Cape Disappointment

Monday I drove from where I had spent the weekend in Portland, Oregon north to Astoria, then took the 4-mile long Astoria-Megler bridge over the mighty Columbia River to Washington State.  I then headed west to the little town of Ilwaco.  This was the port there:




Believe me, Ilwaco isn’t a very big town but because it is right next to the mouth of the Columbia River it’s port is a very busy place.

Next I headed into Cape Disappointment State Park to see the lighthouses (see next post).  There is also US Coast Guard base here.


While Coast Guard helicopters and other aircraft are based at the Astoria Coast Guard facility on the Oregon side of the river, this base specializes in water rescue.  It is the home of the elite National Motor Lifeboat School which trains personnel from other bases around the country in rough weather and surf rescue operations.  It has 9 search and rescue boats which can function in the difficult and life-threatening conditions which often exist in this area.

And let me try to explain how Cape Disappointment got it’s name.  In 1775 a Spanish cargo ship was in this area and it’s captain noticed the unusual currents which were affecting his boat.  Much of his crew was ill and he didn’t have time to research it further but made note of it.  In 1788 another ship came to the area to look into this mysterious occurrence but was unable to replicate it and became disenchanted with this huge waste of time.  That captain, of an English vessel, deduced that the “currents” were merely from a sound and not a river, and named the sound “Deception Bay” and the high point on the land “Cape Disappointment” and left in a huff.  It wasn’t until 1792 that an American captain, Robert Gray, successfully crossed the Columbia River Bar and discovered the mighty Columbia River which he named after his ship, the Columbia Rediviva.

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