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As It Was: Campground Envisions Adding to Gold Beach Prosperity

In 1924, James Leith opened the first modern auto campground on the Oregon South Coast at Gold Beach.

Leith invested in his vision of what the advent of automobiles and the pending completion of the Roosevelt Highway would bring.  He said the campground would be an added attraction and source of income for the community.

The Gold Beach Auto Park was located two blocks from the main business section.  It included a gasoline generator, arriving by sea from Portland and carried by team and wagon from the dock. Installers strung power lines between spruce trees to reach the county road and several 100 yards farther north. This was one of the earliest public sources of electricity in town, supplying Leith’s business needs, a car-service garage, and several homes nearby.  

The complex included a service station and café. A large central building had a concrete stove that served for cooking and heating water for showers and clothes washing.  Leith’s generator lighted the grounds, which extended west to accessible beaches for motorists and campers.

By 1940, records show most of the auto park property had become part of the Gold Beach airport.


Sources: Peterson, Emil R., and Alfred Powers. A Century of Coos and Curry. Coquille, Coos-Curry Pioneer and Historical Association, 1977; Schroeder, Walt. They Found Gold on the Beach. Gold Beach, Curry County Historical Society Press, 1999; Curry County Historical Society. Excerpts from the Curry County Echoes. Vol. 1, Curry County Historical Society, 1978, 2 vols.

Laurel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. Laurel is the author of "Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery", a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.