Limits on logging in federal forests and curtailed seasons for ocean fishing pushed those segments of the economy downward, and they have never fully recovered.
The new Oregon Coast economy looks a lot different. Tourism and retirement are the new economic drivers. We think bigger than we once did. The Columbia Maritime Museum is like no historical museum the coast has seen before. Even without its famous guest whale Keiko, the Oregon Coast Aquarium has established new standards of excellence and has been seen by millions of people. The three 18-hole courses at Bandon Dunes are more than there were on the entire Oregon Coast south of Salishan in 1982. I wouldn’t be surprised if more people work there than Weyerhaeuser employed at one of its large mills.
Housing is showing up in places where it once was never seen. Almost no buildable oceanfront lots remain, as even the most exposed locations are sought after. As oceanfront has become scarce, demand for ocean view has soared. Hillsides above Yachats and Rockaway Beach now reveal houses where none existed two decades ago.
Some old activities have developed new twists. It used to be fun to comb the beaches for glass floats that had crossed the Pacific after breaking loose from Japanese fishing nets. Japanese fishermen no longer use glass floats, but a local glass blower had the idea to have local artists produce glass balls that would be hidden along the seashore, to be hunted by the public. And Lincoln City made it happen. It was supposed to be a one-time deal for the millenium, but it was so popular that it has been repeated there and adopted by others. The Oregon Coast has become something of a mecca for glass-blowing, so this fits right in.
Yes, things have changed, but so much has stayed constant. Heceta Lighthouse is still the most photographed spot on the coast. Photographers compose their shots of it as they stand next to the rockwork that CCC workers constructed along Highway 101 during the Depression. Gray whales still migrate along the coastline, delighting the many whaleophiles who scan the ocean hoping to catch a glimpse.
And on the beach, the waves rush in across the sand, lose speed, and finally retreat, leaving the damp sand clean and fresh. We are enormously lucky to have a place like the Oregon Coast to publish a magazine about.