A Lincoln County Road Trip Into The Past
Your Passport and Roadside guide to historic sites and points of interest throughout Lincoln County.
Note: Mileages given are approximate.
1. Salmon River Highway:Hwy.18-This route to the coast began as a path traveled by local Indians. In the 1860s, Euro-Americans made it a toll road. John and Julia Boyer settled along this road in 1908 and named their place Bear Camp after their sons, who were nicknamed "The Cubs." The Boyers operated and maintained the dirt toll road as well as a post office named after their family. Later, John Boyer lobbied the highway department for improvements to this route. By 1930, many sections of road were graded, resurfaced and made part of the state highway system.
2. Three Rock Wreck:Mouth of the Salmon River, north side-Indians told of early settlers of a shipwreck, strange men and buried treasure. In the 1930s, bits of an unknown wreck and two non-Indian skeletons (one purported to be 8 feet tall) were found in a shell mound.
3. Phil Sheridan's Road:Road's End-Probably built while Sheridan was stationed at Fort Yamhill at the Grande Ronde Indian Agency in 1856. This route facilitated travel between the Old Elk Trail (Salmon River), the ocean beach and the Siletz Indian Agency.
4. Jason Lee Campsite:Lincoln City-In 1837, recently married missionaries Jason Lee and Cyrus Shepard, along with their brides and guide Joe Gervais, camped here for one week. The honeymooners "cured themselves of malaria and evangelized the Salmon River Indians." They were the first known vacationers on the Oregon Coast.
5. Devil's Lake:Lincoln City-There is an Indian legend of a fearsome creature dwelling in this lake; no recent sightings have been recorded. The area of Lincoln City bordering Devil's Lake is called Delake. It has been said this name was chosen because it was how the Finnish pronounce Devil's Lake. Delake, which incorporated in 1949, became a part of Lincoln City in 1965.
6. Talbot Campsite:Siletz Bay- The first official overland exploration of the Oregon Coast from Alsea Bay to the Salmon River was led by Lt. Theo. Talbot in 1849. Talbot crossed the Coast Range from Kings Valley to Yaquina Bay and returned via the Salmon River Trail. His journal is the best written account of early life in this region.
7. Kernville:2 miles above present Kernville, on Hwy. 229-When this part of Lincoln County opened to white settlement in 1895, Daniel Kern was one of the first. He built a fish cannery that was the first industry in north Lincoln County. Kern's cannery employed Chinese workers. His brother, John, ran the post office that was established in the same building.
8. Boiler Bay:State Park-The steam schooner "J. Marhoffer" caught fire and sank near here in 1910, costing one man his life. The boiler drifted here and is occasionally visible at a very low tide. Old-timers called this place "Briggs Landing" after a pioneer family.
9. Depoe Bay:North of Cape Foulweather-The land on this small bay was allotted by the U.S. Government in 1894 to Indian Charles Depot (see #26). In June 1927, the Sunset Investment Co. of Portland platted a town site and named it in honor of Charley, whose family had evolved from "Depot" to the fancier "DePoe." When the post office was established here in 1928, the government decreed its name "Depoe Bay."
10. Ben Jones Bridge:North end of Otter Crest Loop-In 1907 Ben F. Jones, pioneer, lawyer, legislator, and promoter, purchased the Dope Spencer Indian allotment and developed the community of Otter Rock. Through the years he worked to get a highway built along the coast, and in 1927, he was honored posthumously at the bridge dedication ceremony. Jones was dubbed "Father of the Roosevelt Military Coast Highway," now Highway 101.
11. Cape Foulweather:Otter Crest-English navigator Captain James Cook sighted and named this promontory on a very stormy March 7, 1778. He had just arrived in his two ships from the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) and this was his first sight of the Pacific Northwest coast. When accounts of this voyage were published, world interest was arroused and fur trade followed. The history of the Oregon country as a future part of the United States began at this point. See also #17.
12A. Nye Beach Historic District:Newport, Beach Street and vicinity-This area is an interesting mix of cottages, vacation homes, and businesses. Many of the small cottages were rented nightly to tourists or "summer people," as they were called. Although many structures in this area have been built recently, a large percentage of them date from the 1910s and 1920s. Hot sea baths, hotels, and a variety of attractions once lined the streets.
