The Columbia River Bar has a well-deserved reputation as the most dangerous continuously navigated stretch of water in the United States. Since 1792, it has swallowed approximately 2,000 (mostly small) vessels and 700 lives. Mariners universally recognize it as “the Graveyard of the Pacific.”
As dangerous as its bar may be, the Columbia River represents a vital transportation artery. It carries inbound shipments of automobiles, petroleum products and containerized freight; and outbound shipments of northwest wood, mineral and agricultural products, including wheat. An estimated 40 million tons of cargo, valued at $23 billion, crosses the Columbia River Bar annually. Sixteen pilots safely navigate approximately 3,600 ship transits each year.