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Depoe Bay's Spouting Horn - A Wild, Watery Oregon Coast Wonder

Published 09/13/2019 at 6:33 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Depoe Bay's Spouting Horn - A Wild, Watery Oregon Coast Wonder

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(Depoe Bay, Oregon) - It fires into the air abruptly, sending sea water 20, maybe 40 feet high without warning. Looking like some white version of the Black Smoke Monster from LOST, its presence is dramatic, startling and awe-inspiring.

Depoe Bay is the only town on the Oregon coast with a “spouting horn” in its downtown. Most of the other spouting horns exist in places outside any city limits, and they are few and far between (there are two in upper Lane County near Yachats and two at different ends of Yachats – and that’s mostly it).

It’s at times nicknamed a “blowhole,” but spouting horn is a more correct label. It’s the result of a fissure in the rocky ledges just below the sea wall at Depoe Bay, which funnels the heavy waves into a tinier and tinier space, eventually compressing the energy of the wave into such a small space it releases in an upward spout. Certain tidal conditions have to be met to create this effect – the waves have to be sufficiently large enough. This isn’t a problem during much of winter and spring, so you’ll find plenty of explosive spouting action during these times of the year.


The enormous gush of water is larger at some times than others. The bigger the waves, the bigger the spouting horn.

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This also creates the rather surreal effect of dousing cars with sea water as they pass. It is indeed odd and slightly amusing to have to turn on your windshield wipers because of a sudden downpour of ocean spray.

Depoe Bay’s most famous watery resident doesn’t shoot off all the time, of course. It has plenty of calmer moods, during which you can gaze down at the crevice that makes for this wild display. In those more temperate states, it sometimes hints at what it can do, with a small hiss or whoosh of white mist. You can see that in this video taken by Angi Wildt of Angi D. Wildt Gallery in Seaside.

Another engaging feature: the lovely bay at Depoe Bay – one of the town’s focal points. The town promotes itself as having the “world’s smallest navigable harbor,” and at around 350 feet wide and 750 feet long, that may not be a stretch. There does not appear to be an actual category for this claim, so it appears to be a case of if you invent a category, there isn’t any way it will be challenged, proven or disproven. But at that size, it’s certainly among the smallest if not the tiniest.







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