A group of archaeologists gathered early in the week to do some quick digging around the bluffs of Whale Cove, hoping to find artifacts that would support the theory that 16th Century English explorer Sir Francis Drake made landfall there in 1579 during his unsuccessful search for the infamous Northwest Passage.
Drake historian Bob Ward of Newport said that the archaeologists moved about the bluffs digging down through layers of soil and rock, hoping to find what Drake’s men described as a long term campsite made by natives and the crew. Drake left the crew behind ostensibly to continue the search for the passage. It’s believed the men had their own smaller ship that they later sailed north up the coast before hunkering down for the winter at the mouth of the Salmon River. It’s suspected that the wreckage of that vessel lies deep in the mud of the river mouth well west of Highway 101 near Cascade Head.
Ward said the archaeologists had only limited sites they could excavate due to the thick development of homes and outbuildings right on top of where they believe the camp was established. The scientists were well equipped with the latest below ground probing electronic imaging. But again, they found nothing.
Ward said due to all the ground disturbance and the removal of a lot of rock and dirt for the houses, the chances of ever finding much in the way of Renaissance Era or Native American artifacts are pretty slim. He said he’s far more optimistic that they’ll find a lot more at the Salmon River mouth – perhaps the ship that Drake’s men sailed north aboard to find a less windy place to wait out the winter.
Ward’s multi-decade quest has been to establish Oregon as the first place that an English ship made port on the North American continent and that the inhabitants they first saw were declared subjects of the Queen of England . In short, the first lands claimed by England in the New World. Current history books have Drake first setting foot on the American west coast at Drake’s Bay, north of San Francisco. The veracity of that claim has been all but shaken to pieces stemming from Ward’s relentless original research that strongly suggests that Drake and the Queen of England and her Court vowed to keep the information of Drake’s voyages from their long time rival, the Spanish who were also looking for the Northwest Passage. Ward surmises from the inconsistencies in the historic record of Drake’s travels, and what he claims was deliberately changed in those records, points to the the truth – that Drake set anchor in Whale Cove, Oregon – not Drake’s Bay in Marin County, California. Ward says every effort was made by Drake, his crew and the Queen’s Royal Court to conceal where Drake sailed to and what he did there when he arrived – in OREGON.