GARIBALDI — Oregon Travel Experience (OTE) will celebrate the Oregon Historical Marker Committee’s restoration and updating of the Captain Robert Gray historical marker, and the inclusion of Markus Lopeus, Oregon’s first African American, at 11 a.m. Thursday. The dedication will take place at the Tillamook Bay wayside, located a one-quarter mile north of Garibaldi on U.S. Highway 101.

Event speakers will include Tillamook County Commissioner Bill Baertlein; Richard Engeman, author, historian and member of the Oregon Historical Marker Committee; Gwen Carr and Willie Richardson of the Oregon Black Pioneers; and Charlotte Lehan, Oregon Travel Information Council member.

Carr, who is president of the Oregon Black Pioneers, contacted OTE following a trip to Tillamook with her grandchildren. She had visited the wayside to show her youthful family members the landing site of the first African American in Oregon. However, she was dismayed to find no mention of Markus Lopeus’ historic voyage. Lopeus had joined Gray’s crew in the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa.

Carr approached OTE and met with the Historical Marker Committee, where she explained the significance of Lopeus’ voyage. Besides neglecting to mention Lopeus, the original marker contained other misinformation about Gray, which was also updated.

Gray left Boston aboard the sloop Lady Washington in October 1787 on a trading voyage to the West Coast of North America. After trading along the coast, the Lady Washington landed in Tillamook Bay in August 1788. Gray’s voyage became the first time an American circumnavigated the globe.

“We are pleased that this important piece of Oregon’s history has been added to the historical marker,” said Carr. “It commemorates the earliest documented instance of a person of African descent being in Oregon, and serves as a memorial for those who came before and after, whose names and circumstances will never be known.”


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