The S.S. Catala was originally built in Scotland in 1925. For years it carried woodsmen and miners from British Columbia to Alaska until is was retired in 1958. In its next life it became a floating “boat-el” for the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle. After the fair it was taken to Ocean Shores and docked there as a hotel for charter fishermen — complete with poker games and prostitutes. In January of 1965 the ship was tipped in a winter storm.
After salvage was determined to be out of the question the upper portions of the ship were cut off and the remaining hull was buried in the sands. There it remained until the winter storms of 2006 washed away sand and excavated the old wreck. It was discovered that the ship had been buried with large amounts of oil on board and the State Department of Ecology planned a cleanup. The shore of the spit is home to the nesting grounds of the western snowy plover, an endangered species, and also the streaked horned lark, a candidate species. This made clean up extremely difficult and even more necessary. So far 13,000 gallons of oil have been removed from 2 of the 5 tanks. A total of up to 60,000 gallons is possibly held by the ship, however no one knows what they will end up finding in the remaining tanks.