SAN FRANCISCO – 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 Marin County when he claimed California for England.
For years, some historians and other scholars have said Drake landed on the Point Reyes Peninsula, north of San Francisco.
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 last 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.
When Drake came ashore on June 17, 1579, to repair his ship, the Golden Hind, 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.
The Drake Navigators Guild, a Northern California organization of historians, said it has more than 50 detailed clues about the landing.
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.