Friday, May 29, 2015

The Earliest Days of Bayocean School

A family like Bertha Pearl Morgan's
living in Bayocean's tent city.
Tillamook County Pioneer Museum
The Tillamook County Pioneer Museum has a paper titled "Memories Of Bayocean School" written by Bertha Pearl Morgan. In 1907, when she was just 9 years old, Bertha's family traveled to Oregon from Minnesota to find work. The men signed on as laborers to construct Potter's resort at Bayocean. The family lived in the tent city set up for workers.

Bertha said the Bayocean School (which opened in 1912) "was about a quarter of a mile toward the worker's camp from the cape. a oneroom school house on the ocean side. one teacher, there was a tribe of Indians on the cape, and nine Indian kids went to school, and two white kids swedes from the lighthouse, Bob and Ruth Ford. and me from the spit." Later, "one Inddian girl was bout 16, Ruth Ford was 9 or 10, and Bob was about 14, and the rest in between, just a nice bunch of country kid. and Happy I think." 
Photo of school on Bayocean in the 1940s, with Russell Parker on the left and Harold Bennett on the  right.
From Tillamook County Pioneer Museum collection.
She described a tree in front of the school with a large limb that hung out over the ocean, where Bertha said the kids would "sit with our shoes and stockings off, and let the waves from the ocean wash our feet at high tide." But someone told on them, and Bayocean Park Superintendent Jim O'Donnell had workers cut the branch off. The kids were angry at the time, but looking back she knew it was for the best, because if they'd fallen they'd have drowned. "...but kids will be kids, and we loved everyminute of it, lessons were nil. just play, School days." 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Cape Meares Landslides

The closure of one mile of the Cape Meares Loop Road in 2013, between the communities of Cape Meares and Oceanside, is caused by a landscape that just wants to keep moving. The sliding goes back to at least 1899, based on information discovered by a Tillamook County engineering consultant and forwarded to me by Cape Meares resident Mike Neal.

In "A Phenomenal Land Slide, Paper No. 984" in Volume 53 (1904) of the Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers,  D.D. Clarke describes venturing "partly by rail and boat, but chiefly by stage or mudwagon, crossing the Coast Range, and occupying 36 hours or more," to spend three and half days measuring and sketching the slide. He'd been inspired to do so by a May 21, 1899 Sunday Oregonian article describing a slide that was 1/4 mile wide, four miles long, traveling two inches per hour, that "tears great trees and boulders from their places and hurls them into the bay."



Clarke eventually estimated that 30 acres had slid 400 feet from May 10 to June 13, starting up at the 300 foot level, 1/2 mile in total length, and averaging 500' in width. Not quite as dramatic as the newspaper report, but still impressive. He reported that the ocean had already begun eating away at the end of the slide. Mike Neal says that what still juts out a bit in that location is very hard clay. Zoom in on the Google map and you'll see Neal's best estimate of the 1899 slide boundaries. It's very close to what's still sliding today. 


These landslides are just one way in which Cape Meares has been falling into the ocean millenia. The cliffs also crumble. Mike Watkins pointed out a cave out near the edge of Cape Meares that had collapsed since his childhood. This kind of debri formed Bayocean Spit in the beginning and continues to contribute to it today. 

Clarke's sketch provides some early historical information as well. The wagon road shown was built to haul materials for construction of the lighthouse from 1888 to 1890 (Cape Meares And It's Sentinel, 44). It wound its way down to the beach, between the two streams, at which point travel would proceed on wet sand during low tide - a good example of what's discussed in The Oregon Beach Bill and Bayocean. The break in the road must have been repaired because the children of lighthouse tenders and their teacher road it down to a school that operated even before Bayocean was built (ibid, 68-70). Tenders originally used the road to get to Hauxhurst landing on Tillamook Bay, from which they'd row over to Tillamook to get supplies, but in 1893 Hodgdon Road (now the Netarts Road) had been extended to the lighthouse (ibid, 44,66). The buildings depicted would have belonged to Henry M. Sampson, who was granted patent #1339 in 1882. On page 234 of Tillamook: Land of Many Waters, Ada M. Orcutt said one correspondent described the slide "being on the Hauxhurst beach in a valley of Foley Creek." Another called it the "Barnegat Slide."

