180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita,
Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City,
Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Wadport, Yachats & Florence.
North Oregon Coast Beach Reveals Ancient Ghost
Cape, Oregon) – The mysterious chunks of wood have shown up periodically
over the last few decades, sticking out of the sand like doomed creatures
trying to make their last, desperate escape from a dreadful fate beneath
the rest of the world. They make momentary impressions on passersby, who
have no clue to the real meaning of these muted witnesses to an age practically
before Mankind. They are unintentional memorials to the grandiose forest
that once stood here, now reduced to twisted, tortured shapes that scream
silently from another epoch.
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The little village of Arch Cape, on the north Oregon coast,
is the latest place where some weird remnants of prehistory are showing
themselves again. Ancient forests – nicknamed “ghost forests”
because of their gloomy look and their age – periodically appear
on parts of the coast, the most famous and regularly seen of which are
the prehistoric stumps at Neskowin.
in Arch Cape, they’re a real rarity, and likely much older than
many of those that show up sometimes on the coast. Some are twisted, ragged
structures that jut out of the sand in a dramatic manner. Others are tiny
objects with just the tips visible. At other times, they’re long
slabs of something brown; occasionally so soft and flaky their texture
is a bit like cooked fish, and it’s easy to scrape off chunks of
Wild wave action reveals these things all across the Oregon
coast, as it scours the beaches of sand and takes away layers of sand.
The deeper you go, the further you’re going back in time.
got a really weird winter around here,” said resident Bob Shaw,
whose parents own Shaw’s
Oceanfront B&B in Arch Cape. “They show up in winters, when
the waves wash away the sand and leave a lot of rocks. Then they disappeared.
But they came back a couple months ago. You should’ve seen them
then. They were all over the place, and you could see a lot more of them.”
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That kind of sand movement is unusual for the spring, as
normally winter storms bring that kind of action. This year, some areas
of the coast were so heavily scoured the sand levels were as much as ten
feet lower than usual.
Roger Hart is a geologist with the State of Oregon based
in Newport, and is considered the foremost authority on these stumps of
mystery. He’s studied them extensively over the years, and a decade
ago came up with the main theories about their origin – theories
that came into wide acceptance. But he later retracted those findings.
Many of those in the geologist community still cling to his old theories
and haven’t caught up yet.
He says these stumps are almost 4,000 years old.
Peterson and I published a radiocarbon on a sample taken from the Arch
Cape stumps in 1998,” Hart said. “The age is 3,660 with an
error of 70. This means these trees died at that time, were buried in
sand, and have been preserved under a cover of sand until now. From the
photos it appears that the stumps are more extensively exposed now than
Regular tourists, on the other hand, have no clue what
to make of it, and often don’t even notice them. But when they do,
Shaw says they’re puzzled. “They don’t know what it
is,” Shaw said. “They just kind of look at them.”
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This sort of wave action revealed similar stumps in Newport
this winter – also about 4,000 years old –
as well as remnants of a forest in the Hug Point (near Cannon Beach)
area that could well be a whopping 80,000 years old.
Originally, one of Hart’s main theories was that
many of the stumps showing up in the El Nino years of the 90’s were
the result of a massive earthquake some 300 years ago that suddenly and
violently dropped the ground some 25 feet or more, inundating these forests
in sediment, sand, sea and water, thus preserving them.
|Slab of ancient forest peeking out in the sand
Since then, Hart has retracted those findings and put forth
that the Newport stumps and others were in fact more around 4,000 years
old, and sand levels gradually rose to engulf and then preserve them,
rather than the violent quake he theorized earlier.
“In my opinion, exposure of stumps are evidence that
sand is being progressively being lost from the southern ends of littoral
cells on the Oregon coast,” Hart said.
Indeed, the Arch Cape stumps are found at the bottom of
Ocean View Road, about a quarter mile from the southern headland. A littoral
cell is the tract of sand between headlands or major outcroppings. The
littoral cell where Arch Cape sits begins at that southern headland, and
runs all the way through Hug Point and Cannon Beach, until the headlands
of Ecola State Park.
