Historic Oregon Coast Artifacts Begin Conservation Work
(Cannon Beach, Oregon) - Two cannon revealed by winter erosion on the beach at Arch Cape on the north Oregon coast in early 2008 are now in the hands of professional marine artifact experts at Texas A&M University.
The cannon were first spotted by an Oregon teen visiting the Oregon beach in February of that year, and then spent the next year submerged in tanks of water under the care of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD). Working with an advisory team of local, state and national historians and citizens, the department solicited bids before awarding the conservation work to Texas A & M University’s Conservation Research Laboratory, part of the School’s Nautical Archaeology Program.
The lab will work to carefully remove decades of rocky concretions that coat the cannon, apply chemicals to protect the metal and wood from further decay, and study details that may determine the cannons’ origin. The cannon are assumed to be remnants from the 1846 shipwreck of the USS Shark, sunk on the Columbia Bar 70 miles north as it attempted to leave the Columbia River, but the evidence is mostly circumstantial.
The conservation process, which will likely take years, may reveal more details. The cannon will return to Oregon when conservation is finished.
The OPRD features online updates, including video and photos, on the conservation process. There are consistently posted at www.oregon.gov/OPRD/PARKS/cannon.shtml.
Donations to help fund the $45,000 conservation project may be made to the Oregon State Parks Trust, 2100 SW River Pkwy, 4th Floor Portland, Oregon 97201, www.oregonstateparkstrust.org.
The cannon caused a huge stir on the Oregon coast in 2008, and eventually attracted the attention of the PBS show “History Detectives,” which came to the north coast and southern Washington conducting research, filming and interviewing subjects. Gwen Wright, one of the stars of the Public Broadcasting Service series, spent much time at the coast with the show’s camera crew, as well as at Fort Vancouver in Vancouver, Washington. They’ve visited with a naval historian there, with historians and archeologists in Cannon Beach and at Nehalem State Park in Nehalem.
The show also visited with several x-ray imaging experts, and came to the conclusion it was likely from the USS Shark. However, it still has not been proven.
The pair of cannon were discovered in a place very close to the same spot where the original cannon that gave Cannon Beach its name was found. That cannon is on display at the Cannon Beach Historical Society in Cannon Beach.
“The cannon are very similar to what was found in 1898,” said OPRD spokesman Chris Havel. “But there are a hundred other shipwrecks out there along the north coast.”
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