When driving from Portland to the Oregon Coast on Oregon Highway 26, you’ll often be traveling through the mist-laden trees and competing with huge logging trucks for space on winding mountain roads. Making a stop along the way to relax a bit and smell the mountain air at Camp 18, is an ideal way to break up the road trip and arrive at your destination more relaxed.
The Camp 18 Experience
As you round the turn into Elsie, a little coast range town, you’ll see Camp 18 with its huge log buildings, collection of logging equipment, and wisps of smoke from a fireplace chimney winding up through the damp air. Camp 18 is a traditional stop for many. You'll experience Oregon history as you look at the main restaurant building constructed with massive log beams and decorated chainsaw carvings on the covered deck. Open the huge door with the authentic logger’s axes for handles and enter a spacious yet warm dining room where you'll enjoy a traditional American meal (no small plates there!).
Oregon Logging History
Camp 18 represents the logging past of Oregon. In the 1920s and 1930s, large logging operations such as Clark & Wilson, Big Creek Timber Company, and others numbered all their camps. The restaurant and logging museum is called Camp 18 because it’s located at milepost 18 on Highway 26. It was not an actual logging camp but I can't think of any place better to learn about Oregon's logging history.
You'll be in awe of the massive logs that make up the entrance and the restaurant building. According to the Camp 18 website, all of the timber used in the building came from the general area. It was been hauled in, hand peeled, and draw knifed with the help of the owner’s family and friends.
When you are in the dining room, look up to see the huge 85-foot ridge pole. It weighed approximately 25 tons when cut and has 5,600 board feet of lumber in it. The antler chandeliers grace the dining room and add to the old Oregon ambiance.
Dining at Camp 18
In the winter and when it’s raining, the best places to sit are in front of the fireplaces. They keep a crackling fire going all day. The two fireplaces are built with approximately 50 tons of local river rock. The mantle of the fireplace in the main dining room is solid black walnut.
You can warm up by the rock fireplace and play a board game or be seated at one of the massive natural wood tables and enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner. When I lived in the area, if I had guests from out of the country, I would bring them to Camp 18 for an all-American meal. Portions are pretty much lumberjack sized. They have an extensive menu that includes burgers and fish, salads, and mouth-watering Marionberry cobbler.
For breakfast, if you dare, try one of their huge house-made cinnamon rolls. To experience a lumberjack meal, order the Flatcars, a stack of griddle cakes known in the logging camps as stove lids, strings of flats, or flatcars. You can even top them with strawberries and whipped cream.
For lunch or dinner, their huge burgers are always a hit although you can opt for a bowl of clam chowder or a chicken avocado salad. For dinner, their steaks are popular and they have a full bar and an upstairs lounge.
Don’t expect upscale cuisine at Camp 18, it’s all about lumberjack-sized meals. But the atmosphere and collection of logging equipment more than make up for the simple American fare.
More to Do at Camp 18
After your meal, check out the gift shop. They have fun logging-themed gifts and locally-made crafts.
For me, Camp 18 is an eagerly anticipated mid-way stop between central Portland and Seaside or Cannon Beach. While you are there, be sure and look at the logging equipment and read the signs to learn more about area logging.
Take a walk behind the building and see the rushing creek, encounter some Oregon native birds, and admire the beauty of the Douglas Fir forest.
It's a good way to stretch your legs!
When You Stop at Camp 18
There’s no need to dress up. Wearing jeans and a flannel shirt will make you feel right at home.
Camp 18 goes all out for the holidays with decorations and lighting so it’s worth a trip to see the woodsy décor if you're there during the holidays. It extends that winter feel into the cold January months, but also offers a great escape any time of the year.
Camp 18 Restaurant is located at 42362 Highway 26, Elsie, Oregon. If you want to call to check out offerings before you plan your trip, you can reach them at 503.755.1818. There is plenty of room for RV parking.
If you want to learn more about Oregon history, check out these books:
For more fun things to do and see in Oregon, see our Oregon articles by Wander writers.