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Looking Back: Shore Acres State Park
Published: 09/01/2014
 
During WWII, Cape Arago was cut off to the public and Shore Acres was used by the Army as part of the coast watch system.
During WWII, Cape Arago was cut off to the public and Shore Acres was used by the Army as part of the coast watch system.
1943 Photo Courtesy of Coos Historical & Maritime Museum, CHMM 992-8-036

Perched on a scenic bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean on Cape Arago, Shore Acres State Park was once the private estate of timber baron Louis J. Simpson

Once the private estate of timber baron Louis J. Simpson, Shore Acres State Park is perched on a scenic bluff, high above the Pacific Ocean on spectacular Cape Arago. The Simpson family was important in the history and development of the Coos Bay area, beginning with Captain Asa Simpson who founded the town of North Bend in 1855. Acquiring land from Cape Arago to North Bend, family fortunes were made in shipbuilding and timber.

The original seaside summer home was a three-story mansion with an indoor heated pool, rows of guestrooms and a large ballroom for elaborate parties. The estate grounds included five acres of formal gardens and showcased a collection of plants from around the world. After a devastating fire destroyed the mansion in 1921, Simpson attempted to rebuild on an even larger scale. However, financial losses during the Depression halted construction and both the house and grounds fell into disrepair. In 1942, the Simpson's beloved Shore Acres was purchased by the state of Oregon for use as a public park. While structural deterioration eventually forced the mansion to be razed, the restored formal gardens continue to attract thousands of visitors.

Today, Shore Acres State Park features year-round beauty and the annual Holiday Lights at Shore Acres event. An enclosed observation building now occupies the site of Simpson mansion, offering spectacular views of rugged seascapes, towering storm waves and glimpses of migrating whales.

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