Originally a summer community for the Portland gentry, Seaview WA ’s quiet tree-lined streets invite strollers to enjoy turn-of-the-century Victorian homes which are survivors of a developer’s plans from the 1880s.
Seaview WA founder Jonathan Stout, a cooper from Ohio, arrived on the Long Beach Peninsula in 1859. In 1880 he purchased 153 acres along the ocean front with plans for a summer resort. He ran through several names for the resort—Stout’s, Ocean View, North Pacific Beach, and finally Sea View.
Most of those who built summer homes in Seaview would ride a steamboat down the Columbia River to Astoria on the Oregon side where they would disembark and board a smaller steamboat to take them across the river to Ilwaco. There they could transfer their trunks to a wagon and be drawn by horses the rest of the way. The wagon route went through the woods on a plank road to the “weather beach,” and then along the beach to Seaview.
In 1889 the Ilwaco Railway and Navigation Company began regular service on a narrow gauge railroad that ran up the Long Beach Peninsula to Nahcotta. The Seaview depot—no more than a shed and platform at first—was near Stout’s hotel, the “Sea View House.” With railway service, summering families could board the railcars right on the Ilwaco docks for the trip up the peninsula. In 1885, many hundreds of people were estimated to be coming to the peninsula for summer vacation. In 1900, the South Bend Journal reported that the number of summer vacationers had grown to 20,000.
The rail service was known as the Clamshell Railroad, the narrow gauge “train that ran with the tides” and it ran up the Long Beach Peninsula from 1889 to 1930. There was only a platform and shed at Seaview until 1905 when a regular depot was built.
The Seaview Depot’s front doors opened toward the north onto the main Seaview beach approach road, and a long wooden boardwalk ran along the tracks on the west side of the depot and past adjoining businesses to the south end of the block. Departing passengers stood on the boardwalk the length of the block awaiting a train’s arrival. Merchants included an ice cream shop, an oyster lunch establishment, and a fish market.
The Seaview depot still stands, one of only two remaining stations, and is the location of our restaurant, The Depot. Visitors can enjoy a bit of history and a fine meal inside its red walls on what is now the main beach approach in Seaview (aka 38th Street).
The town remains a favorite retreat for summer visitors. Enjoy the Seaview Strollers Tour and learn more about the town’s original 50′ x 100’ lots, which sold for $100 each. The homes on the tour are an interesting assortment constructed over the years. Don’t pass up equally intriguing structures not mentioned on the tour; Seaview is full of architecture worthy of study.