Hug Point, Arch Cape

Hug Point, Arch Cape

by | Jun 26, 2021

Hug Point is a headland in Hug Point State Recreation Site on the northern Oregon coast, about 1 mile (1.6 km) north of the community of Arch Cape and 5 miles (8.0 km) south of Cannon Beach, Oregon. The name dates to the late 19th century when this remote section of the coast had no road access. Horses and horse-drawn wagons would use the wide beaches as a transportation corridor. To travel between the communities of Cannon Beach and Arch Cape, wagons had to hug this particular point to avoid being caught in the surf. When the first automobiles arrived, this area was too dangerous to negotiate, so around 1910, the rock was blasted with explosives and a primitive roadbed was chipped into the headland.

After Oregon achieved statehood in 1859, the completion of railroads through the Coast Range mountains encouraged land development along the ocean shore. In 1874, the Oregon State Land Board began selling public tidelands to private landowners. Resorts grew around the beaches at Seaside, Newport, and Rockaway, and the newly completed railroads brought tourists from the population centers of the Willamette Valley for weekend vacations. By 1901, about 23 miles (37 km) of tideland had been sold. In 1911, governor Oswald West was elected on the promise to reclaim Oregon’s beaches as public land. The legislature favored the privatization of these lands, but West was able to make an argument for public ownership based on the need for transportation. The 1913 legislature declared the entire length of the ocean shore from Washington to California as a state highway, thereby preserving scenery and beach access for future generations.

In 1913, Oregon legislators also created the Oregon State Highway Commission, which began the construction of Highway 101. The Parks and Recreation Department, a branch of the highway commission, bought land for 36 state parks along the coastal highway, an average of one every 10 miles (16 km). The Oregon Coast Highway, also known as  U.S. Highway 101, was opened in 1926 and the Hug Point road fell into disuse. The Oregon public lands claim was challenged in 1966, resulting in the passage of the Oregon Beach Bill by the 1967 session of the Oregon Legislature. It established public ownership of land along the Oregon Coast from the water up to 16 vertical feet (4.9 m) above the low tide mark. Read more here and here. Explore more of Hug Point here:

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