Oregon History Buffs Dismiss California's Drake Landmark

Oct 22, 2012

Some Northwest history buffs say a newly designated historic landmark in California does not settle a heated debate over where a British explorer landed more than four centuries ago. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar named a site north of San Francisco as the possible landing spot of Sir Francis Drake.

Drake was a swashbuckling naval captain who circumnavigated the world. He also was the first British explorer to have contact with Native Americans on the west coast. Journals record a five week stop in 1579.

But where?

Ed Von der Porten heads the Drake Navigators Guild. The group has now succeeded in getting northern California’s Drake’s Bay designated as that historic place.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s been pretty clear that Drake landed in California,” Von der Porten says.

But Garry Gitzen disagrees. The amateur historian from the northern Oregon coast is still gathering evidence to document Nehalem Bay as Drake’s layover site.

“I mean, Oregon is entitled to their history," Gitzen says. "And history should be recorded correctly.”

The National Park Service has said the landmark designation does not take sides in this debate and is not meant to discourage study of other possible Drake landing sites.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

On the Web:

Drake's Bay historic landmark proposal

Garry Gitzen's Sir Francis Drake research

Drake Navigator's Guild