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Cooks Chasm Bridge

English Mariner's Saintly Legacy

A few miles south of Yachats, mighty Cape Perpetua juts boldly into the sea. English sea captain James Cook sighted this dramatic basaltic headland in 1778 and named it for Saint Perpetua, an early Christian convert martyred in Rome in AD 203.

Bridge as viewed from the south looking north.

Bridge as viewed from the south looking north.

Long deep fissures or chasms lie within the basalt contours of this outcropping land formation, into which the surf roils and churns. The bridge spans one of the most picturesque of these and bears Cook’s name.

Cook left no clue as to why he named the cape after Perpetua. Since he first sighted Oregon’s shores on March 7, 1778, the date of St. Perpetua’s martyrdom, perhaps he intended to commemorate the perpetual struggle he and his crew had faced. Or, if he took time to investigate the area, the mighty struggle between earth and tide at this site may have reminded him of Perpetua’s struggle against overwhelming forces of a different kind.