This article was translated by John R. Bopp

Yes, you read it right, it’s not your imagination.  The westernmost point of the contiguous United States on the Pacific coast is named after the Basque territory, and a Basque family.  It’s a story we heard about thanks to our loyal follower (from day one!), Sanchez Ayestaran.

Cape Alava, in Clallam County, northwest Washington, is at the southern edge of Juan de Fuca strait, providing sea access to Seattle and Vancouver.

The name of the point is in honor of José Manuel de Álava y Sáenz de Navarrete, a distinguished member of the Álava family, who was born in Vitoria in 1743, and who had a relevant role in the drawing of the border between the possessions of the  Kingdom of Spain and of Great Britain on the western coast of North America.

The Álava family has given the Basque territory whose name they carry many Congressional Deputies, bishops, and military men.  The family had a leading role in the creation of the Sociedad Bascongada de Amigos del Pais and in the foundation of the Vergara Seminary, where José Manuel de Álava studied.

Once he’d finished his studies, he began a military career that took him to the Spanish Crown’s possessions in the Pacific, where he became the governor of Acapulco, and the King’s representative in the negotiations after the Nutka Conflict.  For his role in these negotiations, this geographic feature in the modern-day US is named after his family and the Basque territory where he was born.

We’ll leave you with the Wikipedia article about this cape, as well as an interesting chapter, written by Álvaro Chaparro Sainz in his book “Familias, jerarquización y movilidad social”, published by Giovanni Levi on the Alava family.

Wikipedia  –    –

Cabo Alava / Cape Alava

El cabo Alava (en inglés: ‘Cape Alava’), se halla en el condado de Clallam, Washington, Estados Unidos, es el punto más occidental de los Estados Unidos continentales, su longitud es 124°44’11.8 “O (durante la marea baja y caminando a la zona oeste de la isla Tskawahyah). El punto más occidental se encuentra en el Parque Nacional Olympicy la Reserva India Ozette. El cabo Álava es accesible a través de un camino de 5 km con pasarelas de madera desde un puesto de guardabosques del parque.


Familias, jerarquización y movilidad social

La politica educativa de las familias ilustradas vascas; la familia álava y el Real Seminario de Vergara