Decades ago, lucky beachcombers who came to Lincoln City, Oregon, would happen upon beautiful blue and green glass orbs that had washed up on the shore. Where had they come from? Why were they there?
The orbs were in fact fishing floats that wandered away from Japanese boats. They could be as big as two-feet or small as two-inches wide. Since no one ever knew when or where they’d appear, they became truly prized possessions for those who were fortunate to find them. However, as fisherman used more modern materials for their floats, the gorgeous glass orbs ceased to appear along the shore.
But a local artist wanted to celebrate this relic of Lincoln City’s history as a way of greeting the new millennium. In 1999, the city officially sponsored the Finders Keepers event placing contemporary floats on the beach for a few short months. The popularity of the event was massive and, ever since, tourists from all over the world have come the little beach town to hunt glass floats.
Today, Finders Keepers is a yearlong scavenger hunt held along the seven miles of sandy beach in Lincoln City. The floats arrive thanks to Float Fairies, who traipse up and down the shore tucking these treasures away for curious adventurers. This means that every piece of driftwood, small inlet and rock formation above the high tide line is a potential hiding spot. That’s why it may very well be worth it to go that extra distance to look on top, under and around everything that sits on the shore.
After all, when someone discovers a float today, they will find something much more resplendent than the green and blue floats of yesteryear. Instead of a single color, swirls of varying hues unite to produce eye-catching works of handheld art. These contemporary artisanal floats are made by local glass artists who incorporate unique styles and techniques to achieve their dazzling appearances.
Finders Keepers is fun and open to anyone who is willing to explore from Roads Ends to Siletz Bay. There are only a few rules for successful searchers to follow: Floats are placed above the high tide line and below the beach embankment; they are placed at different times throughout the day, but only during daylight hours; the floats are out there rain or shine (unless weather is dangerous); finally, one person may only claim one float per year.
For more information about Finders Keepers, visit explorelincolncity.com.