Neah Bay is located at the northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca in what we know today as Washington State in the United States.
In July of 1790, toward the end of Quimper’s exploration of the Strait of Juan de Fuca aboard the Princesa Real, he encountered a harbour that he named Bahía de Núñez Gaona (present day Neah Bay). He found Neah Bay to be in a favorable location for a possible new outpost to replace Nootka if it had to be abandoned in the future. His positive impression of the bay led him to perform the fifth act of possession of his exploration. His impression of the bay, however, was not very accurate. In reality, although it was an ideal location for protecting the region due to its location at the opening of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the bay was wide and open to westerly winds and was not well suited for anchoring large ships.
Neah Bay received many different names throughout history. When Quimper discovered the bay in 1790, he named it Bahía de Núñez Gaona in honor of Alonso Núñez de Haro y Peralta, viceroy of New Spain. After Quimper’s discovery, many new names followed. American fur traders named it Poverty Cove, and then for a while it was called Scarborough Cove after James Scarborough, a British captain and fur trader. Finally, it received it present name, Neah Bay, in 1847 by Lieutenant Commander Henry Kellett of the British Royal Navy. The name Neah came from Makah Chief Dee-ah, which is pronounced Neah in the Klallam language.
Brokenshire, Doug. Washington State Place Names: from Alki to Yelm. Caxton Printers, 1993.
Meany, Edmond S. Origin of Washington Geographic Names. 1923.
Ruby, Robert H., and John A. Brown. Indians of the Pacific Northwest: A History. University of Oklahoma Press, 1988.
Tovell, Freeman M., et al. Voyage to the Northwest Coast of America, 1792: Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra and the Nootka Sound controversy. University of Oklahoma Press, 2012.