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Three Weird to Wacky Facts About Depoe Bay, Central Oregon Coast

Published 02/22/21 at 6:36 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Three Weird to Wacky Facts About Depoe Bay, Central Oregon Coast

(Depoe Bay, Oregon) – All that rugged beauty and dense recreational opportunities of the central Oregon coast's Depoe Bay can easily fire up the imagination, with those expansive views, tirelessly explosive waves, and the craggy rock features that are so distinctive.

Yet there's more beneath the surface. Sometimes quite literally, like hundreds of meters below. Here's three things you did not know about this beloved place.

Two Depoe Bay Parks Have the Same Name. If you're bouncing around the little Oregon coast town and spot a place called Depoe Bay Scenic View Area not just once but twice, you may think you're seeing double.

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A true quirky, oddity of the town: there are two parks with that same name. Except technically, according to City Hall, they don't have that name.

One is the newish park built about 2016 along Coast Ave., near the fire station, about where Graham St. is. It's hidden in a wall of bushes behind a part of downtown, but there's a random plaque reading Depoe Bay Scenic View Area. Head through the bushes and you come out into a nifty little secret viewpoint with a bench.

The other park is found at what is known as North Point, off Vista St. at the northern edges of town. There is an official park entrance and then a couple of accesses between homes. This all leads to one of the more spectacular spots on the Oregon coast, with a magnificent set of cliffs where interesting things happen. (See Depoe Bay North Point)

Apparently, according to city superintendent Brady Weidner, they technically don't have names. The plaques are just a kind of designation, saying “this is a viewpoint.” North Point is actually simply known as North Point and has been for decades (just like there's a South Point). The other is known as “Graham St. Park” by city officials, so they know which area everyone is referring to. See the Depoe Bay Virtual Tour for complete info on most of these parks

Legend of Little Flying Men of Devil's Punchbowl. One of the kookiest little legends of the entire Oregon coast lies hidden in history, and apparently really never caught on.

It was about the 1880s when a man named Dope Spencer, who was of a local tribe, owned a lot of land in the area that would later become Otter Rock. He had a weird encounter in that tiny, now-inaccessible cave that lies directly below the Inn at Otter Crest hotel complex. He claims to have ventured there after dark and suddenly was hit by a group of “little flying men” who came streaming out of the cave. Spencer ran screaming for his life and forever clung to this paranormal tale of small, airborne man-critters. His family steered clear of it after dark for the rest of their lives.

The real explanation? Bats. But neither Spencer nor his family bought that, and relatives decades later claimed “we believe it to be so because Dope told us it was so.”

Freaky Bubble Basalts of Depoe Bay. Those smooth, rounded basalt rocks that typify much of Depoe Bay are a surprising bit of geology.

For one thing, according to Dr. Scott Burns, professor of geology at Portland State University, they're about 17 million to 14 million years old – he's carbon-dated them himself.

These blobs of Depoe Bay are called Pillow Basalt because of their shape. In this case, lava oozed up from the bottom, and when it hits the water it cools faster, forming these domes. Sometimes, another surge of lava would come up and break through that hardened shell and create another lobe on top of that, thus making odd, random shapes. Over the eons, land rose and fell, then did it again over and over. Time and tides smoothed over the edges.

Depoe Bay's pillow basalts are unique to the Oregon coast – there's not a lot of it. And there's a very weird reason why (see pillow basalts of Depoe Bay).

Another freaky fact: Dr. Burns said scientists think those basalts go hundreds of meters deep. They're that big.


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