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Wacky Rumors, Misnomers and Downright Misconceptions About the Oregon Coast

Published 05/03/23 at 6:04 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Wacky Misnomers, Misconceptions and Downright Rumors About the Oregon Coast

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(Oregon Coast) – So much to the coast of Oregon. So many layers. So much to get to know. And then there's the internet and maybe word-of-mouth from various sources, and pretty soon you're starting to get conflicting info. Or, some aspect of the coast just isn't clear. Indeed, various landmarks or towns here sometimes just don't lend themselves to clarity, or kooky rumors simply persist. (Above: Howling Dog Rock in Bandon, courtesy Manuela Durson see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more)

Here's just a taste:

Goonies Rock Not Part of the Flick

Oregon Coast Beach Conection

Practically everyone now knows about the movie Goonies, and which sites on the Oregon coast were locales for filming the 1980s cult hit. Plenty of spots around Astoria and Cannon Beach are common attractions.

Haystack Rock and Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach are two of the most prominent. However, there's a big rock structure at Indian Beach called Goonies Rock, coming complete with a big hole. So this one for a long time received the mistaken notoriety of getting called Goonies Rock. It was not part of the movie, but it looks a little similar to the keyhole scene at the end of the flick, which was actually filmed in California. Filming The Goonies on N. Oregon Coast: at Astoria, Cannon Beach

South Coast a Wildly Different Geology

Otter Point near Gold Beach, photo Oregon State Parks

Many of those traveling along the Oregon coast - but certainly not all - know that the bulk of the northern half is made of basalt, that blackened often sharp material. However, there are lots of those folks who assume the dark rocks of the southern coast are that as well. That's not true, and it's quite the complex story.

From about Coos Bay southward down to Brookings, those dark rocks aren't really black. It's a vast, intricate melange of stuff, with just about every spot being something completely different than the next. In fact, many cliffs and beaches have layers of different substances and materials, changing within feet of each other. Stay tuned, as it's going to take Oregon Coast Beach Connection a long time to finish these stories. Get some hints How Bandon's Face Rock Was Created A Wild S. Oregon Coast Geologic Tale

Seaside Not Named for the Ocean

Courtesey Seaside History Museum: Seaside circa 1910

A curious bit of Seaside history is that it was not named for being by the sea. Indeed, it was railroad tycoon Ben Holladay who built a sprawling resort complex at the southern end back in the 1870s. Catering to the rich, including a giant horse track, it was called the Sea-Side House. So when the town became official in 1899, it acquired Seaside not because it was next to the ocean but because of Holladay's resort.

Three Haystack Rocks – Not Two

Cannon Beach

One aspect of the Oregon coast that often gets confusing for some, or even the subject of debate, is that there are more than one or two Haystack Rocks along these shores. Especially those new to the area or first-time visitors get a little befuddled.

In fact, three big rock structures are called Haystack Rock. One is in Pacific City, along the Three Capes Route. The most famous one is in Cannon Beach, while unbeknownst to many there is a Haystack Rock in Bandon.

The two in Cannon Beach and Pacific City are among the most photographed landmarks in the world, and it appears that both are made of basalt - which is essentially cooled lava flows. Bandon's Haystack Rock is made up of various things and is much older than the others, clocking in at perhaps over 200 million years old. Three Different Rocks With One Name on Oregon Coast: Bandon, Pacific City, Cannon Beach

Wizards Hat or What?

Wizards Hat Rock, see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

This one gets a bit wacky and complex. Wizards Hat Rock in Bandon and its sort-of-nearby companion Howling Dog Rock get rather mixed up, and to throw a little extra fuel on that fire there is actually a Wizard Hat Rock in Lincoln City on the central Oregon coast.

Wizards Hat is about 400 feet south of Howling Dog, and the two look a bit similar from different angles. For a long time, Google Maps had it wrong ( it's apparently corrected now.) So many photos out there on the internet have the two mixed up and interchanged. Part of the problem there is there is no official designation of any rock structures in Bandon, except that everyone knows Face Rock. Hopefully, someday either the city or the State of Oregon will officially recognize the different sea stacks. Bandon's Wizards Hat Rock, Komax or Howling Dog? Oregon Coast Landmark Puzzle

Meanwhile, head to the very northern edge of Lincoln City and you'll see a pointy rock structure called Wizard Hat Rock with a similar pointy shape.

Cannon Beach Wasn't the First Cannon Beach

It may come as some surprise that Cannon Beach is not the first town to be named that in Oregon, but rather Arch Cape had the name about a decade before. It's a bit of an amusing history.

The tiny town just south of the bigger one got the name Cannon Beach in 1891, named so because of a pair of cannon from the shipwreck of the USS Shark and other debris that landed here during the 1800s. The two cannon appeared and disappeared on and off over the next hundred years or more.

Not long after, the town to the north named itself Elk Creek, after the large stream that runs through the town to this day. 1910 was the year it became Ecola, named after a similar local tribal name, along with the stream returning to Ecola Creek as well. Cannon Beach named itself Arch Cape in 1912, after the trio of rocky arches found on the southern end.

The funny part comes when Ecola realized its mail was getting sent to another town called Eola in the Willamette Valley. In 1922, the little town called itself Cannon Beach. Quirky Oregon Coast History: How Cannon Beach Got Its Name

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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