Tsunami Interpretative Trail
The City of Newport has a created a tsunami interpretative trail in the South Beach area. Coastal communities have been very creative in Cascadia preparedness and this trail is just one among many efforts. Knowledge about tsunami’s is the key to saving lives and this interpretative trail system should be expanded along the entire Oregon coast. Places on the coast that show distinctive geological features related to tsunami inundations or subduction zone earthquakes could have interpretative plaques. Historical plaques can tell of the impact of previous tsunami’s or relate to the folklore of coastal Indian traditions talking about tsunami’s. These traditions relayed information about what to do when the sea withdrew suddenly (a sign a tsunami is coming) and tied them to geological markers. In the Clatsop tribe stories, Haystack Rock was an overturned basket and the story reminded listeners to leave the fish stranded when the water rushed out and to run to high ground instead.
When the danger of a Cascadia tsunami become known, some business owners were initially against too much public education about tsunami’s, thinking that this would scare away customers. Other business’s embraced it and used tsunami related images as a way of branding their businesses to something unique. The latter has proved the better approach. The interpretative trails does the neat trick of providing a destination for tourists while at the same time educating them. Anecdotal evidence shows that visitors understand that the Cascadia is a rare event and at the same time, appreciate the efforts of the coastal communities to make things safer.