March 27, 1964: Tsunami Hits Oregon Coast

A tsunami struck the Oregon coast on Friday evening, March 27, 1964 following the great Alaskan earthquake, the second largest earthquake ever recorded and largest ever recorded in North America. In Alaska nine deaths were attributed to the earthquake, but the tsunami took the lives of 106 Alaskans, and wreaked havoc across the Pacific.

The Oregonian reported the local damage on March 28, 1964:

Astoria – Some high water but no damage.
Depoe Bay – High water, wharf broke loose.
Point Adams Coast Guard Station – Coast Guard boats moved into the Columbia River to avoid high water
Newport – High water hit in two surges, but no damage
Florence – Siuslaw River rose eight feet in eight seconds. It tore loose at least four boats.

What they didn’t know until later was that four members of a family camping at Beverly Beach State Park were crushed by logs and drowned in the tsunami. Further down the coast the citizens of Crescent City, California suffered the worst fate outside of Alaska, with eleven deaths attributed to the tsunami.

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