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  • Writer's pictureDon Wilding

125 years ago: The Jason tragedy

One of the most tragic shipwrecks in Outer Cape Cod maritime history occurred on this date 125 years ago, when the British ship Jason ran aground near the Pamet River Lifesaving Station in Truro.

Twenty-five men perished in the wreck. Carrying a load of jute from India, the vessel ran aground during a storm. The odds were highly stacked against the surfmen from the local stations making a rescue.

As the U.S. Lifesaving Service report read: “The fury of the surf was so overwhelming that none of the men … even so much as entertained the thought of attempting to launch the boat. It was out of question, absolutely and beyond all possibility of cavil.”

Incredibly enough, there was one survivor. While the bulk of the crew climbed into the masts, Samuel Evans fell overboard and clung to a jute bale. The masts collapsed and the 25 men were lost, but Evans managed to float to shore, where he was rescued.

Evans eventually returned to England and soon went to sea again, but died on his next voyage after falling out of his bunk.

A couple of years back, Phil Cole, a longtime Truro resident, contacted me. His great-grandfather, who lived near Ballston Beach in Truro, went to the scene of the wreck later in the month. Cole had a copy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac from 1893, which his great-grandfather used as a sort of diary, chronicling their activities on the respective dates in the publication.

Cole also had a few items from the ship, including a piece of its wood railing.

The remains of the Jason are long gone, but these artifacts remain, a reminder of a simpler yet dangerous time on the Outer Beach.

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Read more about shipwrecks of the Outer Cape in Don's book, A Brief History of Eastham: On the Outer Beach of Cape Cod, from The History Press.

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