Sunday, September 22, 2019

Air Force Survival Training on Bayocean

On April 8, 2015, I was looking for a cadastral survey monument (see Rewitness Card #56 ) at the north end of Bayocean when I noticed red-striped plastic ribbons hanging from tree limbs. Following the flags from the ocean side to the bay side, I could not figure out their purpose. Cape Meares resident Robert (Ollie) Ollikainen later suggested they play a role in Air Force survival training held on the spit periodically. 

While researching to write Western Snowy Plover and Bayocean a month laterI learned that the Air Force had a contract with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to hold survival training each spring and fall and found a CoastWatch report dated 9/13/03 by YaakovM that said:
On this Sunday through Thursday, Sept. 18th, the US Air   Force was conducting coastal survival training exercises. Saw four young soldiers building shelters out of driftwood, putting up rescue flags, and otherwise going through assigned tasks. On bay side of the spit, I saw several trucks, a bus, many tents, and equipment for the exercise noted above. The soldiers appeared to be doing no damage to the beach area and, from what I later learned, completely clean up the area when they're through.

When I called Paul Levesque, Chief of Staff for the Tillamook County Board of Commissioners, about this he said the Air Force notifies him when the training is scheduled, but it's not made public to avoid interference by observers because these are flight crews learning to hide behind enemy lines if their planes go down. This made me wonder if eyes were observing me while I was bushwhacking across the spit back in April. Perhaps I had inadvertently become part of their training. If so, they did well.

I happened upon the training in person while picking up garbage for SOLV on September 21st, 2019. A male soldier (one was female) inflating rafts at Crab Harbor waved permission to take photos. Their camp was at Kincheloe Point was empty. There were several boats near the end of the south jetty but I couldn't see what they were doing. Perhaps eyes hidden in the beach grass were observing me again. 

See the Index page to find more articles to read. 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

1949 Ackroyd Aerial Depicts Bayocean Hotel Ruins and Erosion

For years I've wondered about the posts in the bay visible during low tide that run parallel to Dike Rd. and the wider posts just barely reaching above the mud on low tide that cross the small inlet near the gate at the south end of the hills. 

I've found no evidence of them in any aerial photos and maps from all my individual and archival sources as well as US Army Corps of Engineer records at the National Archives. I  thought they might have been installed after the breakwater was built in 1956 because they were so far out into the bay before that time (though not to the end of the original dock). Perry Reeder told me they were there when he was a kid. He thought they probably once held boards that served to protect the bay side of Bayocean from erosion during storms. This recently discovered aerial, taken by Hugh Ackroyd in 1949, confirms Perry's recollections. It was taken from the southwest, so 12th leading down to the dock and main part of town is out of sight to the right. 

Print and high-resolution digital versions of Ackroyd 01751-05 can be ordered at www.historicphotoarchive.net or by calling
 Thomas Robinson at 503-460-0415. He was kind enough to allow me to display it here when I told him the significance.

Posts running parallel to Dike Rd and crossing the inlet from the gate at the base of the hills.



Comparing Ackroyd's 1949 aerial to a profile view from the north not long after the hotel was finished (at 100' elevation) in 1912 gives you a sense of the great volume of sand lost to erosion during the intervening 37 years. What was left of the hotel in 1949 were ruins caused by deconstruction. It was abandoned by 1932, when the Tillamook Bayocean Company (local businessmen who bought it out of receivership in 1928) gave up trying to make a go of it. 

Bayocean photo #214 at the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum. Call (503) 842-4553 for print or digital copies.
The cottages shown at the top were all built by Johan Poulsen, Portland lumber baron, in 1912 for use by himself and his daughters' families. The most southerly of them, known then as the Hicks House, was moved to the mainland in 1952, just before Bayocean became an island. It had been rented out to the US Coast Guard to house a war dog beach patrol unit during World War II. They built the small building below it as additional housing. The other cottages were sold to A.T.Dolan. The one closest to the sea burned to the ground shortly after Ackroyd shot his aerial. Ocean erosion continued until the bay side cottage crashed to the sea in 1954. The last house (Notdurfts; hidden behind the trees to the right) succumbed in 1960.   

See the Index page to find more stories like this.



Friday, October 20, 2017

Steinhilber House Slid Off Cape Meares Not Bayocean

Over a year ago, I read a retrospective article in the Tillamook Headlight Herald of November 16, 1977, looking back twenty-five years to the storm that put an end to Bayocean. The photo in the microfilm version was so bad I could not see any details, but the caption said the house sliding into the sea belonged to someone named Steinhilber. I didn't recognize the name, so I called Bayocean alumni. They didn't either. 

