Dubbed as having the world’s smallest harbor, Depoe Bay has a unique and colorful history that has shaped the town into what it is today. This small but mighty hamlet has a lot to offer when it comes to outdoor adventures, wildlife watching, local restaurants, and of course its natural scenery. Discover the history of Depoe Bay and what makes it so unique by making this quaint part of the world your next stop along the Oregon Coast.
History of the world’s smallest harbor
Yes, we realize there are smaller harbors throughout the world, but the distinction people make is that Depoe Bay is home to the “smallest natural navigable harbor.” The harbor today covers approximately six acres, with a 50-foot wide channel opening – connecting to the Pacific Ocean. But what is claimed today as the world’s smallest harbor, used to be even smaller! Before it was expanded 56 years ago, its rocky and twisted entrance was even smaller at just 30 feet wide!
While Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park is nothing like Depoe Bay’s Spouting Horn, the saltwater display is somewhat reminiscent of an active geyser. The Spouting Horn is a two-foot-wide underwater cave that funnels incoming crushers (waves), sometimes straight up in the air – soaking pedestrians walking by and sometimes reaching the opposite side of HWY 101.
Oregon’s first aquarium
A previous claim to fame, up until 1998, was that Depoe Bay used to be home to the oldest privately-owned aquarium. The town’s co-founder saw an opportunity to offer visitors a way to see and observe marine life, so in 1927 the first aquarium in Oregon was built in Depoe Bay. While it thrived at first, over the years the aquarium took some hard turns and ended up closing its doors in 1998. Now the building stands as the Silver Heron Art Gallery, a high-end art gallery with a piano and wine bar.
One of Depoe Bay’s notable landmarks, The Depoe Bay Bridge is an iconic marker to locals and tourists alike. Completed in 1927, it was only 18 feet wide with an expansion in 1940 – making it 48 feet wide. Located at mile marker 127.6 along HWY 101, it is a favorite stop amongst Oregon Coast road trippers. The bridge was later placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.
Not just a tiny fishing village
While Depoe Bay used to be just a tiny fishing village, this small town now offers a plethora of things to do for visitors passing through. With a large sea wall running the length of the downtown area, visitors are able to enjoy coastal views while shopping and dining. As the only town on the Oregon Coast with this luxury, a simple stroll through the streets of Depoe Bay is a true treat.
Stay at the historic Whale Cove Inn
Discover a little more of Depoe Bay’s history by staying at the Whale Cove Inn. Our Inn’s historic site dates back as early as the 1930s. While the site has taken on many different shapes and forms over the years, the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and Oregon’s coastline from Whale Cove Inn, have not.
So, how did Whale Cove Inn get its name? In 1903 an 80-foot whale was discovered washed up on the beach by local natives, a place that is still popular for whale sightings – which all can be enjoyed from the privacy of your balcony when you stay at Whale Cove Inn. We offer premium comfort and undeniable views you won’t find anywhere else. Discover why our suites are a great choice for your stay in Depoe Bay by browsing our accommodations.