Two Oregon Coast Spots That Ooze Mesmerizing History
Published 11/14/2015 at 4:15 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff
(Oregon Coast) – One sits on the north Oregon coast and features remnants of all kinds of wars, while another was once known as the “Honeymoon Capitol of the World.” (Above: Newport's Nye Beach almost 100 years ago - courtesy Lincoln County Historical Society).
Nye Beach is a tiny section of Newport that is more than a quaint place: it's mesmerizing with its beauty and its architecture of old town America mixed with old Europe. It is a fusion of histories. A recent refurbishing of the district, complete with lanterns and brick streets, catapults the vibe into high gear.
Once known as the Honeymoon Capital of the World in the early part of the last century, it boasted a hot salt water bath known as a natatorium – popular along the Oregon coast at that time. Back then, it was a separate community from Newport connected only by a muddy road with wooden planks to assist driving.
Down on the beach, after parking at the charming turnaround, you'll find a long, sandy stretch in either direction that's highlighted by nooks and crannies in the cliffs, as well as the interesting remnant of Jump-Off Joe to the north. Above the structure sit the spooky remnants of a condo once naively built on this shaky sandstone foundation back in the early 80's. It faltered and began crumbling just weeks before its completion. These days, this chunk of labyrinth-like concrete evokes castle ruins a bit. Where to stay in this area - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour
To the south, there's the Vietnam vet memorial, which features a walkway meandering up into the cliff. It's lit up at night by a host of lights embedded near the floor, with various benches along the way, perfect for that midnight smooch session as the huge, Yaquina Head Lighthouse blinks in the distance, another bit of history looming over the beach.
Fort Stevens State Park. It's time to get lost in history.
Here, enormous gunneries once guarded the mouth of the Columbia River, lodged in huge turrets which rested in sprawling concrete fortresses - all empty and abandoned now, with gaping holes like sad, hollow eyes, where guns, officers' quarters and other war machinery once sat.
Around one bend, you'll find Battery Russell and its enormous concrete bunkers. Built around the turn of the last century, the gunnery eventually watched for invaders during World War II. There are other gunneries as well - all perfect for rainy days when you don't mind getting a little wet while darting in and out of these castle-like structures.
The park also features an incredible jetty stretching out into the mouth of the Columbia River and the wreck of the Peter Iredale, one of the world's most photographed shipwrecks.
Another fascinating bit of history: this was the only place in the continental U.S. to get fired upon by a foreign power during World War II, when a Japanese sub lobbed shells at the area in the middle of the night. It knocked out a power line and nearly hit the old shipwreck, but aside from that nothing came of the almost-battle.
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