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Random Oregon Coast History Photos: The Tales They Tell

Published 05/20/2020 at 6:44 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Random Oregon Coast History Photos: The Tales They Tell

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(Oregon Coast) – Oregon coast history is rich and it’s full of funky little tidbits left and right. In just about every corner lurks something intriguing, even amusing. To that end, here is a sampling of fun little snippets of these beaches, taking you from Seaside down to Bandon.

Cannon Beach, about 100 years ago (above). It’s sort of mind-boggling to look at old photos of the town even 50 years ago. There were still a few views left untouched by human structures until about the ‘80s. In fact, there’s a remarkable scene from here filmed in the ‘70s in the John Belushi movie 1941, showing a chunk of vegetation line with no homes or hotels yet. The beginning of the flick has a scene that pays comedic homage to Jaws. Hotels in Cannon Beach - Where to eat - Cannon Beach Maps and Virtual Tours

Seaside natatorium

Prequel to Seaside Aquarium. In the ‘20s, natatoriums were all the rage along the Oregon coast. These were hot salt water baths where heated water was pumped in from the ocean, and often they featured balconies where movies were shown or bands played. Seaside Aquarium didn’t come into existence until the mid ‘30s; this shows the original natatorium that later became the famed facility. Hotels in Seaside - Where to eat - Seaside Maps and Virtual Tours

Depoe Bay in the '40s

Depoe Bay’s Spouting Horn in the ‘40s. Yes, the spouting horn was firing off even then. Note the lack of a seawall. Tourism here goes back to just around the ‘20s, although mostly it started up as Highway 101 got its footing here around ‘27. Back then the place went back and forth being called Depoe and Depot until maybe the ‘40s. It was not an official, incorporated city until 1971, however. Hotels in Depoe Bay - Where to eat - Depoe Bay Maps and Virtual Tours

Lincoln City in the '30s


Lincoln City in the ‘30s.
Highway 101 wasn’t completed until the early ‘30s along the Oregon coast, with spots like Arch Cape and Manzanita being the last. Even as the main highway was mostly paved – then called the Roosevelt Military Highway – most other streets in any given town weren’t. Such as here in Lincoln City, where one road in the ‘30s was still dusty and rugged. Hotels in Lincoln City - Where to eat - Lincoln City Maps and Virtual Tours

Oceanside in the ‘40s. Just after World War II, things really picked up for Oregon tourism after being ground to a serious halt at the beginning of the war. Up until then, things were really sizzling, actually. This shot shows Oceanside just after the big one. Oceanside was a bit different, however. Even more fascinating is how this town was becoming a bigger resort than most rather quickly around 1910 or so, but World War I shut that down earlier than others and the little village started hosting a large amount of troops in training. It was a huge tent city for tourists, and then all those 200 or so tents were converted to housing the military. See Oceanside History - Hotels in Three Capes - Where to eat - Three Capes Maps and Virtual Tours

Daddy train Seaide, 1910s

Seaside’s Daddy Train. Railroads were the major means of getting to the coast in the first 50 or so years of Oregon tourism, starting about 1880. Since there were virtually no hotels, during summers families camped on beaches in tents, often a couple of months at a time. However, the fathers still had to be the breadwinners so they’d leave for the week for their jobs and return on weekends. Thus, places like Newport, Rockaway Beach and Seaside had what were nicknamed the “daddy trains.” Hotels in Rockaway Beach - Where to eat - Rockaway Beach Maps and Virtual Tours

Bandon fire, 1936

Bandon Fire. On September 26, 1936, all hell broke loose on the southern Oregon coast, thanks to a simple but invasive plant species. Those yellow gorse plants you see all over the coastline started the fire, or at least caused it to spread from a forest a few miles away into town and engulfing it. 1,800 residents escaped, ten died, and all but a handful of buildings were left after the inferno.


Hug Point. The road at Cannon Beach’s Hug Point is a famous attraction, but few people have seen the photos that show it in use. It was blasted out of the rock in the 1910s, and to this day you can still see evidence of the ruts left by wheels in those ancient times when the beaches were still the only highway along the coast. There are many more historical secrets in this spot - check out the virtual tour. Hotels in Cannon Beach - Where to eat - Cannon Beach Maps and Virtual Tours




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