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

Candy Cane Express Provides Festive Train Ride on N. Oregon Coast
For more two more weekends, you can catch the Candy Cane Express at Garibaldi. Tillamook events, Pacific City events, Manzanita events
Spacecraft Captures Images of Oregon Coast Crabbers Aglow
A satellite from National Weather Service captured pattern of glowing dots. Marine sciences
Victorian Holiday at Lighthouse BnB Returns to Central Oregon Coast
At the little house by the sea December 11, 12 and December 18 and 19. Florence events, south coast events
New Comet May Be a December Star for Oregon Coast, Washington Coast
In fact, it's already in the vicinity of Earth - in the cosmic sense. Weather
Three Oregon Coast Viewpoints From Dazzling to Dizzying
Fantastic finds at Bandon, Oceanside and near Depoe Bay that hit all the senses
Injured Sea Otter on Central Oregon Coast May Have Shark Bites
Oregon Coast Aquarium is trying to nurse it back to health. Newport, marine sciences
Another Round of King Tides This Weekend on Oregon / Washington Coast
King Tides happen December 3 - 5, except in Westport a little later. Weather
Newport's 'Christmas Show' Returns to Oregon Coast
Newport's annual celebration of The Christmas Show on December 17 and 18. Newport events, Yachats events, Lincoln City events

Back to Oregon Coast

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