Remembering my visit to Florence, Oregon, which inspired the novel Dune

Robin Rowland 
The sun sets over the Dunes of Florence, Oregon, August. 1980. (Robin Rowland)

It was forty years ago, in August, 1980, that a friend and I drove from Vancouver, BC, where I was living at the time, to spend a weekend at Florence, Oregon, which inspired Frank Herbert to write the famous novel Dune.

That’s me at the beach in Florence, Oregon, in 1980.

Like many at the time, I was entranced by Dune as soon as I picked it off a drug store bookshelf probably in 1965.  It was sometime later that I read someplace that it was Florence that first inspired Frank Herbert to write about ecology when he originally visited back in 1953 when he was trying to write an article about a US Forest Service project to use dune grass to keep the sand in check. After all that research, as Herbert said in the collection of his essays, Frank Herbert, the Maker of Dune (1987): “Before long I had far too much for an article and far too much for a short story.. But I had an enormous amount of data, with angles shooting off at angles  to gather more.” The result, of course, was the blockbuster novel, then more novels, then spinoffs by his son, a movie concept that was never made, an awful movie that was made, a pretty good miniseries and a new movie that we hope to see this Christmas (if there are movies in theatres).

That trip has been a wonderful memory for years, so to mark the anniversary, I found some of the old slides, taken on Kodak Ectachrome, with my old Minolta SRT101 and scanned them. For a some where the colour did not survive four decades, I converted to black and white.

Sand dunes and grass at Florence, Oregon, August 1980. You can see a family building a sandcastle in the distance along the shore. (Robin Rowland)
That amazing sandcastle on the beach at Florence, Oregon, that could be out of a Dune movie or perhaps a fantasy novel. (Robin Rowland)
Sand dunes and grass at Florence, Oregon. (Robin Rowland)

Sand dunes are like waves in a large body of water; they are just slower. (Frank Herbert, “The Sparks Have Flown” in Frank Herbert The Maker of Dune).

Dunes and dune grass at Florence, Oregon, August 1980. (Robin Rowland)
Seagulls over the Pacific Ocean, the dunes and grass at Florence, Oregon, August, 1980. (Robin Rowland)
A wider view of the Oregon coast and ocean surf. (Robin Rowland)
Ocean surf on the nearby Oregon coast. (Robin Rowland)
Ocean surf. (Robin Rowland)



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