At the next opportunity, I looked through deed indexes at the Tillamook County Clerks' office but could find no evidence of a Steinhilber ever purchasing property in Bayocean Park. I did find that Theodore and Nannie Steinhilber had purchased part of Henry Sampson's original land claim on the north side of Cape Meares on September 14, 1898. This was long before the Potters platted Bayocean Park or any houses fell due to erosion. 

Searching Ancestry.com and online newspaper archives I discovered that Nannie was a niece of Henry and that Theodore had a land claim that eventually became part of the Lake Lytle subdivision. Friend and historian Don Best shared "Rockaway Memories," a history that his parents helped publish in 1981, which confirmed this. 

Sometime later I found a folder titled "Steinhilber" at the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum, but all it contained was a photo with "Mr. Steinhilber" written on the back. The 1977 article's caption attributed the photo to the museum, but I could not find it among their Bayocean photo collection. A few trips later I got a better copy of the photo itself from the original newspaper article that the Tillamook County Library was kind enough to let me view. It immediately became obvious the photo was not of Bayocean. The background looked like the north side of Cape Meares to me. I sent a copy to Perry Reeder and Mike Watkins. They both concurred. 

Realizing this made me wonder if the photo had been taken during the Cape Meares landslide of May/June 1899 that I wrote about earlier, which had nothing to do with erosion eventually caused by the north jetty. Sources I'd used then provided a drawing with buildings, but no names. So I looked through issues of the Tillamook Headlight during that period and found the progressive destruction of Steinhilber's house reported in each issue for a month. The June 1st edition said that the same weekend Mr. Steinhilber visited his place an "excursion party came from Tillamook on Sunday, and also the brass band to see the landslide." The only photographer in Tillamook at the time was Otto Heins, so the photo was likely taken by him. The photo was not published in the Headlight, but Steinhilber's name was mentioned a lot during the 1890s. He had been one of the early owners of the Headlight, served as deputy sheriff, and made a living buying and selling property. He obviously didn't have good timing on this transaction, but uncle Henry only charged them $75 and took other property in trade.

When I shared my frustration at not being able to find the photo among their Bayocean collection, Ruby Fry-Matson suggested I look through their more general photo albums. Bingo. It was in "Album 2: Places," item #500 contributed by Mr. & Mrs. Carl Hunt of Tillamook. The caption was clear to me, but the reporter had evidently not understood how Barnegat and Bayocean were related in 1977. The photo in the newspaper cropped out one of the two buildings not affected by the slide. These WERE eventually destroyed by erosion.

See the Index page to find more stories like this.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Sherwood House

Photo from Lorraine Eckhardt's Bayocean album. The first and middle names of Albert 
George and Orilla Sarah Jones are reversed in many official and unofficial records.  
After the Bayocean Natatorium became unstable from ocean undercutting in 1932, it was closed permanently. A handwritten note from Howard Sherwood, Jr. (Buck) in the Cape Meares (Bayocean School) Community Center scrapbook says that George A. Jones salvaged its lumber to build a large house for himself and his wife "Rilly" on Cape Meares in 1933 and 1934. He also installed a buggy above a tall hop plant out front, rented out a few rooms, kept a few grocery items to sell picnickers, and called their place the "Buggy Knot Inn." 

Photo of the south side of the house from Cape Meares Community Center
(Bayocean School) scrapbook. People unidentified. A buggy wheel is just
barely visible on the left, which would be in the front of the house. Columns
attributed to the Bayocean Natatorium are shown extending above the roof.
Photo of Buck Sherwood from Mike Watkins, taken six years
before his death in 2005. Buck took many photos of Bayocean 
used in newspaper articles, books and on websites, like mine.  
















Testimony submitted to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) by Jones in 1938* suggests another source of lumber for their home. He reported surveying and supervising early construction on Bayocean, from 1907 to 1909, and returning to the area in 1930. In 1932 he purchased and deconstructed the summer cabin of D.S. and Vesta Williams. In 1961, Samual Dicken, head of the Oregon State University Geology Department, wrote in a report titled "Some Recent Changes of the Oregon Coast" that the Williams cottage was on a bench in the dunes about 50' above the beach and that he measured erosion at 1' per year from 1926 (when it first became noticeable) until 1932 when it jumped to 6' per year. Tillamook County Deed Book 32, page 535 (DB 32:535) shows they purchased lot 22 in block 67 (67:22) in 1915. Judge George Bagley and Swan Hawkinson, who also had Bayocean cottages, confirmed Jones' account in their testimony to the USACE. Hawkinson said the Williamses first tried moving their house uphill and away from the ocean. Their cottage would have been much smaller than Jones' house so he needed more lumber. 

