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Three Intriguing, Mind-Bending Sights of Rockway Beach, N. Oregon Coast

Published 02/21/2019 at 4:23 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Three Intriguing, Mind-Bending Sights of Rockway Beach, N. Oregon Coast

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(Rockaway Beach, Oregon) – There are a lot of things about Rockaway Beach that are obvious and others somewhat clandestine. Curious little details lurk along these seven miles of sandy repose, including what’s hidden beneath the town’s sands. One of the more striking examples is that old shipwreck that hides most years, only popping up now and again, perhaps every few years.

Remarkable details in this lazy, laidback Oregon coast town can be plentiful as well – but you have to know what to look for. Here are a mere three examples.

Ancient Sand Finds

Near the main downtown access, called Ocean’s Edge Wayside, winter can bring something fascinating to the north Oregon coast town – but you won’t know it unless you know what you’re looking at. As sand levels get scoured out and lowered by storms, you may find little chunks of wood sticking up out of the sand. They pop up near the creek – and for good reason, it turns out.


They look like old pilings, or stumps. They’ve even been confused with the ghost forests seen in some areas like Cape Lookout, Newport or near Pacific City.

It is a bit of ancient history around here, but not that ancient. These were part of a “bulkhead” built here a little over 100 years ago, protecting a much-loved attraction from the higher waters of the creek. There was a natatorium here: these were elaborate swimming pools that were all the rage around 1910. Salt water was pumped into the building and made to create a heated pool.

All a part of Man’s ongoing efforts to tame Mother Nature, one of its primary purposes was to not simply keep the creek away but actually channel it one direction and keep it from shifting. It was about eight feet tall or more, and had two-inch x 12-inch planking on either side, including a covered top to try and keep the waters from moving elsewhere than its intended direction.

What you’ll now see is a small, circular wood structure, comprised of what look like little pilings jutting up from the sand, located close to Rock Creek as it comes spilling out from the land above.

The natatorium went by the wayside, as they all did along the Oregon coast, usually by the ‘40s. There were such attractions in Seaside, Nye Beach, Cannon Beach and a little town that no longer exists called Bayocean.

Shape Shifting Twin Rocks


Did you know those famed Twin Rocks off of Rockaway Beach change shape? A trippy little side show the 18-million-year-old formations put on is shifting shape as you wander along Rockaway Beach’s seven miles of sands.

From about the downtown area – where it’s most often viewed – the giant arch is most prominent. You can see it in full glory, a major opening that is like Nature’s marketing trademark for the little town. But move farther south and it begins to disappear. Move north and something weird happens.

The access closest to the rocks is Minnehaha Street, and there they are about a half mile offshore from you or less. Here the arch is not as prominent, simply because of your vantage point versus the way the opening is configured. Head south and it disappears altogether.

Farther north, however, Twin Rocks starts to get squished: it gets thinner, looking like those old spaghetti western movies. Especially when you get to the northern end of the Oregon coast town, at Nedonna Beach by the jetty, it will cause you to do a doubletake.

Nedonna Beach’s Driftwood Forest



Some of the most driftwood chunks you’ll ever find on the entire coastline are at the very northern edge of Rockaway Beach, at the Nedonna Beach area. Lincoln City’s Siletz Bay area has a statistically larger amount compacted into a tiny area, but Nedonna simply has more by sheer numbers – and it’s rather extraordinary. From the sandy area to nearly the forested stretch behind the jetty, it’s 1,000 feet or so of dense ocean-battered wood.

How and why so many collect here is a long story. This article tells the full story: N. Oregon Coast's Rockaway Beach, Nedonna Beach: Where History, Logs, Geology Meet.

But how do they get all the way back there? The shortest answer is the most frightening, according to north coast geologist Tom Horning. Essentially, enormous storm waves bring them back there. The fact the jetty bulges its way that far inland helps as well. Lodging in Rockaway Beach - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours



 

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