|Governor Patterson State Park
|Stump faintly visible in the distance towards the left
Seeing one really big stump made me start to examine other stumps along Big Stump Beach. It is well known that the remains of hundreds of ancient trees lie in the sands of Oregon's beaches, some appearing only when the sand is washed out by strong wave activity. A smaller stump nearby appears less weathered, and another one further north seems to be a less-durable species, perhaps Douglas fir. Did these trees grow here and perish when the ground dropped during a massive earthquake? Did they wash in with the tide and then get partially buried in the sand? Perhaps we will never know.
Governor Patterson is not the only access to Big Stump Beach; pullouts beside 101 offer "goat trails" for the nimble of foot. A bit further down the highway, Beachside State Park has a day-use area, camping, and even yurts for rent about a mile south of the stump; unfortunately, this excellent park is only open from March 15 through November 1. For year-round camping two miles south of the stump, try Tillicum Beach Campground; if possible, reserve ahead to ensure that you have an ocean-view site. While these campgrounds are both near the highway, they are also right on the beach and offer excellent access to beachcombing, hiking, and exploration. Sites are highly sought after during the peak summer season, so consider another time of year for your visit if you want to camp (we love the off-season at the coast; click here for some of our winter favorites).
However you access it, Big Stump is well worth a stop along the way. We may not bring an offering as in days of old, but we can climb inside and ponder the mystery of this tree that has watched centuries pass, standing alone on the beach, leaning away from the blustery coastal wind.
|Governor Patterson State Park and the view from the wheelchair-accessible platform
|Big Stump from the Beachside State Park side
|Close-ups of the stump. Note the bug burrows and burn marks.
|The author enjoys the view from inside the stump
|Mrs. Copeland gives scale to the stump in this ~1920 photograph.
Used by permission from the Waldport Heritage Museum
|Small stump in foreground, weathered softwood stump beyond. Big Stump visible in the background.
|Beachside State Park
|Tillicum Beach State Park
|Enjoy the mystery!