Long Beach incorporates on January 18, 1922.

  • By Jennifer Ott
  • Posted 5/06/2011
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 9812

On January 18, 1922, Long Beach incorporates. It has long been a town of summer resorts and cottages. Henry (1839-1924) and Nancy (1847-1902) Tinker platted it in 1881 and built a hotel. For several decades tourists flocked there for vacations, primarily from Portland, which could be reached by river boat and railroad. By 1920, as new roads open that connect the town with the interior of Washington, more tourists begin to come Long Beach via auto. Residents form a city government in response to the need to upgrade their streets to serve the new car-based tourism.

By Rail and Horse

In November 1921, the Chinook Observer, the Long Beach Peninsula's newspaper, noted the need for new streets in Long Beach:

"If Long Beach is to take its rightful place as a leading summer resort it will have to widen its streets, and a municipal organization is necessary to force this to be done. In the height of the summer season the narrow main street there is as hard to navigate as the streets of Jerusalem" (Lloyd, 89).

The Ilwaco Railway and Navigation Company tracks ran down the center of Long Beach's main Street, Pacific Avenue. Businesses on the street had grown up alongside the railroad, with barely any room on either side of the tracks. For several decades, the railroad served as the only transportation between the towns on the peninsula. Most people rode either the train or horses in the first few decades of Long Beach's existence.

From Speedway to Street 

After the turn of the century, more automobiles were making their way to Long Beach, often to race on the "speedway," the peninsula's 28-mile stretch of sandy beach. At low tide, the wet sand surpassed the region's roads for smoothness and straightness. New roads and auto ferry service across the Columbia River brought more cars to the peninsula. Long Beach's streets soon proved inadequate for handing the increased traffic.

On December 17, 1921, all 500 of Long Beach's voters approved the measure to incorporate Long Beach. Gilbert Tinker (1879-1959), son of the first settlers, served as the first mayor. The first council members were S. B. Hunt, C. E. Kinth, J. B. Mack, cranberry farmer John B. Pape (ca. 1859-1935), and plumber Joseph McKean (ca. 1858-1925). 

One of the council's first actions was to widen Pacific Avenue, which involved moving 27 buildings back 25 feet. According to the Oregonian, a franchise was granted for a bus line that would run between McGowan (near the boat landing at Megler) to Nahcotta via Ilwaco and Long Beach. This service would allow travelers to make a round trip between the peninsula and the Willapa Bay towns of Raymond and South Bend in one day via bus and boat. Although the railroad continued to operate until 1930, cars, trucks, and buses soon had superseded the train.

Sources: Mike Davison, "The Railroads of Grays Harbor, 1880-1900," The Railroads of Grays Harbor website accessed September 28, 2010 (http://www.ghrr.org/); Richard H. Engeman, The Oregon Companion: A Historical Gazetteer of the Useful, the Curious, and the Arcane (Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, 2009), 336; Thomas E. Jessett, "Ilwaco Railroad: America's Westernmost Line, 1888-1930," Oregon Historical Society magazine, June 1957, pp. 3-21; Nancy Lloyd, Observing Our Peninsula's Past: The Age of Legends through 1931 (Long Beach: The Chinook Observer Centennial Project, 2003); Lucile McDonald, Coast Country: A History of Southwest Washington (Portland, Oregon: Binfords & Mort, 1966), 82-117; L. R. Williams, Our Pacific County (Raymond: The Raymond Herald, [1930], 1964), 103; "All for Incorporation," The Oregonian, December 27, 1921, p. 1; "Hundreds at Long Beach," The Oregonian, August 22, 1920, sec. 4, p. 4; "Long Beach to Incorporate," The Oregonian, December 12, 1921; "Road to be Improved," The Oregonian, May 12, 1922, p. 26.

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