1988.046.1 Lincoln Book Shop Sign

This large sign (each letter is 2 feet tall by 1 foot wide) was made for the Lincoln Book Shop by local artist Ruth Grover of Roads End. The Lincoln Book Shop was located in the Nelscott Strip and owned and operated by Earl Nelson from 1937-1962 and continued under new ownership until 1986.

Earl Nelson was born in McMinnville in 1905. A case of diphtheria at the age of ten forced him from physical exercise, so he turned to books for entertainment. Earl had read much of the classics by high school, and had already begun his private collection.

Earl Nelson ca. 1920s

His Father, Charles Nelson, was one of the two founders of the town of Nelscott. Charles worked in the area while making boat trip deliveries to Siletz Bay from a store in Cloverdale in the early 1900s. During Charles’ travels, he admired a small amphitheater-like valley that would later become Nelscott.

The Della, which ran supplies between Cloverdale and the Siletz Bay

Charles teamed up with Dr. W. G. Scott of Portland to purchase land and they combined their names to create the town’s name, as per Earl’s mother Nannie’s suggestion. The Nelscott Land Company was established in 1925 and construction on cottages and businesses started shortly after. The Cushing family bought land and started a community kitchen and auto park in 1926 to form the famous Nelscott Auto Park, which is the location of the Eagles Lodge today.

Charles Nelson and Dr. Scott
Nelscott Land Company in 1926

Charles Nelson started the Nelscott Cash Store in 1927. Nelscott’s first post office was established there in 1929, with Charles as its first postmaster. The origins of Earl’s book shop began with a 25 book lending library in his father’s store.

The Nelscott Cash Store, newly built, in 1927. This building still remains today
The Cash Store (on left) and the Auto Park
Inside of the Nelscott Cash Store, ca. late 1920s – Charles on the far left
Charles, Nannie, and Earl Nelson, 1946

In 1937, Earl started the Lincoln Book Shop a few doors down from the Cash Store. It was said that he had the largest private book collection in Oregon at that time. The book shop also served as a lending library and became a center for art and culture in the community. Earl hosted many meetings of different associations, such as the Foreign Films Association, Nelscott Improvement Club, North Lincoln Agate Society, Nelscott Friendship Club, and more. In 1951, Earl Nelson wrote and edited the Pioneer History of North Lincoln County, a book that the museum uses for research often to this day, and that we sell in our gift shop. Earl sold the book shop in 1962 and at that time had around 40,000 books.

Earl Nelson, ca. 1940s
The Lincoln Book Shop in 1937 with Nelson in front
Earl Nelson in the Lincoln Book Shop
Inside of the book shop
Inside of the book shop
The book shop was also a community gathering place
Upstairs in the lending library
Earl in the lending library
Earl held special exhibits, such as this “Gallery of Great American Movies.”

After Earl sold the book shop, he moved to Portland. There he attended Portland State University and earned a degree in Language at the age of 65. Earl touched many people’s lives during his time at the Lincoln Book Shop and was a great community member. The Lincoln Book Shop changed locations in the 1970s, and eventually closed in the summer of 1986. The building is still around today and currently houses Zugh Life Surf Shop. Earl Nelson passed away in December 1986 at the age of 81.

Earl Nelson’s Obituary

For more information on the history of Nelscott, click the image below.