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As It Was: Sisters Rock Survives Speculators, Provides Beach Access

For eons, Sisters Rock sat undisturbed, but in 1893 S. H. Frank purchased the natural harbor formation, located midway between Port Orford and Gold Beach, Ore., for storing and shipping tanoak bark to his tannery in San Francisco.

Ten years later a non-organic tanning method eliminated the need for tanoak bark, and the abandoned port lay idle for a half century until 1955 when the Sause Bros. Ocean Towing Co. bought the property.  The company rebuilt the dock for a short-term, fast-money scheme during a supplier strike to ship lumber north on barges for sale in Vancouver, B.C.

When the strike ended, Sause began quarrying rock from the site, running into opposition from conservation groups.  In 1969, a little-known development called Sisters Rock Community drew up a feasibility report and topographic blueprints for a large-scale resort that also proved unviable.

The site was quiet again for 18 years before it made headlines in 1987 when a marijuana smuggling vessel went aground, spewing 17,000 pounds of evidence onto the beach.

In 2003, Oregon State Parks purchased 76 acres at Sisters Rock, securing the spectacular landmark as a public beach access.

Sources: Gerkman, Laurel A. "Sisters Rock." Oregon Coast Magazine, Jan. 2010, pp. 29-30; “Reopening of Frankport.” Curry County Reporter, 4 September 1958, p. 6;  “Sisters Rock Community, Preliminary Development & Land Use Program—A Feasibility Report” On file at Curry Historical Society; "Tons of Marijuana Seized." Curry County Reporter, 18 June 1987, p. A1; LaBlanc, Denis. "Sisters Rock State Park." Outdoor Project, www.outdoorproject.com/adventures/oregon/parks-wilderness/sisters-rock-state-park.

Laurel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. Laurel is the author of "Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery", a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.