Strikingly Different Angles on the Oregon Coast Tsunami Dock
By Andre' Hagestedt
(Newport, Oregon) – There are moments that major epiphanies hit you in the strangest of places. Such was one such realization about a major tourist attraction right now: the tsunami dock from Japan on the central Oregon coast.
For a variety of personal reasons, including a small accident, I haven't been able to get down to this historic occurrence firsthand until now. On purpose I chose the nighttime to photograph the now-infamous tsunami dock from Japan, because I wanted a different take on the subject, a very different look – something that no one was doing.
Luckily, it's not a completely dark night, actually well-lit by a raging full moon. So after some wandering – not a lot – I find the tsunami dock. It's high tide so getting near it is not an option.
I'm suddenly filled with a sense of historical awe and even joy that I found the object. It's a bit like being able to scratch something off your bucket list – like a couple months ago when I got to meet one of my favorite bands, School of Seven Bells. But underneath that joy, something darker is rising.
It quickly hits me this is actually a very ugly, dark thing. Sure, it's remarkable history from an Oregon standpoint. Sure, it has all kinds of scientific ramifications, from what species it carried here to how it got here along the Pacific Ocean's waves. The brevity of the object is quite suddenly the heart of the matter. What it symbolizes, what it represents. What it really means. This thing witnessed sheer terror. This dock literally imparts those feelings of tragedy, horror and much more.
So perhaps this misty, surreal look to it at night captured much more than just a different viewpoint of a moment in Japanese and Oregon history. Because this is a long exposure, the sea becomes a swirling, white, nebulous mass. Indeed, it's like the dock is surrounded by a sea of ghosts.
You can't let its origins escape you as you wander down here to gawk at the dock. You have to pause at least a moment to honor the people who died in that tragic earthquake in March, 2011. No, you didn't know any of them. That doesn't matter. Simply pause to honor those, and think about those still alive right now over there in Japan who are still suffering more than a year later.
So such a photo of the dock – in this eerie, darkly spiritual state – is perhaps the only appropriate way to view it. There have been plenty of photographs of the dock accurately documenting it. But perhaps this is the first time its true essence has been photographed.
The derelict dock here has only a month left in its resting spot at Agate Beach. Dismantling and removal will begin the week of July 30, as Ballard Diving and Salvage (Vancouver WA) has been contracted to complete the work for $84,155. The work will take around seven days.
In the meantime, if you are going to visit, heed some important guidelines and rules.
Below: the Big Dipper over the tsunami dock.
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