How the Princess Sophia grounded and sank with all aboard 100 years ago

This archival photograph from 1918 shows the Princess Sophia ten hours after striking the Vanderbilt Reef. (Photo ASL-P87-1702 by Winter and Pond, courtesy of Alaska State Library)

The wreck and sinking of the steamship Princess Sophia exactly a century ago has been called Alaska’s worst maritime tragedy.

As many as 353 passengers and crew died after the ship grounded on Vanderbilt Reef north of Juneau on Oct. 23, 1918, and then sank 40 hours later in stormy weather.

Only an oil-soaked dog survived and managed to swim to shore.

Although the sinking happened near Juneau, it was not a uniquely Alaskan tragedy.

Listen to part one of a two-part series from 2002:
Listen now