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View Oregon Coast Treasures Over Holiday Weekend
(Manzanita, Oregon) - 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, July 5, from 1 - 2 p.m.
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.
Parking is limited, and carpooling or alternative transportation is recommended, said Chris Havel, with Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. "This is a holiday weekend," he said.
The discovery of the cannon was exciting enough, as they may be from the same ship whose recovered cannon got the town of Cannon Beach its name back in the late 1800’s. More excitement followed when the discovery garnered the north Oregon coast a ton of media coverage, and then in May they brought on a visit by the PBS show "History Detectives."
The show has endeavored to discover if the cannon were indeed from the USS Shark, which wrecked on the Columbia River Bar in the 1840’s. Fifty years later - just before the dawn of the 20th century - one of its cannon was found at Arch Cape, giving the village to the north its moniker.
Gwen Wright, one of the stars of the Public Broadcasting Service series, was on the coast in May with the show’s camera crew, as well as at Fort Vancouver in Vancouver, Washington.
"I don’t want to give away their script and go into too much detail, but they’ve asked us how it was discovered, about their storage and preservation methods, what we know and what happens next," Havel said.
The PBS show also arranged for x-rays to be taken of the cannon, and the Fuji Corporation donated time on when of their specialized x-ray machines.
Havel said they are being very cautious about forming any firm answer, in spite of the twitching anxiousness of local amateur historians who are quick to conclude the evidence weighs heavily towards these being the from the same ship. There is still the great possibility they’re from another ship, as this exact type of cannon was very common at the time.
The chains of the cannon are still attached, but they are so encrusted in a concrete-like substance they are barely recognizable.
“The cannon are very similar to what was found in 1898,” he said. “But there are a hundred other shipwrecks out there along the north coast. We just don’t know enough to say for sure. We’re still asking 'What are the origins of the cannon?' "
The cannon are sitting in tanks of water there, which draws out the salt while still protecting them from the air, preventing more erosion. “Once a week, we change the water, and can sometimes open our maintenance area to visitors so you can get a closer look at the artifacts,” Havel said on the department's website.
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