The Long Beach Peninsula juts out from the SW corner of Washington State. This low-lying arm of land separating Willapa Bay from the Pacific Ocean features lots of sandy beach–approximately 28 miles/45 km long, claimed as the longest beach in the United States. I can’t verify this, but I can vouch for the beauty and peacefulness of the place. It’s just far enough from our home in Portland (Ore.) and also from Seattle that it doesn’t feel overrun during the high season. My partner Emee and I have made frequent visits here over the years because of the scenery and the quiet.
The further north one heads up the peninsula, the quieter it gets. Close to the northern tip and on the bayside is the village of Oysterville. It was a site of shellfish harvesting by Indigenous peoples long before European settlement. Its American history started around 1841 and the town quickly became a hub of oyster cultivation. It soon became an important place, even being the county seat of Pacific County until the seat moved to South Bend (on the mainland) in 1893. Its days of importance faded rapidly at the end of the 19th century: The promised rail line stopped four miles short of town, and the oyster beds all but dried up. What’s left of Oysterville is a sleepy hamlet of a couple dozen residents. There’s a handful of houses, a church, an old school/meeting hall, a store, a postage-stamp-sized post office, and the surviving oyster fishery.
What remains of the housing stock is frozen in the past, a Victorian village that looks more New England than Pacific Coast. There are “streets” that are simply grassy rights-of-way that fade into the bay, ghosts of a place that used to be bigger. It’s a cute place to ramble around for a bit, and Emee and I love visiting. Oysterville is highly photogenic, so I make sure that I have a good camera in tow during our rambles.
We last visited at the end of this past April. I took my Olympus 35 RD, a gift from a friend who noticed my budding interest in film photography. After a CLA at Advance Camera (it suffered from sticky shutter syndrome, a common ailment with this camera), I have a great fixed-lens rangefinder from the same year I was born. I love the results I get with the F.Zuiko 40mm f/1.7 lens. And the compact size means the 35 RD is an easy companion, especially when bicycling.
As for the film stock, I opted for fast color film, as spring weather out this way can be moody and temperamental. I realize that Kodak Portra 400 is a bit cliche for a film photography-oriented blog post. (I usually use ColorPlus 200 or Ultramax 400 for my day-to-day shooting.) But I was feeling a bit fancy, and besides, Blue Moon had a sale… So enjoy some pics of a magical place.
For a full set of photos from this Long Beach Peninsula trip, check out this flickr album.
Thanks for reading! -Shawn
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