February 17 - 1914: The worst loss of life in a dozen years

Lifesavers rescue 8 sailors. 4 frozen bodies were lashed to the rigging
Capt. Daniel Cole and crew in front of Cahoon's Hollow Station around this same time.

1914: Italian bark Castagna comes a cropper on the Marconi Station beach

The loss of life was the largest in a wreck on Cape Cod in 12 years.

On this day in 1914 as reported by the Newport Daily News -

WELLFLEET - Captain Garva and four seamen of  the Italian bark Castagna perished when their vessel was thrown on the outer bank on the ocean side of Cape Cod, near the Marconi  Lifesaving Station, just before dawn today.

The first mate and seven sailors were rescued by life savers, one of whom, Captain Tobin of the Cahoon's Hollow station, was badly injured by the overturning of the lifeboat. The skipper of the Castagna was was washed overboard, four men were frozen to death in the rigging and one died in the lifeboat on the way to shore.

The loss of life was the largest in a wreck on Cape Cod in 12 years.

The Castagna, on the beach on the right, from Montevedio for Boston (shown on the beach on right) with phosphate rock, struck during a blinding snowstorm and a 60-mile northwest gale early today. The combined lifesaving crews from the Nauset and Cahoon's Hollow stations set up their beach gear and shot three lines across the Castagna's deck, but the sailors were so benumbed by the cold that they were unable to handle the breeches buoy tackle.

The gale had moderated to 30 miles an hour but the surf was so high that the life savers had to wait some time before they were able to launch  their surf boat and pull out to the wreck against wind, sea and biting cold.

The frostbitten sailors were hurried to warm quarters in the Marconi radio station where the entire force of operators assisted in caring for the almost helpless survivors. The women at the station had hot coffee and food awaiting them when they arrived. None of the mariners, except the mate, could speak English, but all evidenced their gratitude for the attention shown them by the lifesavers and the Marconi force.

The weather moderated during the forenoon and the sea fell off rapidly and it was believed that there was a chance of saving the bark if wrecking apparatus arrived quickly. The voices of the sailors could be heard plainly on shore as they shouted to the life savers to come to their assistance, and the men could be seen running up and down the deck, vigorously waving their arms and slapping their hands together in an effort to warm themselves.

Eight men, helpless from exposure to the wintry gale, were frozen on board, and four frozen bodies were lashed to the rigging. The life savers placed the living seamen into their lifeboats and rowed back to shore. The survivors of the Castagna's crew were carried to the wireless station, where medical attention was given them. All were so greatly overcome by exposure that none of them could give a coherent account of the disaster.

Word of the bark's plight was sent to revenue cutter Gresham at Gloucester and the cutter started to aid the stranded craft.

(Above: An old photo of the Italian Bark Castagna with two people on the beach the next day)


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