New book brings north Lincoln County history to life through vintage images
It's called the “20 miracle miles” - a sliver of land along a stretch of the central Oregon coast extending from the Salmon River in the north to Depoe Bay in the south, with Devils Lake at its heart.
Anne Jobbe Hall, director and curator of the North Lincoln County Historical Museum (NLCHM) in Lincoln City has chronicled the people, places, and events that shaped this piece of the coast in her book “Lincoln City and the Twenty Miracle Miles”, released Sept. 1 by Arcadia Publishing as part of its “Images of America” series. As with all titles in the series, Hall's book is filled with more than 200 vintage photos, including the Pixie Kitchen and Pixieland; rare shots of tourist promotions like the Redhead Roundup and the Devils Lake Regatta; and Lincoln City beaches, beach life, businesses, and buildings.
It also delves into the origins of the small towns in and around Lincoln City.
The rugged windswept coast, with its creeks, rivers, mountains, and towering trees to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west, remained relatively untouched through thousands of years of Native American habitation. It all began to change when the first hardy souls made their way to it in the 1890s. More and more folks arrived, and they gradually, inevitably reshaped the area.
In time, a string of towns grew up, stretched like “a string of pearls” along the beaches in that relatively narrow strip of land between the sea and the mountains.
The towns expanded and overlapped, and eventually five of them combined to become what is now known as Lincoln City.
By the 1940s and 1950s, this section had become a tourist mecca dubbed as the “Twenty Miracle Miles.”
Hall's words provide the history behind the vintage photographs, which she selected from among the museum's collections, to depict north Lincoln County's heritage, from the earliest settlers and development to the incorporation of Lincoln City to its evolution as a tourist destination.
About the author
A California native with a bachelor's degree in management and organizational leadership from George Fox University and a master's in library and information sciences from Emporia State University, Hall moved to Lincoln City in 1993 - the same year Arcadia Publishing launched what would become its Images of America series in Dover, New Hampshire - after visiting the city and falling for the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest coast. She spent six years working at the Driftwood Public Library, and a year as the librarian for Tillamook Bay Community College.
In 2000, she was asked to design and outfit a new research library for NLCHM, and while organizing and cataloguing the museum's book and documents collection, she said she realized the breadth and depth of the area's history. The following year, she hired on as the museum's curator, and worked with the board of directors and others to obtain grant funding for a project to expand and renovate the museum. During the construction, she worked as a curator for the Lincoln County Historical Society, adding to her knowledge of the county's history, including the fishing and logging industries.
Returning to NLCHM in 2004, Hall created and built new exhibits, which she said inspired her to write the book. The project showed her how the right combination of photos and text could tell the area's history “on multiple levels.”
Hall lives in Neotsu, one of the original small towns described in the book.
Hall said the idea for her history tome germinated and grew as folks regularly showed up at the museum asking for information about the histories of the little towns that once dotted the coast. While the museum had several volumes of pioneer history, none told the whole story, and none had a lot of early photos of the area itself or early tourism events.
“I wanted people to see how unique and wonderful the history of the town was, and to see through the many photos, as I had, how the towns grew and transformed into a thriving city,” she said.
Most of the research - 90 percent by Hall's reckoning - was done by the time she wrote the book. Museum archives, newspaper microfilm, an interviews with long-time residents and descendants of early settlers yielded the information. The remainder of Hall's research focused on identifying people, clarifying facts, and gathering photos that weren't in the museum's collection.
The book shows how relatively quickly the area evolved from homesteading into a thriving beach resort. Among other things, it also provides a portrait of the last part of the nation's westward expansion, how the completion of roads and bridges opened the coast to tourism, the effect of automobiles on small, remote communities, and the ebb and flow of the logging and fishing industries.
“I personally enjoyed seeing how much fun people had working to create communities that reflected their own ideals and idiosyncrasies,” Hall noted.
Hall hopes the book gives folks in the community “a sense of place that allows them to feel they belong to the city and the city belongs to them, whether they are long-time residents or recent arrivals.” She wants them to “see themselves as part of something that was here long before they were, and will be her long after they are gone,” and to “gain some perspective on the part they play in the on-going story of Lincoln City, and see themselves as capable of envisioning an creating the kind of community and world in which they would most like to live.”
Above all, Hall wants folks to realize and appreciate the efforts of those who worked so hard to create the place they inhabit today.
Arcadia Publishing - with offices in San Francisco, Calif., Chicago, Ill., Portsmouth, NH, and Charleston, SC - is the nation's leading publisher of local and regional history. Beginning with 10 titles published in 1994, the company's extensive program now features more than 5,000 titles, preserving and sharing the heritage of communities from coast to coast, and bringing to life the people, places, and events that defined them.
“Our mission is to make history accessible and meaningful,” said Kai Oliver-Kurtin, Arcadia's publicity manager.
The popular series also delves into other worthy local and regional topics, among them transportation, industry, architecture, and ethnic groups.
In addition to the 128-page book about north Lincoln County, Arcadia took 15 of the images and produced postcards as part of the companion “Postcards of America” series. They allow folks to share their community's history with others, and - as Oliver-Kurtin noted - “celebrate the places and faces that give America its spirit and life.”
The best part of history for Hall lies in talking with, whenever possible, the people who lived it - either those with firsthand knowledge or their relatives who have heard firsthand accounts.
“Those stories will fill in the gaps and add descriptive detail to the facts,” she concluded. “For me, history is best when it tells the story of real people's everyday lives.”