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Odd Oceanside History, N. Oregon Coast, Part 1: Roosevelt to Start Trek

Published 09/29/2016 at 4:21 AM PDT - Updated 09/29/2016 at 5:51 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Tiny little Oceanside, sitting at the northern tip of the Three Capes Tour

(Oceanside, Oregon) – These days, it's the busiest secret spot that everyone knows on the Oregon coast. Tiny little Oceanside, sitting at the northern tip of the Three Capes Tour (part of the Tillamook Coast), is overflowing with fascinating finds and sights. It's host to unique attractions like the famed Three Arch Rocks, a tunnel leading to two mysterious beaches, a lighthouse, a weird but famous tree, and more.

Its history is even more full of surprises: it's a link to a president, to a media curiosity with a cult following, a cult religion, and even to Star Trek – along with its 100-year-old landmarks. There's so much here that Oregon Coast Beach Connection needs to tell it in two parts. See Curious History of Oceanside Part 2: WW II, Lighthouse on Oregon Coast.

This is part one, covering the 1800's through to the 2000's, while the second half tells another side to the same time period.

White settlers first began hitting the area in the 1880's. With them came a man named John Maxwell, who started a farm around what would become Oceanside about 1885 or so. Presumably, it's his name that is the origin of Maxwell Point, the deliriously beautiful headland watching over the town.

About 1921, the land was bought by two brothers, H.H. and J.H. Rosenberg. The town got the name Oceanside a year later, a day after the Fourth of July.

In the meantime, however, the little area briefly became famous in 1903 when a pair of naturalists gave President Theodore Roosevelt a book containing their observations on the large sea stacks that dominate the view. These were teeming with wildlife, but locals had been using them for target practice for years and the population was in danger.


Teddy Roosevelt, it turned out, had spent some time in the Oceanside area as a younger man (and yes, the concept of the “teddy bear,” so much loved these days, got its name from this man). He was moved by the photographers' pleas, and in 1907 Roosevelt declared Three Arch Rocks a national wildlife reserve.

Fast forward back to the 1920's again, and you find the Rosenbergs thinking big. Believe it or not (and watch for that phrase in part 2), the little town was much busier. The roaring '20s never reached the same fever pitch on the then still primitive Oregon coast, but it came close. As Bayocean to the south (on what is now the spit at Tillamook Bay) was slowly exploding, so was Oceanside.

First, there came about 500 tents – an actual tent city. This was the standard Oregon coast recreational lodging at the time. They slowly built a dance hall, a grocery and a hotel or two.

Ironically, Oceanside currently has a handful of lodgings and about three eateries, but no gas station or store.


In 1925, they built an elevated wooden walkway around Maxwell Point, which really stirred up tourism to tiny Oceanside. This was a truly unsafe construct, doomed to destruction by winter storms. Sometimes called an “angel walk,” it didn't take long to crumble.

Apparently, another such construct was built to gain access to Lost Boy Beach on the other side of the beach.


The next year, they blasted the rock out of the cliff and created the tunnel. That stuck around for decades, until big storms caused a rockslide that covered it sometime in the '70s or early '80s. Then, in the '90s, other storms miraculously opened it back up.


The area on the other side has been called Tunnel Beach on and off over the decades. When the age of the Internet really hit in the '90s, some online devotees called it Star Trek Beach because at least one rock structure there resembled something from the original series. A large arched rock did indeed look remarkably similar to the time portal in the famed Star Trek episode “City on the Edge of Forever.”

In the early 2000's, however, a winter storm took it out. It had crumbled. The arch had been around for probably hundreds of years. Look for Part Two:Curious History of Oceanside Part 2: WW II, Lighthouse on Oregon Coast. Where to stay in this area - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours

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