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Would You Visit ‘The Gate to Hell’?

Right off the coast of Oregon near Cape Perpetua is a wonder so notorious and mysterious that it has been given the nickname of “the gate to hell” by some people. Although Thor’s Well, a giant hole in the ground that drains and flushes the nearby Pacific Ocean, has such a threatening reputation, it may not be as scary as it sounds.

Travel Oregon suggests that a formation like Thor’s Well was geologically formed over a long period of time. “They begin as a sea cave and eventually the top of the cave collapses, leaving an opening where the tide surges from below send water shooting upward with dramatic force.”

The geological feature was given its name to describe its large circumference and deepness, as people believed the Norse hammer-wielding god, Thor, was responsible for the formation in the earth. The Backpackers say, “Legend has it that a mythological god slammed his hammer down, creating the mystifying sink hole in the sea.”

This formation is not merely a hole that fills with ocean water, however. According to Oregon Live, “At high tide, the waves roll underneath the bowl, filling it from the bottom until it bubbles out the top or bursts up in violent spray. The water then rolls back into the hole, making Thor’s Well appear to fill and drain endlessly.”

When the geyser-like motions of the hole are finished, the whooping flood of ocean water rushes back to the hole and drains the area. The sinking of the water allows for magical pictures of the water flushing around the rocks in a wondrous waterfall.

Despite its nickname as “the gate to hell,” its birth story as a hole carved by a god’s hammer, and its actions of spewing and draining vast amounts of water with great force, Thor’s Well is not actually as dangerous as it appears.

Though people should generally not stand too close to the edge of the hole in caution of a wave that may cause some to lose their balance, the waves around Thor’s Well are just like any other ocean waves. The likelihood that a wave near Thor’s Well could harm someone is similar to the likelihood of a dangerous beach wave.

According to Oregon Live, the main reason people get injured around Thor’s Well is not necessarily due to the water or falling into the giant hole. When waves come and crash near people, they may fall onto the rocks surrounding the hole, which are generally rough and jagged.

Vicki Penwell, a lead field ranger at Siuslaw National Forest, says that people who have been hurt at the site “got plenty of scrapes and cuts against the sharp volcanic rock.”

In addition to looking out for the dangerous rocks near Thor’s Well, visitors should keep a look out for ancient relics. “For about 6,000 years, Native Americans hunted for seafood like clams, mussels, and crabs along the coast near Cape Perpetua and relics of their existence can still be found in the tons of piles of discarded mussel shells near the shore,” according to The Backpackers.

Thor’s Well is an incredible place with plenty to admire: the tides of the ocean, Native American relics, or just nature in general. Whether carved by a Norse god or geologically formed over time, Thor’s Well is just more proof of the spectacular beauty and wonder of nature.

Featured Image by John Fowler on Flickr

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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