Cape Disappointment State ParkLeave review
About Cape Disappointment State Park
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History of Cape Disappointment State Park
In 1788, while in search of the Columbia River, English Captain John Meares missed the passage over the river bar and named the nearby headland Cape Disappointment for his failure in finding the river. In 1792, American Captain Robert Gray successfully crossed the river bar and named the river Columbia after his ship, the Columbia Rediviva. Only a few years later, in 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition arrived at Cape Disappointment.
The Cape Disappointment Lighthouse was constructed in 1856 to warn seamen of the treacherous river bar known by then as the graveyard of the Pacific. This is the oldest functioning lighthouse on the West Coast.
In 1862, Cape Disappointment was armed with smoothbore cannons to protect the mouth of the Columbia River from enemies. The installation was expanded to become Fort Canby in 1875. The fort was named after General Edward Canby, who was killed in the Modoc Indian War. The fort continued to be improved until the end of World War II. Gun batteries still sit up top the park.