12B. Ocean House Site:Coast Gaurd station, Newport-This was the site of the first resort hotel on the Oregon Coast. Constructed by Dr. J. R. Bayley and Samuel Case, the Oregon House remained in operation until about 1918. It was torn down in the 1940s.
12C. Yaquina Bay Lighthouse:Yaquina Bay State Park-Built in 1871, this lighthouse remained in service just three years before it was replaced with Yaquina Head Lighthouse, which was much more visible. It also served as headquarters for the United States Life Saving Service (Coast Gaurd).
12D. Oregon Coast History Center:545 S.W. Ninth, Newport-The Log Cabin, located behind the armory building, has an outstanding collection of Siletz Indian artifacts and maritime exhibits. The Burrows House Museum offers changing exhibits and a research center. Both buildings are open daily(except Mondays) from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm June through September, and 11:00 am through 4:00 pm October through May.
13. Yaquina Bay Life Saving Station:Newport, South Beach-Established in 1896, rescuers, then called surfmen, launched rescue boats directly into the surf. Practice runs afforded spectacular amusement for summer visitors. In 1906, the lifesaving service moved to then abandoned Yaquina Bay Lighthouse (see #12C.). Now known as the Coast Guard, its station is on Newport's Bayfront (see #12B). Construction of the south jetty near here began experimentally in 1880. It was the first of its kind on the Pacific Coast, forerunner of the Columbia River jetties.
14. Seal Rock:Hwy. 101-In the 1880s, promoters advocated extending a passenger railroad line to this area. Developers platted a town near here that included three blocks of hotels. The passenger line never arrived in Seal Rock, and most of the lots were foreclosed upon for delinquent taxes.
15. Waldport: Once part of the Coast Indian Reservation, this area opened to Euro-American settlement in 1875. Early settlers washed $1,700 in gold dust from the beach sands in 1879-1880. The town was named with the establishment of a post office in 1881. Wald, the German word for forest, combined with the English word port, provided a descriptive name of the wooded hills that once surrounded Alsea Bay.
16. Alsea Sub-Agency:North of Yachats-Formerly part of the Coast Indian Reservation, this sub-agency was closed in 1875. The Indians were forced to move to Siletz so Euro-Americans could settle here. Sam Case (see #12B). and George Litchfield were among the first Indian agents in charge here.
17. Cape Perpetua:Sighted and named in 1778 on St. Perpetua's Day, March 7, by English navigator Captain James Cook. Cook's journal reveals the namesake of this headland is Saint Perpetua, who was executed on March 7, 203, for professing her faith. It was on Saint Perpetua's Day that Cook sighted this headland.
18. Yaquina City:Bay Road, 3 miles from Newport-This site was a railroad boom town; its population peaked at about 2,000. A railroad line from Corvallis reached here in 1885. Almost all of the business section was destroyed in a fire in 1901. The railroad line to Yaquina was abandoned in 1937. For decades, a ferry ride was necessary to reach Newport from here.
19. Oysterville Town Site:1 mile above Yaquina City on the south bank of the river-Oysters were discovered here by Captain Spencer in 1861. For several years, Yaquina Bay oysters were sent by ship to San Francisco and New York, where they were featured on menus of the most expensive restaurants. Yaquina Bay oysters were quickly fished out. Today, however, oyster culture thrives in the Yaquina Bay.
20. Craigie Point:First turn in the road past the eight-mile marker, on opposite side of river-James Craigie (1813-1895) came to America in 1834 and worked for the Hudson's Bay Co. In 1845 he married the daughter of a Bannock Indian chief. In 1866 he moved his family here and established a land claim to Craigie Point.
21. Boone Family Farthest West:On Yaquina Bay Road 4 miles upriver from Yaquina City-George Luther Boone, great-grandson of Daniel Boone, upon returning from California gold mines, wintered at Myrtle Creek, Oregon, where he met and married Mourning Ann Young, 13. Riding double on horseback, the couple honeymooned here in 1852 and later settled and raised a family of 12.
22A. Toledo:6 miles east of Newport-Lands around Yaquina Bay on the Coast Indian Reservation first opened to non-Indian settlement in 1865. John Graham, his wife, Rebecca, and their family homesteaded here in 1867. A post office was established on July 14, 1868, and named after Toledo, Ohio. When Lincoln County formed from Benton and Polk counties in 1893, Toledo was made the county seat until 1953, when the county seat moved to Newport.
