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Curious (Even Dopey) Structures in Oregon Coast History

Published 06/13/2020 at 6:24 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Curious (Even Dopey) Structures in Oregon Coast History

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(Oceanside, Oregon) – The past is often filled with the sneers, chuckles and snark of modern insights, but even more so a sense of awe and “wow, I did not know that.” It’s full of lessons learned and revelations, even epiphanies. (Above: Oceanside now).

Certainly that’s the case with Oregon’s coastline. There’s lots here that’s no longer in existence, often washed away by storms or just the tides of time. Some of these constructs make for surprises, however, both amusing and fascinating. Here’s a few examples of what was once found along these shores, some you can see again.

Oceanside’s Angel Walk. The tiny village of Oceanside was once a bustling, burgeoning resort town, at least comparatively. There were actually some 500 tents set up around 1920 to host tourists, which was how lodging was done back then. That’s perhaps five times as many as the town can billet now.

Oceanside officially got its name in 1922 on the Fourth of July, and back then there was no tunnel going through the headland to get to its “secret” beach. There was, however, a rather rickety construct called an “angel walk” that allowed you to go around: a wooden platform set above the surf. That didn’t last long, perhaps about a year, according to some records. Spoiler Alert: Oregon coast storms took it down.

About 1925 the Rosenberg brothers – who owned the resort town then – blasted the tunnel into Maxwell Point.

Pacific City BnB Made from Shipwreck. Now you know it as Sandlake Country Inn, a delicious yet rustic little bed and breakfast set not far from the Sand Lake Recreation Area, right along the river and in the midst of lots of trees. However, over 100 years ago you would’ve seen only a shipwreck not far from Pacific City.

A Norwegian ship called the Struan wrecked around these parts on Christmas Day of 1890, closer to Cape Lookout, actually. Local settlers raided the wreck for wood, and parts of the original homestead that became the inn were made from those timbers. You can still see and touch parts of the ship in various parts of the building.

There are numerous other parts to this story, including a weird coincidence, found at How a Shipwreck Became an Oregon Coast BnB. Galloway Road, Pacific City. 503-965-6745.

Propeller From Newport’s Deep. These days, you can see it in the central Oregon coast town of Newport at its Pacific Maritime Heritage Center on the Bayfront, but for decades this giant propeller sat in a watery grave near here.

The propeller comes from the C.W. Pasley, a World War II era, concrete-hulled ship that was sank on purpose in the 1950s to become part of the docks along Yaquina Bay. The colossal metal construct was rescued in the late 2000s when a major dock renovation took place - at first it was owned by the Port of Newport. The local history museum scooped it eventually and after much on-the-spot engineering figured out a way to get it hoisted onto a stand in 2016 outside its new facility on the waterfront.

The ship was named for Sir Charles William Pasley (1780-1861), a British military engineer who wrote several textbooks and experimented with improving concrete. Another concrete-hulled vessel purchased by the port, the Joseph Aspdin, was also named for a Brit who worked to perfect cement. The Aspdin is remembered as "the ship that committed suicide." It broke loose of its moorings in the dark of night, left Yaquina Bay, went aground and sank near the north jetty. On the Bayfront in Newport. (541) 265-7509.

Believe It Or Not In Seaside. The famed north Oregon coast town had a lot of wild features in its past, stuff that’s, well, kind’a random by today’s standards. One that’s hard to believe is a Ferris Wheel right downtown, there from about the ‘50s through the ‘80s. Somehow that never get blown over during winter storms, but it also wasn’t super tall.

Crazier still, there was a sizable horse racing track in the 1880s or so, back where the golf course is now on the town’s southern end. That was part of a resort owned by the man who essentially started Seaside, known as Ben Holladay (you’ll recognize the street name). The town was nearly named after him.

Seaside’s goofiest manmade features were the two wooden piers built jutting out into the ocean. The first was around 1900 about where the Turnaround is now, and of course it crumbled into the sea in about a decade. That didn’t stop locals from trying one more time, somewhere in the ‘20s, with a fishing pier closer to where the Cove is now. It lasted just a few years. See Seaside Prom History.

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