Welcome to Cannon Beach, Oregon a small coastal town located in the Northwest Pacific, approximately thirty miles South of Astoria and less than two hours from the Portland International Airport. This town runs on its own beat and caters to those who love the ocean. Finding a place to rent is a well-kept secret that only locals know about, the area is dog-friendly but hotels are hard to come by that allow them. The downtown area is lined with cafes, shops and of course, the shoreline with public parking and easy access to the beach.
When the warm weather flows in the beach and town are jammed pack with people from all over and the streets are easier maneuvered by walking instead of driving. Then when the weather goes bad and rain is falling every hour Cannon Beach becomes a ghost town with only those daring enough to dodge the raindrops are out and about. There are benefits and drawbacks to both.
But this small coastal town that is almost hidden between the ocean and the mountains had me wondering how it became to be. Well, if your curiosity is as persistent as mine then I recommend checking out the Cannon Beach History Center and Museum.
It is easily accessible from the main coastal 101 Highway. Take the Sunset Boulevard Exit at the bottom of the ramp turn right onto Spruce Street and the Museum is located on the right. If it weren't for the sign out front you would think it was just another house. The museum is small but well-kept and the staff is friendly and informative. There is no fee to walk through the museum but donations are strongly recommended with a $2 suggestion.
The self-guided tour, even with all the reading, takes about twenty minutes to walk through but in that short period of time, you learn about the entire history of the town. As you walk into the main area to begin the tour it starts off on your right and goes in chronological order. First learn about the famous rocks that are located off the shore of Cannon Beach, called Haystack Rock. How they were formed and what they represent today in regards to land changes that occurred along the Oregon coastline during the last 18,000 years.
Moving on will lead you to the original settlers of the area as well as the early explorers, their living styles, artifacts that were found in the area and eventually lead you to the Lewis and Clark exploration adventures that took place here. It all started when there was talk of a beached whale and they were in need of the blubber for survival.
Continue the tour with how the town came up with the name Cannon Beach and why they have a small cannon on display in the museum. There are two more that are associated with the area and learn where they are and how they were found. The whole story about the cannons is an interesting read and even leaves the reader scratching its head and wondering; where did they go? Of course being a coastal town there will always be ships that sailed around the area learn about them and the adventures they experienced while sailing along the coastline.
There is a lot more to see as you continue the walk that includes artifacts and photos of the first post office, road, toll road and hotel that was built in the area. Name changes to areas around the town and even a visit from the President. Be sure to read above and below the main timeline as it'll tell you what the rest of the world was doing when Cannon Beach was starting to make its presence known and trying to get established.
As were most places in the country, this town was also affected by the Great Depression and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Being on the same coast as Pearl Harbor, and even though many miles away, the townspeople did fear there area would also be attacked.
Learn how the village became a town, the establishing of what are now popular visiting sites and how simple roads became highways and the area was no longer considered just another coastal town. Lastly, as were most areas in this country, the area was also home to the Native Americans and the museum pays respect to the tribe that originally found the area and even has a small room that holds their artifacts with a sample of their tribal song playing in the background.
A small gift shop is at the front, the main entrance and end of the tour, which is also small and quaint but does include books of the area, sweaters, and cups. Don't forget to sign the register before you leave and thank the staff for their hospitality. On this day the worker informed me she has lived in Cannon Beach her entire life and these are the people worth talking to not only about the history but present day tricks to help avoid the crowds on beautiful days and still see all the popular sites.
For more information about the Cannon Beach History Center & Museum please check out their website at http://cannon-beach-history-center-and-museum.business.site/. Enjoy!
You don't have to go far to have fun. Here are a few places I visit when I'm not driving across country or exploring the Rustic Roads.