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Cape Disappointment is a prominent headland and landmark on the north side of the Columbia River, in Washington. The Cape was named on April 12, 1788, by British fur trader John Meares who was sailing south from Nootka in search of trade. After a storm, he turned his ship around just north of the Cape and therefore just missed the discovery of the Columbia River. The river was discovered on May 11, 1792 by Captain Robert Gray, and named after his ship, the Columbia Rediviva.
Three prominent spruce trees growing on the cape’s summit were topped to mark the point and the river entrance. A ship would align the three trees from five miles offshore, then head for the southerly tip of the cape to navigate through the deepest part of the river channel. Fortifications were added to Cape Disappointment during the Civil War to protect the river mouth.
Cape Disappointment receives over 2,500 hours of fog a year – the equivalent of over 100 days – making it one of the foggiest places in the U.S.. The Cape Disappointment Lighthouse was first activated on October 15, 1856, it became the eighth active light on the West Coast. The light was automated in 1973. Cape Disappointment State Park is now located on the cape, and the U.S. Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment is situated on the river near the state park. The station crew members respond to 300–400 calls for assistance every year. Read more here and here. Click here to download the CoastView app and explore the mouth of the Columbia River.