Today Lincoln City is known as a coastal destination with great beach vacation rentals. Oregon has changed a lot since settlers first started arriving in the 1800s, though, and the local traditions that make each of Oregon’s coastal communities unique have also changed. Tourism is now Lincoln City’s top industry with beach house rentals, blown glass studios, art galleries, eclectic shops, varied dining options, local wine, artisanal beer, and a variety of recreational activities, which is a big change from the days of fishing and logging. The bygone towns and distinct communities that melded together to make Lincoln City are worth also considering. Keep reading to learn more about these historic communities that each bring a unique flavor to modern-day Lincoln City and County.
The Beauty of Oceanlake
Long before any beach condo rentals were ever built, the first tourists to visit Oceanlake arrived in 1837, when two couples traveled from the Willamette Valley on horseback with a guide to enjoy the untouched coast. They set up tents in a grove of trees, bathed in the nearby sea, and made clam and fish bakes every night. It wouldn’t be until the 1920s that the tourism trade really started to take off in Oceanlake, when businessman Herbert Rexroad found success with a campground in roughly the same spot. The area became known as the town of Oceanlake when a post office opened in 1926 and is still home to a recreation area known as Devil’s Lake Park, the same name that Rexroad and his business partner gave to their land.
The Early Town of Taft
The first town in what is now known as Lincoln City was Taft, which was established years after its first residents – Sissie and Jakie Johnson Jr. – were given a 160-acre allotment to compensate for their reservation land being taken away. People were always coming through the area because of its location on Siletz Bay along a major transportation route that provided access to the ocean as well as the coastal towns. It quickly became an economic and social hub. By 1906 it even had its own post office named after William H. Taft, making it the first official town in the area.
The “D” River in Delake
If you find yourself at the “D” River in Lincoln City, you are in the center of what was once known as the town of Delake. It was settled by homesteaders as early as 1910, but it wasn’t until 1924 that Delake got its own post office and was established as a town. Rumor has it that the name came from early settler from Finland who would say they’re “going to de lake,” but it might also be a version of “près du lac,” or “by the lake” in French. Who knows!
Nelson + Scott = Nelscott
The first European settlers arrived in Nelscott in 1910, but it wasn’t known by that name just yet. The dense spruce and hemlock forests kept this area from being developed as quickly as others, but two men by the name of Charles P. Nelson and Dr. W. G. Scott took notice when they spotted the lovely valley dipping into the sea as they explored the coast between Taft and Cloverdale. They came back years later to purchase the land when it came up for sale and combined their names as they developed a town that was booming by the late 1920s.
Preserving Plants in Cutler City
Cutler City was the third town developed in North Lincoln County when Mary and George E. Cutler of Dallas, Texas purchased land in 1913 that was once part of an allotment owned by a Siletz Indian named Charlie Depoe. One historic moment that put Cutler City on the map was the establishment of the Rhododendron Society in 1938 to celebrate and preserve these native plants. Cutler City was chosen as the “rhododendron capital” because of the huge number of blooms that arrive between May and June every year, which is still a great time to visit.
Due to shared needs for fire and police departments, hospitals, and street improvements, these five small towns incorporated to form Lincoln City in 1965. The name was chosen by school children in honor of Abraham Lincoln. What a story, and what a great place to look forward to visiting in the future! The beach house rentals will be here waiting for you.