The federal government has apparently ended a 433-year-old historical controversy by determining that English sea captain and explorer Sir Francis Drake came ashore in what is now a county in the San Francisco Bay area when he claimed California for England.
For years, some historians and other scholars said Drake landed on the Point Reyes Peninsula, north of San Francisco, in Marin County.
But others pointed to what they considered evidence that Drake landed in locations ranging from San Francisco Bay to Alaska, Oregon, British Columbia or other sites along the California coast.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar apparently ended the controversy this week when he designated the Drake site as Point Reyes in Marin County as one of 27 spots nationwide that are national historic or natural landmarks, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday ( http://bit.ly/RazWi2 ).
There never was any dispute that Drake had sailed his ship, the Golden Hind, north along the Pacific Coast.
When he came ashore on June 17, 1579 to repair his ship, his crew nailed a plate of brass to a tree claiming the land for Queen Elizabeth.
But the descriptions of the harbor where Drake landed were vague, sparking debates by historians. Some said he landed as far north in what is now Alaska, while others said that area he described was what is now San Diego.
The Drake Navigators Guild, a Northern California organization of historians, said it has more than 50 detailed clues about the landing, including 16th-century reports, identifying Drakes Cove, an inlet near the larger Drakes Bay, as the site where Sir Francis Drake landed.
The Point Reyes claim, as submitted by the guild, "had more evidence than any other possible site," said John Dell'Osso, chief of interpretation at Point Reyes National Seashore.
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