The written history of this beautiful place we live only goes back to about the 1830’s although people have lived here for over 8,000 years. Interested in knowing more? Fortunately for you, Newport Public Library has a collection of materials that will inform and, perhaps, surprise you with things you do not know about Lincoln County.
Do you know where Oregon’s largest forest fire in recorded history took place? First thought might be the Tillamook burns of the 1930’s and 40’s but, no, it happened here in Lincoln County when over a million acres of timberland burned in the 1830’s. This interesting bit is included in Steven Dow Beckham’s history of western Oregon’s Native American tribes, “The Indians of Western Oregon: This Land Was Theirs”.
When then Governor Joseph Lane directed Lt. Talbot to find a place for the tribes who were being forcibly removed from their ancestral lands, Talbot explored west of Corvallis. He found the country, now Lincoln County, perfect for reservation land as what settlers would want to try and farm burned over land? Now you know where the name for Burnt Woods came from.
I do love a good tale told in rollicking style and Stan Allyn, a longtime resident of Depoe Bay and the founder of Tradewinds Charter, published several collections of stories that he fine-tuned by telling them to anyone who would listen. Find out about the exciting night that rum-runners ran aground in Little Whale Cove but when the cops got there all the booze had been spirited away by townsfolk who heard about bounty on the beach via the grapevine. His books; “The Day the Sun Didn’t Rise!”, “Heave To!: You’ll Drown Yourselves!” and “Top Deck Twenty!: Best West Coast Sea Stories” are a great way to find out about some of the funnier bits of our county’s history.
Charles Wilkinson published his history of the Siletz people in 2010, “The People Are Dancing Again: The History of the Siletz Tribe of Western Oregon.” This thorough look at the 8,000+ years of tribal life is a must read for those who want to know more about the people who’ve always lived here.
There are so many treasures to be found in the 979.533 (Lincoln County history) section downstairs at the library. Photo essays like “The Bay Front Book: Coastal Histories” by Steve Wyatt, a collection of photos culled from the Oregon Coast History Center where Steve is the director. Or personal narratives from people who lived here that are found in “The Path Back Home: Real Stories from Siletz, Oregon” compiled by Vance and Kate Lindstrom. Or a telling of a terrible, racist incident that occurred in Toledo almost 100 years ago, “The Toledo Incident of 1925: Three Days That Made History in Toledo, Oregon” by Ted W. Cox.
To know this place is to truly appreciate it. Take advantage of your library and find out more about Lincoln County.