One of the finer pleasures of my roaming literary life is visiting museums along the Oregon and Washington coasts. They provide priceless resources and edification for writers, teachers and history buffs.
Over the years, I’ve performed dozens of presentations promoting my books in these venues, and the dedication of the staff and volunteers of these museums has always impressed me. I count my collaborations with these museums as absolutely essential to my writing and teaching lives.
I can now add the Seaside Historical Society Museum to my list and frankly can’t believe it took me this long to set foot inside this wonderful repository of artifacts and displays about Seaside’s past. I’d driven by the museum multiple times but finally headed in after recently meeting the director, Steve Wright, at a couple of my events. Steve issued a special invitation, and well, I couldn’t pass that up.
That’s why I love living in small towns; these kinds of things happen. Steve Wright made it happen with his curiosity about my passion for Oregon history.
The museum boasts an informative display of the Clatsop-Nehalem people who inhabited the area before the pioneers. I loved the diorama of Seaside 1899 built by students from Seaside High School.
The old linotype typesetting machine from the Seaside Signal is fascinating to observe. It blows my mind that newspapers all over the country were produced this way for nearly half a century.
Photographs of the Pacific Pier also intrigued me. It was a piece of foolhardy construction built in 1904, right out into the ocean, from the present-day Turnaround. It had Santa Monica Pier written all over it. The Oregon Coast didn’t possess a separate identity yet.
The Pacific Pier lasted five years before the waves and storms destroyed it. A unique identity was underway for the Oregon Coast: We’re not Los Angeles. It continues to this day.
Admission to the museum costs $3 for an adult. I tried to pay, but Steve wouldn’t take my money. I was his guest. He even agreed to have the museum carry some of my history-themed books. He also wants to roll me into the museum’s new historical series in collaboration with Seaside Brewing, History and Hops. I’m there.
The museum is open from 10 a.m to 3 p.m Monday through Saturday and is located at 570 Necanicum Drive in Seaside.
Matt Love lives in Astoria and teaches at Astoria High School. He is the author/editor of 14 books about Oregon. They are available at coastal bookstores and through www.nestuccaspitpress.com.