To find more stories about the geological history of Bayocean, or any other category, see the Index

Monday, May 18, 2015

Pagoda House(s)

After the Bayocean School (and now Cape Meares Community Center; see Cape Meares and Bayocean) the Pagoda house may be the most famous of the buildings moved from Bayocean to Cape Meares before a 1952 winter storm inflicted final destruction on the once thriving resort town.

A recent photo by the author of the Pagoda House in Cape Meares (address withheld to protect privacy of residents) 
There were actually two separate houses - a main house and a smaller guest cottage -which sat on a high dune at the corner of Seal Avenue and Clarke Street in Bayocean (according to a sketch by Bert and Margie Webber's sketch on page 42 of Bayocean: The Oregon Town That Fell Into the Sea). In the photo below, the door is facing Tillamook Bay, with a view out to the Pacific Ocean. MerryAnn Bennett, a Cape Meares resident, explained that  this was to enable easier ingress and egress during stormy weather. 
Photo from Oregon Historical Society photo collection 93-B.
MerryAnn and her husband Harold still live in the house that his father Lewis remodeled using lumber salvaged from their house on Bayocean (see Cape Meares and Bayocean). Harold remembers his mother cleaning house for the Miss Cake and Miss Brownell, the ladies who lived there. Harold's brother James did yard work and split wood for them, according to his widow Barbara, who recalls that they were retired teachers. On page 10 of Bert Webber's first book on Bayocean, What Happened At Bayocean: Is Salishan Next? Expanded Editionhe said the house was jointly owned by Drs. L.E. Cake and G.L. Gates. 

Photo by Howard "Buck" Sherwood
of Pagoda Houses being prepared for move
 from Cape Meares Community Center scrapbo

Photo by Buck Sherwood, courtesy of Mike Watkins,
 who lived in the Pagoda house(s) on Cape Meares














Woodrow Chase, an entrepreneurial logger from Willamina, bought the Pagoda Houses, and others, for next to nothing as sea waves approached. With the help of Milton and  Jerry Schlegel (Barbara's father and brother) he got them down a steep sand bank with a tractor. At the bottom they loaded them onto a flatbed truck. At times they used the tractor to push or pull the truck through bad spots. The Tillamook Headlight Herald of April 7, 1949 announced the start of the process. 

During that summer, Milton and Jerry excavated property purchased by Bob and Barbara Watkins, built a basement, and fit the two houses together on top. On August 11 the Tillamook Headlight Herald described a larger housewarming that celebrated its completion.  Mike Watkins  was a young boy then, but he recalls a dumbwaiter that came with the house which his father wouldn't let them use to lift wood from the basement. His father had them remove the fancy rafter end trim because it was too fancified. The porch was moved from the back to the front door to reduce drafts. As can be seen in the photos, the house originally had clapboard siding. Shingles were added before being moved and maintained for decades. More recent owners removed the shingles and went back to the original siding. Mike still owns a beach house next door.   

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Walking Past The Pier

Letter from Potter to Beebe  at
Tillamook County Pioneer Museum
Looking at photographs of the Bayocean pier, where boats docked in Tillamook Bay, you can see that it was quite long. I wanted to know exactly how long, to see if I crossed the spot where it would have been hiking on Dike Road now. Luckily, the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum provided the answer, by way of a letter in their collection that T.B. Potter wrote to Charles Bebee in 1911, reporting that the pier was 1400 feet long. 

The pier was an extension of 12th Avenue, which stopped at Bay Street. Miller's Bay Hotel was on the east side of that intersection. The pier began a little east of that. So, if you were arriving by boat, you could just walk off the pier and check in. 

We know the coordinates of the northeast corner of the hotel because the National Geodetic Service placed a Continuously Operating Reference Station there (see Stand Under Bayocean Hotel Annex's Chimney).The description says it was 260' west of the shore of the Tillamook Bay. By using online measuring tools and a Tillamook County tax map that shows both the Dike Road and original Bayocean plat map, I determined that end of the pier would have been at least 1/8 mile west (into the bay) of Dike Road.

