Oysterville

OYSTERVILLE

The 80-acre Oysterville National Historic District and the areas immediately adjacent to it are the heart of Oysterville. With Willapa Bay as its backdrop, the historic district feels like a movie back lot version of a 19th century coastal community. In fact, some structures actually are from the 19th century. Eight houses, a church, the Oysterville cannery and a one-room schoolhouse are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Though Oysterville is a ghost town, it has life. Oysterville’s post office is the oldest continuously operating post office in Washington state. The Oysterville Store sells groceries, souvenirs and gifts and is open year round. Oysterville Sea Farms sells seafood from its farms and specialty foods from its bakery daily. 

The Oysterville Church is open every day of the year. The Oysterville cannery and all eight of the houses listed on the National Register of Historic Places create almost constant activity as they are maintained and repaired by their private owners. Similar efforts are made by non-profit organizations to maintain and repair the church and one-room schoolhouse.

The Oysterville Church Summer Vespers are presented at 3 p.m. every Sunday from Father’s Day through Labor Day. The services are open to everyone. The Jazz and Oyster festival is set for Aug. 14  and features great Northwest jazz being played on the lawn of the Oysterville School. Proceeds from the Jazz and Oyster festival help support the Water Music Festival. The Water Music Festival’s most popular concerts are the Oysterville church concerts, beginning Oct. 14.

Old for a West Coast town, Oysterville is brand new in geographic terms. Oysterville could be the only place in the U.S. that has always had human occupants. Native American people probably settled Oysterville as soon as it was created. Chinook peoples came to the area that is Oysterville at seasonal intervals for untold centuries to harvest its bountiful oyster beds. 

It was the California Gold Rush of 1849 that drew significant numbers of settlers of European descent to Oysterville. Gold miners loved to spend their gold on Willapa Bay oysters. But like all extraction businesses, the native oyster industry came to an end. Hotels, saloons and a college all disappeared as people left. Eventually, even the county seat was removed, to South Bend on the east side of the bay.

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