Buck Sherwood told Mike Watkins, his boyhood neighbor and lifelong friend, that Jones built the house for less than $1000. This figure would have included what Jones paid Williams and the Tillamook-Bayocean Company who then owned the Natatorium. Why didn't Jones mention Williams to Buck (his family didn't move to Bayocean until 1938, so all of what he wrote must have come from Jones)? Perhaps it just wasn't as good a story. If Jones had realized it, he could have bragged that some of his home's lumber came from the most northerly home ever built on a Bayocean lot. The Williams cottage was near the end of the paved section of High Street, a half-mile north of the first house lost five years earlier, and 1000' north of the Mueller cabin (see the map in that post to locate these properties) moved over to the bayside five years later.  

Jones had purchased the lot (12:15) in the Oceanview Subdivision from George Higgins back in 1915. While still serving as the Cape Meares Lighthouse Keeper, Higgins took advantage of Bayocean publicity by developing and advertising his lots in Tillamook newspapers (the Potters advertised in big city papers) as a lower priced alternative. Jones and his wife bought eight adjacent lots (7-12 and 16 -17) during the 1930s. Buck said his family moved into the house in 1940. The deed for Howard (Sr.) and Maude Sherwood's purchase of all nine lots was not recorded until 1948 (DB 116:269) so they likely bought them on contract. Members of the family continued living there until 1990, which is why neighbors still refer to it as the "Sherwood House."

See the Index page to find more stories like this. 

* From USACE records at the Seattle branch of the National Archives: POR-81; Civil Works Project Files, 1902-1968; Box 175; File 7250 Bayocean Preliminary Exams & Surveys.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Moving It Didn't Save Mueller's Cabin


 Lorraine Eckhart's Bayocean album includes this photo with notes added by Buck SherwoodThe Notdurft cottage at the top
 was the last house to fall. The "Rainbow House" in the middle was deconstructed by Lewis and Hilda BennettTheir garage 
was the last structure to go, in 1971.
When the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) built the breakwater that reconnected Bayocean spit to the mainland in 1956, they also bulldozed and burned all but three of the buildings still standing, and then backfilled the entire area with sand dredged from the bay to add elevation and avoid future breaches. The house in the photo with its basement filled with sand and labeled "Mueller place" had been moved there from the northern ridgeline a couple decades earlier - to escape erosion. 

According to Tillamook County Deed Book 67, pages 280-281 (DB 67:280-281), Conrad and Elvira Mueller purchased lot 52 in block 67 (67:52) on June 11, 1932. This was on the ocean side of High Street, about 3/8 of a mile north of the Poulsen (later Hicks/Dolan) houses, directly across from the first Bayocean house owned by Judge George Bagley, at lot 62:A (he also owned adjacent lots 13-16). 

Testimony submitted to the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1938 by Judge Bagley (POR-81; Civil Works Project Files, 1902-1968; Box 175; File 7250 Bayocean Preliminary Exams & Surveys. Seattle NARA) said that a newer house across the street from his had been moved down to the bay just the year before (1937) in order to avoid the threat of erosion. Bagley and others mention two other houses in the same block that were deconstructed instead of moved. The Muellers likely chose to move theirs because they had just built it (one can only imagine that the rate of erosion had suddenly increased). 

D.C. Baker built a basement and placed the house for the Muellers on a lot they purchased June 7, 1937, at 57:29 (DB 74:89). "Bayocean News" columns in the Tillamook Headlight Herald gave periodic updates during the summer and fall of 1937, talked about Baker having been an early manager of Cottage Park, and declared on October 7th that the house was "practically ready for occupancy again, after being moved from the hill to a location near the [Rainbow] Girl's Club building." They later purchased adjacent lots 30 and 31 at foreclosure sales. 
Section of original Bayocean plat map from Tillamook County Surveyor's office. Mueller locations are colored green,
as is the route their house would have taken. Bagley lots are in orange. Other landmarks are purple. 
The Muellers called their cabin on the bay "Huckleberry Inn" and traveled from their home in Portland to stay there frequently. A sketch on page 81 of Bayocean: The Oregon Town That Fell Into The Sea refers to Conrad as "Horse." This is interesting given his WW II draft card lists his height at just 5'5". Censuses and directories indicate Mueller was a building contractor, so perhaps great strength earned him the nickname (sources were viewed at Ancestry.com).  

On May 8, 1945 (DB 90:607-608) the Muellers sold their cabin. By the time Perry Reeder's family rented it in 1947 subsequent owners had hung a sign on the front porch renaming it the "Dew Drop Inn." Perry recalls the vine roses clinging to a fence that ran the perimeter of the property and made good use of the large chicken coop in the back. 

The last owners of the house were the Currins, who purchased it June 25, 1952 (DB 134:90-91), just five months before the entire southern part of Bayocean was blown out by a winter storm. This was the fourth house lost by the Currins on Bayocean. If they reasoned that "this would have to be one of the last houses to go" when they bought it they would have been right - but it did go. 

