Spooky Season has arrived!
The wind is chilled, the leaves are changing, and through this period of transition, we find a reinvigorated sense of adventure.
Happy Campers RV Rentals is here to inspire and encourage your new found Fall feelings! Let’s dig into the spirit of the season together, as we take you on a journey to some of the best Ghost Town destinations in Oregon! It’s time to pack up your costumes, consolidate your candy, and hit the open road on a Halloween destination vacation.
Ghost towns have always been a fascinating subject. Towns are not created with the intent to become vacant. What celebrations took place in its streets? How did its founders envision the future? What hopes did settlers have when they arrived at a new life?
There are three technical categories of Ghost Towns in the state of Oregon.
- True Ghost Towns: The true ghost towns are those without anyone living there anymore.
- Partial Ghost Towns: Partial ghost towns have a population that has declined to extremely low numbers.
- Tourist Ghost Towns: which while preserving their historic features, have become tourist attractions and fun places to visit.
The last stop on our Oregon Tour of Ghost Towns has a defining feature that is not shared by our previously highlighted locations. Not only is Bayocean no longer inhabited, but also no longer standing. Bayocean was entirely swallowed by the sea decades ago and exists now as a reminder of what happens when man ignores nature.
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A Brief History of Bayocean
Bayocean was a community in Tillamook County, Oregon, United States. Sometimes known as “the town that fell into the sea,” it was a planned resort community founded in 1906 on Tillamook Spit, a slight stretch of land that forms one wall of Tillamook Bay.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Oregon coast was still mostly wild. Wealthy land developers from the East were drawn by the endless opportunities they saw in the large swaths of untouched ocean property, with dreams of taming the land into their very own versions of paradise. In 1906, the Potter family (who were already famously successful developers) were no different. They found a strip of land forming the western edge of Tillamook Bay, and saw the potential for the most lavish seaside resort on the West Coast. The Potter family concocted their plans for a Pacific side paradise and began placing enticing ads in local newspapers, inviting patrons and dreamers to invest in their grand idea.
By 1917, Bayocean had investors, a resort, a miniature railroad, a general store, a real estate office, a post office and was attracting vacationers from multiple states. The problem was passing the Tillamook Bar, one of the most treacherous passing on the West Coast, that all boats and barges had to clear to reach the city by the sea. The city decided to build a jetty to help calm the waters and the sediment build-up that made access to Tillamook Bay so desperately dangerous to seafarers. Instead of the suggested double jetty, only a single jetty was built on the north side of the bay, and that’s where the trouble started.
The result of a single jetty drastically affected the tides and currents coming into Bayocean. Erosion along the Bayocean spit dramatically changed, and by the 1920s, Bayocean began to fall into the sea. By the 1930s, the natatorium was reduced to a pile of concrete blocks, and the once-grand resort lay in complete ruin.
Bayocean Quick Facts
- 1The Mitchell TragedyStarted by the Potter family, the Bayocean dream fell into the care of Francis Drake Mitchell and his wife Ida, who ran the town's general store. Unfortunately for the Mitchells, they had inherited a failed dream. Between hundreds of fierce pacific ocean storms, a half finished jetty with horrible erosion problems, and The Great Depression, it is said that Francis Mitchell lost his mind to insanity with every building that fell to the sea. Mitchell's desperation turned into a psychotic break when his wife, Ida, suffered from a stroke in 1953. While Ida was in the hospital, Francis was declared unfit for society and was forcibly admitted into an asylum. Ida passed away while he was being admitted. Francis spent the rest of his life in the state hospital.
- 2A Lonely IslandBefore the complete downfall of Bayocean, and sadly, the Mitchells, a powerful storm dramatically changed the landscape of Bayocean forever. In November 1952 a powerful storm tore through the south end of the spit, opening up a half-mile wide gap. The ocean rushed in. Bayocean was no longer at the end of a peninsula. It was marooned on an island.
- 3Bayocean TodayBayocean is nothing like it was 100 years ago. The half completed jetty changed the entire face of the bay and the sandbar, pushing sediment carrying currents to reshape the land that had once held dreams for hundreds of people. At this time, a visitor can only spot the site of the old hotel during the lowest tides. The haunting memory of what could have been, and the human hubris that prevented the dream from becoming reality, can still be felt in the salty air.