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Three Surprises of Oregon Coast History at Oceanside

Published 01/10//22 at 6:02 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Three Surprises of Oregon Coast History at Oceanside

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(Oceanside, Oregon) – It's the tiny town that's packed with things to do, much more than its diminutive size would indicate.

And there's even more when it comes to the little Oregon coast hamlet's past.

As Oceanside gets ready to celebrate 100 years this year (look for something big this summer), it's a good time to look into its history. Here's three rather surprising tidbits.

Roosevelt and the Refuge

Those massive Three Arch Rocks offshore from this north Oregon coast gem are more than meets the eye. They're actually federally-designated wildlife refuges, making it illegal to hunt or kill the creatures that call it home.

How that came to be is connected to the concept of the Teddy bear.

Back in the late 1900s, a young man named Teddy Roosevelt spent considerable time in the area already known as the Tillamook Coast, and the little beach area that would eventually be called Oceanside. He loved this place, historians note.

By the time he became president of the United States, and he'd long become disconnected from this spot, the area was getting ransacked by hunters / poachers who were picking off the various wildlife from those looming rocks. Seals, sea lions, various kinds of birds made this place home, and the issue was a heartwrenching one for many in the still-new state.

This included a pair of naturalists / photographers, who wound up making years of observations about the place, paying special attention to the wildlife poaching problem. In 1903, they personally presented their findings to President Roosevelt, and pleaded with him to do something about it.

In 1907 he did: Roosevelt designated Three Arch Rocks a national wildlife reserve.

Roosevelt also inspired the idea of the Teddy bear – the toy that became a staple for kids thereafter. See Odd Oceanside History, N. Oregon Coast, Part 1: Roosevelt to Start Trek

One Crazy Idea: the Angel Walk

Oceanside in the '40s

Oceanside's tunnel was blasted out of that rock in 1926 by the Rosenberg brothers, who had purchased the land in 1921. In 1922, they officially named the town. See Curious History of Oceanside Part 2: WW II, Lighthouse on Oregon Coast

Before that tunnel, however, tourists had to go to the other side of the tunnel via an elevated wooden walkway that went around Maxwell Point. It was sometimes called an angel walk. If that sounds like a goofy idea, it was. It didn't last long in that rough surf. The structure fell apart more than once, and was rebuilt at least twice.

The tunnel itself isn't always stable, either. The exterior has been covered over numerous times over the last 100 years as landslides smother it. It was closed for years in the ‘80s. The most recent shut down happened at the end of 2020, but only lasting for a week or two. That landslide was caught on video, however. Famed Tunnel on Oregon Coast Covered by Rockslide; Some Needed Rescue

The Fallen Arch of Oceanside

For perhaps hundreds of years to maybe thousands of years, the other side of Oceanside had an arch. Then sometime in the winter of 2004, it suddenly didn't.

Back in that northwestern corner of the beach beyond Maxwell Point, there are a host of black sea stacks, many of which host an abundance of sea stars and other tidepool life. Before 2004, there was a massive hole in one of them, creating this engaging arch. It had a head-turning shape – a much-loved landmark in this tiny cove of the Oregon coast.

That fateful winter came and it crumbled. It was gone.

The area here is made of basalt: that black, sometimes angular rock that typifies Oceanside is actually cooled lava. Much of the lava fields on the north Oregon coast come from about 13 to 17 million years ago, including nearby Cape Meares. It's the hardest substance on this coastline, and it doesn't break easily.

So when something like that arch at the northern edge of Oceanside does go away, it's a big deal. Or at least it's supposed to be, but back then few people noticed. My Space was really the only social media then, and the whole concept of posting photos online was still in its infancy. Plus, there was really no proliferation of cameras like there is now. Those who would've cared the most – geologists in Oregon – didn't really get the word. These days, it would be the buzz online as well as with geologists.

The arch somewhat resembled the time portal in the Star Trek original series episode “City on the Edge of Forever.” That and a couple of other aspects got this beach called Star Trek Beach for quite awhile, though it seems it had already been called Tunnel Beach before that. For many years, no one knew the original name, and sadly that name seems to be taking over from the Star Trek Beach moniker. The Trek name is much cooler.

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