Snow Peak is opening its first campground in the United States in Long Beach, Washington. In summer 2023, the Long Beach Campfield will welcome outdoor enthusiasts to experience the healing power of time outside on Washington's scenic southern coast. In anticipation of the opening, we're featuring the sights, activities and rich heritage of the Long Beach Peninsula in a series of blogs. Follow along on Instagram and sign up for our newsletter to learn more about the project.
Credit Rachel Jones
Driving along Sandridge Road and on many of its side streets from Black Lake north, you might notice recessed, rectangular fields. These are cranberry bogs. Over 500 acres of them dot the Long Beach Peninsula.
Wild cranberries are native to this sandy, coastal region. Domestic cranberries have been cultivated here since the 1880s.
While in bloom in the spring, bogs are tinged pink. In the fall, you might see one covered in a layer of crimson. This happens during wet harvest, which takes place after berries ripen and rainwater fills reservoirs, usually late September into mid October.
Over these past hundred-plus years, farmers developed ingenious harvesting techniques, while experimenting to see which varieties would do best in the maritime climate. They also built a relationship with Ocean Spray, the wholesale buyer of almost all the cranberries grown here.
In the end, wet harvest was adopted on the peninsula and dry harvest methods chosen by growers to the north in Grayland.
Wet harvest is fascinating to observe.
Farmers flood their bogs (one at a time) and, using a “flail machine,” beat the berries off the vines. Because cranberries have a small pocket of air in the center, they float to the surface. Using booms, the berries are first corralled by wader-wearing farmhands and then lifted on a conveyor belt into huge bins on the back of trucks. The berries are then driven to the nearby processing plant and will likely end up on someone’s pantry shelf as a bottle of cranberry juice.
Credit Marguerite Cleveland
The Cranberry Museum (2907 Pioneer Rd., Long Beach) offers a self-guided walking tour on grassy paths along the bogs, interpretive displays on cranberry farming, and an exhibit of hand-hewn equipment used for harvesting and sorting the berries. The Cranberry Museum is open daily from 10AM to 5PM, while the bogs can be visited anytime between 8AM and dusk. This is also the best place to find out which bogs are being harvested when.
On Sandridge Road, Cranguyma Farms offers bags of berries for sale as well as a u-pick option. (This is also THE place to pick blueberries in July and August.)
While many think of cranberries as a once-a-year side dish on the Thanksgiving table, those who grow cranberries make good use of the easy-to-freeze (or preserve) berry year round. If you have the good fortune to meet one of the farmers, they may be willing to share a favorite recipe or two.
Carol A. Zahorsky: An adventurer by nature, Carol put down roots in the Northwest and has been touting its wonders ever since. When not at her computer or walking the beach, you'll find her hiking with her dog, tending to her gardens, and visiting with her daughters, wherever on the globe they might be