Exporing Gearhart, Oregon Coast Beaches and History
(Gearhart, Oregon) – It's a bit exclusive, a little hidden, and sometimes – but not always - exceptionally pristine. Gearhart, on the north Oregon coast, appears to many to be Seaside's older, perhaps even stuffier brother. But it's the town's long-standing commitment to not being like other beach towns that likely has more to do with this than anything.
Its southern end crammed with upscale homes, thick forested chunks and sections of green grass, this gives way to a slightly more touristy northern end – all within a mile or so. As you walk or drive these well-manicured neighborhoods, one thing you'll notice is Gearhart's emphasis on retaining its past and traditions. There's a distinctive look to this little beach town.
Gearhart's history goes back to before 1840 – a time when white settlers first started to hit this part of the north Oregon coast. In the 1840's, the family that had the land on which Gearhart now sits deeded it to a man named Philip Gearhart, a farmer who then passed it onto male descendents down the generation.
It quickly became a destination resort for Portland's wealthier residents, coming here by train during the milder summers. Like many such spots along the coast in the late 1800's, that train became known as the “Daddy Train,” as moms and kids would stay out here for weeks at a time, while Dad would arrive by train on the weekend.
One of the golf courses here has been around since the 1890's, and there are historical markers on numerous buildings around town. One notable home was the summer hangout of famed American chef James Beard in the early part of the 20th century, and it's said it's here where some of his culinary skills were honed by the family's penchant for living off locally-caught seafood.
Gearhart has remained an extremely quiet little resort over the last century and a half, that way by design. Not much is found here, except bundles of lovely homes, while commercialization or any sizable business district is left for Seaside to its immediate south and to Warrenton a ways north.
The beach accesses are typified by lengthy dunes sitting between the actual shore and the street. Geologically, this is at least partially due to the fact they've been left alone over the decades and have continued to build in height and width – unlike Seaside, which has actually worked at clearing out sand periodically.
The dunes here at Gearhart result in some rather entrancing landscapes, with long green stretches that sometimes resemble Ireland.
There isn't much to Gearhart in terms of beach, either. It's not quite a mile long, and the northern end allows vehicles to drive on it, from there all the way up to Warrenton, in fact. This stretch is a bit oily because of that and not as pristine.
Interestingly enough, not all the blackened sands you find between here and the Wreck of the Peter Iredale several miles away are because of traffic. You may notice a propensity for brownish waves in Gearhart as well as Seaside – which often alarms visitors, thinking it's pollution. In fact, this is due to the large amount of diatoms – a form of phytoplankton - on this stretch of the north Oregon coast, which color the breakers and the beach when they're extremely numerous in number. It's a good thing, and a sign of a healthy ocean.
This is largely because of how the currents spread the abundance of nutrients from the Columbia River. It also enhances living conditions for the beds of sand dollars just offshore. Thus, close to the Necanicum River – on either the Seaside or Gearhart sides – you'll notice a huge amount of unbroken sand dollars.
More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....
More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....
LATEST OREGON COAST NEWS STORIES
Back to Oregon Coast
Contact Advertise on BeachConnection.net