As early as 1856, Yaquina Bay was visited by the sailing vessel Calumet, laden with supplies for Lieutenant Phil Sheridan
and the nearby military garrison.
When the Yaquina Bay oyster beds were discovered in 1862, great profits were made
by exporting the delicacy to San Francisco and elsewhere.
Yaquina Bay was opened to white settlement in 1864.
Resorts soon followed, paving the way for Newport's incorporation in 1882 and establishing the community as a
premier tourist destination along the Oregon Coast.
Newport's subsequent development centered around four areas:
Constructed in 1866, the Ocean House was Newport's first tourist destination resort. Sam Case, its proprietor, named the Ocean House for a resort in Newport, Rhode Island, and it is no coincidence that Case also named Newport for his favorite town in Rhode Island. At the time of its incorporation, Newport was a small hamlet nestled in the area around the Ocean House. Near the Ocean House were several smaller resorts which attracted visitors to Yaquina Bay. Tourists, or 96 "summer people", most commonly traveled to Newport by train from the Willamette Valley to Yaquina City, located approximately three miles east of Newport on Yaquina Bay. From Yaquina City travelers took a ferry that navigated down the Yaquina Bay to Newport.
Large scale development of a seafood industry, which thrives to this day, did not begin until 1908 when electricity (essential for refrigeration) became available. Jetty construction and dredging, complimented by Newport's already famous Yaquina Head Lighthouse, made Yaquina Bay an attractive shipping port. The Bayfront remains an active, "working" part of the community and is home to Oregon's largest commercial fishing fleet. The Bayfront is also sought out by local residents and visitors alike for its fine restaurants, hotels, galleries and shops.
Today, a drive up the scenic Yaquina Bay Road is a journey back in time. The site of the early settlements of Oysterville and Yaquina City can be seen. Also located along this road is the site of the home of Daniel Boone's great-grandson (Daniel came here in 1852). Yaquina Bay Road ends at Toledo, once the location of the world's largest spruce mill, built by the U.S. Government to provide spruce for airplane manufacture in World War I and which later provided all of the wood that went into Howard Hughes' infamous "Spruce Goose."
Nye Beach Arch
Located on the ocean's edge with lighthouses defining its north and south ends, Nye Beach was once a separate, smaller community removed from the Bayfront. When Newport began to outgrow the Bayfront in the 1890's, a wood plank road was constructed connecting the two. In the early 1900's, this area was the number one tourist attraction on the coast - salt water taffy stores, concessions, agate shops and penny arcades all thrived on Nye Beach. It was also the home of many well known rooming houses and resorts. When Herbert Hoover's stepfather, Dr. Henry J. Minthorn, built a large "sanitorium" in the area, tourists flocked in large numbers to soak in heated sea water or bask in the sun on the glass-enclosed veranda.
While some chose to stay at the large resorts, others stayed in small cottages or tents. Often the women and children would spend their summers here and the men would visit by train on the weekends. Much of the ambiance, the cottages and resorts which attracted the summer people to Nye Beach remain. And one must not forget the most wondrous and enduring attraction, the beach!
Newport's Highway 101
Yaquina Bay Bridge
Until the 1920's, travel along the coast by car was a trek along dirt roads and beaches. With the coming of World War 1,
advocates of a coastal highway argued that road construction was essential for military protection.
The Roosevelt Military Highway was ultimately built county by county along the Oregon coast from 1919 to 1936.
1936 also marked completion of the Yaquina Bay Bridge, perhaps the most recognizable landmark to Newport visitors.
The bridge did a great deal more than simply speed travel however, it shaped the community's subsequent development.
Since the ferry was no longer necessary, the Bayfront lost its role as a center of travel.
And for many years after completion of the Yaquina Bay Bridge, business development centered along Highway 101.
Numerous merchants moved from Nye Beach and the Bayfront to this new traffic corridor, the Art Deco District City Center.
Thus, the end result of construction of our majestic Yaquina Bay Bridge has been a blurring of the lines of distinction
between the Bayfront and Nye Beach, making Newport the cohesive town it is today – one that blends the old
and the new to create a unique atmosphere for living and working in harmony.
South Beach Marina
The Salish Indians lived, hunted and fished in the South Beach area. Lemuel E. Davis, the first Euro-American to settle there
in 1866, ran a ferry between South Beach and Newport, bringing tourists, campers, and sportfishers
to the area. He also rented boats to the public for fishing and touring.
Economic growth occurred again during World War II with the construction of an airport by the federal
government for defense purposes in 1943. In 1947 a Toledo lumber company built a dock at South Beach
where lumber from barges could be off-loaded on to ships.
South Beach, an unincorporated area, is considered an extension of Newport. Today, South Beach is the home of NOAA Marine
Operations Center - Pacific, the Port of Newport Marina and RV Park, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center,
Rogue Brewing, eateries, shops, and more.