22B. World's Biggest Spruce Sawmill:Toledo-A special branch of the U.S. Army called the Spruce Division began construction of a sawmill here in 1918. Spruce was the ideal wood for constructing World War I aircraft. The war ended before the mill and most of the railroad lines were completed. The mill was later sold to C.D. Johnson Lumber Co., then to Georgia-Pacific.
22C. Pioneer Block House Site:On Yaquina River, across from Toledo-Settlers hastily constructed a small fortress to protect themselves againt a rumored Siletz Indian uprising which never happened. There were no major uprisings between the Siletz Reservation Indians and this area's settlers.
23. Elk City:On Yaquina River, 9 miles above Toledo-When a wagon road from Corvallis reached here in 1866, a warehouse was built for the first stage line to the Willamette Valley. This was the head of navigation on Yaquina River. For years afterward, the remainder of a trip to the coast was made by boat. Originally called Newton, this was the first settlement in what is now Lincoln County.
24. Pioneer Quarry:3 miles up Yaquina River from Elk City-Sandstone from this quarry was used in the construction of the Call and Parrot buildings in San Francisco. Rock from here was also used in construction of the Engineering Building at Oregon State University in Corvallis, and for grave headstones of local pioneers.
25. Eddyville:Originally called "Little Elk"-The name was changed in 1890 for Israel Fisk Eddy, who settled here in 1870. The original home was across the road from the big redwood tree. Israel Eddy kept a store and provided overnight accommodations for travelers, maintained a toll gate across the military road, and operated a grist mill for grinding the grain of
local farmers. The oldest cemetery in the county is located here.
26. Depoe Slough:Hwy. 229, 1 mile from Hwy. 20 junction-Supplies for the Indian agency were unloaded from ocean-going vessles here and taken overland to Siletz. From the depot, this waterway became known as "Depoe Slough." A young Indian employed here became known as "Depoe Charley." He later was allotted land around a small bay north of Cape Foulweather (see #9).
27. Government Hill:Siletz-At the conclusion of the "Rogue River Indian Wars" in 1856, the U.S. Army relocated about 2,000 Indians to a 1.3 million-acre reservation on the Central Oregon Coast. The Indians belonged to 27 different bands from the coast, southern Oregon, and northern California. The reservation's administrative headquarters, a school, and a church were on this hill, approximately the reservation's center. The hardships of inadequate housing, insufficient food, and poor medical facilities reduced the original number to less than 600 within a year. Although the agency was closed in 1925, the Siletz Indians continued to hold their annual meetings on the hill until their tribal status was terminated by the U.S Government in 1956; tribal status was reinstated in 1977.
28. Ojalla Bridge:Hwy. 229, about 13 miles from Hwy. 101 at Kernville-This steel bridge spanning the Siletz River commemorates the Ojalla family. It was constructed in 1946 to replace a covered wooden bridge built in 1922. A prior wooden bridge, built in 1914, was destroyed by a break of the Valsetz Dam on the Sietz River in November 1921. This bridge is sited on the Henry Staunton Indian allotment. Staunton's allotment was sold in 1907 to Mattias and Aliina Ojalla, who, with their three daughters, moved here in July of that year. A son, Martin, was born here the following year.
29. Medicine Rock:Siletz River, 6 miles above Kernville, Hwy. 229-An Indian legend has it that presents left on Medicine Rock near here would bring the giver good luck. This was a familiar landmark to the pioneer travelers.
30. Coyote Rock:Siletz River, 2 miles above Kernville, Hwy. 229-According to an Indian legend, Coyote attempted to dam the river here to ensure himself of a constant supply of salmon and was partially successful. Large Chinook salmon were forced to wait here for the first rains before ascending to up-river spawning beds.
This roadside guide is a presentation of the Lincoln County Historical Society. Since 1948, the Society has been preserving the history of the Central Oregon Coast (see #12D) and presenting it to the public at museums.
If you have information, artifacts, photographs, or other material pertaining to the Central Oregon Coast that you would like to share with the public, please contact the Society at (541) 265-7509.