The Origins of Naming Nestucca Spit Press

I am frequently asked why I named my publishing company Nestucca Spit Press. Here’s the story.

Nestucca Spit is a pristine stretch of beach located in Bob Straub State Park in Pacific City. (Nestucca is the name of the long-vanished Native American tribe that once inhabited the area.) I discovered it back in 1997 when I first moved to South Tillamook County after relocating from Portland to launch a new coastal life. The following year, I became the caretaker of the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge and that’s when the special relationship with this beach began in earnest. Pretty soon, a radically new life was initiated by going there when magical things started happening to me on the beach.

It wasn’t long after discovering the Spit, that I learned the incredible story of how it was saved from utter destruction in the mid-to-late 1960s from an insane ODOT plan to relocate Highway 101 right down the beach and over the bar. Had that plan gone through, the area would have resembled Rockaway and it would have led to other highway relocations down sand spits. The Oregon Coast would be totally unrecognizable today if that disaster had occurred.

Nestucca Spit’s savior was then-Oregon State Treasurer Bob Straub, who had a vacation home in Pacific City and loved the Spit and loved taking his dog there.

Over the years, I dug up the previously undocumented story of how Straub used exceptional political guile and harnessed the power of Oregon beachcombers to crush the plan. He saved Nestucca Spit for all time, and my discovery of it 30 years later revolutionized my soul. I consider saving Nestucca Spit one the greatest environmental victories in the state’s history, although visitors to Bob Straub State Park would never know that because there isn’t a single word about it at the park. I’ve tried my best to make up for this inexcusable oversight over the years by sharing the story in as many ways as possible as I can invent.

(To read my full account of Straub’s heroism, read the story on Powell’s web site, where I posted this story in 2010)

During the decade of my tenure of service as caretaker, I rambled Nestucca Spit with my dogs over a thousand times and came alive as a human being and writer because of that rambling. That’s why I named my publishing company the name I did—I wanted to honor a magnificent natural space and the heroism of Bob Straub from protecting the Spit from desecration. It was the only name I ever considered. It just popped into my mind when I was starting the business in 2002. Naturally, I was on the beach at the time. I think all my great notions manifest there.

The Nestucca Spit Press logo is a block print of a scene on the Spit. It was made by the artist Cindy Popp, who knows the place well.

I sorely miss those Nestucca Spit days with the dogs. I’ve lost so much of who I was in those early formative days on the Oregon Coast. The goal is to find a way back to that person.