See the Index page for other posts listed by category. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Barnegat Before Bayocean

When T.B. Potter created Bayocean Park in 1907 (see The Bayocean Story In Brief) he imagined it becoming a Pacific Coast version of Atlantic City. As it turns out, Potter wasn't the first person to be reminded of east coast beaches by the spit. 

Photos of Webley and Mary are from the
Tillamook County Pioneer Museum 
Webley Hauxhurst was the first white settler on the mainland section of Bayocean Park, now known as Cape Meares. The Dictionary of Oregon History says Webley moved there from Salem with his Yamhill Indian wife Mary (Wat-Tiet ) and their four youngest children in 1867 because it reminded him of Long Island, New York, where he grew up. He filed Homestead Claim # 843. The patent was eventually granted to Mary after Webley died in 1874. 

In the fall of 1948, Jack Medcalf, a Salem artist and teacher,  who was a native of Tillamook, built a small cabin on Bayocean by himself and lived there through the winter. His writings of that experience are held by the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum. Jack seemed to enjoy listening to Mrs. Mitchell talk about the Bayocean she knew back in 1907. She told him the area was then known as Barnegat, which meant "place of peace" and that "Webley Hauxhurst built his house down near the cape with a view of both the ocean and the bay through the meadows...that it was a large house, sprawling out but two stories. A large fireplace was of rock mortised with clay obtained in the banks of the bay over by Pitcher Point." 


Cropped from the survey map published in Cape Meares And Its Sentinel  by Clara
M. Fairfield and M. Wayne Jensen, Jr. (2000, Tillamook County Pioneer Museum)
In June 1886, US Army Corps of Engineers Captain Charles F. Powell surveyed the area near Cape Meares in preparation for building the lighthouse. He showed the "Hoxie" house about 3/4 mile north of the cape. This places it at the south edge of Bayocean Park, halfway between today's Bayocean Park Rd. and Pacific Ave about 1000' off the modern dune ridgeline. Perhaps you stand under it as you chase the retreating waves on low tide. Note Henry Sampson's house also shown. It's most likely the smaller house still standing up close to the cape in the photo in my story on the Steinhilber house sliding to the sea in 1899. 

A.B.Hallock: OrHi 9824
Oregon Historical Society
Portland builder and civic leader A.B Hallock began visiting the spit just before Webley died (Absolom Hallock papers, Mss 92, Oregon Historical Society), retired there at the end of 1880, and filed Homestead Claim # 2517, which included what would eventually become the heart of Bayocean Park. Hallock built a cabin at the south end of his claim, on the bay side of the spit, just north of what would later be called "Jackson Gap." He reported "Ben Hoxie" herding cattle past his place on a regular basis and seemed fond of Mary who he visited regularly. Journal entries in Mss 92 indicate neighbors were getting their mail at Hallock's cabin by 1890, which he'd pick up for them on occasional trips to Hoquarton (later called Lincoln, finally Tillamook). The June 12, 1891Tillamook Headlight announced: "Capt. Hallock has received his commission as postmaster at Barnegat." On August 27 they reported Barnegat locals paying George Handley (grandson of Daniel Bayley who founded Garibaldi) to deliver the mail each Monday until the U.S. Postal Service established a contract. 


Homestead Land Claim map pre-Bayocean, scribbles by author
In Oregon Geographic Names Lewis A. McArthur discredited reports that Hallock had named the post office after a childhood home on New Jersey's Barnegat Bay because he found no mention of this in Hallock's journal. He attributed the naming to Thomas Sutherland who claimed to have dubbed the alcove nearby as Barnegat Bay prior to Hallock's arrival. However, all newspaper referenced to the area called it "the spit" until the post office was established.  

When Hallock died in 1892 his duties were transferred to Mrs. Bert Biggs according to McArthur, who noted that she was one of Webley Hauxhurst's daughter. Bigg's Homestead Claim # 3471 surrounded Pitcher Point, explaining why the coordinates provided by Sateliteviews.net and other websites refer to that location. The name of the post office was changed to Bayocean in 1909, but the 1910 Federal Census still used Barnegat to identify the precinct. 

