Who’s who: Namesakes of recreation spots near The Fireside Motel
Venture out along the Oregon coast during your adventure getaway at The Fireside Motel, and you’re bound to wonder about the people behind the names of certain state parks and natural sites to the south and the north of us. Who was Muriel O. Ponsler, namesake for Muriel O. Ponsler State Scenic Viewpoint? Or Carl G. Washburne, namesake for Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park?
Delving into the stories behind these names reveals a common thread: a deep, shared love for Oregon’s beautiful coastal communities and landscape.
Sites south of Yachats, in order from The Fireside Motel
- Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint. Neptune, Roman god of the sea is the poetic muse for this state scenic viewpoint that is noted for its winter wave action.
- Cummins Creek Wilderness: Named for F.L. Cummins, an early homesteader in the area. Part of the Siuslaw National Forest, the wilderness area features the only old-growth Sitka spruce forest in the state of Oregon’s wilderness system.
- Tokatee Klootchman State Natural Site: Considered to mean “pretty woman” in the Chinook language, the land for this viewpoint was purchased to protect the Oregon shoreline. It is a popular spot to view whale migration.
- Muriel O. Ponsler State Scenic Viewpoint: Muriel Grant, born in 1897 and raised in Dallas, Oregon, worked as an editor for the Polk County Observer and later as a society editor for the Oregon Statesman in Salem. She married J. C. Ponsler in 1920. They worked together at his Ponsler Motor company in Florence and were very active in their coastal community. She died in 1939. Her husband donated the land in memory of Muriel. The park includes China Creek.
- Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park: Carl G. Washburne was a Eugene businessman who served as the Oregon Highway Commissioner from 1932 to 1935. The original tract of the park was a gift from the estate of his wife, Narcissa, in 1962. Before the area became a park, the Washburne family built a home near the northeast corner of the property. Washburne Park in Eugene also bears the family’s name.
- Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park. Right next to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, south of Florence, this park includes two lakes. Honeyman served as president of the Oregon Roadside Council in the 1920s and 1930s. Together with Samuel Boardman, who was Oregon’s first Superintendent of State Parks, Honeyman worked to preserve coastal lands in the face of coast highway expansion.
Sites north of Yachats, in order from The Fireside Motel
- Tillicum Beach: Operated by the Siuslaw National Forest, Tillicum Beach is great for long walks and to watch sunsets. Tillicum is a Chinook word for family or tribe.
- Governor Patterson Memorial State Recreation Site: Isaac Patterson served as our state’s first Oregon-born governor from 1927 to 1929. He died while in office. Patterson was an advocate of park development and the preservation of Oregon’s scenic areas. He appointed the state’s first park commission. The land for this recreation site was purchased from his widow, Mary E. Patterson
- Brian Booth State Park: First known as Ona Beach State Park – ona means razor clams in Chinook – the park was renamed in 2013 for Booth, who served as a chairperson for the first Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission. The park includes Ona Beach and Beaver Creek State Natural Area. Booth also founded the Oregon Institute of Literary Arts and captained the launch of the Oregon Book Awards!
- Nye Beach: Named for John Nye, who claimed 160 acres of this coastal property in 1866. Sam Irvin bought the property in the 1880s and developed it to accommodate the surge of coastal visitors starting in the 1890s. Landmarks include the historic Sylvia Beach Hotel.
- Beverly Beach State Park: Near Oregon Coast Aquarium, this beach stretch between Yaquina Head and Cape Foulweather boasts impressive tidepools. Florence and Curtis Christy were the first to settle there. Their daughter Florence named the beach after her favorite doll, Beverly.
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