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Gigantic in Garibaldi: Looming Legends of Tiny Oregon Coast Town

Published 06/17/2020 at 5:44 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Gigantic in Garibaldi: Looming Legends of Tiny Oregon Coast Town

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(Garibaldi, Oregon) - If you’re coming from the south on Highway 101 just after Bay City, heading towards Garibaldi, two titans soon greet you. It’s perhaps the only place on the whole of the Oregon coast where massive, man-made structures other than bridges suddenly dominate the skyline, overtaking that hint of the rolling sea to the west.

Even before you enter Garibaldi you spot a soaring smokestack; blackened, ancient, even rickety looking. This remnant of an old paper mill is roped off to the public, but it’s so big there’s actually a tree growing on its inside. The gargantuan black tower looms over Lumbermen’s Park, another pastoral favorite on this part of the north Oregon coast. It’s all very close to milepost 56.

Then, just after the big bend and high on a hill overlooking Garibaldi and the Three Graces rock structure of Tillamook Bay, there’s a massive G resting, looming even. At night it’s lit up and creates an ethereal effect.

On misty winter eves in Garibaldi, when the sun’s last rays are even weaker than usual, blue hour turns decidedly purple as it fights to get through the layers of clouds (photo at top).

The lone G conjures the letters that spell “Hollywood” above Tinsel Town – but it makes you wonder if they simply ran out of room or money for the rest of the letters.

The history of Garibaldi’s giant G goes back to 1930 when a junior high school class passed through Amity (now in wine country) and saw an “A” inscribed on the side of a mountain. It was finally built after much hemming and hawing and burned down at one point. A second G lasted for a handful of decades until deterioration set in, and then it was finally rebuilt using metal in the waning years of the century.

Above: the Garibaldi boathouse and pier at night

A "The Friends of Big G" group was created around ‘99 to help with upkeep and replacing the bulbs. Those came in handy just after 9/11 when the colors were changed to red, white and blue.

Another biggie looms just around the corner – or at least it used to. Barview, apparently not to be outdone, had a gigantic B scrawled in white paint on a hillside slab of concrete in front of the little village that seems like a suburb of the Tillamook Bay town. Definitely a more low fi version of its older, more structured brother above Garibaldi, the lore is it simply appeared one day back in the late ‘90s.

Is it still there? You’ll just have to head to the Oregon coast to see for yourself. Think of it a kind of live trivia hunt. Hotels in Tillamook Bay - Where to eat - Tillamook Maps and Virtual Tours

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