Would you like to walk where you can see creatures from the distant past?
Want to see fossils sticking out of the rock at your feet, as if someone carved a treasure in rock for you to see?
I was amazed to see remnants of creatures long dead, gone and morphed into rock, laying there in front of me. How long had they been there?
This is what I saw and wondered about, when I was on Gleneden Beach (in Lincoln County), Oregon USA.
My husband and I with our daughter and son in law, went for a weekend trip together. We stayed at a local resort that was in walking distance from Gleneden Beach.
We went there to view the night sky, to see a comet (C/2020 F3 or Comet Neowise). We wanted to see it later in the night, as it was literally a once in a lifetime opportunity. Neowise is what is called a long period comet. It’s orbital period is 6792 years (Neowise is a story for another day though).
We arrived early enough to take a walk to the nearby beach in the daylight. The day was warm and the sky was a beautifully bright blue. The walk wasn’t far from where we were staying.
Before you got to the beach access, there was a good sized parking lot. There was lots of spaces to park if we decided to drive to this beach in the future.
When I faced West, to my right, there was a walking path, that led to the beach. Along that path, there was a very clean set of Woman’s and Men’s restrooms, (a nice thing to have near the beach, to change into or out of a swim suit, wash your hands or do whatever else you need to do in a restroom).
We kept on the walking path, headed for the beach. There were big trees with boughs to shade the path. There were bushes too, on either side, (far enough away so that we weren’t walking through and touching much brush).
Just before we came to the beach itself, there was a steep path down. I’m guessing a descent overall of 12 feet, (please remember, I’m guessing, but you get the picture I’m sure).
On either side of the descent, was a slope. The slopes were difficult to walk down simply due to the severe angle downwards. Between the sloped sides was a deep erosion. This eroded area sort of resembled a stair step, but it was a very deep stair step, (not an easy step down).
Having survived the decent, we continued onto the beach. We went South to scope out where we wanted to set up chairs, tripods and cameras for the viewing of Neowise.
After that, we continued South, (as my husband and I love to look for treasures on the beach, like a pretty agate / rock or maybe a sand dollar).
We walked a long way, following the “rock line” on the beach. I don’t really know what it is called, but that is what I call the serpentine line of rocks you find, where the tide has washed rocks in, dropped them off, then the tide has moved out again, leaving the “rock line”.
After some time, we came across an exposed fossil bed. To me, it was huge. It looked like one big long rock.
I’m only guessing now, but it must have been low tide when we got there, because there was so much exposed rock, and on top there were lots of little tide pools.
I’d never seen such a thing in person. The rock itself in places, was formed, (likely due to erosion), into what looked like ocean waves breaking on the shore.
Then, I saw the remains of a creature. I reached down to pick it up, (to get a better look at it), and realized it wasn’t sitting on the rock surface. It was part of the rock surface itself. There was no picking this up.
I’m not a fossil collector. I haven’t studied fossils, so, I don’t know what I was looking at….but….I knew it was very, very old.
Next, I saw what looked like a hollowed out bone, but from what? It wasn’t little. It was longer than my fingertips to my wrist, (I didn’t have a tape measure, but from memory, I’m guessing it was 8 to 12 inches long).
And then, I saw what looked like a fin or a shell sticking out of a rock, just above one of the tide pools, (again, I’m not knowledgeable when it comes to fossil identification). Even though I’m not a fossil expert, I do know that it was thrilling to see such things, still in the rock for me to see.
Because the fossils were imbedded in the rock, (part of the rock itself), I knew they were meant to be left there, for others to see, (protected by the State of Oregon, I’m guessing). If you try to find this spot on the beach and are successful, please, leave whatever you find for the next person to find, and be thrilled with.
We spent more than an hour looking at the exposed rock formation.
Unfortunately, it was getting late and we needed to leave, to eat dinner and return to the place we had selected to view the comet.
I decided, the next day we would return to the fossil bed, to explore some more, (as you couldn’t see everything there was to see, in that short time).
Early the next morning, we returned, (this time by car). The scene was completely different. The beach was hazy, thick with fog, cold and damp.
We did as before, walked down the beach, heading South, but we didn’t find the exposed fossil bed again that trip.
A year later, my brother came to visit myself and my husband. We selected a beautiful, sunny, day to take him to Gleneden Beach, (he too loves finding treasures on the beach).
I had told my brother what a great beach Gleneden was, as there were so many treasures to find on the rock line and the fossil bed was amazing. We got down to the beach and headed South but never found a rock line.
What happened? We didn’t find any surface rocks at all. Had a bus load of children shown up right before us and picked up all of the rocks on the beach???
We walked further, down the beach, (still headed South), to see the fossil bed, but we never found it again.
To write this blog, I figured I’d do a little online research about the fossil formation. I found nothing. No mention of it, no pictures, nothing.
Did I imagine it, (obviously not because I have pictures)!!!!!
I will go back again some day, to look for the ghostly, vanishing fossil bed of Gleneden Beach.