Rising out of the sand and water on Oregon’s Tillamook Coast, about a hundred ancient decaying stumps stand like ghostly soldiers on the beach. When the fog is just right and the tide is receding, it appears ghostly figures are walking along the beach.
Because of this, it has been dubbed the Neskowin Ghost Forest.
Who are the Ghosts of Neskowin?
They are an eerily beautiful memorial of the towering Sitka spruce trees that stood here for over two millennia.
For centuries, the stumps that can be seen now were hidden under feet of sand. From time to time, they were barely visible for decades which created a bit of a local legend. In the Winter of 1997, the Oregon Coast was pummeled by massive storms that eroded away the sands enough to expose the natural wonder that has been ephemeral in the past.
Geologists have theorized that the stumps, which have been carbon dated to about 2,000 years old, belonged to formerly towering Sitka spruce trees that were felled during the 1700 earthquake that occurred in this area along the Cascadia subduction zone. Land that was previously higher, dropped into the tidal zone. By dropping into the ocean, a strange coincidence happened – the broken stumps were preserved by the salty seawater.
Before they met their end, the trees would have stood at almost 200 feet tall. Now petrified, the relics of those giants hare the beach with another phantom-like structure – Proposal Rock.
The local Native Americans originally called it “Schlock”.
A proposal from a sea captain, Charley Gage, to his beloved Della Page, sometime around 1900, gave it its modern name of Proposal Rock. How much of this legend is true is up for debate, according to the Tillamook Historical Society, but the allure of the landmark certainly is not.
“We do have a lot of people who come out here to get engaged, and we do have weddings on the beach or at homes in town quite a bit,”John Forsythe, manager of Proposal Rock Inn
As with any other attraction along the Oregon Coast, safety must come first. In 2005, a romantic marriage proposal on the Oregon Coast turned deadly for the bride-to-be when a wave swept her out to sea before they even began their ascent to the top of the rock. A sneaker wave came up the beach and as the man turned to brace against the wave, his girlfriend was swept out to sea and never seen again.