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One Shortest Day of the Year, Eclipse on Oregon Coast Leads to Shipwreck Missing for 50 Years

Published 02/28/23 at 12:22 AM
By Andre' GW Hagestedt

One Shortest Day of the Year, Eclipse on Oregon Coast Leads to Shipwreck Missing for 50 Years

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(Oregon Coast) – One shortest day of the year, a funky lunar eclipse, several mesmerizing nighttime beaches, a myriad of lights and then a surprise bout of sun: it all ends with a new shipwreck find. All that happened in a few days one Oregon coast winter, all centering around the towns of Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita and Rockaway Beach. Even during the dead of the chilly season, even without any storms, the place is a mishmash of discoveries and wowing sights. (Above: photo Andre' GW Hagestedt – the wreck of the Emily G. Reed had only been seen once in 50 years suddenly appeared that winter).

Not that I'd even intended to discover new things – except maybe chase that eclipse (which I did, as you can see in this travelogue). That early December I'd simply hit the beaches to grab shots of holiday lights and assumed I'd be hunkered down for stormy weather.

Nope. Even the sun likes to visit the Oregon coast – more than you think.

The photo safari begins rather far into the evening, close to midnight.

Late one Sunday night, Cannon Beach and its Haystack Rock show a distinctively ethereal side, as partial cloud cover reveals stars and casts a warm glow on the beach. Hotels in Cannon Beach - Where to eat - Cannon Beach Maps and Virtual Tours

The next day, Manzanita is a wild and woolly mix of storm conditions and sunny moments, which light up the dramatic waves and intense chunks of angry clouds.

Not to be outdone, apparently the Nehalem area decides to show off by sprouting a rainbow, which arcs over the snowy bluffs of nearby mountains that hover around the Nehalem Bay, like the famous Onion Peak seen here.

Up the road, in Oswald State Park, a wooded stream gets especially lovely and soothing, as the path takes you towards the beach.

Just before you hit the beach of Short Sands, this scene presents itself – highly reminiscent of the Ken Burns film about Lewis and Clark. In fact, this whole day reminds me of that documentary. Much of the parts covering the Corps of Discovery's time on the Oregon coast and south Washington coast shows gray, drab days. Though there is nothing really drab about these shades lingering in the real world.

A few minutes later, the last remaining rays of sunlight, on the day before the shortest day of the year, get sucked up by a particularly dramatic squall off on the horizon. Hotels in Manzanita, Wheeler - Where to eat - Manzanita, Wheeler Maps and Virtual Tours

Later that night, Seaside gets ethereal and surreal, as Tillamook Head is seen under various nocturnal lighting conditions. One moment, the lights of the city dominate the colors of the clouds, and street lights paint the beach and surf some strange hues. Hotels in Seaside - Where to eat - Seaside Maps and Virtual Tours

Another moment, the full moon – which is about to go crazy with its eclipse – dominates the clouds, putting the sky in more of a blue mood (more on the eclipse from an Oregon coast point of view).

On Tuesday night, the constant cloud cover doesn’t let you see the last sunset of this downward-turning part of the year. It’s the shortest day of the year, but there’s no way of knowing by looking at it. They all feel that way around this point.

Christmas is gearing up – fast. On the Oregon coastline, the place is no shirker to blinkage and festivities, though no doubt those holiday lights would have to be heartier than even the Griswolds would have grabbed. Winter storms can be a bit Grinchy with those lovely bulbs.

And then, if there were a climax to this novella, it happens. A shipwreck that has been missing for about 50 years suddenly pops up out of nowhere in Rockaway Beach. It makes only a minor stir at the time: the internet is not yet crammed full of cell selfies and throngs documenting every inch in 2010. The day I show up, it's lit nicely by full sun and blue skies. Hotels in Rockaway Beach - Where to eat - Rockaway Beach Maps and Virtual Tours

Every detail of the Emily G. Reed becomes apparent, and if it revealed itself today there would've been hundreds, if not thousands, milling about each few days. She crashed in the surf closer to the mouth of the Nehalem River, a ways to the north. It’s been popping up out of the sand only periodically over the last century since its demise, and meanwhile has been working its way southward in the sand.

Further south, closer to Tillamook, there’s Oceanside, which manages to bask in the bright sun and chilly temps. The sun doesn’t last long here, however, and soon shies away from Maxwell Point and its famous Three Arch Rocks. It doesn’t seem to want to return, either. Yet a quick trip back towards Tillamook, even just a bit south to Netarts, and the sun is strong again. [The Emily G. Reed shows up now and again] Hotels in Oceanside - Where to eat - Oceanside Maps and Virtual Tours

- A curious sidenote / post script: back in 2010, I actually got the thing on TV by sending the tip to regional news outlets. Only KGW - I believe - ran it. Now, everybody and their dog (and blog) would be all over it


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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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