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Historic Landmarks of Oceanside: Time Travel the N. Oregon Coast Village

Published 10/11/22 at 5:04 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Historic Landmarks of Oceanside: Time Travel the N. Oregon Coast Village

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(Oceanside, Oregon) – There's more than meets the eye here.

You could say that tiny Oceanside is in itself one big historical landmark. The little burgh recently turned 100 years old on July 4, and the place hosts some curious history, including the fact that for a time there was about 500 lodging “rooms” of a sort. (Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

The wee north Oregon coast spot was once much busier than even now. There's a lot of history packed into this place, including the nearby lighthouse, those rocks offshore, the tunnel and a unique natural feature.

Starting with the little village itself: when the Rosenberg brothers started this burgeoning resort in the early '20s, it had already had the presence of a future president. Sometime in the late 1800s, Teddy Roosevelt spent some time here. He was reportedly enamored with the remote spot, which would not be named Oceanside until 1922. Odd Oceanside History, N. Oregon Coast, Part 1: Roosevelt to Start Trek

In the early 1900s, a pair of naturalists / photographers began working against the locals' habit of shooting the precious wildlife on those three giant rocks just offshore – the famed Three Arch Rocks of the Oregon coast. By this time, Roosevelt was president, and knowing his affinity for the area, they approached him to see if they could get hunting seals and birds up there banned. Roosevelt was moved by the pleas, and in 1907 had them declared National Wildlife Refuge areas. They still are today.

You can look around town and those rocks and know Roosevelt had walked this very stretch and helped protect those majestic sea stacks.

Oceanside is the very picture of a tiny Oregon coast village, and these days it has admittedly become much more buzzing than it was even 20 years ago. But imagine a tent city of 500 tents, all housing tourists for the summer. Back in the '20s, that was the main mode of lodging on this burgeoning coastline, not hotels or motels. That's like 500 hotel rooms in town.

In 1926, the Rosenberg brothers blasted that tunnel through Maxwell Point, making it an historical landmark all its own.

The Great Depression and then World War II killed tourism for awhile, and for a time it was the campground for 100s of soldiers awaiting deployment in the European or South Pacific theater.

World War II created another wild landmark never spoken about: the radar station. It's a five-minute drive on that back road to Cape Meares: look for Radar Road and the rather clandestine entrance to Short Beach. A couple of hundred feet or so north of that gravel parking lot, on the other side of the road, sits the old radar bunker, which kept an eye on the skies for invaders back then. It barely pokes out from that forest, and is not really accessible on that slope.

At Cape Meares is, of course, the famed Cape Meares Lighthouse. It went online in 1890, and had a rather interesting history thereafter. See Quirky to Obscure Rumors and History of N. Oregon Coast's Cape Meares Lighthouse.

Close by is the famed Octopus Tree, a bizarre, candelabra-shaped tree with seven limbs. It had eight giant arms until a storm tore off one in the 1990s. The Octopus Tree had national fame for quite awhile in the mid century, with the seminal Ripley's Believe It Or Not featuring it in its lengthy book series of the odd around the world.

Within a half hour's ride is Cape Lookout to the south, where the Oregon coast experienced its most infamous military crash. A B-17 bomber slammed into it in 1943, creating a harrowing adventure. See What Really Happened with the Crashed B-17 Bomber on N. Oregon Coast.

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