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When They Blasted Cannon Beach's Haystack Rock - Odd Oregon Coast History

Published 01/12/2019 at 5:23 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

When They Blasted Cannon Beach's Haystack Rock - Odd Oregon Coast History

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(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – A little-known facet of Oregon coast history is that at one point Cannon Beach’s Haystack Rock was somewhat larger.

Even more unknown: somewhere late in 1968, Oregon officials blasted away part of the famed rock structure.

Little is known about this, and there appears to be only one small article on the subject. So far, the Cannon Beach History Museum has not been able to find more than that. There is a singular fuzzy graphic - a scan from a local newspaper - that is the only known record of the event.

In fact, the museum's Liz Johnson said there simply wasn't much coverage of this. Nowadays, this would be media and selfie circus.

Why did they blast Haystack Rock? You could say: tourists behaving badly. That, and the fact in earlier 1968 many rocky areas on the Oregon coast were declared wildlife refuges. It simply wasn’t a good idea to have people crawling around on these things for safety reasons and because it scared the birds.

The caption reads:

"Haystack Rock will be more difficult for the novice mountain climber as a result of the blast, shown in this picture, that knocked off the lower end of the ledge by which most climbers started up the rock. The ledge was dynamited Tuesday morning by U.S. sports fisheries and wildlife personnel. Last Spring, Haystack Rock, as well as several others along the Oregon coast, was declared a wildlife refuge and made "off limits" to all humans, except those with special permits, to protect the thousands of seafowl who nest on it."

Of course you have to wonder what effect that blast had on the birds nesting there at the time.

Because of this bird refuge status, Cannon Beach does not have a Fourth of July fireworks celebration.

This is, after all, a phenomenal place for birds, namely puffins. Many people are surprised about the existence of puffins on this part of the Oregon coast, since the bird seems to associated with Europe in the minds of many.

It’s a mere four months they hang out here. They begin their stay in April, with July being a highlight because they are at their most visible after giving birth to their young. After making their nests on top of Haystack Rock, one of the pair emerges into plain sight while the other goes off hunting for food.

Before that time, it takes patience to spot one, as they're hiding in the nests with their eggs. They do come and go, however. Haystack Rock Awareness Program volunteers are at the base of the rock most days of the high season to help you spot them and other fun stuff there.

The return of the puffins is the centerpiece to the Twelve Days of Earth Day celebrated every April in Cannon Beach.

Going back in time, to the mid and early 20th century, historical photographs of Cannon Beach’s Haystack Rock make evident what was blasted away. In this shot at top from the ‘30s or so, you can see the protrusion on the NE side that allowed people to amble up there.

Take a look at the current outline of Haystack Rock and it’s clear what’s gone. The outline is concave where it would've been curved outward before.

The Cannon Beach landmark wasn’t the only spot on the Oregon coast to get the dynamite treatment because of people climbing on it. The rock structure immediately beneath Heceta Head Lighthouse (near Florence) was also blasted away early in the 20th century. Too many visitors got hurt wandering up and down that pointy, steep structure that state officials cut it almost in half. Lodging in Cannon Beach - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours

More Ways to Check Out Haytstack Rock

Beachcomber Vacation Homes, Cannon Beach. Numerous vacation rentals, including Falcon Cove and Arch Cape. 115 Sunset Blvd. 855-219-4758. 503-436-4500. Website.

Cannon Beach Vacation Rentals. 60 vacation homes to choose from, all in Cannon Beach or Arch Cape. 164 Sunset. Cannon Beach, Oregon. 503-436-0940. 866-436-0940.

The Wayside Inn. 3339 S. Hemlock Street, Cannon Beach, Oregon, 888-659-6397.


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