Photographs and stories from the vanishing land by Erika Langley
The area once known as Cape Shoalwater on the Washington Coast, now properly known as North Cove and nicknamed Washaway Beach, is one of the fastest eroding places in our hemisphere. It loses an average of 150 feet a year. In a bad winter, it can be much more.
The phenomenon began in the late 1800s. North Cove was supposed to be a luxury beach destination for train travelers between Portland and Seattle.
It had brick buildings, a clam cannery, lighthouse and Coast Guard Station. It all fell into the sea.
Theories vary as to why. The damming of the Columbia River at that time changed the way sand moves around, or “sediment accretion”, as the coastal ecologists like to call it, which is a fancy way of saying all our sand is going to Long Beach, WA.
There is also the possibility that dredging of a ship channel by the Army Corps of Engineers well into the 1970s didn’t help matters.
Or it could just be that this part of the state wants to stick out like a big nose.
The ocean is a relentless plastic surgeon.