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Many Faces of Bandon's Face Rock on Southern Oregon Coast

Published 05/18/22 at 7:55 PM PST

Many Faces of Bandon's Face Rock on Southern Oregon Coast

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(Bandon, Oregon) – It's hard to unsee that face once you see it. Just about any visit to the south Oregon coast town of Bandon will result in that wild, almost unsettling sight: there's a giant rock out there that looks like a massive human. (All photos courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more)

Granted, you have to be at the right angle. While that's a pretty wide range, there is a point where walking too far north or south will result in you not seeing the face any longer.

In any case, it's a she – and she is known as Face Rock. She's a favorite model of one Bandon resident, photographer and drone pilot Manuela Durson. Durson has produced a myriad of unforgettable images of the striking feature. Face Rock is a timeless landmark on the Oregon coast, and Durson's magnificent use of colors and catching the sunset at just the right moments has added much to the legacy of the offshore near-deity.

Face Rock may not have always been called that. There is considerable evidence it had other names periodically over the last century or so since Europeans started piling in. One name that seems to have come up in some material passed on to Oregon Coast Beach Connection from the Bandon Historical Society Museum is Father Abraham, though the article from 1907 doesn't make it clear which rock that is. According to the article, all those rocks at Bandon Beach had names other than what they have now.

According to many retellings of the native legend, Ewauna was the name given to it by local tribes, all based on a story that a princess had been turned to stone in that spot. Ewauna and her story may or may not be the original telling, and even then there are likely other versions of it that were passed down over generations.

Volunteers at the Bandon Historical Society Museum caution that this idea of an official version of Ewauna and Face Rock may not be possible. Tribal storytellers would've had differing versions of how Face Rock's Ewauana drama played out, and white settlers added their own spice to the tale as well.

“It's useful to remember that our concern with finding the 'official' version of a story is a byproduct of a very modern, print-era, point of view,” Jim Proehl of the museum told Oregon Coast Beach Connection.

Which is why historical conclusions become useless and pointless here. The point is the beauty of the rock itself, and Durson catches this without fail and always with a fresh viewpoint on the ancient sentinel as well.

One minute there's a Maxfield Parrish vibe to the clouds, and another it turns out Face Rock is photogenic even in cloudy weather.

Sometimes she's purple, sometimes she's a bright orange. Sometimes she's posing at sunset; sometimes sunrise.

Yet no matter what, Face Rock is still facing upwards towards the sky, as if looking, waiting for something.

For an interesting jolt of Oregon coast geology, see the origin story of Face Rock.

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