Cape Disappointment (Washington)

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Aerial view of Cape Disappointment, looking northeast
South side of Cape Disappointment and the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Cape Disappointment is a headland of the Pacific Northwest, located at the extreme southwestern corner of Washington, United States, on the north side of the Columbia River bar and just west of Baker Bay. The point of the cape is located on the Pacific Ocean in Washington's Pacific County, approximately two miles (3.2 km) southwest of the town of Ilwaco.[1] Cape Disappointment sees about 2,552 hours of fog a year—the equivalent of 106 days—making it one of the foggiest places in the U.S.[citation needed]

The cape was named on July 6, 1788, by British fur trader John Meares, who was sailing south from Nootka Island, Canada, in search of trade. He mistook the mouth of the Columbia River to be a bay, which the ship could not enter due to a shallow shoal. Just missing the discovery of the river mentioned by Francisco Antonio Mourelle, he named them Cape Disappointment and Deception Bay.[2] George Vancouver credits John Meares in his account when he saw Cape Disappointment on April 27, 1792.[3]

Cape Disappointment State Park is located on the cape, as is the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. United States Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment is situated on the river near the state park. The station's crewmembers respond to 300–400 calls for assistance every year.


  1. ^ "Cape Disappointment". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. September 10, 1979. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  2. ^ Meares, John (1790). Voyages made in the years 1788 and 1789 from China to the north west coast of America. London: Logographic Press. p. 167. OCLC 243542405 – via the Internet Archive.
  3. ^ Vancouver, George. Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean, and Round the World in the Years 1791–95, volume 1, pp. 209–210. London, 1798.

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Coordinates: 46°17′23″N 124°03′38″W / 46.28972°N 124.06056°W / 46.28972; -124.06056