To find stories about the earlier use of the spit by Tillamook Indians, and its exploration by earlier white men, see the Index page.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Crabapple Park

All the low lying Bayocean streets and buildings that survived the November 1952 breach and subsequent erosion were buried by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1956. Three houses at higher elevation survived initially. The last one fell in 1960. A few streets above the fill line were far enough back to not fall into the sea but were eventually buried by sand carried by the wind. 
Photo from Phyllis Locke Anderson of neighbors
hanging out at the site of the 2015 excavation 

In October 2015, Perry Reeder and his family excavated a small section of curb and pavement on the west side of High Terrace (see plat map below; Bayocean alumni knew it as High Street), a little north of 12th Avenue, just before it turned northwest and uphill. In my photo to the left, taken soon after the excavation, the curb is the horizontal strip, aligned approximately north/south. The semicircle just below and east of it is the pavement. The spot straddles lots A and 2 which was vacated to connect High Terrace directly with 12th in block 55 of Bayocean Park. Walter and Betty Locke's family lived right across the street in lot 4. During WW II, Walter (Shorty) managed the cottages distributed along the west side of High Terrace going up the hill for Portland attorney Lyman Latourette. 

When I asked Perry how he found the spot, he said he used two crabapple trees to get his bearings. I was impressed with his memory and surprised to learn of fauna that had survived the wrath of the sea in this southern section of Bayocean. I'd not noticed them before but photographed them on my next trip. They're nestled in the lee of the highest point south of the hills, lone sentinel to the Bayocean that once was. Using Coast Atlas and adjusting for known discrepancies in tax lot overlays, my best estimate is that the trees are in lot 39 of block 54, perhaps extending into lot 38. Perry said he never met the owners and that no houses were ever built along the south side of 12th Avenue, so it remained park-like. 

Deed records show lot 39 was owned by Gerald and Nellie Reeher during Perry's era, and lot 38 was owned by Martin and Jeanette Nelson. The Reehers eventually lost their lot to the county, but the Nelsons' son Donald is still on record owning theirs. Gerald and Nellie Reeher moved to Tillamook in 1922 and started Reeher Furniture. They moved to Salem in 1935 according to the September 24, 1935, Statesman Journal. They must have become close friends with Francis and Ida Mitchell while in Tillamook because the Tillamook Headlight-Herald reported them giving Francis a ride (from the Oregon State Hospital in Salem) to Ida's funeral in 1953. And when Francis died in 1965, Nellie purchased a joint cemetery lot for them. It's nice to know Francis had friends who visited him during his 12 years at the hospital. 


All of this is just west of the Bayocean town site sign put up by the Reeders. Follow the trail to the ocean from it and watch for a trail to the right (north) and a small driftwood fence. GPS coordinates are 45.527324N 123.952463W. To get to the townsite sign, walk north from the parking lot on Dike Road and look for a post engraved "Bayocean Town Site." Follow the trail west. Look for another post on the left and take the trail south from there to the townsite sign. When I visited the excavation in September 2018, I found that sand had already filled the bottom of the hole by more than a foot - the deepest I cared to dig with my hands.

Find other posts in this and other categories on the Index page.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Farley Reset


In Stand Under Bayocean Hotel Annex's Chimney I used datasheets for two survey control stations on Bayocean that no longer exist in order to pinpoint where the Bayocean Hotel and the Bayside Inn had been located on today’s landscape. Three other stations have also disappeared. Only one station, maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, remains. The Farley Reset datasheet says it was first established in 1935. Like Bayocean's initial point, the original monument has been replaced with a  bronze disc. But it still has historical significance, so I wanted to find it. On October 30, 2016 my bushwhacking buddy Eleanor Culhane joined me in the search.

Following datasheet directions we hiked 2.5 miles north from the gate at the Bayocean parking lot, and then west on a game trail to the top of a high dune just a few hundred feet away. In 1975 the dune was still described as being covered with short vegetation. Now the trees and brush are so thick that I’d hiked past it many times without knowing it was there. When Eleanor found Reference Mark No. 3 (another bronze disc) near the end of the trail at the top, we knew we were close. We had to do a little bushwhacking, but nothing like that required to reach Bayocean’s highest point. An orange, plastic witness post stood out from the greenery, but that was different than described in the last datasheet update, and the station disc was not two feet east of it, so that threw us off for a bit. But after clearing a circle all the way around the the post we found the disc two feet north of it.

Why was it there? David Moore, a surveyor from Albany, Oregon, said stations like this were set up all along the coast, and for miles inland, after average sea levels were determined in 1927. They were used by land surveyors to calibrate their equipment for elevation, after checking for updates. Though latitude and longitude were added to the datasheets, surveyors used other monuments to calibrate for that. This dune was an obvious choice for a station because it was high and stable. A hydro signal originally placed next to it must have have been visible from Tillamook Bay before trees obstructed its view. 

