2019 Joel Palmer Award


Summer 2018 Special Issue “Oregon’s Manila Galleon”

The Joel Palmer Award is typically given to a single research article, with two honorable mentions, however the board that determines the award made an unprecedented decision to award an entire special issue for the authors’ outstanding work.

The Summer 2018 “Oregon's Manila Galleon,” a special issue of the Oregon Historical Quarterly, features articles on over a decade of research into uncovering the mystery of the “Beeswax Wreck.” The authors discuss topics including an introduction to Oregon’s Manila galleon; galleon trade routes, the Spanish Empire, and Native oral tradition; using archaeology to identify the Beeswax Wreck; crew and passengers aboard the Santo Cristo de Burgos; cargo on board the Santo Cristo; and treasure hunting on Neahkahnie Mountain.

From the Winning Issue

Oregon’s Manilla Galleon

by Cameron La Follette, Douglas Deur, Dennis Griffin, and Scott S. Williams 

For two centuries, physical evidence of a vast shipwreck, including beeswax and Chinese porcelain, has washed ashore in the Nehalem Spit area on the north coast of Oregon. The story of the wreck has been “shrouded by time, speculation, and surprisingly rich and often contradictory Euro-American folklore.” In this introduction to the Oregon Historical Quarterly’s special issue, “Oregon’s Manila Galleon,” authors Cameron La Follette, Douglas Deur, Dennis Griffin, and Scott S. Williams summarize the rich archival findings and archaeological evidence that points to the Santo Cristo de Burgos, a Manila galleon owned by the kingdom of Spain and bringing Asian trade goods to the Americas, as the ship that came to be known as the “Beeswax Wreck.”   

Views Across the Pacific: The Galleon Trade and Its Traces in Oregon 

by Cameron La Follette and Douglas Deur  

From 1565 to 1815, Manila galleons such as the Santo Cristo de Burgos — the ship now thought to be the seventeenth century “Beeswax Wreck” that sank or ran aground near Nehalem Spit in Oregon — followed a 12,000-mile route from the Philippines through the stormy North Pacific, sometimes passing parallel to what is now the north Oregon coast, before reaching their destination in Acapulco, Mexico. The galleons were a central part of Spain’s complex international commerce system, transporting people and Asian goods around the world. In this article, Cameron La Follette and Douglas Deur discuss the Spanish empire and the Manila galleon trade; tempestuous seas and hazardous weather conditions that likely led to the ship’s demise; oral traditions of the Native peoples who encountered the shipwreck and its survivors; and the Euro-American interpretations of that oral tradition that fueled treasure-hunters’ speculations in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  

The Beeswax Wreck of Nehalem: A Lost Manila Galleon 

by Scott S. Williams, Curt D. Peterson, Mitch Marken, and Richard Rogers  

A volunteer group of archaeologists, historians, geologists, and community members began working in 2006 on a project aimed at identifying the identity of Oregon’s “Beeswax Wreck.” The authors are involved in the group’s Beeswax Wreck Project and discuss here their research process and findings that support the hypothesis that the Santo Cristo de Burgos, a Manila galleon, was the ship that wrecked near Nehalem Spit. Along with systematic archaeological documentation, the team used beeswax stamped with Spanish shippers’ marks to determine the ship’s country of origin and radiocarbon dating of Chinese porcelain sherds coupled with geological research to determine when the ship wrecked. According to the authors, “for those of us researching the Beeswax Wreck, the goal has never been to recover artifacts or ‘treasure.’ Instead, we are most interested in solving the mysteries of the what ship wrecked off the north coast of Oregon three hundred years ago.”