Whale Cove, Lincoln County: Birthplace of the British Empire?

Talk & Presentation by Bob Ward
Sunday, March 9th at the Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center

Whale Cove, Circa 1940

Whale Cove, Circa 1940

On his around-the-world voyage in 1579, Sir Francis Drake, the English explorer and privateer, came ashore on America’s West Coast and claimed it for England. He named it ‘New Albion’ (New Britain), and placed the local people under the protection of his Queen, Elizabeth I. This much, historians agree on.

Local historian Bob Ward, founder of the Drake in Oregon Society, has spent over 30 years researching Drake’s voyage. Ward will make a compelling case for Whale Cove, just south of Depoe Bay, as the location of Drake’s landing. Ward is scheduled to speak at the Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center, 333 SE Bay Boulevard, Newport, on March 9th at 5pm.

Ward will document the veil of secrecy around Drake’s voyage. When the official account of the voyage was released almost ten years later, it placed Drake’s anchorage near San Francisco. Bob Ward will present evidence that the official account was deliberately falsified in several places to keep secret, Drake’s search for the Pacific entrance to the fabled Northwest Passage.

Ward also reveals his plans to excavate what he thinks may be a small Spanish ship that Drake captured off Costa Rica. Ship and crew were to resume searching for the fabled passage after wintering on the Oregon coast. Bob explains how the wreck of this ship came to be buried beneath a tidal mud flat near the mouth of the Salmon River.

Tangible proof of exactly where he landed remains elusive. While not universally accepted, the consensus among historians is that Drake landed in a cove now known as “Drakes’ Bay” north of Golden Gate in Marin County, California. Over twenty other locations have been advanced as Drake’s port. Wherever the site of Drake’s landing is, marks the birthplace of what was to become the British Empire.