"Farley house in Barview before the Jetty" Tillamook County Pioneer Museum, 82.254.R. 
Why the name Farley? It must have been to honor Captain Robert Farley, who was in charge of the first Coast Guard Lifesaving Station at Tillamook Bay from its beginning in 1908 until his retirement in 1935, when the station was named. Ironically, Captain Farley’s own home at Barview was a casualty of coastal erosion prior to the first jetty being constructed.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Four Currin Cabins

The photos below were taken by Carl Schonbrod (Dorian Studies, Tillamook, OR) during the week prior to January 24, 1953, when a photo similar to the one on the right appeared in the Oregonian, with just a caption saying the cabin and its furnishings had since slid into the ocean. I wanted to know where the cabin started its journey and who owned it. 

Contact photos provided by John Chaix, friend of the Schonbrods. 
After chasing leads nowhere for months, I sent the photo to Perry Reeder. He recognized the house as one of two little cabins sitting next to each other uphill and to the northwest from the Strowgers on Bay Street, who Bayocean alumni will likely remember. Perry didn’t know the owners of the house. He and his buddies just called it the “fish pond house” because it had a manmade pond with some gold fish in it.

Perry’s description best fit block 48 on the Bayocean plat map. I noticed that property taxes on the 1958 Tillamook Circuit Court foreclosure proceedings were much higher for lots 23 and 24 than others in the area. These lots were owned by H. W. and Laura E. Currin. I found a 1919 photo of Harvy William and Laura Estella Currin’s family at Find-A-Grave provided by their niece, Anna Dunlap, and a biography written by one of their daughters, Ruth Currin Spaniol. After Dunlap confirmed that the Currins had lost a cabin on Bayocean, I read Spaniol's biography Over the die-or-do: a story of a marriage at the Oregon Historical Society.

1919 Currin family photo, from niece/cousin Anna Dunlap.
Harvy Currin’s ancestors arrived in Oregon as pioneers in 1845 and settled at Currinsville, just north of Estacada. By the 1940s Harvy and Laura had a thriving real estate business in Hillsboro. They knew houses had been washing away for decades on Bayocean, but in 1945 decided to take a chance on “two little houses sitting side by side…they and all their family could have at least $600 worth of fun there before those houses, too, were washed away.” Even grandchildren helped fix up the cabins, including painting Dutch designs on shutters, which they recognized eight years later in the Oregonian photo. In 1949, seeing the ocean approaching their hilltop cabins, the Currins bought another house further south.

Next I searched Tillamook County deed book indexes and discovered that the Currins bought a lot more property on Bayocean than mentioned in their biography. In addition to cabin lots 23 and 24 in block 48, they purchased most of block 47, which was between them and Bay Street, just north of the Strowgers. The Oregonian caption said the Hance brother had built the cabin, so Ella May Hutchinson, first owner of the lots in 1911, likely had them built soon after that, while the Hance brothers were active on Bayocean. W.B. and Esther Combs were later co-owners. Together they sold the cabins to Will and Mary Stacey in 1932, who then sold them to Currins.

The house Currins purchased in 1949 was on lot 33 of block 44. In his papers, Buck Sherwood said Judge Richardson owned the house, so I’m guessing that's the name that living Bayocean alumni will know it by as well. However, John and Carrie Fosdick sold it to the Currins, and James McDrea and A. M. Crawford also owned it after Richardson. The Currins actually lost this cabin first, when the ocean ripped out the southern section of Bayocean on November 13, 1952. “Fish pond house” and its partner were at the southern end of the island that remained. They fell within a couple months.

What most surprised me is that on June 25, 1952, the Currins bought lots 29-31 of block 57. The house on lot 29 may be remembered as Mueller’s by Bayocean alumni, but Frank and Rose Dordan, John and Ethel Scott, and Edwin and Jean Jenkins owned it after them. This Currin house was half filled with sand when the US Army Corps of Engineers built the dike that sealed the gap in 1956, one of just three houses left standing. The last of these, belonging to the Notdurfts, fell in 1960. 

In 1957 the Currins bought a lot in Garibaldi but sold it just four years later, not long before Harvy's death. Tillamook County deed books show the property passing through many hands over the decades since then. The current tax lot number eluded me but Wendy Schink, Tillamook County Cartographer, quickly determined it was 21BD02200. This .86 acre lot climbs the hill behind Garibaldi and the home there has a great view of Bayocean. The Currins would have loved it. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

