Experience Joy at Coastal Places with Depressing Names

Apr 24, 2019 | History, Beach, Outdoors

The Visitor’s Center on the Long Beach Peninsula gets a lot of questions about the many depressing names of local landmarks, and even some businesses. Don’t let the names fool you. Places like Dismal Nitch, Cape Disappointment, and Graveyard of the Pacific all have some good stories behind them. Here is the scoop on some of our favorite depressingly named local places.

Cape Disappointment

One of Washington’s favorite State Parks is Cape Disappointment. If you visit it, you won’t be disappointed! John Meares, the renowned English fur trader and Commander of the Portuguese ship Felice Adventurer, gave Cape Disappointment its name. Feeling disappointed that they were not able to find Heceta’s River, on July 6 of 1788, he assigned the famous landmark its distinctive title.

How could he have known that someday the area would become one of the State’s most widely visited State Parks? The park features a beautiful historical lighthouse, over 2,000 acres designated for camping, yurts, and cabins, delightful hiking trails through old growth forest, breathtaking beaches, and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

Dead Man’s Hollow

Located between Peacock Split and North Head on the Pacific Ocean coast, is Dead Man’s Hollow. In 1853 the ship known as the Vandala sank and all crewmembers died. Several of their bodies washed ashore and were found at the spot. That is how it got its name, Dead Man’s Hollow.

Waikiki Beach

Even a happy name, like Waikiki Beach, which should bring visions of the gorgeous Hawaiian Island counterpart, has a depressing twist. The Waikiki Beach located inside of Cape Disappointment received its name as a result of a Hawaiian sailor’s body washing ashore at the spot after his shipwrecked during an unsuccessful attempt in 1811 to cross the Columbia River bar.

Dismal Nitch

You’ll find Dismal Nitch along Washington’s State Route 401. It’s a favorite cove on the lower Columbia River with a rest area above it on the highway announcing its name. It is known for being Lewis and Clark’s last camping site before arriving at the Pacific Ocean. In November of 1805, the expedition was dangerously low on supplies and traveling down the Columbia River planning to meet up with the last trading ship of the season. Before they could meet up with the ship, an early winter storm struck the region and prevented them from meeting the boat and stocking up on desperately needed supplies. Instead, they ended up hunkering down in the cove that Captain Clark called “that dismal little nitch” in his journal.

Graveyard of the Pacific

The Graveyard of the Pacific is a part of the Pacific Northwest coast stretching from around Tillamook Bay past the notorious Columbia River Bar and up to Vancouver Island. Rapidly changing weather conditions, dense fog, shifting sandbars, rip tides, rogue waves, and hidden rocky ridges are responsible for more than 2,000 shipwrecks in the area and have claimed countless lives.

Local Businesses with Misfortune in Their Name

Along with the famous depressingly named local natural landmarks, many local businesses have names highlighting misfortune. The area is home to Starvation Alley Farms, Basket Case Greenhouse, Shipwreck Cove Antiques & Treasures, Hungry Harbor Grill, Adrift Hotel & Spa, Castaway Seafood, the Sou’wester Lodge, and Loose Caboose (and several others with misfortune in their names).

The Long Beach Peninsula and surrounding area are known for being a bit quirky and eccentric, but we’re proud of our character! From museums about early expeditions during the pioneer days to modern day retail and dining, there’s always something fun to do, and cool places to visit. Come to Long Beach Peninsula in Washington State and you will undoubtedly experience joy, even at these coastal places with depressing names.


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