Neskowin Ghost Forest, Oregon

After leaving the Cape Meares Scenic Viewpoint, we drove south along the Oregon Coast to the town of Neskowin where we hoped to view the Neskowin Ghost Forest, the remnants of a Sitka spruce forest. 

Reminders of Native American's living along the Pacific Coast

Beautiful flowers lined the walking trail to the beach

To get down to the Neskowin Ghost Forest we parked at the Neskowin Farmer's Market and walked a trail along the Kiwanda Creek that took us down to the beach.  

Proposal Rock to the right, Neskowin Creek middle, Neskowin Ghost Forest left

Proposal Rock

Proposal rock sits on the Neskowin Beach. According to the Tillamook Historical Society, Charley Gage, who may or may not have been a 19th Century sailor, asked Della Page, daughter of a homesteading family to marry him on this rock.  Della's mother was so excited about the proposal that she named the rock, Proposal Rock. Today, Proposal Rock is associated with romance and popping the most important question!

Arch formation in Proposal Rock at Neskowin State Beach Recreational Area

The stumps of the Neskowin Ghost Forest sit just south of proposal rock.  The stumps are 2,000 years old, according to carbon dating.  While living, the trees that make up the Neskowin Ghost Forest were similar to present-day coastal rain forest. They stood 150–200 feet high and were at least 200 years old when buried. However, it’s difficult to determine when or how the trees died, because it occurred before written history in the region. It was originally believed that these trees died slowly, as the roots were gradually submerged in saltwater due to changes in the sea levels. Yet research by geologists revealed that the soil, still present at the roots of the stumps, was buried abruptly – indicating a more sudden and dramatic event, like an earthquake, as the cause.

Ancient sitka stumps make up the Neskowin Ghost Beach

Scientist believe the stumps were unearthed when turbulent storms swept away sand during the winter of 1997–1998.  It is one of over thirty ghost forests along the Oregon and Washington Coast, though many appear as flat roots and not stumps.  Most notably, Washington's ghost forest of red cedars was integral to the discovery of the Cascadia fault line.  These ghost forests are evidence of significant, rapid changes in coastline – often due to seismic events such as the 1700 Cascadia earthquake.

Closer view of the ghost forest

The best time to see the stumps is low tide, during winter (due to January, February and March bringing the lowest tides of the year.)  We were able to see the stumps in early May at low tide.

Our next destination was Newport, Oregon!


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