1970’s: Look Back on Ocean Shores, Washington

2020 is right around the corner and it’s the 50th anniversary of Ocean Shores incorporation as a ‘real’ city! If you’re like me, you’ve been visiting off-and-on your whole life and you’ve noticed a lot of changes over the years – at least in some aspects.

How much Ocean Shores has changed since the 1970s:

The following are text and images from the Ocean Shores Visitors Bureau, Inc. This booklet was produced (guesstimate based on events mentioned) for the summer of 1970 or possibly 1971. Enjoy!

Welcome to Ocean Shores

Ocean Shores has over 6 miles of sparkling, sandy beach which is as beautiful as any you have seen. The wide beach beckons irresistibly to visitors and residents alike. The rhythmic pounding of the surf and the invigorating lungfuls of clean, salt air (the residents call it ‘brand new air’) soothe away the many tensions of modern life.

Even the weather department is disarmed by Ocean Shores. Their records show that there is 25% less rainfall in Ocean Shores than in the neighboring Aberdeen-Hoquiam area. The reason for this generally unrecognized fact is that the cool, moist air follows the water into Grays Harbor with the happy result that Ocean Shores basks in even more sun than people think.

The wonders of nature are not all that Ocean Shores has to offer

There is lush green of the immaculate and challenging 18-hole golf course and it’s plus clubhouse. The Ocean Shores golf course has been the site of the glamorous Pat Boone Celebrity Golf Classic and this year we will host a Ladies Professional Golf Association tournament. The commercial complex offers a complete resort city.

There are a variety of motel accommodations to suit any taste or budget, a wide range of shops in our business complex, a complete line of sports facilities and a number of night spots for your pleasure. You can fly into Ocean Shores and land at our convenient airfield. We have the perfect atmosphere for conventions and business meetings as well as for family outings – and do not forget our famous deep sea fishing.

Ocean Shores has been planned for carefree, relaxed living

It is perfect for couples who want to live next to nature and not give up the comforts of civilization. To many, it is the potential of Ocean Shores that is most exciting. Certainly it is a place to visit where you can relax and enjoy nature yourself. But it is more than this; it is a place to live and build for the future. Many of us have found happiness here where the friendly, fresh atmosphere of the beach spills over into all aspects of our lives. We love Ocean Shores and thing you will too!

Beachcomb By Car

The North Beaches are among the few areas in the world where visitors may drive on the beach itself. Usually it’s quite safe but some do get stuck. Obvioulsy, you are safe in following other tracks. Stay out of the dry sand; it is soft and shifting, and cars get easily stuck.

The moist, placked sand at the upper tide line is always the firmest. If you were to venture too close to the water itself you are risking an imminent sink-down… also you are violating state law by driving on the clam beds.

If you get stuck and the tide is going out, it is usually possible to dig yourself out. Make long, shallow ramps in front of each wheel. Then apply power gently and have anybody available push.

If you get stuck when the tide is coming in, call the wrecker. Don’t dwadle.

SS Catala

SS Catala shipwreck at Ocean Shores

There she lies abandoned

Even when you have seen her a hundred times, that first glimpse is a brief second of the same wonder you feel at your first sight of the Catala, so close, you feel you can reach out and touch her.

Going aboard is a must. Go ahead, walk out to Projection Island and clamber over her great rusting hull and conjure up her past. Even now (1970!), derelict as she is, the air of majesty still clings. In your mind’s eye see her proud twin funnels bright in the sunlight, her wake white on the blue sea. Where was she going? Where has she been? How did she come to be here, cast aground on Protection Island?

Queen of the union steamship fleet 45-years ago (now 95 years ago), the Catala plied the Canadian coastal waters carrying miners, loggers, businessmen and adventurers up and down the island passage.

The Catala’s past is as colorful as her passengers and some of them were too much for her. At one time she was forced to put a band of loggers ashore until their revelry and hostility had cooled.

Retirement to the bone yard in 1958 did not end the old girl’s adventures. At the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962, the Catala became a hotel ship. Later she was towed to California to become a floating restaurant. The next year she was brought to Ocean Shores to become a floating base for the Ocean Shores Charter Fleet and a “Boat-tel” to the fishermen.

Ocean Shores Charter FIshing
Vintage Fishing Ad From the Booklet circa 1970

Ah! What advantages she offered the fishermen! Moored near the bar meant a quick trip to the fish via the fleet charter boats. Fifty-two staterooms, sumptuous meals served in the ship’s restaurant, and a friendly lounge where the day’s fishing was relived and the fish stories grew as the refreshments and the evening flowed gently along.

