The year 1952 was not a good year for fishermen. Not because the fishing was bad, but because people were going fishing and never coming home again.
Richard H. Dill had been a resident of the West End for a number of years and recently had moved to Port Angeles. On a Sunday morning in May 1952 Tyler Hobucket spotted Dill’s fishing boat, the Terrine, off LaPush — it was running in circles.
George Lewis, owner of the troller Destiny had last spoken with Dill on Friday, via his ship radio. At the time Dill was north of Grays Harbor and he told Lewis he was heading for LaPush, but this was Sunday morning and something was wrong.
Hobucket attempted to reach Dill on the radio and got no answer. James Gorham of Forks also was in the area. He also tried to raise Dill on the radio and got nothing. Hobucket and Gorham finally got along side the Terrine and Hobucket stayed with the vessel as Gorham went to LaPush to get the Coast Guard to help.
When the Coast Guard boarded the Terrine there was no sign of Dill. A half-finished cup of coffee was sitting in the cabin. The boat was set on autopilot. The fish hatch was open, salmon were in the hold … had Dill fallen overboard?
Gorham assisted the Coast Guard towing the Terrine to LaPush. It was discovered that a float was missing from the Terrine and it was thought Dill maybe had made it to shore.
Coast Guard planes and boats searched for days with no sign of Dill ever showing up.
On June 3, 1952, George R. Lewis made a call from his trolling boat, the Destiny, that he was taking on water, just off Westport; many other boats in the area and the Grays Harbor Coast Guard, heard Lewis’ radio messages. When rescuers finally made it to the Destiny it was submerged to the tips of the two trolling poles and there was no sign of Lewis. The boat was towed to shore and then trailered to Port Angeles.
Examination of the boat showed that it had most likely struck a submerged object and sank slowly. The mostly empty gas tank helped keep the boat from sinking completely.
Although Lewis was known to have been wearing a life jacket, there was no sign of him in the area. Ironically, Lewis was the last person to talk to Richard Dill, by ship’s radio, before Dill disappeared off his 37-foot trolling boat the Terrine on May 17, 1952.
In July 1952, a major Coast Guard air and sea search was launched for 34-year-old commercial fisherman Leslie Gossage. Joining in the search were other commercial fishermen. Gossage had left LaPush on the morning of July 24, to go fishing off of Destruction Island.
Two fishermen, J.E. O’Neil and Floyd Thornton, both had reported seeing Gossage the day he left LaPush.
Heavy fog hindered the search, but even when they finally got in the air not a single sign of Gossage’s boat was found that would lead to a conclusion of what might have happened to the fisherman.
The last person to talk to Gossage was James Gorham, the man that helped bring in Richard Dill’s boat, the Terrine. Gossage’s boat was a 32-foot troller. In October 1952, Gossage’s family gathered at the beach and had a memorial ceremony.
Flying saucers seen over Forks
In July 1952, the Forks Forum reported residents reporting “flying saucers.” Allan Dorst and his cousin Charles Knowland spotted the objects about 1:10 in the afternoon. The two called to Mrs. Henry Dorst to come outside to view the objects. They viewed the objects for about two minutes.
All three described them as absolutely round and traveling much faster than an airplane. When caught by the sun’s rays they shown silver and they showed no vapor trails. The objects, quite high in the sky, circled Forks and then headed south.