Manzanita and Ocean Inn
A Brief History
Land Acknowledgement: The Ocean Inn at Manzanita acknowledges that it is built upon Nehalem and Tillamook indigenous tribal territory.
With its unique geography, beautiful shoreline, and notable mountain range, people have always been drawn to this area of the Oregon Coast.
Long a fertile landscape for native plants and wildlife as well as indigenous tribal territory inhabited by Tillamook and Nehalem peoples, this small piece of the Oregon Coast was one of the last places to be inhabited by settlers moving in from the central part of the Oregon Country.
In the late 1800s, Edmond Lane and his wife arrived and purchased much of the land on Neah-Kah-Nie Mountain and surrounding areas. The area, first named “Laneda by the sea” was later changed to “Manzanita,” for the manzanita (Arctostaphylos) plants that thrive in the area, a word that means ‘little apple’ in Spanish.
By the early 1900s, city folks and entrepreneurs had begun looking at Manzanita as a potential resort for Portland’s leisure class. Manzanita was platted as a beach resort in 1912, the same year that Sam Reed founded the area’s first oceanfront hotel and drinking establishment, the Neahkahnie Tavern and Inn, which was located where Ocean Road meets Beach Road at the north end of Manzanita beach. Those having a drink at the tavern would have enjoyed a clear view of the wreck of the Glenesslin, a British ship that ran aground on the rocks below Neahkahnie Mountain in 1913. Unfortunately, the Neahkahnie Tavern burned down in the early 1950’s.
In 1928, the Pine Grove School was built, fostering a community of young families to settle themselves in the Manzanita area. It was the second school to be built within 2 miles, the other located in Nehalem, was built in 1920. The Pine Grove school remained in its original location until the 1950’s when it moved closer to the main street in Manzanita.
Built in 1933 and still in operation today the Pine Grove Community house operated as an informal city hall, the town library, and the heart of the community. It remains in its original location and still serves as a community space for locals and visitors alike. Many enjoy it as an intimate gathering place for meetings, presentations, weddings and other social gatherings, as well as a reminder of Manzanita’s community history. The Nehalem Valley Historical Society is now located in the basement of the building.
Prior to the development of Hwy 101, Portlanders visited Manzanita by train, disembarking in Mohler and then hopping a stage car to the beach. Completed in 1940, Hwy 101 linked the small communities along the coast together better than they ever had been, fostering tourism and growth of the area. The development of Nehalem Bay State Park by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s, only added to the attraction of the area and led to Manzanita being incorporated as a city in 1946.
Despite an increase in tourism, in the late 1950’s Manzanita was still a small family town. Most members of the community worked in logging, commercial fishing and dairy; still prominent industries in the area today. There was one restaurant (which doubled as a bowling alley), now known as The Lighthouse and located between Manzanita and Nehalem and one grocery store, The Little Apple, which also still stands. The one remaining tavern in town, the Sand Dune, was the extent of the evening excitement along the gravel and pothole laden Laneda Avenue.
Oswald West State Park was added to the list of attractions near Manzanita in the 1970s with opportunities for hiking, camping and other recreational activities available to residents and visitors alike. Manzanita became a town with something for everyone.
Until the 1990’s the Ocean Inn at Manzanita was a single apartment building built in the early 1940’s (which now houses Oceanfront suites 101-104). Very little remodeling was done to the original building aside from interior improvements for living spaces and suites. In 1997 the Oceanview building which houses suites 105-110 and the hotel office and laundry facility was built to expand Ocean Inn’s capacity. Historically a family endeavor, the current owners took the reins in 2008 and have been hard at work remodeling, reworking, and renewing the charm and comfort of the Ocean Inn at Manzanita for a new generation of guests.