T. B. Potter's Success Before Bayocean


Photo of Thomas Benton Potter, from 
Dobbins-Duff  family Tree at Ancestry.com.
The 1900 U.S. Census shows T. B. (Thomas Benton) Potter working as an advertising agent, and his family living as boarders in a household of ten, at 232 S. Hill Street in Los Angles, California. A year later they were living at 418 Eugene in Portland, Oregon, and Potter had formed a real estate partnership with H.L. Chapin, with offices at 246 Stark (1901 and 1903 R. L. Polk Portland City Directories via Ancestry.com). Burt and Margie Webber say Potter amassed a fortune from 1902-1906 developing subdivisions in Kansas City, Missouri, Portland, Oregon, and Half Moon Bay, California (Bayocean: The Oregon Town that Fell Into the Sea, Appendix D). He lost most of his fortune chasing a dream at Bayocean, but neighborhoods and buildings give tribute to his earlier success to this day, several of them named after his daughter, Arleta Natalia Potter. 
I was surprised to discover that Sail (Multnomah County’s GIS system) lists not just one, but four Alberta Parks. The first was platted in NE Portland in 1902. Alberta Parks No. 2, 3, and 4 were platted in 1903 and 1904 in SE Portland. Neither Potter or Chapin are listed as original owners, but Potter & Chapin are shown as sales agents in newspaper ads. City directories show that they were in the same office as William Grindstaff, a realtor who owned and platted the first Arleta Park. Multnomah County deed records show an Arleta Land Company purchasing and selling all four of the Arleta Parks, plus three additional subdivisions: Lester Park, Ina Park, and Elberta in NE Portland. Incorporation papers at the Oregon State Archives list the stockholders of the Arleta Land Company as Potter, Chapin, and their wives. 

Arleta Park No. 3 is the only subdivision located within the Mt. Scott –Arleta Neighborhood, and it makes up just a very small part of it. The reason its name was attached to the larger neighborhood is that Arleta quickly became a community of its own, with its own Arleta School, post office,  and library, all named after it. Grocery stores and other retail stores made it a retail hub. Potter and Chapin likely chose the location because it was midway between downtown Portland and Lents on the Mt. Scott Trolley. The lots were cheap relative to downtown, so working families could afford to buy them, build a home, and catch the trolley to work each day. 

A. Natalia (Potter) Dobbins,
from Dobbins-Duff Family
Tree at Ancestry.com
In 1906 T. B. Potter developed another Arleta Park at Half Moon Bay on his own (as well as another subdivision called Reis, per California newspaper ads). He likely saw the potential of this area becoming a suburb of San Francisco by way of the Ocean Shore Railroad, which reached there in October, 1908. Local history buffs indicate (via Wikipedia) that there was an Arleta Station at Railroad Avenue and Poplar Street that is now used as a residence. 

Webbers suggest that Arleta started going by Natalie as an adult because she didn’t appreciate her father naming subdivisions after her. One can just imagine schoolmates kidding her about having an entire community in Portland named after her. She must have got her point across, because nothing in Bayocean Park bore her name. However, Arleta was the last Potter to own any property on Bayocean. She stopped paying taxes on lot 81 in block 39 only after an ocean storm destroyed it in 1952.

Between the Arleta Parks in Oregon and California, T. B. Potter developed Marlborough Heights Addition in Kansas City. Francis and Ida Mitchell, who always claimed to have bought the first Bayocean lot, were from Kansas City (1900 US Census). Dr. G. W. Rice, who bought the Mitchell's store in 1914, but lost it to Tillamook County Bank just a year later, was from Jackson County, where Kansas City is located (Torrens Registry Certificate # 386, Tillamook County Pioneer Museum). So were many others listed in Bayocean Park deed records at the Tillamook County Clerk's office. As late as 1911, the Kansas City directory (via Ancestry.com) shows an office for T. B. Potter Realty Co. at 416 R A Long Bldg. They may have had a Bayocean sales office there as they did elsewhere across the U.S.   

Potter and Chapin had no problem selling Bayocean lots. They went fast. But building and running a resort requires a completely different skill set, and the railroad to Tillamook took three years longer than projected to finally get there. The hectic schedule and stress may have been what caused Potter's health to fail. In 1910 he retreated to his home in California, where he died in 1916. By then, his son Thomas Irving, and wife had lost control of Bayocean to a court receivership. Two succeeding ownership groups couldn't make a financial go of it either. The Bayocean dream failed financially long before the ocean washed it away. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

William George Owned Mitchell's General Store

The store operated by Francis and Ida Mitchell was the heart of Bayocean for most of its existence. It stood on the southwest corner 12th Avenue and Bay Street, which was the central intersection. The Bayside Hotel stood on the southeast corner of that intersection. To get to the natatorium on the ocean beach, you'd travel west on 12th. And to get up to the Bayocean Hotel you'd veer off 12th onto Laurel Street. In the 1940s, the children of Bayocean would hang out at the store and catch the bus across the street. Everyone assumed the Mitchells owned the store. But they didn't. From 1917 on it belonged to William George. 


