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Tornado, WWII Submarines and Motor Lodge: Oregon Coast Inns With A Past

Published 07/05/020 at 7:44 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Tornado, WWII Submarines and Motor Lodge: Oregon Coast Inns With A Past

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(Lincoln City, Oregon) – In the age of modern conveniences and a tourism industry that’s slowly turning cylon / A.I., a full dive into living Oregon coast history is a refreshing thing. Yet it’s rare. So many new hotel constructs are leaving older, charming buildings literally in the dust. They’re going bye-bye. (Above: the Submarine House in Lincoln City)

Still, there’s a few outstanding remnants of that “Oregon Coast You Remember,” as the slogan goes, or at least something astounding happened there. Here’s three interesting examples.

The late winter of 2010 was a gnarly one in Oregon. Its most high profile incident was a tornado in Aumsville on December 14, but the central Oregon coast had a separate crazy event about 5 a.m. It was then that a water spout was seen offshore in the dead of night, which made its way onto Lincoln City, thus becoming an actual tornado.


The Sea Horse Oceanfront Lodging happened to be standing in its way. Back then, it was owned by a different group, and employee April Christy told Oregon Coast Beach Connection there was a heavy windstorm but no warning this would happen. Employees heard some terrible noises and later peeked outside to see chunks of the motel’s roof on the ground and other debris.

15 units – all oceanfront – had the roof torn off, some 500 feet of material. Large amounts of the motel were actually two blocks away after winds finished with them.


At first it was believed this was simply an unusual gust of wind, but later the National Weather Service later determined it indeed was a small tornado. It took several months but the Sea Horse rebuilt that section. 1301 NW 21st Street, Lincoln City, Oregon 97367. Toll Free 800-662-2101 or 541-994-2101. www.seahorsemotel.com

Tornado, WWII Submarines and Motor Lodge: Oregon Coast Inns With A Past

A bit farther down the road, Agate Beach Motel in Newport is one of those leftovers from a bygone age: the motor lodge. It was originally called the Agate Beach Motor Lodge (above photo courtesy Agate Beach Motel).

Built somewhere in the ‘40s, this was a crossing over period where people had just discovered they didn’t need to stay in tents on the coastline but could indeed stay indoors. At first, hotels and inns were small in number, starting about 1900 or just prior. Even until the ‘30s they weren’t that common, compared to the legions of tents set up along these beach towns, often called “cottages.”


Somewhere in the late ‘20s actual cottages or cabins made of wood were slowly becoming more popular for tourists, replaced quickly by the idea of a motor lodge: a hotel where you could park your car in front of your room.

Wendy Kelley of Bend now owns the Agate Beach Motel, which happens to share a name with another famous inn that occupied a place nearby until the ‘30s or so. Legendary composer Ernest Bloch stayed there at one point, presumably sometime just before he acquired his own house overlooking Agate Beach.

Kelley and her husband reinvigorated the aging motel over the decades, keeping that vibrant, old-timey, woodsy interior. It’s one of the few places on the coast where you’ll really get the flavor of the past. 175 NW Gilbert Way. Newport, Oregon. 541-265-8746. www.agatebeachmotel.com.

Also from about the ‘30s is a vacation rental home called the Submarine House in Lincoln City, part of A1 Beach Rentals. It was built by a radio talk show host. In the early ‘40s, as World War II raged around the globe, American military personnel filled this private home and used it to look out for enemy submarines or aircraft. It got its nickname early: the “submarine house” came from its soldier tenants.


A large gun was even placed on this beachfront property, on the edge of the cliff. Erosion took that out one year and the gun actually slid down with the soil.

A year or two before the end of World War II, it became apparent no one was invading the states and the home was vacated of soldiers, along with the rest of the coastline. There are no pictures of it being used for that purpose to this day, largely because taking photos of military installations during wartime was a no-no. 1-(503)-232-5984. www.a1beachrentals.com.

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