By Paul Fattig
February 25, 2008
GOLD BEACH It was the luminescent glow that caught Loretta LeGuee’s attention.
"The sun was shining through it it kind of looked like a huge egg," said the Gold Beach resident who has been combing the local beach each morning for years.
The oval-shaped amber object resting on the storm-tossed log early that December morning was no egg.
Experts believe it’s a chunk of beeswax from a Spanish trading vessel that sank off the coast of what is now Oregon more than 300 years ago.
"From the picture they sent me, that’s what it looks like to me it’s definitely beeswax," said Scott Williams of Olympia, Wash., assistant state archaeologist for Washington.
Williams would know: He’s the leader of the "Beeswax Wreck Project," an effort by a nonprofit group of volunteers whose mission it is to solve the mystery of why blocks of beeswax have been popping up along the Oregon Coast for centuries.
They suspect the beeswax is either from the Santo Christo de Burgos, which sank in 1693, or the San Francisco Xavier, which disappeared in 1705. In both were tons of beeswax from the Philippines bound for Mexico via the Manilla-Acapulco trade route, Williams explained. There is historic evidence one of the ships wrecked in Nehalem Bay, creating the beeswax bounty, according to the team that hopes to conduct archaeological research at the site.
"Where she (LeGuee) found it would be unusual, being so far south," Williams said, noting the ocean currents off Oregon flow north, not south. "But we know the Indians were trading it prehistorically up and down the coast."
Jaspers and La Tapatia planned for the Chips clan……[;)]