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Three Much-Loved Oregon Coast Landmarks Gone So Long They're Forgotten

Published 11/27/22 at 11:39 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Three Much-Loved Oregon Coast Landmarks Gone So Long They're Forgotten

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(Oregon Coast) – Down comes the old, in comes the new. That's often what they call progress, but sometimes it's wanton destruction. Other times, that destruction is Mother Nature's. (Above: Original Jump-Off Joe in the late '10s, courtesy Lincoln County Historical Society)

Whatever the case, on the Oregon coast there are a few major landmarks long gone now because of this dynamic, gone so long they've been lost to memory. Three of them were major attractions to a proto tourism industry on the Oregon coast, now a faint blip in the historical record books.

Old Jump-Off Joe. Newport's Nye Beach has gone through two famed rock structures named Jump-Off Joe in less than 150 years, with tides and currents there getting altered by the jetties so that erosion happens that much faster. Not to mention: the sandstone in the area is quite soft as well.

Original Jump-Off Joe, before 1920 (courtesy Newport's Lincoln County Historical Society)

Most people don't know about the first one: a grand and much-loved Oregon coast attraction in the very early days of tourism, lasting until about the 1930s. Until the 1890s or so, there was a long outcropping in Nye Beach which had gotten the name Jump-Off Joe, supposedly based on a local tribal tale (but historians believe it was a white settler concoction). Some 150 feet long, it whittled away quickly when the jetties were built, worn into a separate sea stack and detached from land.

Three Much-Loved Oregon Coast Landmarks Gone So Long They're Forgotten
"Newer" Jump-Off Joe last decade, photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection

This blob developed an arch, and quickly became popular with tourists, who took tons of photos of themselves with it. But by 1916, the arch had eroded away and the object was getting smaller. Finally, in the '30s it was all but gone. There's a tiny slab in the sand about 40 feet north of the current Jump-Off Joe that is all that remains of that. See the full story of this Jump-Off Joe

"Newer" Jump-Off Joe around 1925. The arch fell in the '90s (courtesy Newport's Lincoln County Historical Society)

This current Jump-Off Joe lasted from about then to just two years ago, so sizably longer than the last. But it has now become off limits because chunks are caving in and disappearing. Hotels in Newport - Where to eat - Newport Maps and Virtual Tours

Elephant Rock in the '20s (courtesy Newport's Lincoln County Historical Society)

Elephant Rock Near Depoe Bay. Not to be confused with Elephant Head Rock down in Bandon, this central Oregon coast beauty had become a treasured icon of local tribes for generations. Yet they likely called it something else, because only white settlers would've known about elephants.

Elephant Rock sits below the headland of Otter Rock, in a spot you can't get to because it's too slippery or filled with surf much of the time. It still resembles an elephant to some degree, but for generations it had a small arch that made it look like an elephant's trunk.

Elephant Rock now (Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

The legend goes that the “elephant” used its trunk to put out major fires in the area, fighting a “fire demon” by putting drenching with its trunk. As long as the elephant was there, local tribes would be safe.

In 1936, a winter storm knocked the trunk off, and that was the year many huge fires wreaked havoc all over the Oregon coast. Bandon, Depoe Bay, Yachats, and more all were hit with big forest fires that year. It was like a curse had come true. The whole story of Elephant Rock

Many newspapers at the time noted the passing of Elephant Rock. Hotels in Depoe Bay - Where to eat - Depoe Bay Maps and Virtual Tours

Photos and information courtesy Bandon Historical Society

Tupper Rock, Bandon. The south Oregon coast still has a hole in it, to this day. A treasured rock structure called Grandmother Rock by Coos and Coquille tribes stood near the mouth of the river, yet by the late 1800s it was co-opted by white settlers and called Tupper Rock.

This, too, became much loved by locals and tourists alike, and a stairway to its top was even constructed. A variety of old photos before 1893 show people goofing around the top.

It was that year where shortsighted town founders decided this was the only place to obtain the materials they needed to build the jetties at the Coquille's mouth. So, they blew it up. Slowly, more and more of it was dynamited, and they even dug a hole further down below where it once stood – often to the horror of many.

Now, there is a memorial to it on tribal property occupied by a senior care center. See Bandon's Tupper Rock

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