Three surprises from Oregon Coast history to Oceanside
Posted 10/1/22 at 6:02 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff
(Oceanside, Oregon) – This is the small town with plenty to do, far more than its small size suggests.
And there’s even more when it comes to the tiny Oregon Coast hamlet’s past.
As Oceanside prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary this year (look for something big this summer), now is a good time to take a look at its history. Here are three rather surprising anecdotes.
Roosevelt and the refuge
Those massive Three Arch Rocks off this North Oregon Coast gem are more than they look. They are actually federally designated wildlife sanctuaries, making it illegal to hunt or kill the creatures that live there.
How this happened is linked to the concept of the teddy bear.
In the late 1900s, a young man by the name of Teddy Roosevelt spent a lot of time in the area already known as the Tillamook Coast and at the small beach that would eventually be called Oceanside. He loved this place, historians note.
By the time he became President of the United States, and he had long been disconnected from this location, the area was being ransacked by hunters / poachers who were picking up the various wildlife from these impending rocks. Seals, sea lions and various species of birds made this place their home, and the problem was heartbreaking for many in its still new condition.
This included a pair of naturalists / photographers, who ended up making years of observations on the place, paying particular attention to the problem of wildlife poaching. In 1903, they personally presented their findings to President Roosevelt and begged him to do something about it.
In 1907 he did so: Roosevelt designated Three Arch Rocks as a National Wildlife Area.
Roosevelt also inspired the idea of the teddy bear – the toy that later became a staple for children. See Odd Oceanside History, N. Oregon Coast, Part 1: Roosevelt to start the trek
A crazy idea: the walk of the angels
Seaside in the 1940s
The Oceanside Tunnel was dug into this rock in 1926 by the Rosenberg brothers, who bought the land in 1921. In 1922, they officially named the town. See the Curious History of Oceanside Part 2: WWII Lighthouse on the Oregon Coast
Prior to this tunnel, however, tourists had to travel to the other side of the tunnel via an elevated wooden walkway that bypassed Maxwell Point. It was sometimes called the Angels’ Walk. If that sounds like a crazy idea, it was. It didn’t last long in this choppy surf. The structure has collapsed more than once and has been rebuilt at least twice.
The tunnel itself is not always stable either. The exterior has been covered many times over the past 100 years as landslides suffocate it. It was closed for years in the 1980s. The most recent closure was in late 2020, but only lasted a week or two. This landslide was however filmed. Famous tunnel on the Oregon coast covered by a landslide; Some rescues needed
The Fallen Ark of Oceanside
For perhaps hundreds of years or even thousands of years, the other side of Oceanside had an arch. Then at one point in the winter of 2004, this is not the case at all.
Back in that northwest corner of the beach beyond Maxwell Point, there are a multitude of Black Sea chimneys, many of which are home to an abundance of starfish and other pond species. Before 2004, there was a massive hole in one of them, creating this engaging archway. It had a shape that would turn heads – a popular landmark in this tiny cove on the Oregon coast.
This fateful winter has arrived and it has collapsed. It was gone.
The area here is made of basalt: that black, sometimes angular rock that characterizes Oceanside, is actually cooled lava. Much of the lava fields on the north Oregon coast are around 13 to 17 million years old, including nearby Cape Meares. It’s the hardest substance on this coastline, and it doesn’t break easily.
So when something like this arch on the northern edge of Oceanside goes missing, that’s a big deal. Or at least it is supposed to be, but at the time, few people noticed it. My Space was really the only social media at the time, and the whole concept of posting photos online was still in its infancy. Also, there really wasn’t a proliferation of cameras like there is now. Those who would have cared the most – the geologists in Oregon – didn’t quite get it. These days, that would be the buzz online as well as among geologists.
The ark looked somewhat like the time portal from the original Star Trek episode “City on the Edge of Forever”. That and a few other aspects gave this beach the name Star Trek Beach for a while, although it seems like it was already called Tunnel Beach before that. For many years, no one knew the original name, and unfortunately that name seems to take over from the Star Trek Beach moniker. The name Trek is much cooler.
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