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Odd and Unknown Facts of Gearhart, Oregon Coast Part I: Bad Film, Culinary Heritage to Weird Science

Published 02/28/2018 at 4:25 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Odd and Unknown Facts of Gearhart, Oregon Coast Part I: Bad Film, Culinary Heritage to Weird Science

(Gearhart, Oregon) – A bit off the beaten path, Gearhart is an Oregon coast destination that's certainly off many visitors' radar as well. Even within these somewhat lesser known city limits are some fairly unknown trinkets of factoids and even oddities, delightful and surprising all at once.

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There's also a lot of them. This chi-chi little village has enough wild and wacky finds lurking just below the surface of its beautiful beaches that it's cause for more than one article on the subject. Parts one and two of this (very) mini-series take a look at some of the historical aspects of the place, the weird side of nature here, and even one warning about the beaches you won't see coming.

It all begins with an interesting travel tip. (See Part Two: Unusual Gearhart Facts Part 2: Nature Surprises, Secret Tips of N. Oregon Coast)

Local Farmers Roadside Markets. As you drive along Highway 101 in this area between Seaside and Warrenton, be on the lookout for small roadside stands selling the wares of local farmers. Everything from flowers, eggs, honey and produce seem to pop up now and then. It appears this is more of a summer and early morning thing, but they've been known to appear at other times.

Culinary Heritage of Gearhart. Famed American culinary master James Beard spent his summers in this quaint north Oregon coast town when he was growing up in Portland. The actual home his family owned in town is still there, on E St. There is even a plaque commemorating this in a very tacit way: it simply says it's a historical house. Being a private residence, we won't give out the actual address.

His roots are celebrated with area events once or twice a year, and the home is known to many culinary professionals who occasionally make pilgrimages in silent homage.

Brown waves at Gearhart sometimes happen because of the huge blooms of phytoplankton - not oil from cars. However, driving on the beaches does leave some residue.

Driving on These Beaches. The beaches between Gearhart and Fort Stevens are often darker and dirtier in appearance, but not all of that is oil from automotive rambling. It depends on the place, really. From Warrenton down to about Sunset Beach, much of it has to do with the thick amount of diatoms in the area (which are responsible for an interesting surprise at Seaside's 12th Ave. access – see part 2 of this article). Diatoms are a kind of phytoplankton, and because of all the nutrients pouring down from the Columbia River, there are simply enormous amounts of them. So much so they often create brownish, even black patches in the sands.

In these areas, however, it's hard to tell where the car soot and the clean phytoplankton life forms begin and end.

Bad Horror Movie Heritage. Del Rey Beach, just north of Gearhart, was part of a horror movie called Cthulu filmed here in 2006, based on Lovecraft lore. It was not a very good flick. This was around the period the Wreck of the Peter Iredale at Fort Stevens (just north of here) was used for part of the post-apocalyptic flick The Road, starring Viggo Mortensen. While a much better movie, The Road was gratingly brutal.

A Small Gearhart Warning. Most of the beach accesses in Gearhart are found along N. Marion Ave. and a couple of other streets running west of Highway 101, and often they have charming little pathways that are paved but worn and broken – intriguingly reminiscent of the old Roman roads of Europe. There are little trails trampled through the brush as well.

But be careful here. Don’t walk these pathways barefoot, as small, prickly plants line these dunes and the paved paths in many places. And ouch, do they hurt when you step on them. See Part Two: Unusual Gearhart Facts Part 2: Nature Surprises, Secret Tips of N. Oregon CoastWhere to stay in this area - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours

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