About forty miles north of Cape Flattery, rectangular Barkley Sound cuts into the west coast of Vancouver Island. From one corner of the island-studded sound, Alberni Inlet trends northeast, almost cutting Vancouver Island in two. Today, Port Alberni, a logging town and port, sits at the head of the inlet. During the years immediately following Confederation in 1867, people hoped that Port Alberni would become the western terminus of the transcontinental railway.
Cape Blanco was originally named by Spanish explorers in the 16th or early 17th century, although the origin is obscure. The cliff face is beige in color, but from a distance on sunny day appears white. Bird droppings and numerous fossil deposits contribute to the white color. In 1792 when Captain George Vancouver was exploring the west coast for England he named the headland Cape Orford in honor of his friend, George, the third Earl of Orford and son of Sir Robert Walpole. But a town near the cape founded in 1851 was named Port Orford and the cape continued to be called Cape Blanco.
The town of Cape Charles was a busy seaport in the 19th century. On May 18, 1826, Congress appropriated $40,000 to construct a lighthouse on Smith Island, just off Cape Charles, VA. This island marks the northern side of the entrance into Chesapeake Bay. The light station was named Cape Charles.
In 1888, to assist mariners find the entrance to Chesapeake Bay, the Lighthouse Service established a lightship station east of Smith's Island (and the Cape Charles Lighthouse). The 1888 Report to Congress reads, "Cape Charles Light-ship, No. 46, off the entrance to Chesapeake Bay, Virginia - This vessel was placed in position just outside of Smith's Island Shoal on February 17, 1888. She has ridden out several heavy gales and proved herself an excellent sea-boat and a valuable aid to the navigation of the coast."
From my house in Dennis on Cape Cod, when the weather is clear, I can see the flash of the Cape Cod Lighthouse at Highland (often referred to as the Highand Light) on the back shore of the Cape, 19 miles across the bay. It's a comforting sight for any sailor who has wandered the world's oceans. In fact those who go "in peril on the seas" have owed their lives to the faithful keepers of lighthouses.
The Columbia River, 1,210 miles in length, is the second longest river in America. Twice a day a huge volume of water running to the sea encounters an incoming tide at the mouth of the river. This phenomenon, coupled with the wind and currents from the northwest, causes heavy surf and a dangerous bar situation. John Meares sighted Cape Rogue, as it was initially called, on July 6, 1788. Captain Meares tried to find an entrance to escape the high seas he was experiencing.
March 3, 1947 This is a day long to be remembered. The wind blew up to 80 miles per hour and it rained and sleeted all night. There was no electric power from 4 pm the day before until noon on this date. We had to keep the generator operating all the time after the tower optic was placed in operation. We used an Aladdin lamp until it went dry, then I found a lamp that had some oil in it.
Cape Elizabeth is a critical geological point on the Maine coast. South of the Cape the coast has long sandy beaches amongst rocky spits and headlands. To the north of the Cape the coast line is almost devoid of sandy beaches and becomes laced with rocky cliffs and islands. Early Spanish explorers called the area cabo de muchas isles or “cape of many islands.”
Cape Flattery is the most northwest point of the continental United States. It's a desolate and rigorous location and guards the southern entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Swirling, strong currents live here. The lofty mountains of Washington's Olympic Peninsula block storm clouds arriving from the northwest, causing the area to experience the heaviest rainfall in the country: 100 inches a year. The warm Japanese Current sweeps by Cape Flattery and the on-shore breezes create heavy walls of fog during much of the year.
A long and very thin strip of land stretches south 175 miles along North Carolina's eastern shore. This barrier island, which is actually a series of islands, is known as the Outer Banks. These barrier islands migrate, constantly changing shape as they are affected by storms, ocean currents and even wind. During heavy winter storms the area can erode, only to accrete during the summer months. The Outer Banks is separated from the mainland by broad, shallow sounds and are occasionally breached by narrow inlets which open and close due to storms.