Yachats 'Believe It Or Not'
WELCOME to Yachatzee, devoted to fascinating facts about Yachats, a town of more than 600 sometimes fulltime souls that sits on the edge of the earth along the Oregon coast USA.
Meaning of "Yachats": There are many theories about the meaning of Yachats.
Most mispronounced word: Yahacts, which is actually pronounced YA-hots.
Second most mispronounced word: Heceta, as in nearby Heceta Head Lighthouse, Heceta Head, etc., which is actually pronounced, "Ha - SEE - Ta."
Town slogan: We're all here because we're not all there.
Corollary slogan: Everybody has to be someplace.
Real estate slogan: Any further west and you're wet.
Number of Stoplights: 0
Distance to the beach: You're there!
Number of parks: Yachats boasts two state parks, a city park and a municipal commons.
Population: In the year 1200, there were 17 Alsea Indian villages on the Alsea River and 11 villages along the coast as far south as the Yachats River, settled by the Yahuch branch of the Alsea. The population of the 28 settlements is estimated at about 26,600. By 1780, the English counted about 6,000 in the Alsea territory. In 1863, the Indian population was recorded at 521. Ten years later the population was 343. The census of 1910 returned 29 Indians and that of 1930 only 9 under the entire Yakonan stock. The 2000 census recorded 11 Native Americans in Yachats. The current population of the Waldport -- Yachats area is about 5,000.
Sea lion population: very high -- the World Famous Sea Lion Caves are just a few minute's drive south of Yachats.
Physical Size: According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.9 sq. mi.
Location: Yachats is located at 44.3 degrees North, 124.1 degrees West (latitude/longitude)..
Gambling: Accoring to the Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes (1998), gambling was a favorite pastime among the Alsea because food was so abundant that there was plenty of free time for amusements. The Yahuch and Coos tribes would play the "shinny game"; during trading visits. It required teams, a ball, clubs, and a playing field, most likely located along the beach, south of the mouth of the Yachats River.
Bad news: Some awful things happened to the Indians on the coast during the1850s, 60s and 70s, all designed to rid the area of tribes and open things up for white farming settlement, including a forced march over the Cape Perpetua cliffs to Yachats, the smallpox epidemic that wiped out the tribes and the Alsea Sub-agency prison camp located in the what is now the Starr Creek area. For more info check out www.yachats.info/history/biblio1.html.
Highest point: Cape Perpetua, located a few miles south of Yachats, is the highest point on the Oregon Coast.
Giant spruce: South of Yachats begins a 30-mile stretch of coastal wilderness. This stretch includes a Sitka spruce judged to be at least 565 years old, born in 1441 or so. This tree goes up over 185 feet and is 40 feet round at the base. The Columbus Day storm of 1962 knocked out the top 35 feet of the Giant Spruce, with winds at the Cape recorded at over 160 mph.
The Yachats River: begins about 12 miles ESE of Yachats, Oregon in steep, thick forest, a half mile north of Klickatat Mountain and flows northward about 3 miles, joins Grass Creek, then about 0.4 miles later joins with School Fork and turns westward. Keller Creek and Stump Creek join after about a mile of meandering, followed after a half mile by Neiglick Creek at river mile 10. The river bed widens significantly and levels out to become very slow moving and turns northward about a half mile, then westward at river mile 8. It meanders westward the rest of the way to the ocean. The sand and stone beach at the river bar is normally very shallow, which allows the tide to change the length of the river as much as a mile. Along the way, the Yachats River features the western-most covered bridge in the United States!
Median house value: above the Oregon state average.
Percentage of population with a college degree: above the Oregon state average.
Median age: above Oregon state average.
Percentage of foreign-born population: above Oregon state average.
Number of college students: below Oregon state average
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What's in a name? This being a big question in our little town, we devote quite a bit of space to it. The Yachatzee research team has come up with five different meanings. Are there more? Probably. But these are the ones we've uncovered. First the spelling: Yachats is the currently agreed upon spelling, officially such since the 1940s, probably for purposes of World War II. But as late as 1936 there was a reference to Yawhuch in the Corvallis Gazette Times. Dorsey's American Folklore (1890) gave the tribal name as Ya'qua'yik and the "official"; town name as Yahats. In 1805-06, Lewis and Clark asked the indigenous people of the Columbia River region the names of the bands along the coast. The Youitts were listed. There were many other spellings between Lewis & Clark and World War II, but it was the Coast Land Company that standardized the pronunciation with ads using YA-HOTS as the spelling.
Now the meanings.
1. Little river with a big mouth. This and several similar versions are the most popular and come from the Chinook jargon used by whites and tribal traders around 1900. The garbled spellings and obscure meanings are a result of white attempts to spell sounds made by the Alsea tribe that occupied the area between the Alsea and Yachats rivers for 6,000 years. Ya means water in the jargon and there was some attempt to understand what the other sound was but with little luck.
2. As far as you can go along the beach. This fits the Alsea view since its territory included what is now the 804 trail and the area where the Landmark sits. Other meanings in this vein include: where the river meets the sea and river at the foot of the mountain.
3. Sexual intercourse. This one is from Clara Pearson, a Tillamook Indian talking to an archeologist in the 1920s. She may have been pulling one on the archie or she might have been serious, where the river plunges into the sea.
4. From the Hebrew. Spelled "Yachatz"; "yahaz", and "yahatz." It means "dividing" and refers to breaking in half the middle of three matzohs on a plate early in the Passover ceremony. "Yachatz" is the fourth of the15 signs of the Seder.
5. A Biblical City, as in... "Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz. And the LORD our God delivered him before us." (Deuteronomy 2:32-33a)
Jahaz is pronounced exactly the same as Yachats. It is the site of the first military victory by the Sons of Israel in their invasion of Canaan. This was the Transjordan -- the other side of the Jordan River as seen from Israel. The tribes of Reuven and Gad and the half-tribe of Menassah liked the look of the land for their livestock and were given it in a special first-come-first-served deal if they agreed to serve as the vanguard of the invading force. Jahaz went to Reuven. Later, when there was a need to find homes and grazing land for the Levites -- the deacons and musicians of the Temple in Jerusalem -- Jahaz was given to them. Still later, as criminal law developed, six Cities of Refuge were established among the original 48 Levitical cities. Jazah was one of them, a place where you could avoid punishment for certain crimes, a place of asylum, but also a place of isolation and punishment as well.
Mailing address: P.O. Box 14, Yachats, OR 97498
The Landmark opens at 8 a.m. every day.
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