Oregon Coast Travel Blog: Walking a Ghost Town
Published Sept. 2006
By Andre' Hagestedt
(Tillamook, Oregon) – It's June of 2005, and it’s been one heck of a party weekend. So I take a small respite from the wild part of the Oregon coast and head to another, much wilder aspect of the coast: a deserted stretch of sand where a ghost town once stood.
I wander the spit at Bayocean near Tillamook, moving almost a mile north of the main entrance towards the enormous dune, which I believe I've seen historic pictures of. This barren place was once a bustling resort town in the first decade of the 20th century. The pics I've seen had a huge dune with a massive hotel on top. It's very possible it's not the same dune, since this landscape has changed drastically since the 30's.
There were around 100 plots set for homes, many of which were built. A natatorium, tennis court and even a theater or two entertained people for a few years. It started somewhere around 1910 - approximately - with grandiose plans to become the "Atlantic City of the West," which never quite materialized. It all ended somewhere before the close of the 20's, after a few pushes to restart it here and there. The depression and wartime finally permanently killed it off.
In later years, many of these miles of roads, attractions and hotels fell into the sea. But not before falling into serious disrepair for many years. By the 30’s or 40’s, there are reports of buildings devoid of occupants and empty, broken windows staring out like soulless, lifeless eyes. It went through a few phases of being occupied by a few here and there who tried to restart businesses and even an artist colony or two.
The rest of it was bulldozed over in the 70's. It's one of Oregon's real ghost towns - but without the hint of any town left now.
This place is indeed one of the true hidden, secret beaches of the state too. I encountered one person here during my whole walk. It's majestic, dynamic and thoroughly wild now, with nature having reclaimed everything. A storm breached the spit at one point after the 30's, though that somehow healed itself eventually.
Supposedly, at extremely low tides, you can see the remnants of a boiler in the water just off the town of Cape Meares. Some resident there told me the diagonal shoreline of the village was Third St. at the height of Bayocean's brief romp. There was a 1st St. and Second St. back then. That's how much storms and tidal conditions had destroyed the place in the middle part of the century.
The walk from the parking lot to the beach is a serious pain in the ass, however. But that helps keep it pristine and untouched.
Just before heading back to Portland, I had a dismal, even infuriating experience at one fast food joint in Tillamook. I waited a half hour for an Italian dish that was done all wrong, as I have certain allergies. Why it took so long, I don't know. There were three other parties in the place. I was disgusted, left in an uncharacteristically rude manner, but actually had a really good experience at Subway. I have a social allergy to fast food joints, but Subway actually delivers what they promise. They've made a new friend with me.
The only remnant of Bayocean that is outright visible is the public meeting hall. It was moved to Cape Meares from its original location.
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