Friday, July 17, 2009

Of Cannons and Tsunamis

We've been staying on the outskirts of Cannon Beach, OR for awhile, so I thought I would give you a brief tour of the town.

The area that is now Cannon Beach was first inhabited by native cultures, and then, since the late 1800s, by American settlers. In 1806, Captain William Clark, of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, traveled to this area to secure needed blubber from a whale beached near the mouth of Ecola Creek.

The town got its name after the naval schooner USS Shark ran aground on the Columbia River in 1846. It split in half and part of the deck with a cannon attached to it washed ashore in the area of present-day Arch Cape, south of Cannon Beach.

The cannon story became much more interesting when two cannons were uncovered on the beaches of Arch Cape, just south of Cannon Beach, in February 2008. Although not confirmed as yet, it is probable that these recently uncovered cannons derived from the same ship as the original, the USS Shark, some 160 years later.

Although rich in history, it wasn't until 1957 that Cannon Beach was incorporated as a city. Only four miles in length, and with a population near 1,600, Cannon Beach is a popular and picturesque resort area, playing host to an estimated over 750,000 visitors annually.

On our first walk around town, we came upon this sculpture by Wayne Chabre. It's entitled "Delicate Balance" and the plaque on its base states: "'Which came first?' embodies questions of balance and life's precariousness."

Whimsy combined with a deep philosophical question. Welcome to the artistic component of this seaside community.

And speaking of seaside, the 1967 "Beach Bill" legislation has had a powerful impact on access to the state's beaches. In that year, the Oregon Legislature passed legislation which guaranteed public access to the state's beaches and established a state easement on all beaches between the low water mark and the vegetation line.

The fight to save all of Oregon's beaches for public recreational use was the hottest issue of the legislative session and created the greatest public response to any issue in Oregon's legislative history.

It was satisfying to freely walk the beaches--some must have been walking free of shoes (left).

We found this type of sign at several places in town and along the coast. During the evening of March 29, 1964, the area of Prince William Sound, in Southeastern Alaska, was struck by a magnitude 9.2 earthquake, the largest ever recorded in North America. The quake generated a major tectonic tsunami that struck the coast of Alaska, British Columbia, and west coast of the United States.

Oregon was also hit hard by the tsunami, which killed four people. Among the communities effected, Seaside, just north of Cannon Beach, struck by a 10-foot wave, was the hardest hit.

So the planning for evacuation routes was understandable, but this pairing of signs was puzzling--an evacuation route down a dead end street?

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