Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Flattery Rocks, Berthold Seemann, Before GPS

I have been looking into the history of national wildlife refuges in Washington State. One refuge, Flattery Rocks is located along the far northwest coast of the Olympic Peninsula. This refuge was created by Executive Order of President Roosevelt in 1907.

Flattery Rocks as well as nearby Tatoosh Island were described in Narrative of the Voyage of H.M.S. Herald by Berthold Seemann in 1853. Seemann wrote a very compelling narrative that is very hard to leave off once started. And he provides a wonderful set of descriptions of the people and places along the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the late 1840s.

I very much enjoyed his initial descriptions of Flattery Rocks that included an astute recognition of a significant technical advance of the era in which he lived. "At daylight on the 24th (June) we found ourselves off Cape Flattery rocks; and thus, after seventy days passage without seeing land, was our voyage concluded; yet, thanks to our admirable chronometers, we made the land within a mile, - a nicety of calculation which in these days is not much to boast of, being performed by three-fourths of the vessels of England and America, as well as France and Holland; but looking back thirty or forty years, the change is immense."

Something to think about with our admirable GPS units and Google Earth maps. 

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