NeskowinGhostForest - Oregon Coast TODAY
from 2008. I never heard of this before and thought it was so cool, I had to share.
People seem most disturbed by spirits from a not-too-distant past: the lighthouse keeper’s daughter from the 1890s, perhaps, or the short-order cook who died over the chowder pot in 1967. But the Oregon coast’s most famous ghosts are much older, and they aren’t even human. They are ancient Sitka spruce trees, or what’s left of them, still standing upright on the beach where they died centuries ago.
This regiment of about 200 stumps, dotting the beach south of Proposal Rock, is called the Ghost Forest of Neskowin. From the moment they were uncovered by the stormy winter of 1997-98, the stumps have attracted both scientific and tourist attention. They aren’t exactly scary to look at, but to some, they offer quiet evidence of two rather frightening realities: earthquakes and global climate change.
Most researchers who have examined these trees believe they died about 1,600 years ago when the soil beneath them was displaced by a “subsidence event.”
“The current best estimate is that they died roughly 1,700 to 2,000 years ago. Research suggests that the sea level back then was pretty similar to current conditions, give or take three feet,” said Harold Zald, a doctoral candidate of Forest Ecosystems and Society, in the Oregon State University College of Forestry. “So the trees must have been growing on higher ground. Since the stumps are still in the soil they grew in, the best explanation is that the soil subsided. And the time these trees died roughly corresponds to a major Cascadia Zone quake, 1,600 years ago.”
When they were alive, these trees were 150 to 200 feet high, growing at least 6 feet above sea level. After the earthquake, they were quickly covered by sand.
“The sand covered them, preserved them, entombed them and kept them in an oxygen-free environment,” said Roger Hart, a retired marine geologist who works with the Oregon Department of Geology. “It kept all the degrading organisms away.”
Although Neskowin is the most prominent example of this phenomenon, there are many more occurrences — and some that are even older. Hart and Portland State University professor Curt Peterson have documented ancient, rooted stumps on Moolack and Beverly beaches, north of Newport, and Lost and Deer Creeks, between Newport and Waldport. There are a few near the Yachats River, and others near Cape Creek, north of Florence. Professor Hart, a retired Oregon State University researcher who lives near Seal Rock, was the first to realize they weren’t lumps of driftwood, buried in the sand.
More at link above.