Shell MiddenLong before European settlers gazed upon these shores, American Indians had lived here for thousands of years. In winter, tribe members lived inland and hunted and gathered food along the Yachats River, winding through the central Oregon Coast. During summer, they lived on the coast and feasted on crab, muscles, clams and other crustaceous creatures and fish. Something had to be done with the shells and bones, so what did they do? They threw them into a pile, just as we might do today. This occurred again and again, over thousands of years, so you can imagine how big the piles of shells, called shell middens, became over time. Some grew to be over 30-feet high.

In this photo, you can see white shells in the soil just below the top layer of plants and a narrow band of soil. Look for them the next time you’re here, while walking along the 804 Trail, visiting Cape Perpetua, or exploring the coastline.