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Crumbling Coast of Oregon: Three Rocky Attractions That Have Gone

Published 08/28/2018 at 4:37 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

Crumbling Coast of Oregon: Three Rocky Attractions That Have Gone

(Oregon Coast) – Time and tide waits for no man, goes the cliché. But they don’t wait for geologic features of the Oregon coast, either. Things fall apart, especially when it comes to the shoreline of these beaches.

It can be fascinating to look at what is gone now. Some of these features people may remember – some won’t. Here are three rocky structures that should be remembered.

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Cape Kiwanda’s Crumbled Side. According to geologists, the softer sandstone of Cape Kiwanda should’ve literally eroded away perhaps thousands of years ago. Other structures of a similar composition – like Newport’s two Jump-Off Joe structures – did so in about 40 years or less. First, one with the name Jump-Off whittled away quickly, by the ‘30s, after folks fell in love with it some 30 years before. Then another chunk that acquired the name later mostly disappeared by the ‘90s.

The secret to Kiwanda’s longevity is the more sturdy Haystack Rock just west of it, which has kept away the full force of the tides.

Still, chunks of it crumble away now and again. If you’re at the top and look down at one elongated “island” on its northern edge, you’ll notice a huge mass of boulders. Something fell apart there years ago.

There was a fascinating but wobbly-looking arch visible only from its northern side (only accessible by either walking the dune or McPhillips Beach and its drivable access about a mile north of town). Seen here before 2010, it stretched across a cavernous chunk of the headland and seemed to connect the island with the main rock. That is pictured above.

Sometime around 2010 it crumbled, creating a pile of rubble below that holds back the sea and sometimes allows closer access to what is essentially an “oceanic canyon” hiding at the tip of Kiwanda. Before that, you couldn’t close to it and see what lay beyond that.

In a very real way, it wound up benefiting those who wanted to get a glimpse of the wonders inside that canyon area. See that at the Three Capes Virtual Tour.

Oceanside's Arch. Beyond the tunnel at Oceanside, nicknamed Star Trek Beach by some, you’ll find a host of intricate shapes and a lot of colorful sea life clinging to them.

For perhaps hundreds of years, there was an arch among those pointy sea stacks you see at the northern end of the rather hidden Oregon coast spot. It resembled something out of one early Star Trek episode (the time portal), which caused some to come up with the nickname.

The result of millions of years of pounding at the sturdy basalt, the arch was probably originally a small sea stack – and before that part of a larger rocky body of some sort.

For as long as anyone could remember in this area, that structure had the shape of an arch. Sometime in the winter of 2004, the storms finally took their toll, and the arch crumbled. Another Oregon coast landmark gone.

Now, in its place are two small sea stacks, no longer connected. It’s possible one of them could develop a crack, which then enlarges to an arch again – albeit a much smaller one.

The Lost Arches of Arch Cape. If you’re like a lot of people who’ve been to the tiny north Oregon coast village of Arch Cape, you’ve wondered where the arches are. There’s a rocky blob, a kind of sea stack, and it’s at a bit of an angle. But where’s the actual arch?

It turns out it’s behind that sea stack, and not something you can normally get to. Really low tide situations may allow it, but they’re rare. Mostly, you can only visit during those summertime high sands that create a much larger width to the beach and keep the tide well at bay.

Once you get behind that area, you’ll find the arch the area was named for. But you’re only getting half the picture. There were actually a series of arches there. They looked like one big cave with a bunch of openings. Almost a spider web of them. The photo here, courtesy Cannon Beach History Museum, shows it at one angle that’s not quite as striking. Other photos, like the one in the book “Arch Cape Chronicles” by David and Alma English, show the arches interweaving in a way.

Above: the lone arch now.

It’s interesting to note that ambulances and other recreational vehicles actually drove through those arches back then.

About 1940 the big structure came down, leaving just one arch. You can still see the debris of it in the form of big boulders and jagged chunks of rock. It’s left a lot of tidepools to take hold. Oregon Coast Lodgings in these areas - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours

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