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History of the Contest

Building Sandcastles Since 1964

The Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest began in 1964 when a tsunami washed out the Elk Creek Bridge, and residents were relatively isolated until a new bridge could be built. That spring, local families gathered for a Sandcastle Contest to entertain their children and attract visitors. That Sandcastle Contest became one of the largest sandcastle contests on the West Coast. To celebrate 60 years of Sandcastles, the History Center & Museum is hosting an exhibit that outlines the history of the contest. The exhibit begins on March 1st and is on display until June 14th. The History Center & Museum will be displaying 60 years of sandcastles on the beach during the Sandcastle Contest on Saturday, June 15th.

About the Exibit

The Cannon Beach History Center & Museum is excited to announce the opening of its newest temporary exhibition, 60 Years of Sandcastles, opening March 1, 2024. Explore 60 years of sandcastle history with pictures, artifacts, and original posters from years past. The first Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest was held just a few months after one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded in U.S. history in March 1964. The 9.2 earthquake set a tsunami in motion that moved with such strength and velocity that the Ecola Creek Bridge was washed away and buildings on the north end of Cannon Beach were torn asunder. The townspeople of Cannon Beach were in shock and tourism began to dwindle. That spring, local families gathered for a Sandcastle Contest to help attract visitors. 60 years later the event has grown in popularity and continues to draw large crowds from all over the Pacific Northwest. 

The 60 Years of Sandcastles exhibition will be on display at the Cannon Beach History Center & Museum beginning March 1st through June 14th. The Museum is open Wednesday through Monday from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The Museum is located at 1387 South Spruce Street in Cannon Beach on the corner of Sunset and Spruce Street.