Saturday, May 12, 2012

May 6, 2012. Battle Rock In Port Orford, Oregon. Then Driving Down The Coast To Crescent City.

 I love the Pacific Coast.

We're at Battle Rock City Park in Port Orford, Oregon.

This is Battle Rock, site of a historic battle between 
the first landing party of white settlers
 and a local Native American tribe.
Battle Rock City Park has been dedicated in memory 
of the ancient people (Dene Tsut Dah) and the pioneer founders
of this townsite.
In 1850, the U.S. Congress passed the Oregon Donation Land Act.
This act allowed white settlers to file claims
on Indian land in western Oregon,
although no Indian nation had signed a single treaty.
Capt. William Tichenor of the steamship Sea Gull
landed nine men on June 9, 1851, 
for the purpose of establishing a white settlement.
This resulted in deadly conflict between 
the two cultures.
For two weeks, the nine were besieged on the island
now called Battle Rock.
Under cove of darkness,
the party escaped north to Umpqua City.
In July, Capt. Tichenor again arrived
with a well-armed party of seventy men
and established the settlement now called Port Orford.
I guess they taught those uppity Indians a lesson.
Later, Tichenor became a permanent resident
after his retirement from the sea.

The Tutuni people lived along the Southern Oregon coast, including this site, and the lower Rogue River for thousands of years before first contact with explorers, miners, and settlers.

In  1792, George Vancouver was among the first outsiders to make contact with local native peoples.  He described them as "curious, with a mile and peaceable disposition."  The local Quatomah band of the Tututni people were not as friendly nearly 60 years later, however, when they visited William Tichenor and his party at this site. Tichenor landed a party of nine men armed with rifles and a small cannon to establish a town in their village.  Battle Rock is named for this conflict.

Trail of Tears
By the early 1850s, miners and settlers infiltrated the entire length of the Rogue River.  Mining destroyed the fish runs, while settlement, infectious diseases, and the development of farms devastated centuries of native tradition and culture.  Settlers fenced the pastures, tilled the camas meadows, and decimated elk and deer populations.
Tension mounted, and attacks by Euro-Americans and natives occurred along the Rogue River, culminating in the Rogue River Wars of 1855-1856.  Congress created the Coast Reservation in 1855, and US troops quickly began removing native peoples from their aboriginal lands.  As early as February 1856, natives were force-marched to the Coast Reservation.  By 1857, the majority of surviving natives were forced onto the reservation.  About 1200 people were marched here to Port Orford and held in open pens until the steamship Columbia deported them north to the Coast Reservation.  The last resisters, Tecumtum (Chief John) and his band ,were marched 125 miles up the coast.  Many descendants of these displaced peoples reside today on the Siletz and Grand Ronde Reservations.

Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and includes any rock, reef, or island along the Oregon coast that is separated from the mainland and above the ocean surface at mean high tide.  These diverse landforms, surrounded by extremely productive nearshore coastal waters and isolated from terrestrial predators and most human disturbance, provide a variety of nesting sites for many wildlife species.  The refuge is closed to all public use to prevent disturbance to wildlife and to protect habitat.

Oregon Islands NWR supports the largest concentration of seabirds along the west coast of the lower 48 states.  The majority of Oregon's estimated 1.2 million nesting seabirds use this refuge annually.  Thirteen seabird species breed here, including common murres, Brandt's, double-crested and pelagic cormorants, Leach's and fork-tailed storm-petrels, rhinoceros and Cassin's auklets, tufted puffins, pigeon guillemots, black oystercatchers, and western and glaucous-winged gulls.  In addition to seabirds, this diverse refuge supports peregrine falcons, brown pelicans, bald eagles, and Aleutian Canada geese at various sites along the coast and is also critically important to thousands of marine mammals including Steller and California sea lions and harbor seals as breeding, pupping, molting, and haulout sites.

The hillside is covered with wild iceplant, or delosperma.
I grow iceplant in my garden
and the blooms are the same
but the foliage is quite different.
These are much more succulent-ey.

Don't know what the pretty little white flower is.
And you know who you are.

The beauty of the Oregon Coast's scenery
reflects this region's biological diversity.
The ocean, offshore islands,
and rocks, tidepools, sandy beaches, 
dunes, headlands, and the forested slopes
of the Coast Range provide a variety of habitats
for many plant and animal species.

Twelve thousand years ago, when huge ice sheets covered vast portions of North America, this region remained ice free.  The absence of ice allowed some unique plant species to survive, and as the glaciers retreated, these plant species repopulated the region.  One of these, Port Orford cedar, is recognized worldwide for its beauty, fragrance, straight grain, and high resistance to warping and rot.  Unfortunately, a deadly root fungus is now threatening the survival of these unique trees.

With minor industrial pollution and no over-development,
the ocean, beaches, and headlands are unspoiled.  This pristine habitat supports a wide variety of plant and wildlife species.  The Orford Reefs are the second largest Steller Sea Lion rookery in the "Lower 48."  The kelp beds just offshore are among the largest on the Pacific coast.

Wreck of the Cottoneva
On February 10, 1937, winds over 75 MPH caused the 190 foot steam schooner "Cottoneva" to run aground at Battle Rock.  It was in port loading lumber.  The captain and all 26 seamen were rescued by the coast guard crew using a breeches buoy.  The Cottoneva was constructed in 1917, and originally christened the "Frank D. Stout."  Only the propeller remains.

The S.S. Cottoneva was caught in a surprise storm.
She'd been docked and partially loaded with lumber
from the Trans-Pacific Lumber Mill when the storm hit.
Lumber from the mill had been piling up
on the vacant lots and streets in Port Orford
due to a shipping strike.
The captain tried his best to get her out to sea
but she struck a submerged object,
doing severe damage.
The captain had no choice but to beach the vessel.

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