The Nehalem Valley Historical Society is dedicated to preserving the rich cultural heritage of of Manzanita, Wheeler and Nehalem.
Thanks to the efforts of devoted volunteers, the historical society manages a public archive that also doubles as a museum featuring a small array of exhibits on events, people and legends associated with the Nehalem Valley.
To visit the museum, located below the historic Pine Grove Community House at 225 Laneda Ave. in Manzanita, visitors must stop by from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays or call to make an appointment.
Originally, the society’s intent was to collect and archive historical artifacts and documents to “make sure it didn’t turn into garbage,” vice president Tom Campbell said. Eventually, members decided if they were going to maintain and preserve the items, they should make them available to the public.
The current collection includes an exhibit on the famous Beeswax Wreck. In the late 1600s, the Santo Cristo de Burgos, a Spanish galleon that was part of the trade from Manila to Acapulco, is believed to have wrecked in the vicinity of Nehalem Bay. Although the wreck itself is as yet undiscovered, bits and pieces of beeswax have been recovered. According to Campbell, some of the beeswax on display at the historical society’s museum includes shipper’s marks and is “fascinating to look at.”
Other exhibits address local historians’ belief that Sir Francis Drake stopped in the area for ship repairs in the 1570s while circumnavigating the West Coast.
In addition to curating the museum, the historical society is involved in an ongoing oral-history project and maintaining and enhancing the Nehalem American Legion Cemetery. In 2020, they are also facilitating educational and historical lectures. “If we’re not holding programs and trying to tell people about our local history, we’re not fulfilling our mission,” Campbell said.