Our interest in Long Beach comes from the proliferation of bumper stickers in this area championing Jake the Alligator Man. I will never forget when Krista and I started pointing them out to each other, each of us asking, “What is that, exactly? Is it a person? Is it a mermaid? Is it some kind of alligator person?”
Krista and I share an interest in weird, roadside Americana artifacts. So, we consult Roadside America, we do some creative google-ing, and we read the Weird State book series when we travel. It wasn’t long before we unraveled the mystery of those bumper stickers, read a little about Jake the Alligator Man, and put Marsh’s Free Museum on our “to see” list.
We almost didn’t go to Long Beach on our road trip due to time constraints and burn out. It’s just across the Astoria-Melger Bridge, up the Washington coast about 30 minutes from Astoria. I’m really glad we went the extra miles. It was one of the funniest places we visited, and now we can put Marsh’s Free Museum on our “saw it” list.
Jake in his Christmas Hat (Does he wear this year round?). It was really hard to photograph him in that glass case. You just have to believe us that he is a leathery, frightening sight to behold. A wide-eyed little girl asked her grandma, “Is it alive?”
Marsh’s Free Museum is a lot more than just Jake the Alligator Man, though. It’s a full roadside cabinet of all kinds of curiosities. We spent several dollars and over an hour exploring everything. It’s kind of like Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe in Seattle, but bigger, more jam-packed with older, weird stuff and Jake the Alligator Man.
The two-headed calf:
Antique fortune-telling machines:
The requisite shrunken head
The mandatory chainsaw carved sculptures
Totally weird coin-operated automaton scenes of execution:
Long Beach is also the home of the World’s Largest Frying Pan:
And the World’s Largest Squirting Clam:
Long Beach offers some serious tourist food, a multitude of pinball machines, and the town lays claim to the world’s longest driveable beach. We cannot verify that it’s the longest beach, but we can verify the pinball and free museum. If you’re in the area, Jake’s 75th Birthday is quickly approaching. You can attend the adult burlesque party or the family friendly party.