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Rockaway Beach's Less Obvious Sides Hint at Oregon Coast History, Layers

Published 12/20/21 at 5:42 AM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Rockaway Beach's Less Obvious Sides Hint at Oregon Coast History, Layers

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(Rockaway Beach, Oregon) – It’s a place on the north Oregon coast where history and the modern world meet, sometimes in ways you can’t see. In some spots, it’s beneath your feet and you’d have no clue (such as the wreck of the Emily G. Reed, above, that lurks beneath the sands and only pokes out every now and then). In others, it’s hidden in the outline of the buildings you see.

No wonder: Rockaway Beach has been a hotspot vacation spot for over 100 years now, providing fun and repose for generations (see the beginnings of Rockaway Beach). Some of this is obvious, some is not.


Rockaway Beach is, of course, mostly known for its Twin Rocks – the gigantic pair of sea stacks lurking just offshore. Fun fact: they’re actually one big rock. It’s simply been carved into dramatically-disconnected shapes.

Want to get a bit closer to these massive monsters? You can't, really. Unless you have some high-powered optics, as seen here. Then you can check out the lines on these 15 million-year-old-or-so landmarks.

Apparently Twin Rocks got their name a century ago or so from boaters who wandered the western side of the sea stacks. They look nearly identical from the other side, according to some. For a couple of decades of the north Oregon coast town’s existence, Twin Rocks went by other names like Profile Rock.

The Little Red Caboose is perhaps the other big recognizable landmark in Rockaway Beach, standing out by virtue of its color amid everything else blue (or gray, depending on the day). It houses the Chamber of Commerce in Rockaway Beach, along with tons of visitor information.

The caboose is located at the main wayside in downtown. A bit of an elderly remnant itself, the train car is a nod to the town's local history of what was called the “Daddy Train” back in the early part of the 1900's. This was a time when families would hang out during the summer for weeks at a time, but Dad still had to continue working back in the valley. A weekend train would bring the fathers back down for the weekend, hence the term “Daddy Train.”

The caboose is, of course, still red at night. The tropical-looking plants outside provide a striking contrast to the general weather patterns of the Oregon coast.

Train tracks still play an important role in this dreamy beach spot, as the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad comes through here during the summers and on special dates around the year.


Rockaway Beach's chunk of Highway 101 manages to retain a fascinating sense of history as you travel along, whizzing past these elderly statesmen of local architecture. Many of the buildings seem left over from an Old West town of sorts. It's a bit like traveling into the past along the Oregon coast at times, yet these are often painted modern, bright and very funky colors.

Another major landmark at Rockaway Beach is the south jetty of Nehalem Bay. Constructed about a century ago, the side facing greater Rockaway and Manhattan Beach has a much wilder side to it than the bay side of the rocky structure.

This is evidenced by the gargantuan chunks of logs and trees piled up on it. But this section has its softer side as well, shown here by the reflective quality of the wet sand and a truly tranquil moment next to this powerful place.

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