Word Nerd: Tillamook

“Tillamook Head Sunset” by Solfrid Price at Trail's End Art Association.

Tillamook  [tɪ•lə•mʊk]


1. a native Salishan people of the North Oregon Coast or a member of that people

2. the extinct language of the Tillamook people

3. a town and county on the North Oregon Coast. The city, which is the county seat and had a population of 4,935 in the 2010 census, is located near the southeast end of a bay of the same name

4. a popular brand and cheese factory located on U.S. 101 that produces a variety of dairy products, including yogurt and ice cream. More than a million people visit the factory each year

5. Tillamook Head: a high promontory located in Ecola State Park five miles south of Seaside. The jagged bluff, which rises more than a 1,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean, is part of the Oregon Coast Trail and is also notable as Lewis and Clark crossed it in 1806 to buy the blubber of a beached whale from natives, which is how the park got its name

6. Tillamook Rock: the larger of two basalt sea rocks lodged in the Pacific Ocean and visible from Tillamook Head. Tillamook Rock is famous for housing a lighthouse that was operational between 1881-1957. For many decades the lighthouse acted as a columbarium, a resting place to intern crematory remains, before its license was revoked in 1999


From the Salish language. First recorded in William Clark’s journal in 1806 as both Killamook and Kilamox, other variations of the name have been recorded as Killamoux, Callemeux and Killimous among many others. The ‘T’ in Tillamook does not enter into the picture until the 1850s, around the time that the county was created.

Tillamook Head also takes its name from William Clark’s journal as he recorded his legendary crossing of the headland to trade with the people living on the coast south of the rise in what is now Cannon Beach. The Clatsop Indian word for Tillamook Head was Nah-se-u’-su.

“Seaside and Gearhart lie on a beautiful stretch of beach which is broken on the south by Tillamook Head, a wooded cape that juts abruptly into the ocean. The walk from Seaside to the point of Tillamook Head is one of the popular Clatsop Beach excursions. Those who make it are repaid by a close view of one of the most remarkable lighthouses on the American coast.”

—​“Summer Resorts Along Oregon Coast Draw Vacation Throngs,” The Morning Oregonian, Saturday, Feb. 4, 1911, P. 3

“Near Seaside, another large landslide brought down several more trees and cut more than 50 feet out of the Tillamook Head trail, leaving hikers to make their own route around the destruction.”

—Edward Stratton, “Triage on Tillamook Head,” The Daily Astorian, June 3, 2016

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