Photo of the Mitchells in front of their store; Tillamook County Pioneer Museum. 
Tillamook County Deed Book (DB) 21, pages 219-220, show the Mitchells purchasing lot 44 in block 54 of Bayocean Park (the store's legal description) on June 23, 1911 from the T.B. Potter Realty Company for $450. Tillamook County Mortgage Book (MB) U, page 114, shows the Mitchells taking out a loan for $500 from the Tillamook County Bank just a couple weeks later - on July 5th, 1911. On February 3, 1913 (MB U:413) the Mitchells took out a another loan for $1200 which paid off the first loan. They agreed to keep $1000 insurance on the store they'd built.

On August 6, 1914 the Mitchells sold their property to G.W. Rice of Jackson County, Missouri, for $2000 cash. Rice also agreed to pay off their loan (DB 28:268) but did not. The Tillamook County Bank foreclosed on Rice and the Mitchells June 21, 1915, and bought the property back at auction two months later for $1461.85 (including accrued interest at 8% and fees; Circuit Court case 1633; DB 35:187). The bank then sold the property to William George on June 6, 1917 for $1374.30 (DB 36:2). George maintained ownership until Tillamook County foreclosed on the property for non-payment of taxes June 19, 1958 (DB 166:579). Two years earlier the store ruins had been burned and buried by contractors who built the dike that sealed the gap created by a 1952 storm

The 1915 foreclosure and auction notices were published in the Tillamook Headlight, but if anyone noticed that the Mitchells no longer owned their store, they must have kept it to themselves. 

So who was William George? Neither the deed book nor tax foreclosure show a middle name or home town for George. The Tillamook County Pioneer Museum has file folders for families with the last name George, but none mention a William. A mystery that will continue for now.  

Friday, June 10, 2016

Sandbags Couldn't Save E.H. Roberts' House


This iconic photo is attributed to Ben Maxwell at the Salem Library. 
Their date of 1947 cannot be correct. The copy in Ed Culp's 
album in Lorraine  Eckhardt's collection gives the date as 1938, 
would have been before it was moved back. 
When Tom Olsen of  Anchor Pictures shared his video on the history of the Port of Garibaldi last year, he told me of a video on Bayocean he'd produced twenty years ago. He recently found it, digitized it (the original was shot on Hi-8) and uploaded it to Vimeo for all to view. What a treasure. It tells the story of one of the houses that were lost to the sea, using an interview with Nancy Lee Goldberg and photos provided by Betty Lou Roberts. Tom had not been told who owned the house, or the women's relationship; but I had to know. 

Betty's last name was the key clue. I had previously identified E.H. Roberts as the owner of the house shown on the right, by way of captions on photos of the same house in an Oregonian story February 19, 1939 and a 1940 Army Corps of Engineers report. Ancestry.com records show Betty having been the daughter of Evan Harry and Sylvana Huddleston Roberts, anhd that she died in 2002. Nancy was her cousin, daughter of Winbert Huddleston, Sylvana's brother. Nancy refers to "Harry" in the video, and the woman she describes gathering items while the house hangs precariously on the edge must have been Sylvana. Pat Patterson told me he helped the Robertsons remove items from the house before it fell. Unfortunately, Nancy died May 10, 2016 - before I could interview her. 

Tillamook County deed records show E.H. Roberts bought the house in 1919, from the estate of W.J. Clemens, a Portland insurance man. He had bought the house 1912 from the Potters. They owned most of the surrounding lots at this early stage. This was in Block 39, just north of Jackson Gap in Block 38. 

"Westview" (as the Roberts called their summer home) was moved back from the edge in 1940, after storms first breached Bayocean; but the sand kept giving way, and by early 1945 the house was again in danger. Near the end of February that year, the Roberts finally gave up and sold it for salvage to the Strube and Barry familiesIt was so large that each family planned to build a house for themselves from the materials salvaged (with eleven rooms it must have rivaled the three Poulsen houses). After just a couple weeks of deconstruction - on March 13 - the house crashed into the sea. Beachcombers got what they could before continuing storms washed the rest away. (Oregonian 3.19; Tillamook Headlight Herald 3.15 and 3.22). 

E.H. Roberts was the President of the Roberts Brothers department store, located at SW Morrison and 3rd in Portland. His father Thomas had founded it fifty years earlier, and his sons Richard and William (Betty's brothers) carried on the family tradition. (Oregonian 10.18.1952). In Tom's video, Nancy identifies the boy in the photo to the left as Dick. He's lifting driftwood up from the beach below, for use as firewood, using a winch they rigged up for that purpose. 

Nancy makes an interesting point: that summers at Bayocean were wonderful for kids but hard on their mothers. These women left behind all the conveniences, social life, and cultural activities of city life, for the relative isolation of a spit that could only be reached by boat for three months each year. Their husbands could bring a few thing with them when they took the train to visit on long weekends, but mostly they were stuck with whatever provisions the Mitchells offered in their little store. They must have been dedicated mothers!