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Wacky Moments of Oregon Coast History

Published 12/25/20 at 4:35 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Wacky Moments of Oregon Coast History

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(Oregon Coast) – It turns out Oregon coast history can have a sense of humor, even if it is sometimes inadvertent. It’s easy to look back and laugh now at human folly in the past, or just giggle at the things we were supposed to chuckle at in the first place. (Photo above courtesy North Lincoln County History Museum)

Taking a trip back in time may mean a few LOL’s. Here's some examples:

Lincoln City’s Redhead Roundup Festival. Back during the days before Highway 101, Oregon’s coastal towns were quite separated from each other and had to make their own amusement. Partially from that sprang Lincoln City’s Redhead Roundup Festival.

It all began in 1931, actually – just as 101 was getting going. According to the North Lincoln County Historical Museum, the funky festival was started by Taft resident and businessman Manville Robison, who owned a popular restaurant at the time called the Green Anchor in the tiny village.

The crux of it was a kind of beauty festival involving only red-haired women, plus a few other oddball features thrown in. Museum curator Jeff Syrop wrote: “There were also contests for beauty, reddest hair, plumpest redhead, longest red hair, and more. The only stipulation to participate was that you had to have natural red hair.”

Eventually, it snowballed into other attractions such as parades, dances, games and then rides. Taft back then was one of several little towns that would one day make up Lincoln City (officially called that in the early ‘60s), and the whole event would cause massive traffic jams. By the mid-30s it had become a full two-day shindig, sometimes coaxing as many as 25,000 people.

The festival only lasted ten years, killed off by World War II.

Another kooky aspect involved a local club that sprang out of this called the Red Devils, who dressed up in goofy costumes, and whose existence actually outlived the Redhead festival. They promoted local events, entertained people with various pranks and displays of goofiness, and they pulled stunts like holding mock weddings or even throwing people into the ocean. According to the Lincoln City museum, they were a part of the Devil’s Lake Regatta, where they entertained with diving and swimming stunts.

Find out more about local history at the museum in Lincoln City. Hotels in Lincoln City - Where to eat - Lincoln City Maps and Virtual Tours

Wacky Boat at Bandon. Does it seem like someone’s family beach drive went totally awry here?

It turns out this was a boat that was made to look like a car, owned by at least two different parties in the Bandon area from the ‘70s through the 2000s. The photo is from 1983.

Oregon Coast Beach Connection could not confirm the details with the Bandon History Museum over the holidays, but they have provided an interesting chuckle here of an historic nature. The facility has an impressive array of south coast information, and you’ll want to visit once museums open back up.

Southern Coast

Piers at Seaside. A giant pier on the Oregon coast, jutting into the water? Sounds like a stupid idea, you say? Well, that’s what Seaside founding fathers did not just once but twice. And both failed spectacularly. (Photos courtesy Seaside History Museum)

The first was a massive pier (above) not unlike that at Santa Monica, stretching a few hundred feet or so out from what later became the Promenade. It was built in 1904, back when Seaside’s beach was completely different: it was a mere 150 feet from bluff to ocean.

They called it the Pacific Pier and it was made of wood, which of course didn’t fare well in the tempestuous seas of winter. It was beat up every season and refurbished again each time, and finally the town fathers let it fall into the sea around 1914.

About a decade later, Seaside tried it again, this time building a large fishing pier somewhere just before the Cove, close to where the Lewis & Clark memorial is now. According to local historian Nate Burke, it got “pounded into the sand” after just a few winters and split apart. But locals tried again and rebuilt, this time using a cantilever mechanism, meaning it was anchored to the ground but could move up and down with the tides via cables.

Burke did a bit of research and discovered just how short-lived this wacky contraption was.

“What I found was this cantilever pier didn’t even last a full year,” Burke said. “It looked like this cantilever pier was constructed in spring of 1930 - and was promptly destroyed by surf in late Winter 1931.”

Thanks to the Seaside Historical Society and Seaside Visitors Bureau for the scoop.

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