oysterville cemetery
Oysterville is one of the genuinely romantic spots on the Washington coast, given its location at the extremity of the Long Beach Peninsula. In recent years it’s been joined by Surfside Estates separating Oysterville from the sea, which diminishes its isolation, but not the severity of its perch by the Pacific. Within the photo set there is a picture of a small wooden cross. Notice the amount of moss on that small cross. Consider what that environment would do to everything you own.

The other plus of Oysterville, besides location, is its cast of characters, which has included the entertaining and erudite wordsmith, Willard Espy, who rests with many of his family (and his wife is waiting) in the Oysterville Cemetery. It’s almost a pilgrimage to visit here, but it’s well worth it. And you don’t have to do it on your knees. A car will do just fine.

The cemetery itself is cosseted by many old trees, cedars dripping with moss, and the air hangs damp and salty. The roll of the distant surf underscores the melancholy scene. Joining this lugubrious place are many interesting monuments beyond that of Mr. Espy, including one for Chief Nahcati and the extraordinarily beautiful, landscaped stone of William Bailey. The cemetery is a half-dozen acres edged into what is essentially scrub-covered links land and it lives in a narrow eco-band that exists only within hearing distance of the gray and rain-swept shore.

A recent storm (2008) has done unspeakable damage across great swaths of the peninsula, some places harder hit than others; but some places have had entire forests felled by the storm. The cemeteries did not entirely escape, but for the most part their damage was minimal. They were lucky. Maybe being sacred ground is worth something.

Back again, 2010:

Oysterville is little more than four or five blocks on the bayside of the Long Beach Peninsula. Moss is arguably at the top of the food chain. Virtually the entire community is on the National Registry. It’s not unique in being a well preserved “frontier” town, but it is unusual in being pretty much devoid of commercial attractions and by the fact that a good number of the original families still live here. Isolated or not, people are reluctant to leave, once they get here.

The countryside has fairly well recovered from the wind storm which devastated the region a couple years back. The cemetery was lucky in having avoided serious damage. North of Oysterville to the end of the peninsula is a wild-life refuge; ornithologists get heart flutters there. The views across Willapa Bay are sublime.

If the cemetery has suffered one tragedy in the ensuing two years, it’s the disappearance and replacement of the charming shed at the entrance. The prior one looked in good shape, so I don’t know what the reasoning was, but the aesthetics took a hit.

Directions:

Nearing the end of the Long Beach Peninsula, Hwy. 103, which is Sand Ridge Rd. at this point, turns sharply west and becomes Oysterville Rd., which community you are in, or would be were you driving down that road. On the south side of the road is a small store, and the entrance to the cemetery is the next drive after the store on the same side of the road.
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