Just north of the state line shared with California you’ll find the state park hosting Oregon’s welcome center, Crissey Field State Recreation Site.
The park name chronicles ownership and the usage of the land. Crissey is the surname of one William L., who owned the property in the middle part of the 20th century. Field has dual meaning both for the flowers grown and the airfield utilized on the land prior to being acquired by the state park system.
Beaches and flowers and airports, oh my! I wanted to learn more; online digging added some depth to the thumbnail sketch.
Flowers and Bulbs
In 1912, Mr. Crissey was known for growing bulbs. His flower fields, Gladiolus Farm, were located in Boring, Oregon (a bit southeast of Portland), and the colorful gladiolus was his flower of choice. Each year he produced a bulb catalog depicting these beauties for purchase and delivery, for example 1916 and 1917.
He eventually left his job to pursue the flower trade full time, and Gladiolus Farm expanded into a worldwide enterprise. His blooming bulb varieties enlarged accordingly, with the addition of phlox, delphiniums, and irises, to name a few.
Mr. Crissey moved to Brookings with his wife in 1928, at the time home to about 250 residents. Soon after, the Easter lily was added to his floral inventory. Crissey pioneered the commercial sale of this flower for which the small coastal community of Brookings was later renowned.
By 1940, Mr. Crissey was also known for the “development of the beach attractions of southwestern Oregon” and owned the state line property that later became Crissey Field State Recreation Site. The 1940 census sets the Brookings population at 500.
It was fortuitous that he lived in Brookings at the time of the bombing by Japan during World War II, which struck the nearby Curry county forest in 1942. Less than a year later, a ban on Easter Lilies imported from Japan, who had been a primary supplier of this plant, caused an upsurge in the Oregon bulb business.
The boost in bulb sales lasted until the late ‘40s. Around that time, Crissey’s southernmost bulb land was converted into an airfield which was leased to the Oregon State Board of Aeronautics from 1952 to 1962. Recorded online history of Crissey State Line Airstrip is thin, but what has been gathered is captured by Paul Freeman in his listing of Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields.
At some point after 1964 airfield land ownership moved to a timber company, which held the land until 1993 when it transferred to the Oregon State Parks. Planning for Crissey Field State Recreation Site and the Welcome Center was underway in 2003, and the new state park opened in 2008.
One tidbit recorded by Freeman:
“A 6/7/13 aerial view looking north shows the park road built over the alignment of the former Crissey Airfield runway.”
As you drive into Crissey Field State Recreation Site, you can imagine the airstrip and even the lilies once grown there, and reflect on the colored background of the park grounds.
Edge of beach
The entrance to Oregon’s southernmost beach is also an introduction to the state’s driftwood-strewn coastline. If a beach could be considered messy, the shore at Crissey Field State Recreation Site would be among those at the top of the list! Picturesque it most definitely is, but unless you’re comfortable climbing over logs of all shapes and sizes, you may want to stick to the concrete landing in front of the Welcome Center.
|Terrain:||Level sidewalk followed by mostly level path of pea gravel, one person wide. A curb ramp to the sidewalk is located by the handicapped parking.|
Note: The ADA requirement for ground surface is “stable, firm, and slip resistant,” and the gravel used on the path meets that requirement. Personally, I do not find gravel conducive for use by all wheeled mobility devices. Thus, the 100 Steps Wheel Friendly designation of Maybe indicates you should consider for yourself by looking at the terrain description and photos whether or not the path appears safe or comfortable for your use.
|Fee: No fee|
|Restrooms:||At the Welcome Center|
|Directions:||From Highway 101 just north of the state line, turn west into the parking lot at the Crissey Field state park sign. The parallel spaces on the north side of the lot are the closest to the path to the beach, which begins from the north sidewalk.|
Welcome Center landing
For a view of the beach or a visit to the Welcome Center during its hours of operation you can head to the building’s landing. The top tier is elevated above the brush between the Welcome Center and the beach, so the ocean is in plain sight.
You can take the stairs or utilize the zigzagging ramps, which doubles the step count. You can even head toward the beach from the parking lot (as described above), then branch to the back side of the Welcome Center. The back also has both stair and ramp access.
|Terrain:||Level sidewalk followed by three sets of six stairs, railings available in the center. Alternatively, there are several ramps to reach the top level. Each landing is level concrete. A curb ramp to the sidewalk is located by the handicapped parking.|
|Fee: No fee|
|Restrooms:||At the Welcome Center|
|Directions:||From Highway 101 just north of the state line, turn west into the parking lot at the Crissey Field state park sign. The parallel spaces on the north side of the lot are the closest to the Welcome Center. The route via stairs is clearly visible from the lot. The alternate route utilizing ramps starts next to the northernmost stairs.|