Haunt-tober Spotlight: Graveyards of Pacific County

Oct 2, 2023 | History

As the weather changes and the winds creak the shedding trees, our thoughts turn to the peaceful plots buried in our past. With storied towns filled with folklore, a few skeletons lurk in the closets. Join us as we walk softly through some of the graveyards of Pacific County to visit the final resting places of infamous characters whose legacies still haunt our history today.

Graveyard of the Pacific

One of the most famous graveyards of Pacific County is our coastline. It is the final home to many lost ships and souls. Grimly named The Graveyard of the Pacific, it’s a watery resting place stretching from the Columbia River’s mouth to the northern tip of Vancouver Island, Canada. Tempestuous shorelines, murky mists, and cruel currents have caused more than 2,000 shipwrecks and claimed more than 700 lives. More than 200 of those wrecks occurred along our coastline.

Graveyards of Pacific County Shipwreck

Visit the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center to view water-logged artifacts pulled from several notable wrecks along our shores. Take the self-guided tour of the Shipwrecks Along the Discovery Trail. Or hike to Cape Disappointment Lighthouse for a bird’s eye view of the passionate waters that claimed so many lives.

Beard’s Hollow and Dead Man’s Cove

Graveyards of Pacific County Beards Hollow

More briny proverbial burial plots are two beaches in Cape Disappointment. Beard’s Hollow, a small beach near North Head Lighthouse, is named after the discovery of Captain E.N. Beard’s body on the sandy shoreline. A casualty of the Graveyard of the Pacific, Captain Beard helmed the Vandalia in 1853. The ship washed up with four bodies, including the captain, and the area now carries his namesake. Additional bodies were found around the bend in Deadman’s Cove near Cape D Lighthouse. Though the monikers are somewhat grim, both beaches gave a peaceful resting place for the lost souls.

Heed this warning! If you’re attempting to visit or pay your respects, Deadman’s Cove is only accessible during low tide. Stay out of Davy Jones’ locker by avoiding the cove when the tide is high.

Willie Keil’s Grave

Willie Keil was born in 1836 and was the son of Dr. Wilhelm Keil, the founder of the religious colony Bethel in Missouri. Willie enthusiastically supported his father’s plan to move the colony west and was planning on driving the wagon during the journey. Less than a week before they departed, Willie died suddenly from malaria. Before he passed, he begged his father to take him on the journey.

Graveyards of Pacific County Willie

Determined to keep his promise to his son, Dr. Keil and the colony fashioned a decidedly unusual coffin for him. Willie was placed inside a wooden barrel lined with lead and covered with 100-proof Golden Rule whiskey. He was preserved in whiskey for six months as the wagon train traveled from Missouri to the Willapa Valley. He is the only person known to have crossed the Oregon Trail dead.

Over time, his story became a legend, and Willie became known as “the Pickled Pioneer.” His final resting spot joins the graveyards of Pacific County on a hill near Menlo. Tribute plaques tell his tale at the gravesite, and you can find his original wooden grave marker at the Northwest Carriage Museum in Raymond. More than just folklore, Willie’s story now represents the power of a promise kept. When you visit the site, pour one out for ol’ Willie.

Oysterville Cemetery

Just past the shell-crackled streets of Oysterville sits one of the most peaceful graveyards of Pacific County. Built in 1858, Oysterville Cemetery houses the graves of many of the pioneers and original settlers of the town.

Graveyards of Pacific County Oysterville 2

Notable plots include plots for the Espy and Clark family, as well as the decorated grave of Chief Nahcati. Chief Nahcati is credited with showing R.H. Espy the hearty oyster beds (though later discoveries would point to another individual.) Not far from Chief Nahcati’s plot is the haunting homage to the unknown sailors who washed ashore in Oysterville. A stark wooden marker reads, “And the sea gave up its dead…” as a tribute. And when you’re there, be sure to lay some flowers on the grave of Sarah Crouch. Sarah drowned in the Willapa River in 1893 under what some called mysterious circumstances.

Riverside and Washington Cemeteries

Located directly across from each other, you can find these two graveyards of Pacific County in Raymond. The plots haphazardly cover the hilly grass patches off Cemetery Road. The land once belonged to Job Lamley, Pacific County’s first sheriff. When his son, George, died in 1891, they buried him in the orchard on their farm. The land eventually became the cemeteries we know today.

