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Phantom Roads, Tunnels, and Archways of the Oregon Coast
By J.D. Adams

The beachcomber, walking barefoot through gliding surf, is reunited with the cradle of life, completing a circle that began at the dawn of time. There is the sense of being a player in the ancient theater of history.

Oregon's beach has been used as a traveling route since prehistoric times, and there is poetic completeness in the modern vision of this legacy, first proposed by Governor Oswald West, that the seashore was a public highway. Early settlers took to the beach to avoid the dense coastal underbrush and crossed the rocky promontories using Indian trails. At Hug Point, between Arcadia Beach and Arch Cape, a roadway was carved into the base of the headland, allowing travel around the point at high tide. Incredibly, this feature has survived intact after more than 80 years, and one can still retrace the steps of pioneer pathfinders with the surf crashing at your feet. Other sections of pioneer roadway live on, converted to the Oregon Coast Trail at Cape Perpetua and the Yachats 804 Trail.

The tunnel at Oceanside is a childhood memory of good times on the beach. It allowed easy access to the beach north of Maxwell Point. The tunnel has been frequently blocked by rock fall in the past. A storm a few years ago has reopened the passage, although a sign on the south entrance warns people to keep out. In old home movies, grinning beachcombers still pour from the tunnel mouth. Travel around the point is possible at low tide.

North of Newport's Nye Beach is the rapidly disappearing Jump-Off Joe. It was once an enormous sandstone headland with an arch connecting Agate Beach with Nye Beach. The study of its erosion has become course material for geology students around the world. The inexorable transformation of Jump-Off Joe has been documented in many photographs over the last century. Low rocky ridges on the beach give little hint of the remarkable flat-topped archway that fascinated the artists and writers of Nye Beach. The foundation remaining on the bluff is an uncompleted condominium that had to be abandoned because of erosion in the 1980's. The name Jump-Off Joe has been applied to many features in Oregon and Washington.

There is nothing but the sound of the wind and waves at the site of Bayocean. Boasting amenities ahead of its time, Bayocean was promoted as the Atlantic City of the West. It was built on the Tillamook peninsula, which was breached by winter storms after the completion of a single jetty on Tillamook Bay that unbalanced the movement of sand on the spit. Its heyday was from 1912 to 1932, with some residents hanging on until 1952, when Bayocean became an island. The demise of Bayocean is linked to the fact that the residents could only afford to pay for a single jetty to calm the often rough boat ride into Tillamook Bay. The developer of Bayocean, T. B. Potter, became unhinged during its final destruction and abandoned the project to retire to California. The construction of a south jetty returned the sand to the peninsula, which now has a trail through the site of Bayocean.

The power of the sea will not be denied, and every year hungry storms lap at the dunes of Nestucca Bay and at Salishan. The monumental rock at Fogarty Creek that I climbed on as a child, is now reduced to rubble. Ever changing, the Oregon Coast remains an enigmatic gift to future generations.

Above pictures: Proposal Arch Tunnels Archways Oregon Coast

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