The idea of building a wooden pier off the coast of gorgeous Oceanside, California, was proposed in March of 1888, and construction began in May. Months later, the pier stretched out to the Pacific Ocean 1,200 feet (if you have a little time on your hands, take 1,200 steps in one direction and you’ll find that this was no small distance).
Unfortunately, in 1890 a storm (as storms are wont to do) destroyed all but 300 ft of the original wooden structure (walk backwards 900 ft to scale. Having fun yet?). At low tide, you can still see pieces of it—that is, whatever a man named Melchior Pieper didn’t snatch up in 1891. Seeing an opportunity to attract more customers to his South Pacific Hotel, he scooped up most of the remains (probably without much ease) and stashed it behind his business.
Pieper was eager to rebuild and, in the process, become associated with the pier. He proposed that it be resurrected near Third Street, which (of course) happened to be quite close to his own hotel. As a result of this, three years later the “little iron wharf” was built, stretching 400 ft out and made of sturdier material. Citizens urged the city to stretch it out farther (likely, they would never be satisfied with any length but that of the amazing original), but in 1902 a second storm whipped up off the coast and effectively silenced their pleas…though not for long.
A year later, a third pier was built (one can assume the people of Oceanside have always had a bit of pier fever, as six total have been built) out of steel—this one thanks to the Southern California Railway Company–finally coming close to the original at 1,300 ft. With the excitement of electricity came an offer from the Electric Company to supply it with free lighting for a year; you can imagine the pride Oceansidians felt at this. Unfortunately, Mother Nature cares not for piers or humans’ sentimentality toward wooden planks, and this one was also ravaged by sea storms. C’est la vie.
Finally, the residents had enough. The next pier to be built (after, I’m sure, pier-bitterness had descended on the city) was made mostly of concrete in 1927. By this time, almost twenty years had passed and the excitement was resurrected. To celebrate, 20,000 people came for a 3-day massive party, starting on the 4th of July. How could it support so many people? Easy—this time it was built to stretch an amazing 1,900 feet (you should probably run the distance this time).
Wait for it—another wild storm appeared! This time in 1946, and it only destroyed 385 ft (Mother Nature likely started feeling twinges of guilt). At last, the sixth installment was completed September 29, 1987, and still stands (finally!).
Today, the pier is every bit as loved as it had been for over a century. The iconic Ruby’s Diner sits at the edge, a Southern California requirement for most piers. Fishing is free, and on any given day you can find children and their fathers (at night, you might even find a couple of Old Sea Dogs in their slickers as well) casting their lines into the Pacific Ocean. Often, on a clear day—of which there are many, as Oceanside is considered to have the second best climate in the United States—you can feast your eyes on the small but dearly beloved Catalina Island just across the way.
What are you waiting for? It could be its last day!