The following is a brief and cursory history of Ocean Shores and its surrounding area. I was guided in this composition by a primary-level California History text, with some additional input from Chapter 7 of the Ozone Street Irregulars' The Elusive Treasure.
5th millennium BCE to mid 18th century
- The Chumash and Kumeyai peoples are among the earliest inhabitants of the region. Depending on the season and the availability of crops, fishing etc. the population between the hills and to the plateau could be as many as 700 individuals.
Mid 18th century
- Franciscan missionaries accompanied by Spanish soldiers arrive in the area, having come from regions to the south. What is now understood to have been Mission Santa Lucia - the crumbling ruins the youth of the 1950s to the 1970s called the "Old Walls" in a field full of tumbleweeds frequented by wild goats - is founded on a plateau the present site of Ocean Bluffs. Estimated population circa 1775: 1400 people.
December 1812 and later
- Large earthquake in region seriously damages Santa Lucia; changes in creek flow and its effect on agriculture causes efforts to be relocated elsewhere; fixtures, equipment etc sent to San Buenaventura, San Juan Capistrano, and other Missions. The altered conditions continue to support a chapel and a small estancia at Santa Lucia but it is clear that any plan for a large mission there cannot succeed.
- 1825 est pop: 900
Early 19th century
- Spanish state authority crystallizes over the area. Land grants issued.
Mid 19th century
- English speaking settlers in California declare independence from Mexico.
- 1850 est pop: 1700
- 1863-03-21: Battle of Red Fork Wash: "Scientific expedition" that was really a Confederate intelligence operation in disguise is exposed and routed by local militia
- 1863-03:24: Inquest panel "intrigued" when Southern allegations of pirate loot buried somewhere in the district are corroborated by local Mexican legends. Abortive searches continue to present day.
Late 19th-Early 20th centuries
- 1875 est pop: 2000
- Steam railroad and electric trolley networks spread throughout the area to support growing population.
- 1900 est pop: 2700
- 1906-04-18: San Francisco earthquake alters coastline and Red Fork watershed, again.
- 1907-04-01: McKinleyburg incorporates; version 1.0 of public pier built.
- State water project upgrades infrastructure, allowing larger scale agriculture.
- 1910 pop est: 4600
- Duncan family local leaders in citrus production; interests extend into Orange and Riverside counties.
- Oil discovered in area during water system work.
- Red Fork rivermouth dredged for establishment of a harbour; Port Bixby founded; passenger service to Catalina Island augments existing service out of Newport and Long Beach.
World War I
- Security and political concerns impel founding of local, independent police force; first order of business: control the vigilante situation.
- Visiting Hawaiian and Australian athletes train newly founded lifeguard division
Early 20th century
- 1920 est pop: 5800
- Before 3000 listeners, businessman, community activist, and sometime politician Paolo Luchese gives spectacular "Out of the sunshine and into the fire" anti-Temperance rant predicting widespread lawlessness if Prohibition gets enacted; beseeches attendees to write to Congress; Volstead Act passes anyway and he becomes an outlaw
- Coast Highway completed
- Silent westerns shot at Old Walls
- Church of Living Light establishes temple, campground at a spring in a cow pasture north of town.
- 1930 est pop: 8200
- First usage of "Ocean Shores" as local place name occurs when Postal Service audit finds an older McKinleyburg already exists elsewhere in California.
- 1939 September hurricane hits SoCal, destroying some boats and causing floods; Duncan property damaged; Vandenack family buys spun off parcel
- 1940 est pop: 7500
Mid 20th century
- 1941: Church of Living Light collapses in a tax fraud case. Landholder seizes their compound and fences it off.
World War II
- Coastal defences upgraded, network of jeep tracks established to support coastal scout and gun positions. These tracks are still available for recreational use in the local forests and western beaches.
- Aircraft factories established inland.
- 1942 est pop: 9400 resident civilians, 4200 posted military, anywhere from 200 to 7500 additional troops undergoing training, equipping, or shipping-out from various local military camps
- RAID!! Coastal batteries late one dark, foggy, soggy night open up on big long dark floaty things sitting low in the dark flat water, that turn out to be stray logs that floated down from Washington state.
- 1943-03-15: Only confirmed homicide in modern times: clues around unidentified Asian man found daggered behind a shop on the pier eventually unveil a German spy cell
- 1944 est pop: 15,300 resident civilians, 5400 posted military, 1800 other posted temporary government, 2500 posted civilian contractors, anywhere fron 800 to 14,000 additional troops training, equipping, or shipping out from local military facilities
- 1946 est pop: 21,350 resident civilians, 740 posted military, 900 other federal government people on temporary assignment.
- 1947: First recorded outbreak of Fiji flu
- Early 1950s to mid 1960s: some time during this period a McDonald's window service hamburger stand is established somewhere in Ocean Shores. Eventually it will close. The structure will later be incorporated into a Skatopia.