Located on the scenic shores of the Willapa River, South Bend is the county seat of Pacific County. The beautiful Pacific County Courthouse overlooks the town and is open to the public for self-guided tours. Explore the unique history of Pacific County at the Pacific County Historical Society Museum. Enjoy the South Bend waterfront at Robert Bush Park, site of the Robert E. Bush Memorial. Fresh Willapa Bay oysters and seafood are readily available at South Bend restaurants, seafood stores and canneries.
The town of South Bend had its beginnings in 1869 when the Riddell brothers, Valentine and John, built a sawmill on the bend of the Willapa River. In April 1890, the South Bend Land Company signed a contract with the Northern Pacific Railroad, donating half of the property the company owned to the railroad. The railroad announced that South Bend would be the ocean terminus of the Yakima and Pacific Coast branch line. The local chamber of commerce and South Bend Land Company expansively promoted the town as the future "Baltimore of the Pacific". Although the railroad was completed in 1892 and South Bend benefited, the Panic of 1893 ended the "Baltimore" dream. The Pacific County seat since 1855 was Oysterville, a prosperous settlement located on the Long Beach Peninsula. As South Bend grew, the town demanded a vote to move the county seat from Oysterville to South Bend. A vote was taken in 1892 designating South Bend as the county seat, but it resulted in a lawsuit that temporarily delayed moving day. South Benders, agitated by the apparent reluctance of County officials, took two steamers to Oysterville and forcibly moved, or according to some accounts stole, the records in 1893.
South Bend is famous as the Oyster Capital of the World. One out of every six oysters consumed in the United States is harvested in Willapa Bay.
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