Strange Oregon Coast History: Legend of Seal Rock Sea Monsters
(Newport, Oregon) – Even 100 years ago, it seems imaginations took flight along the central Oregon coast, sending the mind on all sorts of fanciful journeys that resulted in bizarre rumors, many paranormal in nature. Some seemed even like hoaxes which rivaled the UFO boxes debacle that plagued the Yachats area earlier this year, when a local man tried to claim wooden boxes found on the beach had some otherworldly origin, and then proceeded to write a set of off-the-wall articles that went viral and spun out of control.
One early example of this kind of thing was the fictional short story published in a local newspaper early in the century about a teenaged ghost that supposedly haunted Newport's Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. That somehow morphed into a local legend that stuck until around the 80's, when the Lincoln County Historical Society discovered the original short story and debunked the wacky legend.
One other strange, paranormal claim for the central Oregon coast area has become lost in time. According to Lincoln County Historical Society archivist Sachiko Otsuki, a wacky report of sea monsters at what is now known as Seal Rock – just south of Newport and a bit north of Waldport – happened in 1935. Only three years before Orson Welles' famed mass hysteria-inducing radio presentation of “War of the Worlds” (it aired in 1938), a local newspaper in Newport said a couple living in the burgeoning village known then as Seal Rocks claimed they'd seen more than one sea monster that could've been straight out of a Jules Verne novel.
A newspaper called the Yaquina Bay News had an article that ran in its June 13, 1935 issue that touted “Sea Monster Reported Seen at Seal Rocks.”
“Some people living temporarily in Seal Rock said they had encountered huge serpents,” Otsuki said.
The article said the group heard some unusual roaring from local sea lions and went out to investigate, seeing "a huge animal of enormous proportions."
One was dark brown, from forty feet to sixty feet long, according to the article. It had a head three feet wide and five feet long. This particular creature played in the surf for about a half hour and then headed south.
“A few minutes later, another one came and went very quietly,” Otsuki said.
Otsuki said that particular story caught her eye in local archives, finding it certainly different than the usual fare offered by the newspaper – and it was funny.
She said it also reminded her a little bit of that UFO boxes hoax, though this one could've had an underlying purpose.
“It could be a cooked up report, but I think it could've be an advertisement for that area, something for local tourism,” Otsuki said.
To find out more central Oregon coast history, the society's museum is at 545 SW Ninth Street Newport, Oregon. (541) 265-7509. http://www.oregoncoast.history.museum/
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