Lincoln County Historical Society

COWABUNGA!

Cowabunga Longboard Classic, Otter Rock, 1983. Photo by Scott Blackman

Making Waves
Pioneer Surfers of the Oregon Coast

An engaging and nostalgic exhibit on Oregon Coast surfing, surfer culture, and the pioneers who made it happen opens at the Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center on Thursday, October 23rd.

For centuries, surfing was central to ancient Polynesian culture. It was “discovered” by European explorers in the late 1700s. The first written account of surfing in Hawaii appears in the journals of Captain James Cook. Cook describes with envy the pleasure experienced by these early surfer dudes, December 1777.

Locally, surfing (probably body surfing on what looks like wood ironing boards) got a false start in the early 1910s at Newport’s Agate Beach. As far as anyone knows it went into hibernation with the outbreak of World War I, 1918. The era of modern surfing began locally in 1964 when Scott Blackman went to Sears in Salem, bought a board, and caught his first wave at Agate Beach. Immediately he was hooked.  Blackman, who is known nationally for his photography, was not only the area’s first modern surfer and mentor to the era’s young surfers, he used his camera to artfully document local surfers and surfing culture. Scott and his wife, Sandy, recently wrote a book, Oregon Surfing, Central Coast and the two of them made this exhibit possible.

This exhibit features many Blackman photos of the area’s pioneer surfers, including members of the legendary Agate Beach Surf Club. Also featured is surfing memorabilia from the community and items the Blackmans discovered in the course of their book research. More than just a photo exhibit, Making Waves includes early surfing posters and several 1960s vintage surfboards, most of which were loaned by Mike Jipp, Pacific Northwest Surf Museum and Lincoln City Surf Shop. These rare old school boards were made by Oregon board makers such as Jensen, Tillamook Head, and Jim Sagawa. Most are long boards, one of which dates from 1946 and is 12’ long.

An opening reception for the Making Waves exhibit will be held at the Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center on Friday, October 24th at 5:00 pm. Admission to this event is free for members, and $5.00 for non-members. For more information, call 541-265-7509.