Beeswax Wreck on Oregon Public Broadcasting

The Oregon Public Broadcasting network is airing a feature about the Nehalem Beeswax Wreck on Oregon Field Guide. 
Click for link to video of the broadcast

Beeswax stamp from Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard shipwreck chart

Beeswax stamp from Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard shipwreck chart

If you haven’t already caught this episode, and are interested in learning more about Oregon’s oldest known shipwreck and its history, make sure to watch and familiarize yourself with this fascinating story about a Manila Galleon mystery. The links below will also provide more information.

Links:
Dead Reckoning the Pacific Graveyard slideshow, which includes clues to the Beeswax wreck mystery
Oregon Public Broadasting website
Search our blog for Beeswax wreck info
Beeswax project website
Scientists search for buried treasure off the Oregon coast KGW.com article from their news feature in May of 2008

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The Beeswax wreck: First European wreck on the NW Coast

From the olyblog.net:
A public presentation by archaeologist Scott S. Williams

Monday, Oct. 20, 2008 at Noon

State Capital Museum and Outreach Center, 211 – 21st Ave. SW, Olympia
(360) 753-2580

Sometime in the late 17th century a Manila Galleon, carrying tons of beeswax and other cargo destined for the colonies of New Spain, wrecked on the Oregon coast near Nehalem Spit.
Clatsop Indian oral histories tell of the shipwreck and its survivors. Over time the Indians incorporated the cargo into their trading and daily lives. This presentation by Scott S. Williams (Cultural Resources Program manager at WSDOT) will discuss on-going investigations to locate the mysterious wreck and document it.

This public program is part of the “Adventures in Northwest History and Archaeology” series at the State Capital Museum.

Admission to each lecture is $2.

You are welcome to bring lunch. Coffee and tea will be served.

Links:
Oly Blog article
Dead Reckoning the Pacific Graveyard shipwreck chart at NW Limited…History in Vogue

The Beeswax wreck of Nehalem

May 6, 2008
Manzanita, Oregon, United States-A team of scientists, archaeologists and divers are planning a dive this week with the goal of locating information, or even proving the identity of what is known as “the Beeswax wreck” of Nehalem.
They are hoping for some cold, hard facts in order to separate the vast amount of fiction surrounding one of the oldest known shipwrecks on the Oregon coast.
Chunks of beeswax dating from as long as four centuries ago have been washing ashore on Oregon beaches. Some as recently as this past Winter.  A piece found in Gold Beach, Oregon in December, 2007, is likely from the shipwreck off of Manzanita.
The origin of the wreck near Nehalem is most probably a Spanish “Manila” galleon, either the Santo Christo de Burgos or the San Francisco Xavier, traveling eastbound and off course when they met their fate:
“The galleon “San Francisco Xavier”, General Don Santiago Zabalburu says, sailed from Cavite in August. “Nothing is known of its fate; not a fragment, no object whatever, large or small, has ever been found to serve as evidence or support for even a conjecture as to its fate, whether it was shattered on some unknown rock or was swallowed by the waves, crew and all—commander, seamen, and passengers, among whom were whole families of high rank. The ocean has kept the secret of this terrible tragedy.””
(quote taken from the Beeswax project website)

Other past speculations as to origin have included Chinese or Japanese origin of the
wreckage found at Nehalem. beeswax from a Nehalem oregon shipwreck

                                                                                                                  Frank J. Kumm of the Tillamook Historical Museum holds a chunk
of beeswax found on
the Nehalem Peninsula

The evidence, however, strongly points to the San Francisco Xavier, whose last known voyage from the Phillippines was in 1705. Laden with silk, porcelain from China and spices, she had also been carrying 75 tons of beeswax.

dead reckoning shipwreck chart by bill brooks of nw limited in astoria oregon
Detail of the stamp displayed on NW Limited‘s Dead Reckoning of the
Pacific Graveyard
shipwreck chart, published in 2007

One of the reasons for the beeswax wreck’s likelihood to be the Xavier rather than the Santo Christo de Burgos is the tsunami of January, 1700, which would have forced the remains of any wreck in existence at the time further inland than the site of the current location.
Beeswax in itself helps to date the wreck, as well as locate its origin.
There were no native bees in the New World. Any beeswax, which was favored among Catholic churches in Mexico, would have come from Asian honeybees. This was proven to be the source of the beeswax originating from the Nehalem wreck.
Radio-carbon dating of the wax and wood from the site confirms 17th-century origin. The porcelain and miscellaneous wood also found near the site dates to around 1638.
How did that beeswax arrive as far south as Gold Beach, Oregon?
Simple: The wax was traded up and down the coast by native people.
The impact of a shipwreck to local surroundings was not always measured in the worth of its cargo, however.
When Lewis & Clark arrived here in 1805, they observed a young male living among the native Clatsop tribe who appeared to them to be half-white. 
Was he perhaps a descendant of a survivor of the very same beeswax wreck?

Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard” for sale by NW Limited…History in VogueTM
(pictured above-click for larger) includes the beeswax wreck of Nehalem in its listing of shipwrecks.
The chart, completed in late 2007 by Astoria’s Bill Brooks of NW Limited, is the newest, most complete list of shipwrecks on the north Oregon and south Washington coasts, including the mouth of the Columbia River, the area known as the Pacific Graveyard.
His research spanned more 3 years and 8 months, from concept to publication. Local museums, noted shipwreck authors and historians as well as local residents helped to confirm the facts, and has resulted in the most complete, unique and beautiful sunken ship chart ever published for this region.
Each chart is numbered in an edition of 500, and hand-built beginning with the lithograph.
When finished, they are custom-framed and ready to hang.
Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard is the ultimate collection of shipwreck facts and lore, and the framed variation includes lost fishing vessels as well as US Coast Guard tributes.
For more information, or to purchase Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard, call 503-338-6056 or click bill@nwlimited.com

Links:
NW Limited…History in VogueTM
Beeswax is not typical treasure hunt October 25, 2008 article at the Olympian newspaper
The BeesWax Project
Columbia River Maritime Museum
Scientists Search for Buried Treasure off the Oregon Coast
The Manila Galleons (Treasure Expeditions)

Treasure awaits discovery on the coast

Storms eventually give back what they once took.

You don’t need to do much more than look out your window to see that we’ve had a rough winter. 
The evidence is everywhere in landslides, structure damage, trees twisted, bent and shattered.  That same weather has also had the effect of exposing shipwrecks both currently known as well as revealing mysteries.
In mid-December of 2007, a 21-ft. piece of a pre 19th-century, partially-burned shipwreck washed ashore near Ocean Shores, Washington. (click for news link) The wreck that it came from has not been identified, but it could be any number of possibilities in a region rich with stories similar.
If you’ve recently ventured
out to Ft. Stevens, you’ve
likely noticed that the Peter Iredale’s more visible than usual.
The violent action of Winter surf and wind have stripped away her shroud of sand, providing great photo opportunities and sightseeing.
         Hidden for a hundred years, another shipwreck has emerged from the dunes near Coos Bay, Oregon. (link to news story) No one seems yet to be able to indentify the wreck, but its construction dates it to the late 1800s. A schooner-turned-barge once plied the waters of Oregon, disappearing into the sands of a southern beach. Forgotten until the elements exposed her, speculation abounds. The hows, the whys and whens are questions leading the mind along limitless paths of possibility. 


Detail of Dead Reckoning showing some of the positions of shipwrecks at the mouth of the Columbia River.

Shipwreck lore makes fascinating history, rife with romantic notions of treasures lost, of life and death heroism.
In truth, the stories behind these maritime misfortunes range from utter tragedy to simple, uneventful groundings in which all hands merely stepped onto the sand entrapping their ship, and walked ashore. Destinies were changed in light of capricious currents, churlish channels and surprise storms. Each story plays out to an end, though many also carry beginnings along with them:
Place names were gained, sometimes a town was begun where shipwrecks deposited large numbers of survivors in one area.
In more than one instance, a survivor met and married their mate at the site of a wreck, and settled there to become part of the place that claimed the very ship they’d arrived on.
If you do your research, you will find a wealth of true-to-life adventure, even treasure may just be lurking beneath the sand,
or preserved within the Pacific’s depths.

 

 “Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard” shipwreck chart by NW Limited…History in VogueTM
(click on chart to view the readable, large lithograph only version)


From Tillamook Bay north to Pt. Grenville, the shipwrecks of the Pacific Graveyard are represented on NW Limited…History in Vogue’s “Dead Reckoning” shipwreck chart. Along the left edge, the names, dates and summaries of the wrecks read like prose, leading you into a reverie of maritime history. These are stories of the earliest civilization in this region.  The lithographs are $50.

Before Lewis & Clark arrived, there were already centuries worth of shipwrecks which had occurred and influenced the native people, therefore changing the course of history.
Collaboration with numerous sources including shipwreck author Don Marshall has ensured the best possible representation of date, location and circumstances as well as identity. Many of these are in the process of being researched even now. (see link to the Beeswax Project as example, below).
Not all “treasure” is tangible, after all.
So: chart a course for historic adventure, and intriguing discovery. Own for yourself, or give as a gift, the ultimate piece of local history, “Dead Reckoning of the Pacific Graveyard” by NW Limited…History in VogueTM.
Contact: Bill Brooks 503-338-6056 or email: bill@nwlimited.com
Other links of interest:
Shipwreck Registry of Oregon
Columbia River Maritime Museum
Nehalem Beeswax Wreck Project