Graveyards of Pacific County Riverside

Many of the wooden markers were lost to rot or weather conditions. The tangled vines and weeds made visiting a chore. In recent years, they have been lovingly tended to by locals, though the passing of time has weathered the remaining headstones. When visiting, try to find Martha Miller’s grave. A mother of nine, Martha became a resident of Pacific County in 1889. She settled here when it was still wilderness and built a farm from the timber. Her obituary noted that she was one of the county’s most beloved and cheerful women, and a considerable crowd braved a blustery storm to attend her funeral.

Hearses of the Northwest Carriage Museum

The beloved Northwest Carriage Museum is home to more than 60 historical carriages, buggies, work wagons, and sleighs. A figurative final resting place for most of these cherished vehicles, the collection also includes several soul-stirring hearses as old as 1900. Their hand-carved Vienna hearse is breathtaking in its craftsmanship. Once owned by one of Vienna’s largest mortuaries, it transported dignitaries and the wealthy. And the ebony, intricately carved panel hearse is a showstopper. Made in 1888, you’ll spy it in the Errol Flynn film “Gentleman Jim.” Polished to a shadowy sheen, the wooden carriage has a spotlight feature in the museum. When you’re visiting, be sure to ask what the compartment below the caskets is used for.

Graveyards of Pacific County NWC Hearse

Our cherished graveyards of Pacific County hold the final chapters of the beautiful stories of some of our most beloved characters. The next time you visit our towns and shores, be sure to take a stroll through their history.


Haunt-tober Spotlight: Graveyards of Pacific County

By: Danelle Dodds

Danelle is an international traveler, road tripper, writer, and artist. She firmly believes in testing the limits of word count, mileage, and AYCE sushi.




Explore more of what Pacific County has to offer.

Unique Pacific Northwest Museums in the Long Beach Peninsula

The Long Beach Peninsula’s museums have long been treasures that have brought joy to locals and delighted visiting guests. Quaint and lovingly curated, our museums celebrate local culture and defining characteristics of this special region. Scattered like jewels over...

Indoor Fun in Pacific County 

Being outdoors, surrounded by spectacular scenery, is a big draw for Pacific County  And, there’s fun to be had indoors, too. Here are some ideas for when you want to have some indoor fun in Pacific County.    Visit a Museum Pacific County is home to a variety of...

Haunted Places on the Long Beach Peninsula

Home to eerie sounding areas like Cape Disappointment, Dismal Nitch and the Graveyard of the Pacific, it’s no surprise that Washington’s Pacific County boasts a hearty helping of haunted houses… and hotels.

12 Secrets of Southwest Washington’s Pacific County

Get off the beaten path to find these beautiful and unique locations that few have heard of.

Graveyard of the Pacific

From Tillamook Bay on the Oregon Coast to Cape Scott Provincial Park on Vancouver Island stretches a deadly coastal region known as the Graveyard of the Pacific. Thick fog banks, strong currents and waves, and powerful winds have been the peril of many ships since...

Lewis & Clark National Historical Park: 15 Things to Do & See

Did you know that Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula is part of a National Historic Park? The Lewis & Clark National and State Historic Park is unique in that it spans two states (Washington and Oregon), as well as three forts, an 8.5 long paved coastal trail, and...

Bridge to Nowhere: What’s on the Other Side?

The Astoria-Megler Bridge provides a 360-degree view of container ships, the coast range, the mouth of the Columbia River, and historic Astoria homes. It looks like a scene out of a movie and is a must-see experience for visitors from around the world. You may be...

Experience Joy at Coastal Places with Depressing Names

The Visitor’s Center on the Long Beach Peninsula gets a lot of questions about the many depressing names of local landmarks, and even some businesses. Don’t let the names fool you. Places like Dismal Nitch, Cape Disappointment, and Graveyard of the Pacific all have...

Three Weird Facts About Lewis & Clark

Three things you didn’t know about Lewis and Clark. Plus, find Lewis and Clark historical sites on the peninsula and beyond.

Visit the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Before there were lighthouses on the Peninsula, ships bound for Portland and Astoria navigated their way through the high waves and shifting sandbars, focusing on fluttering white flags and notched trees along the shoreline by day and flickering signal fires by night....

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This