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Illustrating Four Treatments in Oregon National Park Service National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, with link to ParkNet.
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OSWALD WEST COASTAL RETREAT
This is an image of the Southwest view of West's log house just after construction in July, 1913. Photo: Courtesy, Harriet Drake.

Working on the Past in Local Historic Districts
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Significant History

This is an image of Oswald West on horseback at Cannon Beach, ca. 1913. Photo: Courtest, Harriet Drake.The importance of Oswald West.
Oswald West was born in Guelph, Ontario, Canada on May 20, 1873 to John and Sarah West. His family moved when he was four years old and West attended public schools in Salem, Oregon. In 1889 he began work at a Salem bank, becoming teller in 1892 and continuing in the job until 1899. Following a six-month stint searching for gold in Alaska, West worked for three years in a bank in Astoria.

Governor Chamberlain appointed him to be State Land Agent in 1903, and in that capacity, he was responsible for the recovery of some 900,000 acres of Oregon school lands fraudulently obtained by land speculators. In 1907 he was appointed to a four-year term on the Oregon Railroad Commission. Having gained a reputation as an effective reformer, West won the primary election and became the Democratic candidate for governor in 1910.

This is an image of Oswald West's children on horseback in front of the property's spring house. c. 1913. Photo: Courtesy, Harriet Drake.  
This is a detail image of the log house in July, 1913. Photo: Courtesy, Harriet Drake.
This is an image of the site in Summer, 1911, prior to construction of the log house. Photo: Courtesy, Richard Powers.

“Os” West won the general election and was governor of Oregon between 1911 and 1915. He was noted for urging an array of progressive legislation during his tenure, much of it relating to the conservation of natural resources. For conservationists, the governor’s defining action was taken in 1913, when he blocked the further sale of the Oregon tidelands by declaring the wet sands area a public highway based on the customary use of beaches as wagons and mail routes. The 1913 Legislative Assembly supported his Executive Order and laid the groundwork for additional legislation of the 1960s that affirmed the public’s right to access to, and use of the beaches.

West's Coastal Retreat
The source of Governor West’s inspiration for protecting the tidelands can be traced directly to his retreat on the Oregon coast south of Cannon Beach. In 1911, West acquired a tract opposite Haystack Rock that was backed by a fine stand of timber.

By the summer of 1913, his family was in residence in the new log house sited on a bench of land above the dry sand. The house, in a modified Adirondack design, was oriented with a view to the ocean and had a wide covered front porch, exposed log construction, and shingle roof with two patios, one in concrete and another in flagstone. A spring house, carriage house and barn were also on the site.

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