Friday, August 6, 2010

Washington's Pacific Ocean's Ocean Shores is Celebrating 50 Years of Coasting

I saw the ad on the left in the Skagit Valley Herald online this morning. The ad put Ocean Shores on my mind.

Summer of 2004 was the last time I've been to Ocean Shores. I recollect going to the rock jetty that sticks out into the Pacific Ocean at the entry to Gray's Harbor and seeing a pair of whales blowing their spouts and seals playing.

The town of Ocean Shores got its start in 1960 when Ralph Minard sold the family cattle ranch, that he'd been operating since 1929, which his grandpa, A. O. Damon bought from Matthew McGee in 1878, to the Ocean Shores Development Corporation for a million dollars.

The Ocean Shores Development Corporation was banking on the Washington State legislature allowing a big Ocean Shores casino. In anticipation of the casino boom to come, the OSDC starting selling lots. Rumors of a big California development quickly spread. Lots sold, sight unseen, prices rose. A road system was laid out, street lights installed.

And then Hollywood came to town when the Ginny Sims Restaurant and Nightclub opened. For Ginny Sims Grand Opening chartered planes flew in Hollywood stars. Over 11,000 people showed up to star gaze.

By 1961 canals were being dug, a golf course had golfers. By 1963 there was a marina, motels, mall, restaurants and an airport.

Also, in 1963, the S.S. Catala arrived from California to become a floating Boatel, docked at the south end of Ocean Shores, near the entry to Gray's Harbor. Two years later a big storm ran the S.S. Catala up on a sandbar, where she remained as the most famous shipwreck on the Washington coast til she grew so rusted and dangerous that she was removed. But, for decades, that shipwreck attracted a lot of visitors.

Including me. That's me, in yellow, standing on the sloping deck, next to a smokestack.

The Ocean Shores Development Corporation never did get approval from the state to open a casino. Many years later, however, the Indian Tribes of Washington won their sovereignty battle with the state and started opening casinos, including Quinalt Beach Resort and Casino, near Ocean Shores.

By the 1970s my grandma bought an Ocean Shores lot. We used it often as a base for razor clam digging. Then in the 1980s my mom and dad bought an Ocean Shores lot. The reason why escapes me now. A lot of people bought a lot of Ocean Shores lots.

By the turn of the century many beach homes had been built in Ocean Shores, developed all the way to the southern end jetty.

Ocean Shores has always been one of my favorite places in Washington, largely due to many fond memories of fun times as a kid.

I remember when I was 5, camping at Copalis, which is a town north of Ocean Shores. My little brother, 4 and I walked to the beach and somehow I lost my brother. This turned into a big deal. I think I may have gotten in trouble.

Driving on the beach is another fun thing at Ocean Shores, until you go too far and get stuck, which only happened once to me, in my antique 1965 Mustang.

I think I've just about convinced myself that I need a visit to Ocean Shores. Last time I was there I had the best fish and chips ever, made with fresh cod. Plus razor clam chowder. And a fresh blackberry shake.


Steve A said...

My parents live in Ocean Shores when they're not living in Seattle. The casino is a great place to go for dinner.

Durango Northwest said...

Steve A, I am drawing a blank as to what became of my mom and dad's Ocean Shores lot. Let alone my Grandma's. My last time at Ocean Shores, which was in August of 2004, went the Quinalt Casino hoping it had a buffet. There was none at that point in time, so, continued on to Ocean Shores where good seafood was found.