Tillamook Stories and Tips

Barviews, Jetties, and Oregon coastal landforms

·	Barview, deteriorating trestle supports Photo, Tillamook, Oregon

Sand blown by whipping wind stung my legs as I walked down to the Stonehenge-like edifices which were all that remained of portions of old railroad line built during Barview’s resort days in the early 1900’s. Constructed of wood, not stone, and rapidly deteriorating. We’d turned off to Barview on a whim; the "B" on the hill east of Highway 101 and store and houseboat on the corner tickled our curiosity. Houseboat? Yep, on dry land, a corner lot, brightly painted in white with blue trim, with a wooden deck built onto the side of it.

Barview Jetty Park: We drove down the road past a booth into a large campground. It’s a Tillamook County park, one of seven, we learned, after getting a paper from the lady in the booth. Plenty of spaces for RVs and tents, six restrooms with showers spread throughout the park, most of it sheltered behind the dunes. Cost, $15 per night for tent sites, $20-25 for RVs, $5 for hiker-biker sites. A few RV and bicycle camp spaces were out in the open by the jetty. For hardier souls apparently. Though it was a sunny day, the wind was fierce.

Barview Jetty was surprisingly busy. At least, it felt that way. Not that many people, but combined effects of birds and wind created lots of commotion. Some solitary people fishing braved the breeze; a family wandered by the skeletal wooden trestles and out onto the jetty. A sign on the fenced-off observation tower facing towards the water warned ROUGH BAR.

Jetties are a fact of life along the Oregon Coast at the mouths of rivers flowing into the ocean. The Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) went on a jetty-building rampage in the late 19th Century, with the intent of reducing the hazards of ship navigation through river channels. Basically, what jetties do is extend the mouths of rivers further out into the sea, concentrating and accelerating water flow, scouring out sand and debris, making it less likely vessels will flounder on sand bars. Use caution when clambering around on jetty rocks though. Erosion and underlying currents, not to mention the sheer slipperiness of the rocks when wet, makes walking on jetties potentially dangerous.

The wooden posts that had formed the base of a railroad trestle were sticking up, out and akimbo along the shore. They formed an awkward contrast to the massive swirls of driftwood lying elegantly here and there among the sand and rocks nearby. Some simply look majestic in their size, but others are twisted into tortured evocative curls that stir the imagination. No wonder artists get inspired to give nature a hand with driftwood creations.

Gazing north over the wind-sculpted dunes out over the ocean, I spied Twin Rocks faintly visible behind ocean spray and sand blow. We’d seen these two sea stacks from Rockaway Beach 4-5 miles upcoast. What are sea stacks? They’re composed of basalt, the result of pre-Ice Age volcanic eruptions issuing from great fissures of the ancient Columbia Plateau. This lava intruded into soft marine sediments at the mouth of the Columbia River, cooling and solidifying into hard basaltic rock, which remained buried for eons. With land lift over time, and Ice Age-caused erosion, more headlands formed and rocks became exposed, among them, Twin Rocks one mile south of Rockaway. Best views of this sea stack is turning oceanward on Minnehaha Street. I only became aware of this later when reading more about the area, otherwise we would certainly have done so.

Less than half a mile south of Barview, a traffic turnout and recently constructed trail will take you practically to within touching distance of The Three Graces. Also composed of basalt, there are actually more than three islets that protrude out of the ocean, especially at low tide. But the biggest three gave the formation its name, and the basalt cliffs on the land side of the highway is probably part of the same structure. The Graces have trees growing on them, the middle Grace a windblown, spindly but extremely tenacious cypress tree that’s managed to hold on over the years despite forces of wind and water. The other two Graces also are bedecked in shorter trees, foliage and mosses.

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