Cenotaph Island, Lituya Bay

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Cenotaph Island, Lituya Bay

by | Sep 5, 2018

Cenotaph Island is in Lituya Bay, surrounded by Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, with Mt. Wilbur and Mt. Orville in the Fairweather Range rising to over 10,000 feet (3,050 m) at the head of the bay. The bay is famous for mega-tsunamis but also has a rich history from the time when many countries were initiating voyages of scientific explorations in the Pacific Northwest.

Captain Jean-François de La Pérouse was appointed in 1785 by Louis XVI to lead an expedition around the world. His ships were L’Astrolabe and La Boussole, both were storeships of about 500 tons reclassified as frigates for the occasion. Their objectives were geographic, scientific, ethnological, economic (looking for opportunities for whaling or fur trading), and political (the eventual establishment of French bases). La Pérouse departed France in August 1785, rounded Cape Horn, and sailed on to Alaska, where he landed near Mount St. Elias in late June 1786 and explored the coast.

On 13 July 1786 an expedition barge and two longboats, carrying 21 men, were lost in the strong currents of the bay named Port des Français by La Pérouse, but now known as Lituya Bay. The island in the middle of the bay was named “Isle du Caenotaphe” for the memorial erected at the southeast end of the island to commemorate the event. La Pérouse then continued south to explore much of southeast Alaska. Read more here and here. Explore more of Cenotaph Island and Lituya Bay here:

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