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So Quivira lived on in dozens of maps drawn in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As late as 1750 — just three decades before the American revolution — it was still being included.
Sir Francis Drake, on his famous voyage around the world that may actually have included a stopover in an Oregon bay (“Nova Albion”), had at least one such map in his possession, and surely was keeping an eye out for signs of Quivira.
He never saw any, of course. The Oregon Coast at that time was a wilderness. The closest it had to cities were communities of itinerant Native Americans living in portable or makeshift structures.
But had it always been so? Was it possible that the city of Quivira was, at one time, real? Did it stand there, on the edge of a little bay just north of Cape Blanco, thriving around the time Rome fell? And did something then happen — perhaps the 300-year Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami, in 1700— to close off the mouth of its bay and crush its walls into heaps of rubble and cover them with soil, leaving only a handful of odd-looking mounds and a string of legends to mark what once had been? Legends, perhaps, of a golden city trimmed with turquoise, passed back and forth among its survivors’ descendants until the chance came to use them to lead a gang of rapacious steel-clad Spanish thugs astray?
This is all pure speculation, of course — more, it’s romantic tale-spinning of the kind one usually finds in pulp-fiction magazine stories about Atlantis and Lemuria. But there is a wisp of supporting evidence for such a theory:
On Sept. 8, 1881, the Port Orford Post printed a very curious article. “There have recently been discovered near Floras (Lake) in this county, what appear to be the ruins of an ancient city, built of cut stone,” the article states. “The site of the numerous buildings of the ages gone by are indicated by mounds, in and under which, by making excavations, are found masses of cut stone, bearing quite plainly the marks of the stone cutter's chisel, and lying as if the wall had tumbled down.
“These relics of ancient masonry were first unearthed to view by the storm uprooting a large tree which had grown up on one of these mound-like elevations. Thus the blocks of sand stone were exposed to view, and thus curiosity excited which led to the prospecting of other mounds (of which there are many) in the same locality, in all of which the phenomena were present. Further explorations will be made with a view to throwing more light if possible on this curious spectacle.
“We shall visit and personally inspect these alleged 'ruins' at no distant day, when we hope to be able to give a detailed description of the ‘town’ and its immediate surrounding,” the article concludes.
But historian Bill Wallace has found no sign of a follow-up to this story. It just seems to disappear.
Was it a mistake? A rumor started by a troublemaker? Most likely, it is something like that.
But there is always the possibility — a remote and unlikely possibility, but a possibility nonetheless — that the broken bones of a lost civilization lie buried beneath the loam and sod between Port Orford and Bandon, waiting even yet to be rediscovered.