Nature's Taking a Final Toll on This Instagram Star

Storms have ravaged the beached SS Point Reyes, a beloved selfie spot in California
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2024 10:00 AM CST
Nature's Taking a Final Toll on This Instagram Star
The "Inverness Shipwreck" sits in disarray on the shores of Tomales Bay. Time is apparently running out for the old wooden boat that became an Instagram star as it rotted on a shoreline north of San Francisco.   (Jessica Christian/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

A beloved landmark for selfie-seekers and photographers alike is in its final days. According to SF Gate, winter storms have ravaged the remains of the SS Point Reyes, a beached vessel that's been left to the elements for decades in Northern California. Though it's been dubbed a shipwreck by tourists who flock to the landmark, the vessel actually got mired in mud in Tomales Bay in the '90s, and the years have weathered it into rustic perfection. Photographers were responsible for saving the picturesque boat in the early 2000s, when the protected wetlands surrounding it were being restored.

"It's sad, because she was just an amazing boat," says Rebecca Dixon, owner of a local wetlands restoration firm. "These boats have soul. They have stories to tell." Stories about the Point Reyes have been told all over social media, where's it's become Instagram-famous for its moldering beauty. While interest in the ship has made its town, Inverness, a destination for travelers looking to snag a shot, not everyone has treaded with care. In 2016, an amateur photographer accidentally set it on fire, and locals complain about litter left on the beach.

Severe weather in December demolished much of the boat's structure, and the National Park Service says it's now "evaluating options to remove it safely." No timetable has been established. "It's completely falling apart," Inverness fire chief Jim Fox tells the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's much more dangerous than it used to be." The SS Point Reyes comes with some interesting history, notes Smithsonian Magazine. Before becoming a social media star, it was built in the '40s as a WWII launch vessel and was later repurposed as a salmon boat. (A father and daughter discovered a shipwreck while fishing in Lake Michigan.)

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