years at the roadside site, all of her windows have been smashed and all of her valuable things have been stolen, including her brass propeller, and many compasses.

Chacon serves as a roadside memorial to her owner Thillman Wallace, and in August 2015 the Chacon and a permanent resting place, a small parcel of land where she rests today were donated to the Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department. On August 19, 2015, the vessel was moved 50 feet to facilitate the transfer of ownership at an estimated cost of $20,000.

Gallery

References

  1. ^ "Alaska Railroad Record 11/13/1917". 1917.
  2. ^ Photo Caption on Classic Alaska Star http://classic.alaskastar.com/stories/050503/cal_20030505006.shtml Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ USCG Radio Transcripts from 1964 Earthquake http://www.jacksjoint.com/tidalwave.htm
  4. ^ Forty-Eighth Annual List of Merchant Vessels of the United States (PDF) (Report). Department of Commerce, Bureau of Navigation. 1916.
  5. ^ Wasche, Mary (June 25, 2009). "Chugiak's Chacon: A tale of tides, tugs, cranes and big rigs". Alaska Star. Eagle River. Retrieved July 31, 2015.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Dunham, Mike (July 13, 2013). "Time and trees put kibosh on man's plans for old boat". Anchorage Daily News. Anchorage. Retrieved July 31, 2015.

Further reading


Coordinates: 61°22′30″N 149°30′13″W / 61.3751°N 149.5036°W / 61.3751; -149.5036