Bruno de Hezeta y Dudagoitia (1744-1807)

Bruno de Hezeta y Dudagoitia, a Spanish naval officer, commanded an expedition in March 1775 whose mission was to explore and extend Spanish hegemony to the Pacific Northwest.

On August 17, 1775, Hezeta became the first to map and record a written description of the entrance to the Columbia River at observed latitude of 46° 11´: "a large bay that I named Bahia de la Asunción." Hezeta's map names Cavo de San Roque, which corresponds to today's Cape Disappointment (actual latitude 46º 17´), and Cavo Frondoso, which corresponds to Point Adams or Tillamook Head. Hezeta wrote: "These currents and the seething waters [lead me] to believe that [the bay] may be the mouth of some great river or some passage to another sea."

Unable to enter the bay because the crew was suffering from scurvy, the expedition returned to San Blas, Mexico. Six journals of the expedition, including Hezeta's, were sent to Madrid, although the Spanish policy of secrecy prevented publication of Hezeta's discovery.

Hezeta had a distinguished military career, but he never returned to the Pacific Northwest. Heceta Head and Heceta Banks are named after him.



Map It

Further Reading

Beals, Herbert K., ed. and trans. For Honor and Country: The Diary of Bruno de Hezeta. Portland: Western Imprints, 1985.

Cook, Warren L. Flood Tide of Empire, Spain and the Pacific Northwest, 1543-1819. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973.

Cutter, Donald C. "Spain and the Oregon Coast," in The Western Shore Oregon Country Essays. Portland: Durham and Downey, 1972.

Wagner, Henry R. The Cartography of the Northwest Coast of America to the Year 1800. 2 vols. 1937. Reprint, Mansfield Centre: Martino Publishing, 1999.


Related Articles

Cartography of Oregon, 1507-1848

The cartographic history of Oregon as a place in the Pacific Northwest began long before European visitation to the region. Mapmakers initially conceptualized the presence of a separate North American continent in 1507, some 234 years before the first recorded sighting of a landmark on the Pacific Northwest coast in …

Robert Gray (1755-1806)

On May 11, 1792, Robert Gray, the first American to circumnavigate the world (1787-1790), sailed the Columbia Rediviva into the Columbia River, the first documented ship to anchor in the river’s broad estuary. He named the river “Columbia’s river” after his ship and drew a sketch map of the river …

Tillamook Bay, aerial, 1968
Tillamook Bay

Tillamook Bay, which encompasses a 597-square-mile watershed, is the largest of the five bays in Tillamook County. The bay is fed by five principal rivers: the Wilson, Trask, Miami, Tillamook, and Kilchis. It supports a strong oyster industry and provides excellent salmon fishing and commercial crabbing. Sport and charter fishing …

Related Historical Records

This entry was last updated on July 6, 2019