A Historical Look at the Beach Bill that Made Oregon's Beaches Public
Published: 06/30/2017 Updated: 08/13/2019
A horse-drawn wagon uses the beach for a travel route in the 1890s near Garibaldi.
Photo Courtesy of Oregon State Library
What started as a transportation issue along the Oregon Coast set in motion the far-reaching idea about public beach access along Oregon's entire 362-mile coastline.
Before the construction of Highway 101, beaches provided key transportation routes for travelers along the Oregon Coast. In 1913, governor Oswald West was able to make an argument for public beach access based on the need for transportation. He pushed through legislation declaring the entire length of Oregon's shore as a state highway. This action created the State Highway Commission, the Parks and Recreation Department and steered the way for Oregon's Beach Bill. It was Oregon's landmark Beach Bill enacted by Governor Tom McCall that secured public accessibility to the entire 362 mile-long coastline. The Oregon Beach Bill marks its 50th anniversary on July 6, 2017.