Charming Oysterville ages very well

Oysterville Church, seen here from a neighboring window, is a lovely artifact of a bygone age, but continues a lively existence as a concert venue during Water Music Festival. It also is the site of the Oysterville vespers, a summer-long series of Sunday sermons with musical accompaniment. Nearby Oysterville Schoolhouse hosts Jazz & Oysters, a favorite summer event.

Stroll through historic Oysterville and walk in the ghostly footsteps of a legendary Indian chief and two young adventurers.

The village rests comfortably on the inland side of the Peninsula, nestled on the bank of Willapa Bay (formerly called Shoalwater Bay) northeast of Ocean Park. Modern-day motorists need only follow Sandridge Road north to the Oysterville-Territor-ial Road sign.

R. H. Espy and I. A. Clark, with an eye to the future, founded Oysterville in 1854 and launched their oyster business.

By the summer of 1854, after the word got around about the prime oyster beds and the opportunities that abounded in the new settlement, the village had become overwhelmed by fortune-seekers, fishermen, shopkeepers and tradesmen.

Single men came first, followed by married men who settled homesteads and eventually sent for their families. Within a few short months the population of Oysterville swelled to more than 500, and within time the new community could boast of three hotels, a school, a church, boat shops, blacksmith stables, barbershops, three saloons, a tannery, sail shops and no fewer than four general stores.

In just one year-by 1855-Oysterville was proclaimed the county seat of Pacific County, until 38 years later when that distinction was ended by a party of raiders from South Bend who took the official records and absconded with them to South Bend.

The Oysterville of today maintains that spirit of grace and charm that has come to be associated with many quaint tiny villages which, through good years and bad, have survived for more than a century.

In 1976 the community was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, many of the town's finest old homes are being meticulously preserved by descendants of their build-ers, and newcomers to the area are working hard to make major restorations to other structures.

Oysterville remains a pretty place to stroll around, imagining what things might have been like 150 years ago. A small map just north of the church shows the village's original layout. For picnic supplies, stop at Oysterville Sea Farms on the north end of the waterfront, and Oysterville Store, just west of the historic district on Oysterville Road.

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