Monday, October 29, 2012

Ghost Ship

Ghost Ship

The last stop on our tour of Esplanade art is Ghost Ship, which is probably my favorite of the group. It's probably due to the glass. The brief description on its name plaque reads:

"A glowing lantern against a grey sky - Ghost Ship pays homage to the many ships that have come through Portland, and the ones that have gone down in crossing the Columbia River Bar."

...although please note the blue sky in these photos. Anyway, the city parks Esplanade page has this to say:

The Ghost Ship by James Harrison, sited on the south end of the wall, is a grand lantern made of copperplate, copper bar, a stainless steel substructure, and fit with hundreds of prismatic pieces of art glass. It pays homage to the many ships that have come through Portland, and the ones that have gone down in crossing the Columbia River Bar.

A later piece by Harrison titled Stacks grew out of his work on Ghost Ship, and another titled Daahoud grew out of it in turn.

Ghost Ship

With that I'm all out of material about the piece itself, and Halloween's coming up in a few days, so let's talk about actual ghost ships instead. Wikipedia has a long list of ghost ships, real, suspected, and fictional, including the infamous Mary Celeste. I recall reading a story about the Mary Celeste as a kid, and having nightmares for a week afterward. More recently, the derelict Ryou-Un Maru showed up in Canadian and later US waters a year after being washed out to sea by the 2011 Tokohu earthquake & tsunami. After salvage attempts failed, the US Coast Guard sank the vessel with cannon fire to prevent it from posing a hazard to shipping.

Ghost Ship

The 1943 Val Lewton film The Ghost Ship isn't really about a ghost ship, or even about ghosts, but it's a tense and spooky film that's worth seeing. It doesn't appear to be public domain and so isn't available for free on YouTube, but in searching I ran across a couple of interesting videos about derelict vessels: The former USS Sachem and an abandoned riverboat, both near Cincinnati, Ohio.

Closer to home, longtime Portlanders may remember the old River Queen floating restaurant (a converted San Francisco & Puget Sound ferry boat) , which was moored near the Centennial Mills building in what's now the Pearl District. The restaurant closed in 1995 and the vessel was towed to a remote dock on the Columbia near Goble. It's remained there ever since, awaiting a buyer.

Ghost Ship


Anonymous said...

The photos are beautiful.

Allen Hill said...

Interesting! Not being involved in sov fights, I wasn't aware that ship-swapping was built right into the doctrine.
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