A Brief History of Oregon's Ecola State Park

Looking south toward Haystack Rock from Ecola State Park on the Oregon Coast

Looking south toward Haystack Rock from Ecola State Park on the Oregon Coast

The following information is drawn from “The Oregon State Park System: A Brief History” by Sam Boardman, former Oregon State Park Superintendent, reprinted from the Oregon Historical Quarterly, Volume LV, Number 3, September, 1954.

“I would like to use Ecola as a cornerstone of a recreational kingdom located in the northwest corner of the state composed of Short Sand Beach, with its appendage Nehalem Sandspit, Cape Meares, Cape Lookout and Saddle Mountain. Four coastal parks of national character; an interior mountain park. What a wealth of inspirational values, recreational resources to those who pass by tomorrow. Weave these five unexcelled recreational gems into a highway wreath of Wilson-Sunsets sonnets. Never let the marrow of your backbone solidify. Never let your vision be grounded.” — Samuel Boardman

Boardman recalls how the nucleus of Ecola State Park’s 450 acres came through private gifts and purchase of the Ecola Point and Indian Beach Corporation. Portland attorney and outdoorsman Rodney L. Glisan (son of prominent Portland doctor Rodney Glisan), his sister Florence G. Minott, and Caroline and Louise Flanders owned 49 percent of the stock, and gave “without solicitation,” according to Boardman, their share of the 450 acres, including their summer homes that were on the property.

L.A. Lewis, president and primary shareholder of the Columbia Placer Mines Company, owned the majority 51 percent for which the state paid $17,500 for his share. The deed to the park came to the state on February 11, 1932. Boardman writes that 300 people attended the deed acceptance ceremony at the Multnomah County Court House. However, Boardman recalls the vicious “tongue lashing” he received from one of the commissioners who “thought it sacrilegious to be spending money for parks when people were tottering on the verge of starvation.”

Under the direction of the National Parks Service, the Civilian Conservation Corps established a camp at the park in the fall of 1934. Over the course of two years, the Corps made a number of upgrades to the park, including a new road, as well as “water systems, picnic areas, trails, caretaker's house, stone building, [and] forest cleanup.”

According to Boardman, “Without the aid of the CCC boys, our parks would have been years in arrears in their development.”

Once the state had acquired the scenic Ecola Point property, Boardman began work to secure the property along the ocean front toward Seaside. ”Tillamook Head is one of the outstanding promontories of the Oregon coastline. To link Seaside and Cannon Beach by trail would be exceedingly beneficial recreationally,” wrote Boardman.

Unlike Ecola Point, which was privately owned, this tract of land was owned by the U.S. and county governments. Another section was owned by San Francisco-based pulp and paper conglomerate Crown Zellerbach Corporation.

Over several years, the government property was deeded to the state. However, Boardman was unable to negotiate a sale of the remaining 300 acres despite 13 years of effort.

With negotiations stalled, Boardman turned to Marshall Newport Dana, an Oregon journalist and civic leader. “In the fall of 1947, Mr. Dana offered to go with me to converse with the officials of the company about the sale. Two meetings were held which culminated in the purchase of the 307.9 acres for $46,063 in April, 1948. Marshall Dana was the inner spring that moved the hands of the stalemate, and the people of the state will be ever indebted to him.”

For more information about Ecola State Park and other parks and attractions around Cannon Beach and Arch Cape, feel free to call us here at The Inn at Arch Cape, (503) 436-2082.