A freakish combination of wind and tide during a wild southwest storm out of the Pacific did her in on New Year’s Day in 1966. Aground in a heavy starboard list, her aft’ portholes filling, she was down. Efforts to refloat her failed. She’s there to stay, her long adventurous voyage over at last. She’s a lady with quite a past.

Shovel + Razor Clam = FUN

Inexperienced or over-eager diggers of razor clams can sometimes come away with nasty cuts on their fingers.

Razor clams live with their hinges –the “dull” side of the shell –toward the water. When you dig, make your hole perhaps six inches on the ocean side of the clam’s “show,” or spurt.

Take out a couple shovelfuls, then put your hand in the hole and grope towards the land side. You will be coming up on the clam from its hinge side.

Don’t pry with your shovel or use it as a level as this will cause the blade to cut through the clam, breaking his shell into fragments which also can be dangerous.

Put the shovel blade straight down, then lift and scoop the sand up and out, without levering the handle.

clamming at Ocean Shores 1970
The Grand International Clam Prix each summer draws dozens of clam-crazed diggers. Prizes go to the first contestant to bag his limit of 18 clams and to the contestant with the highest Sarkvogel rating (a method of determining clam digging efficiency).

Visiting Ocean Shores

Ocean Shores is a scenic three hour drive from either downtown Seattle, Washington or Portland, Oregon. From either direction just follow the freeway signs to Aberdeen. From there it is only 19 miles along State Highway 105 (** now 109) to complete the pleasant drive to Ocean Shores.

Seattle to Ocean Shores

Many people enjoy the thrill of flying to Ocean Shores

There are daily commercial flights scheduled to Hoquiam Airport, with private transportation to Ocean Shores available by calling individual motels. Chartered flights and private planes, up to medium sized twins, can land directly on our 2,600 foot lighted and paved airstrip.

ocean shores airport
2019: A couple from Oregon flew into Ocean Shores for the day. Our airport is still working for small planes and makes for an easy-in, easy-out day!

Ocean Shores is a spectacular peninsula bounded on three sides by the Pacific Ocean and Grays Harbor. We boast a total of nearly 15 miles of flat, sandy beaches, with 6 mils of sparkling beaches directly facing the ocean.

Picturesque Duck Lake, a fresh water haven for Bass and waterfowl, extends through the center of Ocean Shores. It has nearly six miles of rambling scenic shoreline. Our 10-mile long canal system is now nearing completion. These fresh water channels are up to 200′ wide and are deep enough to float a 40′ cruiser. Canalside property owners can moor their boats right in their own back yards. Boats pass from the canals to Grays Harbor, and then to the Ocean via a lift.

Vintage Ocean Shores, WA map from the 1970's with sea horse

With its beautiful beaches and weather, wide variety of activities and relaxing atmosphere, Ocean Shores is an ideal place to vacation. In fact the only thing better than visiting is living here and having a little vacation every day.

February is Fog Festival Time at Ocean Shores

Ocean Shores vintage picture of the Fog Festival

The famed February Fog Festival featuring the 3rd annual North American Mid-winter Wading Championships, will be held February 21 and 22, weather or no weather, surf and temperature not withstanding.

This shivering sports spectacular is marked by the unpredictable. The 1968 contest saw 4-foot to 5-foot waves breaking over the 8-foot turn pole at the 100-yard mark. Last winter the forty-some contestants, assembled in six heats, (Heats? Well now – really?) stood wet and shivering waiting for the ocean to bring on its 4-foot to 5-foot waves, but the ocean has a mind of its own, and some of the heats rounded the turning pole in only ankle-deep surf, with only the added fillip of chilling wind and rain mixed with hail, to dramatize the challenge of man against the elements.

The vagaries of the sea may account, in part at least, for Tony Packvale’s record-breaking time of 51.3 seconds, 48.2 seconds better than big Bob Landstrom’s 1:09.5 that won the 1968 trophy dash. A crowd of 1500 cheered Tony to his victory and the $250.00 winner’s share of the purse.

Again this year the Conference on Ocean Wading plans the crab relays (live Dungeness crabs for batons) as the extra attraction for Fog Festival weekend. We don’t credit the rumor that last year someone stole the crabs purchased for the race. What with the delay in starting, they probably just walked away.

The officials were undecided on the handicap allowed for crab pinches and the penalty for holding. Much of the contention was over who was holding, the contestant holding the crab or the crab holding the contestant. The argument was settled by Bill Marks, who insisted that only the crab should be penalized for holding. Then the race was called off becasue of no crabs.

But at least the rules should be clear for a bigger and better Fog Festival this year.