The City of Cannon Beach
Charming Cannon Beach is less than ten minutes north of the Inn at Arch Cape and fifteen minutes south of Gearhart Ocean Inn. The city needs little introduction, as it is one of the best known beach communities on the North Oregon Coast. Cannon Beach is internationally recognized for its artist community, art galleries, award winning restaurants, and the amazing Haystack Rock.
Located 80 miles west of Portland and 25 miles south of Astoria, Cannon Beach is surrounded by the rugged natural beauty of forests, ocean beaches, and rivers. Only four miles in length, and with a year round population of approximately 1,700 people, Cannon Beach is a popular and picturesque resort area, playing host to an estimated 750,000+ visitors annually.
Cannon Beach was named after an 1846 incident when the Shark, a US Navy schooner, wrecked while trying to leave the Columbia River. The schooner was abandoned when it ran aground on the treacherous sand bars in the delta where the river meets the tidal ocean. A piece of the ship’s deck washed ashore near Haystack Rock with its cannon still attached. The local residents decided to re-name the town after the war cannon. In its history the town has had several other names: it was called Ecola, after the local creek and, Elk Creek, after the native Roosevelt elk living in the area. Cannon Beach was not officially incorporated as a city until 1957, but it has been occupied by Native American cultures for millennia and by American settlers since the late 1800’s.
In 1806, Captain William Clark, of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, and his fellow explorers in the Corps of Discovery traveled south from Fort Clatsop, over Tillamook Head, to the local area in order to secure needed blubber and oil from a whale beached near the mouth of Ecola Creek. (The word “ecola” means whale in the Chinook Indian language.) The explorers bargained for the blubber because it was an important source of nutrition. Plus the oil, when distilled, provided fuel for their lanterns. The Expedition also boiled sea water for salt in Seaside, just north of Cannon Beach.
The Pacific strand running along Cannon Beach’s 3 1/2 miles is a luminous stage, framed on the north end by the “Bird Rocks” and to the south by the monoliths of Silver Point. A walk along the beach is always a visual treat, with its vistas of ocean, mountains and rugged coastal outcroppings.
The delight of breezes pulling a kite aloft is a constant in Cannon Beach. Kite flying, playing games, picnics, bonfires: a day in the sand is well accommodated here. For those who wish to stroll and enjoy the sights, the shore along Cannon Beach provides a variety of environments to savor; from the gregarious crowds of summer at Ecola Creek to the quiet and meditative stretches towards Silver Point.
The beauty and serenity of the shores along Cannon Beach have not gone unnoticed. Featured in Stephen Leatherman’s book, America’s Best Beaches, the margin of sand bordering Cannon Beach from Ecola State Park to Silver Point was rated by Leatherman as the “Best Overall Beach” in the state of Oregon.