Where the Stories of an Oregon Coast Treasure Ship Got Started

The hidden coves that may or may not contain shipwrecks have become the stuff of Oregon lore.

Cascade Head, near Lincoln City.

Did you know that Astoria, founded by a fur trader named John Jacob Astor in 1811, is the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies? (Side note: Colonizers are, like, the least creative town namers.)

Long before the uninspired fur trader John Astor rolled up to the breathtaking confluence of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean, that whole breadth of oceanfront countryside was Chinook territory. Those communities have recorded histories reaching back thousands of generations, and shipwrecks are a big part of that history.

So much so that now, thousands of years later, many still obsess over the details of those 3,000-plus wrecks. The hidden coves that may or may not contain them have become the stuff of Oregon lore.

This week, I and my guest Doug Kenck-Crispin of Kick Ass Oregon History, will examine one of the most prolific mysteries of the coastal territories, The Beeswax Wreck, whose thrilling tale is the source material for The Goonies. Recent discoveries may paint a clearer history of one of Oregon’s most legendary and mysterious shipwrecks.

Doug and I chat about pirates, colonizers and the native narrative of buried treasures aplenty. We also discuss why you should not try to find this cave. It might kill you.

Listen on Spotify.

Listen on Apple Podcasts.

Listen on Google Podcasts.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.