american legion cemetery (manzanita)
The ratio of American Legion cemeteries to the population of cemeteries in Oregon is (at current count) 1/450. Why Manzanita should be so blessed is unaccounted for. It is a couple/three acre park with an acre-addendum surrounded by low chain-link fence, as if that was going to keep out the rain forest. The lack of other fencing suggests a tentative standoff between the guardians of the memories and the forces of nature, which would as soon eliminate the place.

What a pity that would be as there are innumerable treasures within its small confines, making a lengthy stop well deserved. There is an abundance of natural stone markers in varying sizes capped by a several-ton split monster marking the grave of ex-Adidas chair Paul Strasser (1947-1993), still being bedecked in 2007 with new baby shoes.

Manzanita has been spared the ravages that have hit many Oregon coastal towns. It is one of the few coastal communities where the new architecture is on a par with the old; and the downtown, what there is of it, hasn’t been marred by fast-food joints or tacky bars (although there’s constant bickering over those issues, as well). Swarms of teenagers don’t clog the streets. Nor, for that matter, do swarms of tourists. It’s a delightful place to spend a couple days walking the few “streets.” It seems that dogs nearly outnumber people here, and everyone has to take theirs for a daily walk on the beach. Could be worse things, could be dune buggies.

The mountains behind Manzanita are some of the more rugged on the coast and the scenery is bulked up to match. If you’re coming here from Portland, consider taking the Nehalem River Rd. at Elsie on Highway 26, which meets Hwy. 101 at Wheeler, just south of Manzanita. It’s mostly paved, although a stretch of it is well-maintained gravel; but don’t let that stop you. It doesn’t stop the fishermen. Another, quicker option—though one you’ll still have largely to yourself—is Hwy. 53 south from Hwy. 26, about halfway between Elsie and the coast.

Directions:

Turn south (basically, towards the ocean) on Necarney City Rd., about a mile (maybe) south of the Manzanita turnoff on Hwy 101. A few blocks down Cemetery Rd. should meet Necarney City Rd. from the west (your right). Cemetery just a bit down on your left.
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