The Oceanside Pier had a gloomy beginning, as if it were doomed to fail from the very onset. It’s the only one left of the original six, and it’s also the longest, wooden one of its kind on the West Coast. Unfortunately, the other five succumbed to the powers of Mother Nature.
My wife and I were simply fascinated by the size, stature and history of the Oceanside Pier, and were eager to find out more on a trip to this Southern Californian city.
Brief History of the Piers
In 1888, the local wharf company constructed the first wooden pier at a length of 1200 feet. Sadly, a storm destroyed 900 feet of it in December 1890.
In 1891, South Pacific Hotel manager Melchior Pieper initiated the rebuilding and collected the lumber from the washed off pier, storing it at the back of the hotel. Mr. Pieper suggested that the new construction should be at 3rd Street, which is now Pier View Way. In 1896, the latest pier earned the nickname “The Little Iron Wharf,” due its iron piling at a length of 1400ft. Despite the high costs for its extension in 1900, heavy storms damaged it in 1902.
In 1903, the city’s third pier, supported by steel rails from the Southern California Railway Co., wasn’t enough to withstand the merciless ocean waves, which brought an end to this 1300-foot pier.
In 1926, voters approved the building of a fourth pier at a length of 1900 feet and a cost of $100,000. The city threw a three-day celebration upon its completion on July 4, 1927, but 385 feet of it later suffered severe damages by a storm. Surprisingly, the city issued a bond of $175,000 to build a fifth pier.
Completed in 1946, the fifth one became the longest on the West Coast, but it, too, fell into disrepair after decades of relentless beatings from powerful weather.
Was it time for the sixth pier? Apparently so, and it came with a hefty price tag of $5 million. The inauguration of the 1942-foot-long structure took place on September 29, 1987, and it became the longest made of wood on the West Coast.
Life at the Pier
Pelicans and seagulls swarm fishermen just below this famous California pier. These sea birds are quite used to people and flashing cameras, and I had the impression that they liked being the stars.
For a scrumptious sandwich or a fresh seafood meal, take a seat at Ruby’s, which even locals give a high rating. Though this is the only eatery on the pier, the best part of a day in Oceanside is simply enjoying its serene beauty. It’s the perfect place to daydream and let the sea breeze carry your troubles away.
Walk to the end of the pier for an amazing panorama of miles of coastline, a show of surfers and body borders riding waves, and seal lions swimming around with the hope of an easy meal.
Due to Oceanside Pier’s location and popularity, “the summer months are packed,” one local said. There is a myriad of activities, such as concerts in the amphitheater, which visitors and locals alike thoroughly enjoy, and the beach fills up quickly on a hot day. It also turns out that beach erosion is one Oceanside’s biggest problems, and the city is taking expensive measures to ensure the future of this stretch of beautiful coastline.
It’s unknown whether this sixth pier will withstand the unrelenting waves and storms—only time will tell—until then, go there and enjoy it!