2012 articles About Offbeat Oregon 2012 articles 2011 articles 2010 articles 2008-2009 articles About me Store (the Finn J.D. John Centre for Crass Commercialism and Filthy Lucre)
Link to Web site for Wicked Portland: The Wild and Lusty Underworld of a Frontier Seaport Town z

you just might ALSO
enjoy ...

z

Whale explodes: Details at 11.

The highway department guy didn't know how much dynamite to use, and said so on camera. But he still thinks the operation was a success. Check out the story of Florence's famous exploding whale ...

z

Far-out guru "enlightens" Central Oregon.

What happens when a colony of acolytes of an East Indian guru move in, then try to take over Wasco County? Check out the four-part story of the rise and fall of Rajneeshpuram ...

z

this oregon youth went on to save half a billion lives...guess who?

A local Willamette Valley teen-ager named Bert Hoover, an orphan sent from Iowa to live with his uncle, went on to save millions of lives and become a singularly ill-starred U.S. president.

z

oregon's most spectacular shipwreck ever.

The steam schooner J. Marhoffer was almost brand-new when, burning fiercely from stem to stern, it piled onto the rocks near Depoe Bay. It's the remains of this fiery shipwreck that gave Boiler Bay its name ...

z

the gallant rescue of portland's floating brothel.

Maritime madam Nancy Boggs kept her bordello on a barge floating in the river, until a police raid cut it loose. But the captain and crew of a sternwheeler came to save the day. Here's the story.

z

take off to the province of oregon, eh?

Few people know how close Oregon came to officially becoming a British possession under the treaty that ended the War of 1812. Only the presence of a handful of scattered, starving survivors from Astor's fur enterprise prevented it. Here's how.

z

timberline lodge could have been a glass skyscraper

Calling the plan a "profit-making eyesore," a Forest Service manager nixed 1920s plan for a modern steel-and-glass structure with an aerial tramway. You can read about it right here.

z

pixieland: an edgy, vanished amusement park

Built in the late 1960s as a "fairy-tale history of Oregon," the amusement park lasted just a few years before slipping into receivership. Today, all that's left of this odd and uniquely Oregonian story is a dilapidated guardshack.


Offbeat Oregon History: Album cover art

Only wheelchair-accessible tidepools are at Yaquina Head

Jonathan Bourne Jr.
Quarry Cove, on the side of Yaquina Head, on a calm early-spring day
in 2013. (Photo: F.J.D. John)

Next time you’re in the Agate Beach area of Newport, take a look to the north at Yaquina Head.

It’s hard to imagine the Newport area without it. But without intervention from the federal government, Yaquina Head would have been gone by now – leaving only a small island with Yaquina Head Lighthouse on it to show where its tip had once been.

Because that didn't happen, Yaquina Head is now a popular tourist destination and park — featuring the only wheelchair-accessible tidepools in the country.

Here’s the story:

Yaquina Head’s basalt had been quarried since the 1930s. But after the war, in the 1950s, a Newport gravel company staked a mining claim on it — it was, at the time, federal land.

Jonathan Bourne Jr.
Yaquina Head Light, as it once looked. The grassy area in the foreground is
gone now, replaced by Quarry Cove. (Postcard image)

The claim was staked under the Mining Law of 1872; it gave the company the right to extract mineral deposits from the head; and, in this case, the mineral deposits were the head itself. But most folks didn't really expect the company was serious about mining it. After all, this was prime oceanfront property.

Later, the government sold the head to the mining company for less than $3 an acre – an incredible bargain. Even then, the property was worth a pile – maybe more so than today, because it was far easier to get permission to build houses back then.

But the company didn’t build houses there. It started digging gravel. Not much at first, but by the mid-1970s company owner Bob Weinert was hauling hundreds of tons of the head off every workday, with the help of a staff of 25 employees.

That’s about the time things came to the attention of the state of Oregon, which started looking for ways to keep Weinert and his crew from quarrying Yaquina Head right into the sea – a process that Weinert, in a 1982 interview, estimated would take another 15 years.Weinert said by then the headland would be entirely gone, reduced to nothing but a tiny island where the tip of the head is now, with Yaquina Head Lighthouse perched on its top.

Jonathan Bourne Jr.
Looking out to sea in Quarry Cove. The rocky "island" in the center of the
frame is one of the tidepools . (Photo: F.J.D. John)

The answer turned out to be rich with irony. Not only could the state not stop Weinert, but it also could not stop buying gravel from his quarry for use on local roads. That’s because the state was required to take the lowest bid for gravel, and since Weinert ran the only local quarry, his was always the lowest bid.

The dilemma was finally solved by some quick work in Washington, D.C., by then-Sen. Mark O. Hatfield. In 1980, the federal government named the head an outstanding natural area, and over the next five years the Bureau of Land Management bought and traded to acquire the rest of the head.

Today, the gravel quarry is gone, reflected only in the name of Quarry Cove – and in one other thing.

Quarry Cove is a divot in the side of the head, blasted out by the quarry operators. After the BLM took over, it turned the cove into the nation’s only wheelchair-accessible tidepools.

The effort hasn’t been a total success, because the ocean keeps trying to silt the place in with sand. But it’s an interesting silver lining to what, for nearby residents, seemed like a pretty dark cloud 30 years ago.

(Sources: Sullivan, William. Hiking Oregon’s History. Eugene: Navillus, 2006; Eugene Register-Guard archives: Dec. 5, 1976; April 5, 1982; and Dec. 27, 1985)

-30-