by Gene Woodwick
Long before Western Man appeared in the area, now known as Point Brown Peninsula, Native American people used the area for a variety of purposes. The Chehalis occupied a permanent camp close to the beginning of the Point, later the Chinook people kept a permanent food gathering encampment on the ocean end of the point. However, the entire area was used in common by a variety of tribes, particularly those who later became part of the Confederated Tribes of the Quinault Indian Nation.
On May 7, 1792 British explorer Capt. Robert Gray sailed through the bar, into the bay, and named the area Bullfinch Harbor. Later explorers re-named the area after the Captain. The first white established settler on the Point was Matthew McGee in the early 1860s. He sold the southern portion of the peninsula to A.O. Damon in 1878 for a trading supply center whose dock extended into the Oyehut channel. A.O. Damon took over the entire peninsula from McGee with the land passed along to his grandson, Ralph Minard who used the area as a cattle ranch from 1929 until he sold to the Ocean Shores Investment Corporation in 1960 for $1,000,000.
The Ocean Shores Development Corporation opened their sale of lots in a travel trailer parked in the dunes and soon the whole world knew about the California-style development of the place called Ocean Shores. The price of lots began at $595 and were sold sight unseen from the first plat maps. As the numbers of lots sold, the prices rose. Property lots were staked and numbered only as the road construction crews began to layout the massive road system. However, the first roads were only 20 miles in length, but, the downtown area had vapor lights to show this was a booming city. The first year 25 homes were constructed and their owners had charter membership certificates in the Ocean Shores Community Club.
As the development grew, the Ginny Simms Restaurant and Nightclub brought in the Hollywood set; in fact, on Grand Opening night chartered planes flew up a whole continent of Hollywood stars and 11,000 people turned out at Bowerman Basin to see the celebs.
By December, 1960, 25 miles of canals were planned, a six hole golf course was drawing players and the mall shopping area was ready for the 1961 Ocean Shores Estates construction boom. The mall, l00 motel units, three restaurants and the airstrip sprang up from the sandy ground with the marina opening in 1963. The S.S. Catala was brought up from California to become a “boatel” and charter fleet office. Two years later a southwest winter storm drove her into the sand and for many years she was the most famous shipwreck on the Washington Coast. In 1966 the famous gates to the city were installed.
Pat Boone became a local resident in 1967 as a stockholder in the Ocean Shores Estates Incorporated and promotion of the development was speeded along by the famous Celebrity Golf tournaments hosted by Boone.
By 1969 Ocean Shores was declared the “Richest Little City” with an assessed evaluation of $35 million and 900 permanent residents. The following year the city was incorporated with a planning commission formed to zone the city and codify streets. The city’s first school opened in 1971 and road paving on streets began in earnest.