USA to settle argument over where Drake stopped to restock
The US government is poised to settle the long-running historical dispute over where Westcountry explorer Sir Francis Drake stopped on the West Coast to repair and restock his ship on his 16th- century journey around the world.
The US National Park Service approved designating Drake’s Bay, north of San Francisco as a historic landmark based on the recommendation of a panel of scientists and archaeologists who concluded it was the likely site of the admiral’s 1579 landfall, the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa reported.
“It is a significant step, It is the final step,” said John Dell’Osso, chief of interpretation and resource education at Point Reyes National Seashore, where Drake’s Bay is located.
Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar still must sign off on the designation. Historians have spent decades debating the location of the site where Sir Francis sought refuge, and claimed for Queen Elizabeth I as Nova Albion.
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Based on maps and journals describing the topography and encounters with Native Americans, some have said it was on the Oregon coast or even as far north as Canada, while others pointed to another bay slightly north of the spot under consideration.
In the evidence the Park Service panel considered was the research of San Francisco maritime archaeologist Ed Von der Porten, who traced back to Sir Francis some shards of porcelain found at Point Reyes National Seashore. “They are looking to see if there are any flaws,” Mr Von der Porten said.
Under the national historic landmark status being sought, Drake’s Bay also would be commemorated as the site of the earliest known shipwreck on the West Coast, the 1595 sinking of the San Agustin, a Spanish galleon. The remains have never been found but are believed to lie in the area.
While the government may be persuaded Sir Francis landed at the bay that now bears his name, the debate among scholars will not be settled so easily. Brian Kelleher, author of the 1997 book Drake’s Bay, said he still is convinced Sir Francis visited Bodega Bay, about 40 miles north of the proposed landmark.