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The Things Rockaway Beach Hides: N. Oregon Coast Curiosities of History, Science

Published 04/20/22 at 9:12 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

The Things Rockaway Beach Hides: N. Oregon Coast Curiosities of History, Science

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(Rockaway Beach, Oregon) – One seriously beautiful, downhome town – seven miles of pristine beaches. Yet the place has its secrets.

Rockaway Beach has a lot more hiding beneath its sands and waters than the bottom of legendary Twins Rocks: a shipwreck, parts of an old wall, the ancient, fiery story of Twin Rocks to the odd thing they are doing to the shoreline.

In this north Oregon coast town, there is definitely more than meets the eye.

Rockaway Beach's Fiery Beginnings. Some 14 to 17 million years ago, wave after wave of walls of lava came searing their way across what was proto-Oregon. The shoreline then was around 70 miles inland, and where Rockaway Beach is now was all underwater and miles off the coast. Yet some of those lava flows – which came from eastern Oregon – were so powerful that when they hit soft sand or sediment they would dive down and come back elsewhere. Those are what is known as intrusive lava flows – they went down, kept on burrowing, then re-erupted elsewhere.

Cannon Beach's Haystack Rock is just that: an intrusive from a larger lava flow. According to Oregon coast geologist Tom Horning, Rockaway Beach's Twin Rocks is likely that as well, making them cousins of sorts. Time and tides keep eroding the rocks (which are actually just one big formation but the upper parts have been separated). See Weird Science of Rockaway Beach's Twin Rocks, N. Oregon Coast: Video

What Twin Rocks is Doing to the Shore. If you head down to the beach directly in front of Twin Rocks, you may notice it: the beach curves outward in front of the formation. Take a look on Google Satellite and you can definitely see it. There's a bulge, as if the shoreline is reaching out to greet the formation.

Oregon Coast Beach Connection presented the observation to Horning several years back, and he was surprised to realize it was true. He said essentially the rock formation creates a kind of land bridge beneath the waves, which results in the shoreline stretching outward.

“When the waves hit a rock or sea stack like that, they warp around it and they lose energy,” Horning said. “So it dumps sand directly behind the sea stack.”

It could well be made of gravel, he added. See Geologic Surprise of Rockaway Beach.

Shipwreck Beneath the Sands. In 2010, something appeared on this beach that hadn't been seen in 35 years. The long, wooden skeleton of a shipwreck, part of the Emily G. Reed, was seen once again. Now, it emerges from its sandy grave during some winters and usually only very briefly, depending on how low sand levels get. It doesn't always show up.

It crashed near here in 1908, with chunks of it landing on different areas. See Secret Oregon Coast Shipwreck Shows Up after 35-Year Absence

Little Wooden Stubs Beneath the Sands. In front of the main Ocean's Edge beach access in Rockaway Beach, winters also present something else a little confounding. For a time, some thought it was ghost forest stumps – those remarkable and strange leftovers from forests that are 2,000 to 4,000 years old, found along parts of the Oregon coast. But it turns out Rockaway Beach has none of these.

Instead, it seems these are leftovers of a kind of retaining wall, set here to channel the creek away from the town's natatorium. A natatorium was a hotspot of local entertainment, featuring a heated saltwater pool. Like most such constructs, it lost its fight with mother nature eventually. Now a handful of skeleton posts from the wooden thing emerge sometimes when sand levels get scoured out enough by winter storms. Hotels in Rockaway Beach - Where to eat - Rockaway Beach Maps and Virtual Tours






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