Franklin Point, Año Nuevo State Reserve

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Franklin Point, Año Nuevo State Reserve

by | Feb 13, 2020

Franklin Point is located in the Año Nuevo State Reserve, 7.3 miles (12 km) south-southeast of Pescadero and 22 miles (35 km) northwest of Santa Cruz, California. It is named after the clipper ship the Sir John Franklin that which went aground here in dense fog in 1865. Today, Franklin Point and Franklin Point Beach are popular destinations accessible by trail through natural vegetation in the northern portion of Año Nuevo State Reserve.

The Sir John Franklin was named for the British Royal Navy officer and explorer of the Arctic who disappeared in 1847 while on expedition attempting to chart and navigate the Northwest Passage. On January 17, 1865, the Sir John Franklin was bound for San Francisco in heavy fog when it struck rocks off the point. The ship was destroyed and the captain and eleven sailors died. Only six bodies were recovered and the seaman were buried on the point and the officers in San Francisco. A monument was placed on Franklin Point to commemorate the lives lost and particularly the memory of Edward J. Church, a sixteen-year-old crewman of the Franklin.

In 1980, dune erosion exposed buried human remains and in 1982 an archaeological excavation was undertaken to remove four burials. In 1993, a sub-surface survey determined the locations of more burials and in 1997, further dune erosion exposed additional human remains. Excavations in 1999 uncovered nearly complete skeletons of two adult males in redwood coffins. Artifacts recovered included a pocket knife and an iron ring. The burials were contemporaneous and represent victims of the same shipwreck, although it could not be determined to which ship the sailors belonged. The four coffin burials recovered from the site in 1982 were most likely the four ordinary seamen buried on the point from the wreck of the Sir John Franklin. The two burials excavated in 1999 were either the victims from the November 24, 1866 wreck of the Coya that killed 27 individuals, of which 13 were recovered and buried on the point, or they were from the wreck of the Hellspont that grounded on November 21, 1868 killing 11 men. Read more here and here. Explore more of Franklin Point here:

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