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Freaky Finds You Might See After Storm Waves: Ghost Forests, Shipwreck on Oregon Coast

Published 12/16/2018 at 6:09 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

Freaky Finds You Might See After Storm Waves: Ghost Forests, Shipwreck on Oregon Coast

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(Oregon Coast) – Waves some 30 feet or more are set to make landfall this weekend on the Oregon coast, bringing with it lots of erosion. A few more days of 20-foot seas are predicted. The sands have already been battered quite a bit for the last week or so, after a long, long stretch of nice, calm weather where sand levels probably didn’t change much. (Above: wreck of the Emily G. Reed).

Your favorite beach may have a whole new look to it when this is over. During the winter, sand levels can really dip, even though this year that scouring action may have been off to a slow start.

So what will you see?

Weird structures hidden beneath the sand show up, like 4,000-year-old tree stumps, or even older. Or wild treasures, like nearly 200-year-old cannon, an old mail truck from around the '30s, parts of a 100-year-old shipwreck, and more. Sand levels sometimes plunge as much as 30 feet, as they did back in 2007 when those historic cannon were discovered.

Bedrock can be exposed as well. When you see bedrock like this or gravel beds during the winter, this is also a good sign for agate hunting.

The now-rescinded predictions of over 30-foot waves typically cause damage to structures – and they sometimes hurt or kill people. Much of the time, someone gets injured because they’re walking on a beach or cliff area when they shouldn’t be. One wild exception to this was a large wave that came over a seawall in Lincoln City one recent winter and smacked a second story balcony.

What is very likely is you’ll still have some massive erosion on many beaches, and these could uncover some fascinating treasures.

Here’s a list of the wild things to look out for on the Oregon coast once the storm action has subsided:

Ghost Forests at Newport, Seal Rock. Moolack Beach at Newport and the Curtis St. access at Seal Rock are rather famous for their extremely old ghost forests. These are stands of trees that had been preserved by encroaching swampland, rising sands or even a massive tsunami. More than twice as old as the Neskowin ghost forests that you can see most of the year, these pop out only rarely.

Even rarer are the ones found just north of Cape Kiwanda at McPhillips Beach. Seeing bedrock there is a freaky delight.

Other ghost forests can pop up at Arch Cape and Hug Point as well, which appear a little more frequently than those down south. They too are about 4,000 years old.

Red Towers. These seem to appear around Hug Point and Arch Cape more often than other spots, but you do see them around the rest of the Oregon coast. These really surreal, Dr. Suess-esque red towers are conglomerations of iron and other elements that form kooky reddish structures beneath the sands. They are odd-shaped structures that resemble mushrooms at times.

Seaside geologist Tom Horning said the sand towers – only a couple feet high, if that – are basically beach sand cemented by red iron oxide. When beneath the sand, they stay strong enough to not be destroyed by the tough objects that batter them. Once exposed they deteriorate soon.

“Minerals cement the sands together to form reinforced, irregular bodies within and under the beach,” Horning said. “Not uncommonly, the tops of the towers are exposed first, and rocks will wear these away, creating little pot-hole craters that make attractive landforms for photographers.”

Secret Shipwreck of Rockaway Beach. About two blocks south of the main wayside in Rockaway Beach you want to keep an eye out for the rusted bones of a shipwreck that only appeared a couple of times between the ‘50s and the early 2000s. Now, as climate change starts to rake away more sand than it’s putting back, it’s been seen a few times since 2007.

The Emily G. Reed crashed into the mouth of the Nehalem River back in 1908 as it struggled to look for the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse near Cannon Beach. It was still operational back then, but it was about 30 miles to the north. The Reed had set sail from New Castle, South Wales, and was at sea 102 days before it wrecked here on Valentine’s Day, February 14. Oregon Coast Lodgings for this event - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours


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