Driving home from the coast as kids, we always stopped at Camp 18 in Elsie. I remember walking into this big log cabin looking building, sitting at a long wooden table, drinking out of tin cups and eating a ginormous and delicious burger. I remember all this, but it’s been 25 years since I set foot inside. I drive by it every time I go to the beach (which is quite a lot) and finally I decided to stop in and see if it lived up to my memories.
Camp 18 is more than just a place for tasty eats, it is also a logging museum, lovingly curated by Gordon Smith and, formerly, by the late Maurie Clark, both legends in the local logging scene.
The log cabin like structure was built by Gordon Smith and some of his pals. Its construction is authentic in construction methods, materials used, and features. A single locomotive car sat out front and chainsaw carved statues of woodsmen greeted me as I walked in the door, and stepped back in time. There is also a historic water tower, two stone fireplaces, fireplace a burl table (a table carved from a single stump of wood protruding from the floor), and an intricate antler chandelier. Truly, this is an experience like no other with a log carved wooden staircase and a gigantic porch. Axes, saws, and logger clothing decorated light colored wooden wall.
Sure enough, the tin cups awaited me at my table. Breakfast is served until 2 PM and, I was tempted to get an omelet, country slab of ham, or fried rainbow trout. I could have gotten a big juicy burger, meatloaf or razor clams for lunch, but, I went with what I was craving – a heaping plate of barbecue ribs (though I came ever so close to grabbing the country fried steak). It was everything I remembered.
What began as Gordon Smith’s dream in the late 70’s with a few rusty pieces of equipment and some roughly hewn chairs, has blossomed into a northwest tradition which my parents bestowed upon me and which I in turn intend to bestow upon my own children. There are no frills here, just some delicious food and some rustic charm. You can’t miss Camp 18 on your way to or from the Oregon Coast and, only an hour from Portland, you could make it a destination, and not just a chance stop.
Camp 18 Restaurant and Logging museum is located on Hwy 26 in the idyllic little town of Elsie, about a half hour from Seaside and Canon Beach.