West of the Tunnel is a website about our community.

Travel west to the Oregon Coast on Highway 126, and you’ll drive through a short tunnel. On the other side is a coastal community of small towns, forests, dunes, and people. Florence, Mapleton, Dunes City, Deadwood, beaches, rain, fog, more rain.

Visitors to the central coast spent about a billion dollars in 2022 during their visits. We have a casino, sea lions and a lighthouse. There are 15 churches listed on ChurchFinder.com for Florence, and one in Mapleton. No mosques or temples that I know of.

We’re a solid 40 minutes or longer to the nearest Walmart.

The average American is about 39 years old. The average Oregonian is 40ish, and the average person in Florence is about 61.

We split pretty evenly on the 2020 presidential election. (Florence teetered slightly for Biden, while Dunes City and Mapleton tottered a bit in favor of Trump for example). The great Oregon Dunes start in Florence and head south – Frank Herbert spent some time in Florence which helped inspire him to write Dune.

And a tunnel of course.

My name is Will Yurman. I moved to Florence in 2022. I live with my wife, Meg, our dogs Buster and Fezzik, and our cat Freddie. I spent many years as a daily journalist at a newspaper on the east coast. I’ve lived and worked overseas and for more than a decade taught journalism – first at Penn State and now at the University of Oregon.

West of the Tunnel is a place for me to tell the stories of the people who share this remarkable place. It grows out of my own curiosity about who lives here and the stories we don’t often hear, or the reasons behind the stories we think we understand.

I hope you enjoy their stories.