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Hoquiam to Megler

  • Distance: 112 miles
  • Routes: SR 101, SR 103, SR 105
  • Estimated Driving Time: 2 hours

South of Aberdeen, the tour cuts through a forested area to the meandering shore lines of Willapa Bay, home of the Pacific Oyster industry, a region of quiet lagoons and great oyster flats, redolent at low tide with pungent marsh grass and drying seaweed. Entering a wooded section, the highway comes out upon a long stretch of ocean beach, where a side road leads through a scattering of gay seaside resorts, and graying hamlets, remnants of Washington’s earliest pioneering. Continuing southward, the tour emerges at the mouth of the broad Columbia, where a ferry connects with Astoria, Oregon.

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Hoquiam is situated on deep water at the mouth of the Hoquiam River, 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean, facing Grays Harbor which is often blanketed by the fog or rainfall characteristic of the region. Pioneer settlement of the Grays Harbor region, it is the elder of the two cities. In economy, industrial development, and general character it is much like its sister city. West of the river the streets...

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Aberdeen lies at the confluence of the Chehalis and the Wishkah Rivers, facing Grays Harbor. The larger of the cities with compact blocks of substantial office buildings, stores, hotels, garages, and theaters along Whishkah Street, the main thoroughfare has the appearance of a small metropolis. North of the business section, the terrain rises to the higher ground of the residential area. until it reaches the heights of Bel-Aire, which, with...

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Long dependent upon a small shingle mill, the city has benefited in recent years from development of a large oyster bed. An oyster cannery now furnishes seasonal employment to residents of the community. Presently, Ocean Spray operates a large bottling plant, producing juice from the large cranberry harvests nearby. The city’s name is for Simon Sterling Markham, a pioneer dairyman and cattle breeder who settled there in 1870 after spending...

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Mile: 37

An attractive group of modern school buildings serves a scattered community. In the 1890s the Northern Pacific Railway promoted the site as its railway terminus on Grays Harbor. Lots were sold and buildings were erected, but shortly afterward, the railroad switched its terminal to Aberdeen, and the town lapsed into obscurity. On Gone now are most remnants of the town. The Ocosta Grange, used during the 1960s as a dance...

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Mile: 35

A scattered little community on South Bay, was for many years the site of a whaling station built in the early 1900s by the American Pacific Whaling Company, where the rendering of whale oil and blubber, and sundry dissections of the world’s largest mammal, treated passing motorists to an unforgettable olfactory experience. West of Bay City, the highway crosses a long, curving wooden bridge (since replaced with a concrete span)...

Learn more about Bay City

Mile: 32

A village of Finnish cranberry growers. In the neighborhood are more than 100 cranberry bogs. One block from and paralleling the highway is a long street bordered with neat, well-painted houses, each set trimly at the edge of its own rectangular cranberry field. The plants, tiny green and pink rosettes, are wedged tightly together; in the autumn they take on a crimson tint. Cranberry plants require four years to mature...

Learn more about Grayland

Mile: 27

Dunes of fine gray sand shift continually along the flat shoreline, restrained only by the rambling sand verbena, whose vining stalks, rubbery leaves, and small yellow blossoms stubbornly resist the wind. Here and there a fresh drift engulfs the brushy growth along the shore. Occasional clumps of stubby, gale-bent trees, gray with lichen, cling tenaciously to the land’s edge, as though conscious that this is their last grip on the...

Learn more about Grayland Beach State Park

Mile: 26

A fishing village with recreational facilities on Dibkey Slough at the north entrance of Willapa Harbor in northwest Pacific County. The name was chosen by local residents because the town borders on a small cove at the north entrance to the harbor. The town of North Cove was platted by Mrs. Lucy Johnson in February of 1884. At North Cove, are Coast Guard and Life Saving stations and the Willapa...

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Mile: 21

Willapa Bay, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean and southern extension of Willapa Harbor, extends south from Goose Point to Tarlett Slough. The Native American name was Atsmitl, a Chehalis tribal designation. In the period of Spanish exploration, it was charted as Ensenada de Mal Arrimo. Early settlers and oyster harvesters used the name South Bay, as suggested by James Swan. Capt. John Meares, a British fur trader, named it...

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Mile: 13

A lively and independent little town on the estuary of the Willapa River. It derives its prosperity from lumber manufacture, oyster culture, and shipping; and the ups and downs of the lumber industry are markedly reflected in Raymond. In 1861, the schooner Willamette with its master and owner, Captain John Vail, was wrecked at the harbor entrance. Bearing no grudge for so costly an introduction to these shores, Vail homesteaded...

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Points of Interest
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Raymond Theater

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US Post Office

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Carnegie Library

The seat of Pacific County and a lumber and shingle-manufacturing center. Proximity to the great oyster-growing beds of Willapa Harbor has made oyster canning an important industry. The stores and dwellings of the town, built on a narrow shelf between the hills and the river, are crowded close to the principal street and highway for a distance of nearly two miles. An annual event is the Water Carnival, held on...

Learn more about South Bend
Points of Interest
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Port of Willapa Harbor

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Pacific County Courthouse

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South Bend’s First School

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Masons Lodge

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Residential Development

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South Bend Carnegie Library

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Lumber Exchange Building

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Russell House

Mile: 54

Between Bruceport and Bay Center the tour swings around the palisades of Willapa Harbor on a picturesque route. Flats alternate with winding inclines over timbered headlands, where the road runs through gaps of red earth lined with varicolored strata. On the flats between headlands are marshy meadows, some diked and converted into lush fields where cattle graze. Near Bone River is the unmarked site of James G. Swan’s donation land...

Learn more about Bone River

Mile: 45

Sidetrip: Long Beach

This 40 mile side trip follows follows the pacific coast shore and then the bay shore along a slightly crested upland, a region of dairy farms, patches of woodland, cultivated cranberry land, and several small lakes, the joy of bass fishers. Signs along the route offer fresh oysters for sale, and at intervals the traveler arrives at an oyster farm, its pastures the pungent mud flats of Willapa Bay. The...

Take the Long Beach side trip

At one time it was a southern terminus of a narrow-gauge railroad which extended north to Nahcotta. The town was named for El-wa-co Jim, a Indian, who married a daughter of Chief Comcomly of the Chinook people. Captain James Johnson visited the harbor in 1848, took up a donation claim and built a house, but left shortly afterward. Actual settlement was begun by Henry Feister in 1851, when he opened...

Learn more about Ilwaco
Points of Interest
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Ilwaco Railway and Navigation Company & Nahcotta

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Colbert House

A weathered fishing village. When Pacific County was established on February 4, 1851, this fishing center became the county seat and was then called Chenookville or Chinookville. The name is a distortion of the "Tsinuk or Chenoke, the name of an Indian tribe, which lived near the mouth of the Columbia River. Although antedated by the neighboring settlement of Chinookville, long since disintegrated, Chinook glories in its historic past. Captain...

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Mile: 5

The tour rims the north bank of the Columbia, nearly four miles wide at this point. The highway enters a tunnel under a steep promontory, on the top of which is Fort Columbia, one of the many guardians of the river entrance, unobservable from the road. When Captain Robert Gray landed near here May 12, 1792, thousands of Native Americans from near-by villages flocked to the river to see his...

Learn more about Fort Columbia State Park

Mile: 3

In McGowan, are the remains of a former ferry dock, wrecked by a storm and abandoned many years ago. The old piling and deserted fish traps raise desolate gray forms above the surface of the river. A roadside post office is practically all that is left of McGowan. The community was named for J. P. McGowan, who settled in 1852 and operated a salmon salting station and cannery on a...

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Mile: 2

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