Lincoln City History – Oregon Coast

Lincoln City

The local history of Lincoln City is an important chapter of the Oregon history, from the earliest peoples to the modern days. Incorporated in March 1965 following the merging of the five region's districts, the city was named after the former president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

A number of archeological evidence indicates that the area was inhabited for thousands of years by Native Americans before white people established the first settlement. Before the first approach of Europeans, the Coastal Salishan Indians, including the Siletz, Tillamook, and Nehalem people, were the original inhabitants. Native Americans fished, hunted, and gathered roots, nuts, and berries in blissful isolation until the 19th century when the white people started coming and settling.

The tourists and explorers found their way and settled into the city through various ways. Different countries such as the Portugal, Spain, and England among other portrayed their interest in the exploitation of natural resources of America. In 1579, Sir Francis Drake made his exploration of the area and named it New Albion. In 1788, Captain Robert Gray participated in the maritime fur trade with the coastal Indian tribes. His ship "Lady Washington" was the first American vessel that made landfall on the Central Oregon Coast. The third officer of the ship, Robert Haswell, described in his journal that two or three Indians had been scarred by smallpox. The highly contagious disease may have been introduced by earlier white people.

In 1837, the first recorded tourists who came by horses made their way along the trails of the Salmon River. These tourists were recorded to have camped around the Oceanlake area. The two just-married couples by the names Anna Marie Pittman and Jason Lee, and Susan Downing and Cyrus Shepard spent their honeymoons on a trip to the coast.

In 1849, Lieutenant Theodore Talbot explored the area coming via the Salmon River trail on horseback. With this preview of exploration, it is a clear indication that most of the occupants of the current Lincoln City came as tourists and explorers. The area remained untouched by modern development due to its inaccessibility until the 1890s.

In 1855, just after a series of conflicts between settlers and Indians in Southern Oregon, President Franklin Pierce signed an executive order establishing the Siletz Reservation to relocate Native Americans from Southern Oregon and Northern California. Later, the reservation area was decreased by the "Act of Congress, 1875" and "General Allotment Policy, 1887" known as Dawes Act. The Dawes Act authorized the President of the United States to impose land ownership on Native Americans.

When the Siletz Reservation was dissolved, early white settlements were established. The first settlers were fishermen who were attracted by great opportunities to catch a large number of salmon in the Siletz and Salmon Rivers; then farmers and homesteaders came to the region in the late 1890's.

The biggest obstacle new settlers faced was an absence of any roads or ship services to get there. The Wagon Road from the Willamette Valley ran through the dense forest and steep rocky inclines of the Coast Range and was inaccessible during the winter months. The trip from Salem took five or six days. Homesteaders came usually by water, arriving in Portland by a steamboat. They hired or bought a horse or wagon to get to their new homes. Connections between the coastal towns were possible along the beaches during low tide.

The construction of the Roosevelt Military Highway (Highway 101) in the 1920s and Salmon River Highway (Highway 18) in 1932 made a dramatic effect, encouraging economic development and tourism, as well as establishing new communities along the coast.

Historic Districts or "String of Pearls"

Wecoma Beach

Wecoma Beach is the north of Lincoln City. The Indian word Wecoma means "sea". Wecoma has been the spot where people, traveling along the Salmon River, got the first site of the ocean. Now, the word "Wecoma" carries another meaning: "Welcome to the Waters!"


Lincoln City HistoryOceanlake is sited on the north bank of the shortest in the world D River and south of the Salmon River. Herbert Rexroad became one of the first inhabitants of Oceanlake in the early 1930s. He established a campground that grew into a great picnic spot.

With the emergence of different enterprises, the other investors came and established their businesses. In 1926, before the town was named, A. C. Deuel established a post office and became the first one to operate in the town as the postmaster.


Delake is located between Devils Lake and the ocean, in the geographical center of Lincoln City.

Mr. and Mrs. Henry Hostetler, as well as brothers Alvin and Harry Thorpe, were the first DeLake residents. Hostetler's family purchased Indian allotment land in 1910. The origin of the town's name has a few versions. One of them: early Finnish settlers would say, “I’m going to de lake”. In another explanation, the d and e constitute a French word meaning “by”—hence, the area “by the lake.”


Nelscott is located on the south bank of the D River.

Nelscott was named by combining last names of Charles P. Nelson and Dr. W.G. Scott, who purchased the land. They founded the community in 1926 and formed the Nelscott Land Company.


Taft is situated on the north shore of Siletz Bay.
In 1895, Sissy and Jakie Johnson became the first residents of the area. They received their land under the General Allotment Act. Johnson farmed and ran a rowboat ferry service on Siletz Bay. Taft became a hub for many festivities for both social and economic life.

Different entrepreneurs established their enterprises due to the accessibility of the place and the growth of bigger crowds. Among the key entrepreneurs was John W. Bones who became the first man to establish a store. In the store, he also became the first person to come up with the post office in January 1906 and the town grew rapidly hence attracting other enterprises.

Cutler City

Cutler City is located on the east shore of Siletz Bay.
The district was originally part of an allotment of a Siletz Indian Charlie Depoe. Mary and George E. Cutler bought the land and established a town in 1913. In 1930, a post office was established and the town officially became Cutler City.

Oceanlake, DeLake, Nelscott, Taft, and Cutler engaged in competitions in terms of business and tourism. All districts grew independently from each other. Many enterprises, hospitals, and churches were developed and this called for the consolidation in the year 1964. In this year, the towns voted and won by three votes. In 1965, the new city named as Lincoln City was incorporated and was headed by a mayor who was also elected.

Lincoln City
Lincoln City & Twenty Miracle Miles by Anne Jobbe Hall

Things to Do & See in Lincoln City

Lincoln City History

Popular destinations on the Oregon Coast, Lincoln City is well-known for its broad, flat beach stretching for seven miles along the magnificent Pacific Ocean.


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