Camp 18 On The Sunset Highway
Is An Oregon Landmark
By Debbie and Randy Coe
Recently we had good friends visiting from West Virginia and wanted to take them to different places that were characteristic of Oregon. One of these places was Camp 18. One morning we left early to head out to Seaside by way of the Sunset Highway. A must stop on the way was to have breakfast in Elsie, at the site of the famous Camp 18.
This logging themed stop has a restaurant, gift shop, museum and an outdoor area filled with antique logging equipment. The towering sign, with a giant eagle perched on top, can easily be seen before you actually reach the area.
“Why the name of Camp 18?” we were asked by our friends. As we explained, all the early logging camps gave their camp a number. This area is marked by being milepost 18 on Highway 26.
The design and building of this camp was a vision of Gordon Smith. His experience in the logging industry gave him a profound desire to create an authentic looking log cabin restaurant. The timber was logged locally and hauled in by his family. Decorating the outside are many different chain saw wood carvings done by local artists.
As you enter the restaurant, you notice the massive front doors that are over 4” thick and weigh over 500 pounds. They were made from old growth Douglas fir trees. A cat was seated on a post and greeted us as we walked in.
On the inside of the restaurant, you notice a monstrous log going across the ceiling. It is 85 feet long and weighed about 25 tons when the tree was cut down. The whole room has the rustic feel of a logging camp. The tables are cut from slabs of wood, with one table in the center that was cut from an old growth stump. The lighting fixtures are made from elk antlers that were shed from the local elk herd.
We were seated at a table by a back window where we could get a full view of the many different birds in the feeders. Finches, Grosbeaks and Jays each crowded the feeders. As we talked, there was a thud at the window. A bird had hit the window and was laying stunned on the ground. We looked to see if it was ok and it sat there perched on its feet. All of a sudden, we saw the cat from the front approach the bird. As if to check out the bird, the cat waved its front paw in its face and the bird moved. The cat then turned around and walked away.
As we were amazed at that situation, owner Gordon Smith came by and told us hi. He thanked us for coming by. He talked with us a bit and mentioned the elephant across the stream. We hadn’t seen it, of course, since it blended in with the wooded area. It was a topiary of different plants.
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