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That Which is Haunting of An Oregon Coast Lighthouse: Cape Meares and Area

Published 05/11/2019 at 4:53 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

That Which is Haunting of An Oregon Coast Lighthouse: Cape Meares and Area

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(Oceanside, Oregon) – Surrounding the lighthouses of the Oregon coast are plenty of mysteries, and even swirling tales of the creepy and possibly paranormal. The Tillamook Rock Lighthouse by Seaside / Cannon Beach has its rumors of ghost dogs howling in the night, the two lighthouses in Newport have their eerie tales, and the Heceta Head Lighthouse near Florence is purportedly haunted by a pleasant spirit.

Cape Meares Lighthouse, near Oceanside, however has no spooky legends and rumors of manifestations. However, there are some morbid and dark histories in the area surrounding it.

To go back to the headland’s beginnings is to visit a literal hell on Earth. About 18 million years ago or so, the promontory was formed by giant lava flows hundreds of miles long, destroying everything in their path and sometimes pooling into searing bodies of liquid Earth material perhaps hundreds of feet deep. All this happened over millions of years, perhaps thousands of times, and it all came from a gigantic hole in the Earth’s crust that was then by the Idaho border.

Spookier still: that massive weakness still exists and will likely someday create an extinction level event for the planet. The area under Yellowstone National Park is where it wound up, thanks to plate movement over all that time. It’s been a super volcano before – and will be again. Hopefully that’s thousands of years away, however.


Near the Cape Meares Light is the Octopus Tree – a strangely-shaped tree that looks a bit like a candelabra. Archaeologists say it was twisted into that shape because it was used as a burial place by local native tribes, who would place their dead in the tree in their canoes.

The practice is well documented. First, they flattened the direction the limbs were growing early in the tree’s life. Once a flat spot was attained, their natural growth direction took over, and the limbs grew upwards again, forming this unique shape.

Local tribes have lived on the Oregon coast for a good 3,000 years, if not ten thousand years. The Octopus Tree is said to be more than 2,000 years old.

Just below Cape Meares, unbeknownst to most tourists, sits one of Oregon’s most famous but hidden ghost towns. The Bayocean spit, which runs across Tillamook Bay, was once the briefly glittering resort town of Bayocean. There’s essentially nothing left of it now, except one public building in the tiny town of Cape Meares (directly below the cape). It was moved to its present location, however.

Bayocean started in 1912 and essentially died less than ten years later, although its final nail in the coffin occurred with the Great Depression. It boasted five miles of roads, a couple of large hotels, a theater, and various other attractions.

Changing tidal conditions essentially destroyed most of it in the ‘30s, and the rest was bulldozed by the U.S. government in the ‘70s.

To get a picture of what once existed there, head to the shoreline. That was where Third Street in Bayocean was. This means there were at least two other streets beyond where the shore is now. All that and some actual beachfront were swallowed by the tides decades ago.

You'll find Cape Meares at the very northern edge of the Three Capes Tour.

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