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Drakes Bay at Point Reyes named national historic landmark

Drakes Bay in the Point Reyes National Seashore on Wednesday became one of America's national historic landmarks, but the coveted designation did not exactly settle the debate over where Sir Francis Drake landed in 1579.

Drake Navigators Guild, a private research group that singled out the bay as Drake's landing point 60 years ago, said the landmark status "gives formal recognition" to their long-held premise.

Edward Von der Porten of San Francisco, the group's president, said the designation — announced by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar — was tantamount to official confirmation.

"We're very pleased the National Park Service has chosen to say yes," Von der Porten said in a telephone interview from London. "Were there any scholarly debate, this would not have happened."

However, the Interior Department's announcement describes the 5,965-acre Drakes Bay landmark area as the site of the "earliest documented" contact between Europeans and California Indians and the earliest recorded shipwreck on the West Coast, referring to the San Agustin, a Spanish galleon that sank in 1595.

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