Public Viewing of Oregon Coast Cannon Artifacts Found This Year
Published July 2008
(Nehalem, Oregon) - Summer brings lots of opportunities for fun on the Oregon coast, and this time the fun feeds the intellectual curiosity and thrill of historic discovery.
The two historic cannon recovered from the beach at Arch Cape in February are in temporary storage at Nehalem Bay State Park, just off US 101 near Manzanita. The cannon will be available for public viewing Saturday, August 2 from 1 - 2 p.m. National Park Service historian Greg Shine, based at Fort Vancouver in Washington state, will present a related program in the campground amphitheater at 8:30 p.m. that evening.
It is possible the cannon originate from the USS Shark, a United States Navy vessel that wrecked on the Columbia Bar in 1846. Shine, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site’s Chief Ranger, will present "U.S. Schooner Shark in the Oregon Country, 1846." His program will use first-hand accounts, archival documents and maps, and private letters to describe the Shark’s activities in the Pacific Northwest and its demise at the dangerous Columbia River Bar. Why the ship sent to Fort Vancouver and the Oregon Territory? What was the crew’s relationship with the local residents? Their stories of cooperation, intrigue, shipwreck, rescue, and even horse racing will create an understanding of a time when the Oregon Territory was emerging as an important region of the United States.
The cannon are normally kept submerged in tanks of water to draw out corrosive salt and protect them from damage caused by exposure to the air, but public viewing is possible when the tank water is emptied and refilled. They will eventually be handed over to a professional conservator, after the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department contracts with a qualifying organization.
Shine will also present another program on the cannon in Cannon Beach, later in the month. On Wednesday, August 13, the Cannon Beach History Center and Museum will host a lecture by Greg Shine on the cannons discovered in Arch Cape. This free, public program will take place at 7:30 p.m. at the History Center.
Using firsthand accounts, archival documents, maps, and private letters, Greg Shine will describe U.S. Schooner Shark’s activities in the Pacific Northwest and its demise at the dangerous Columbia River Bar. His PowerPoint presentation will illustrate why the vessel was sent to Fort Vancouver and the Oregon Country, and how the schooner’s officers interacted with Hudson’s Bay Company officials, officers from the British sloop of war HMS Modeste and local residents. Their stories of cooperation, intrigue, shipwreck, rescue, and even horse racing will help create an understanding of the Oregon Country as it rose to international importance in the 1840s.
CBHCM is located at the corner of Spruce and Sunset Streets in Cannon Beach. 503-436-9301.
More information on the cannon is online at this website. The public viewing on August 2 will take place in the Nehalem Bay State Park maintenance yard. Parking is limited, and carpooling or alternative transportation is recommended. The evening presentation will be in the park’s campground amphitheater.
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