Columbia River Maritime Museum


Columbia River Maritime Museum Welcomes the Return of the Arch Cape Cannons to Oregon

Released May 14, 2014

Astoria OR – On Presidents' Day weekend in 2008, Oregon teen Miranda Petrone and her father, Mike Petrone, were beachcombing on the beach near Arch Cape in Clatsop County when she noticed a misshapen lump of rock and remarked how much it looked like a cannon.

That one moment kicked off the discovery of two 19th century cannon. It resulted in six years of restoration work, leading up to the planned public unveiling of the artifacts at the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria on Saturday, May 24.

The two cannon are a specific type called a carronade. They were part of the 1846 wreck of the USS Shark, a US Navy vessel that ran aground on the Columbia Bar as it attempted to leave the Northwest after touring the territory. The timeline:

  • 1846: USS Shark wrecks at the mouth of the Columbia. Most debris sinks, but some pieces float 70 miles south to the Arch Cape area, including one chunk of the deck with three cannon. A Navy seaman finds them, but is unable to get any of them off the beach before they were lost to the sand.
  • 1898: One of the three cannon is recovered from the Arch Cape beach, and is normally on display at the Cannon Beach History Center (it is currently out for restoration work).
  • Early 2008: Two more cannon found on the Arch Cape Beach, but are heavily encrusted with rock and hardened sand. Recovered by Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) staff from nearby Nehalem Bay State Park with help from members of the Arch Cape community.
  • Late 2008: OPRD contracts with Texas A&M University to conserve the cannon by removing the rock, desalinating the wood and metal, and covering them with protective coatings.
  • 2014: Conserved cannon return to Oregon and delivered to professional museum staff at the Columbia River Maritime Museum, who already had some objects related to the wreck of the USS Shark.
  • May 24, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.: Cannon display opened to the public.

Media Contact: 
Julie Flues
Membership and Communications Manager
Tel  503.325.2323