One of our favorite places to hike is Ecola State Park. On the North end of Cannon Beach, this beautiful State Park has one of the best views of Cannon Beach and the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. The location is so “grand” that a number of major films have been shot there. Goonies, hello! It has hosted countless weddings, boasts over 150,000 hikers per year, and is visited by numerous surfers, photographers, bird watchers, and botanists.
Not just a great place to sojourn when in the northern part of Oregon, Ecola State Park also has some pretty interesting history. In 1806 Clark and several members of the Corps of Discovery traversed the southern slope of Tillamook Head to Indian Beach, the primary purpose of their trek to trade with the Clatsop Natives for blubber from a whale that had washed ashore. They learned the Clatsop word for whale – ekoli – and named the area Ecola after trading with the “handsome and terrible” natives. While Clark complained about the difficulty and incline of the trail, he was stunned by the view from atop Ecola, “the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed.”
The original 450-acre center of the Ecola State Park was first deeded to the Oregon State Parks on February 11, 1932. Most of the land and a few summer homes were donated by some of Cannon Beach’s most well-known families. Rodney L. Glisan, Florence G. Minott, and Caroline and Louise Flanders owned just 49 percent of the original 450-acres of Ecola State Park.
Over 229-acres of the Park was purchased by the State from L.A. Lewis for $17,500. This was a big to-do at the time. Many critics scoffed at the project of building a state park during such rough economic times. The stock market had crashed just a few years earlier, in 1929. The years following the crash, referred to as The Great Depression, were tough times for the country. It made it that much more difficult for many to justify funds being allocated for recreation purposes. However, Oregon State Park Superintendent Samuel Boardman strongly supported the idea. Boardman received a considerable amount of backlash for his ideas, in an Oregon Daily Journal article dated 1947 Boardman states, “Before I could explain why Ecola Park should be accepted one of the commission jumped to his feet and proceeded to give me on of the most complete verbal tongue lashings my august person has ever been decorated with.”
In spite of conflicting viewpoints, the commission did vote to accept the park. Unbeknownst to the commission, their decision created several hundreds of much
needed jobs during the Roosevelt Administration. The job of constructing the park fell to the Civilian Conservation Corps, a program of Franklin Roosevelt’s that was to create jobs and combat the economic crisis. A camp was established at Ecola State Park in the summer of 1934.
The Corps worked to improve roadways, build water systems, construct picnic areas, and lay stonework that is still evident today. They received room, board, and a livable wage that went back to their families. Work on Ecola State Park was completed in 1936, taking just under two years to complete.
Boardman was instrumental in Short Sand Beach, Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, and Saddle Mountain parks, but Ecola held a special place in his heart. In 1948 he negotiated the purchase of just over 300 more acres from Crown Zellerback for $46,063.
Years after becoming the state park we know and love, Ecola State Park experienced what was called “Earth Slippage.” A landslide removed parking area, parts of a roadway, and even damaged stone buildings that once occupied the
upper portion of the park. The slippage occurred in March of 1961 and caused the park to be closed for a period of time. Due to this slide many safety precautions where set in place to keep the park from sliding in the future.
Whether hiking or surfing, or just taking a few pictures, Ecola State Park is a must-see on the Oregon Coast.