Horning, a well reknowned geologist on the north Oregon coast, looked
into the Hug Point ghost forest this winter. He believes those are about
80,000 years old, dating back to the Pleistocene era. His initial thought
was that the Arch Cape ghost forest was also about the same age, partially
because Arch Cape and Hug Point are just a few miles apart.
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“I have seen the Arch Cape stumps in the past,”
Horning said. “They are buried in clays and silts with spruce cones
that the trees were dropping at their time of life. Also, there are cedar
have been told that a forester, now deceased, who lived at Arch Cape,
identified redwood cones from the same layers. If redwoods were growing
here, that adds weight to the Pleistocene stump origin, because none grows
Horning also addressed how these 4,000-year-old stumps
got where they are today.
“They represent a stand of forest trees that moved
out onto the old beach when the land lifted up somewhat or the seas dropped,
forcing the shoreline to retreat westward,” Horning said. “Now
that it is coming in, the surf has exposed the stumps of the trees once
again. This latter hypothesis seems to work down in the central coast."
Right now, the Arch Cape stumps are disappearing quickly
as the weather turns nicer and the wave action lessens. Shaw led a small
tour of the area and pointed out how much of one structure was visible
before. Now, it’s just a patch of flat brown mystery material lying
in the sand.
“This whole area was covered with these things,”
Shaw said. “It was really spectacular.”
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over 25 vacation rental homes to choose from. A breathtaking collection
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Sands Condominium Motel, Lincoln City. Free, fresh baked
cookie upon check-in is just the start. All rooms beachfront and
up against Lincoln City's most famous stretch of beach: the D River.
Each room comes as a suite or mini-suite, and has a kitchen and
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171 S.W. Highway 101. 800-527-3925.
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City Vacation Homes
Something for everyone: smaller homes
with a view to a large house that sleeps 15. All are either oceanfront
or just a few steps away – all with a low bank access and
fantastic views. Most are in the Nelscott area; one is close to
the casino. You’ll find a variety of goodies: fireplaces,
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cable TV, VCR, barbecues; there’s a loft in one, and another
sprawling home has two apartments. Pets allowed in some homes
– ask first. Each comes with complete kitchens. Most have
seventh night free. Prices range from winter $85 to summer $230
per night. www.getaway2thecoast.com.
Rockaway Beach. All rooms are immaculate and have TV’s, VCR’s
and in-room phones w/ data ports. Oceanfronts have queen bed, a
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POINT Newport - Offers only the finest in luxury condominium
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for Freaky, Creepy Mole Crabs on Oregon Coast Beaches The
little critters make the tideline bubble and feel really weird as they
run across your feet
Transformations of Oregon Coast Beaches Seasons change
and so do beaches, revealing different sides and a variety of eye-popping
Found on Oregon Beach May Be 80,000 Years Old - They
are the remnants of a forest apparently 80,000 years old, found at Hug
or Night Mysteries and Merriment on Oregon Coast It's
more than just nightlife that comes to life, but the beaches offer major
Up for Summer Camping on Oregon's Coast There are
dozens of campsites, providing exceptional opportunities for beachcombing
coast mileage chart & map
trips, suggested itineraries
Coast Lodging Specials
BeachConnection.net's 1,000 pages
Coast Real Estate
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Where the Columbia
meets the Pacific, Land of Lewis & Clark and loads of
atmosphere & history
Tillamook Head, family fun & broad, sandy beaches
lighthouse, upscale yet earthy, a huge monolith, fine eateries
& an art mecca
beaches, Nehalem and Wheeler's quirky beauty; laid back Rockaway
Barview, Bay City, Tillamook & an oceanfront ghost town
secret of the coast: Cape Meares, a lighthouse, Oceanside,
Netarts and Pacific City
A spouting horn
downtown, freaky hidden cliffs and whales, whales, whales
Time-tripping Nye Beach, a bustling
bayfront, marine science-central and two lighthouses
Constantly dramatic wave action, a mix
of the rugged & upscale
A lighthouse, ancient bayfront and miles
and miles of fluffy dunes