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Cannon That Gave Oregon Coast Town Its Name Leaves the State

Published 07/07/2013

(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – A major piece of Oregon coast history will say bye-bye to this state for a little while. (At right: the capstan and cannon, courtesy Cannon Beach History Center).

The two cannon that were found in 2008 on the north Oregon coast made a huge splash in media around the United States at the time, and were looked at closely by the PBS show “History Detectives” as it was in the middle of restorative work. But the original reason those big guns were such news – the original cannon that got Cannon Beach its name – is now also in need of a makeover. This means one of the town's founding fathers, so to speak, will be leaving the state for a few months.

One of the original carronades found in 1898 has been on display at the Cannon Beach History Center for the last seven years, and before that was out in the open, in the coastal salt air, close to 100 years.

That cannon and a capstan from the U.S.S. Shark are now badly oxidized from all that exposure and are in need of a kind of makeover, so this week the two historical objects leave for Texas A&M University in hopes of sprucing up the iron objects and stopping that oxidization process.

The cannon and capstan get packed up at the Cannon Beach History Center on Tuesday. The cannon itself weighs about one ton, so the entire project requires the cooperative efforts of Coaster Construction, the Cannon Beach Fire Station and a handful of individuals associated with the museum.

The two carronades found in 2008 have been at Texas A&M since that year, undergoing painstaking removal of the concrete-like layers that solidified around them while underneath the sand at Arch Cape for about 150 years. They are scheduled to be returned to Oregon soon, said the History Center's executive director Elaine Murdy.

“They will eventually go on long term display at the Maritime Museum in Astoria, Oregon,” Murdy said. “It was one of these cannons that the History Detectives looked at. “

These objects come from the U.S.S Shark, an American vessel that crashed on the Columbia River Bar back in 1846. Parts of it were sheared off and floated down to Arch Cape, including the capstan and three cannon.

One cannon and the capstan were discovered in Arch Cape after a massive storm in 1898, which led to that entire area briefly being called Cannon Beach until the town just north acquired the name sometime later.

The other two cannon were not found until a Lake Oswego family stumbled upon them in Arch Cape in 2008 during an extreme low sand level event. Historians aren't all completely in full agreement these were from the USS Shark, but few are doubting their origin these days.

The original cannon was actually first spotted in Arch Cape by a mail carrier only a couple of months after the 1846 shipwreck. It was seen a couple more times over the decades, along with the other two cannon, but the others disappeared after a while. It wasn't until 1898 that it was pulled out of the sand, after which it spent a good 30 years on at least one homestead in Arch Cape. It sat outdoors the entire time until 2005, when it found a home in the front display at the Cannon Beach History Center.

More pictures of the 2008 cannon below or see this link; more on the area at the Cannon Beach Virtual Tour, Map.






 

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