Stay Eat Events Weather Beaches

Mysteries of N. Oregon Coast's Cannon Beach: Bunker, Lighthouse, Singing Sands

Published 06/10/21 at 4:30 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Mysteries of N. Oregon Coast's Cannon Beach: Bunker, Lighthouse, Singing Sands

(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – From an enigmatic but cajoling lighthouse just offshore, to some engaging science and history, Cannon Beach has many levels of intrigue below all the stunning attractions and beaches. Here's a look at three aspects of the area you'll likely find surprising.

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse

Courtesy Seaside Aquarium

Sitting a mile offshore, she's known as Terrible Tilly – and she just may actually be a terrible person. Initial construction in the late 1870s on the lighthouse meant dealing with horrific accidents and at least one drowning, enough incidents that there was a public outcry to stop building it. Men working on the precarious blob of rock started out waiting for duty housed aboard a ship, to keep them sequestered away from the public and media coverage of all the danger.

The sentinel was lit in 1881, and then came tense tours of duty manning it. Storms were merciless in lashing it and one in the ‘30s caused some real damage. After decades of adventures, the lighthouse was retired in the late ‘50s, eventually becoming a wildlife refuge and a columbarium – housing the ashes of the dead. More Tillamook Rock Lighthouse

World War II Bunker

Photo courtesy Seaside Aquarium's Tifany Boothe

Latest Coastal Lodging News Alerts
In Seaside:
Includes exclusive listings; major specials now that winter is here
In Cannon Beach:
Includes rentals not listed anywhere else
In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
major specials for winter
In Pacific City, Oceanside:
Winter's enticing specials now
In Lincoln City:
Major winter specials now
In Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach:
major specials this season
In Newport:
Look for many specials
In Waldport
New amenities offered; specials and tempting prices now
In Yachats, Florence
Big deals available; lodgings not listed anywhere else
Southern Oregon Coast Hotels / Lodgings
Reedsport to Brookings, places to stay; winter deals

If you're hiking along Tillamook Head from the Cannon Beach side, about 1.5 miles into it you may run into the remains of a World War II bunker – a crusty chunk of concrete covered in moss and other plants and often filled with bats (so you really don't want to go in there).

This was a radar station only used for about a year and half or so during the second world war, and it's only a tiny chunk of what was a much larger base called J-23, and the radar was known as SCR-588. This construct held some of the radar equipment that kept a lookout for enemy aircraft, but it also helped hold the 30-foot-high radar antennae. J-23 came complete with barracks, a mess hall and other buildings. It utilized some 50 to 100 men.

Bits of track and concrete chunks still dot this section of the north Oregon coast headland's wilderness. The Mysterious World War II Bunker Atop Oregon Coast's Tillamook Head

Singing Sands of Cannon Beach

Whether or not Cannon Beach has ever had true singing sands is a bit up in the air, but bits and pieces from the town's history and some of its names reference the wild and strange noise.

Actual singing sands usually only happens on dunes, on rare occasion at the Oregon National Dunes Recreation Area between Florence and Coos Bay. It's more of a singing-like noise, or sometimes a kind of roar or oddball violin.

On the north Oregon coast, there's more of a squeaking noise that pops up now and then, at the town's southern edges or down around Arch Cape and Arcadia Beach. This noise – and singing sands – comes from a specific set of conditions that have to coincide, involving the right size of sand grains and the right humidity, among other things.

There have been no modern-day reports of singing sands, yet it's possible it happened decades ago. However, Man's interference with nature likely changed that dynamic. In any case, squeaking sands here are documented – and it's a kick in the pants to experience. Oregon Coast's Weird Singing Sands: Cannon Beach, South Coast and Elsewhere | Video --- MORE PHOTOS BELOW

Hotels in Cannon Beach - Where to eat - Cannon Beach Maps and Virtual Tours


Photo courtesy Cannon Beach Surf

Photo OPRD: the type of antenna used by the SCR-588 radar system.

More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....

More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....

Coastal Spotlight

LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles

Fiery Scottish / Irish Christmas Show Comes to South Oregon Coast's Coos Bay
A sizzling blend of Celtic cultures in music happens Dec 16. South coast events
Central Oregon Coast's Florence Holiday Festival Expands, with Gnomes, Lighte...
December 3: new additions to the festival, one starts Black Friday. Florence events
Spectacular Geminid Meteor Showers Coming to Oregon Coast, Washington Coast
Perfect conditions may yield as many as 120 fireballs per hour
South Oregon Coast's Hughes House Christmas Returns to Port Orford
Christmas Tea on Dec 17, 18 - Tours Dec 22, 23 and 26. South coast events
Recreational Crabbing Banned on South Oregon Coast; Commercial Season Delayed
The marine toxin domoic acid is high in crab. Weather
Small Quake Rattles Off South Oregon Coast, 112 Miles from Bandon
It struck off Friday morning, clocking in at a magnitude 4.5. Geology
Get Ready for Wild(ish?) King Tides on Oregon Coast, Washington Coast
First round starts November 24 - 26, and it may or not be big. Weather
Two Little Ghost Towns on S. Oregon Coast Near Bandon: History of Prosper, Ra...
At one time, they were bustling ports, filled with workers, ships

Back to Oregon Coast

Contact Advertise on
All Content, unless otherwise attributed, copyright Unauthorized use or publication is not permitted