Beautiful Mt. Neahkahnie looms large along the coast of Oregon.
The local Indians name for it is translated as
'the place of the great spirit'
A drive down the Oregon coast along Highway 101 is beautiful.
There are numerous headlands along the way. One of the largest is
Mt. Neahkahnie, at an elevation of more than 1600 feet. It rises
straight up out the Pacific and truly must have been an obstacle to
early transportation up and down the coast. This resulted in a reliance
on water transport, as trails overland from the north were...precipitous.
If you want to read a great book about the locale, read Don Berry's 'Trask'.
Besides beauty, the mountain is the stuff of legends. When Spain ruled the seas,
her manila galleons made trips across the Pacific from Spanish lands in the Americas
to the Philippines. The ships were sometimes blown off course and hit (hit might be the
operative word here) landfall much farther north than the planned landings
in Alta California. Evidence as well as Indian legend indicates that probably at
least two of these arrived at Mt. Neahkahnie.
One of them is known as 'the Beeswax Ship' as the sands of
the beaches to the south of the mountain have offered up many chunks of
Beeswax which was a common cargo of Spanish galleons.
Beeswax was used for candles. Some of the pieces of this wax were
marked with symbols, while others were not. The early pioneers
collected much of this and even today pieces may be found.
Another is believed to have contained a treasure chest.
According to Indian legend, a ship...or perhaps two or three
appeared off their encampment south of the mountain.
According to some accounts,these ships were in battle.
The result was one ship sending a boat ashore with a large
chest. The men of the ship toiled up the slopes with this chest.
They buried the chest and then they shot one of their own, and
laid his body atop the chest before burying it. This was thought
to be done because they believed the natives would not disturb
the resting place of the dead.
When the white man arrived, these stories of treasure brought great
interest. Over the years, many have searched for the treasure. Some
found rocks engraved with symbols they believed to be keys to the
site of the treasure chest. Some died while searching.
An earthquake once opened a hole in the mountain, perhaps dropping the
chest further into the heart of the mountain. Perhaps an early
treasure seeker found the treasure and told no one.
It is more exciting to believe it is still there, waiting to be found one day.
The mountain is steep and as modern government rules demand permits
for any digging, only beach combing is advised.
One can stroll the beach and who knows what they will find?
Beeswax? Perhaps a piece of the treasure? A feeling of mystery.
A feeling of awe at the foot of the towering mountain.
Over the years, other ships have been wrecked here, including the
beautiful Glenesslin in 1913. Possibly she was becalmed
due to the capes blocking the wind in certain areas.
Beauty and tragedy and mystery.