Photo from Tillamook County Pioneer Museum
This point is about 1/2 mile north of the parking lot gate. It's close to a sandy spot just west of Dike Road.  If you have a GPS reader it will be at latitude 45.527 (since the dock was pretty wide we don't need to go beyond three decimal points). When you get there, stop for a moment and imagine hiking out to watch the "dinky" railroad engine unload construction materials from a barge.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Air Force Survival Training on Bayocean

On April 8, 2015 I tried to find the two unmaintained common section corner monuments that were set by a General Land Office survey team in in 1857. I was unsuccessful; but if I can acquire more precise coordinates I will try again. Finding the quarter corner monument discussed in Rewitness Card #56 was much easier because it served as the Bayocean Park surveyor's "initial point" in 1906, and has been maintained by the Tillamook County Surveyor's office ever since.  

One of the unmaintained corners is near the ocean beach, about 500' north of the northern-most trail that crosses  Bayocean. While looking around I found red-striped plastic ribbons hanging from trees. As I bushwhacked over to the bay side I found more of them. Later, I asked Del Shleichert, Director of the Tillamook County Parks Department, about the ribbons. He said they had nothing to do with them.

I next asked Charles Ansorge, President of the Cape Meares Community Association, to put out an inquiry on his listserv. Robert (Ollie) Ollikainen responded that the ribbons might have to do with annual Air Force survival training. This seemed reasonable, since the northern part of Bayocean Spit is federally owned. 

While researching Western Snowy Plover and Bayocean  I learned the Air Force has a contract with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to hold survival training each spring and fall. I also came across a CoastWatch report of 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.
The red-striped plastic ribbons certainly aren't the rescue flags "YaakovM" referred to. Paul Levesque said the Air Force notifies him when the training is scheduled, but this is not made public to avoid observers. The training focuses on hiding behind enemy lines when pilots are downed, so putting up flags didn't seem appropriate. The search goes on. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Competition for Bayocean's Natatorium

I recently learned from Cape Meares resident Deborah Thomas Neal that Bayocean's natatorium had competition in its day. I'll admit to having thought the term was just something the Potter's made up. Not so. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition defines "natatorium" as "an indoor swimming pool" and says the use of the term began somewhere between 1885 and 1890. Today, indoor swimming pools are common place. Perhaps at the end of the 19th Century promoters thought it would increase business by giving them a fancier name. Several were constructed in the Pacific Northwest soon after the start of the 20th Century.

The first natatorium in Oregon was in Medford. The description of a photo of Medford's natatorium at the Southern Oregon Historical Society's web site says that it opened in 1910, and that it was the largest building in Oregon at the time. According to the Oregon Encyclopedia's entry for Ashland, city boosters hoped that adding mineral springs to the equation would help the one they opened in 1914 entice tourists to drive further south. It didn't work. 


Nye Beach Natatorium photo from Salem Public Library
The Nye Beach Natatorium in Newport was much closer to Bayocean, and thus would have been tougher competition. Descriptions of photos in the Salem Public Library collections say that it was opened in 1911. Since it was rebuilt after burning down in 1922 it must have been a profitable business. But by  1966 it was in disrepair, and eventually was replaced by the Nye Beach turnaround and beach access. This was a use much better suited to the location, as made evident by a 1939 photo by Roger Hart showing ocean waves crashing onto the natatorium's porch.
Photo of Bayocean Natatorium in its final days,
from the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum


On page 84 of  Bayocean: The Oregon Town that Fell Into the Sea, Bert and Margie Webber say that Bayocean's natatorium was completed in 1912. The Potters must have known that Nye Beach's natatorium would open ahead of theirs. This may have motivated them to add  extra features, such as the movie theater and a wave generator that simulated ocean waves so bathers could enjoy the experience year round. This wave generator appears to be the first of its kind, though Wikipedia's coverage of "wave pools" gives that distinction to the Gellert Baths of Budapest, Hungary, which were built in 1927. Perhaps Wikipedia authors don't count Bayocean because it no longer exists. Being closest to the ocean, it was the first building to be undermined. In 1932 it closed the doors. 
Photo of Bayocean Natatorium at its best
from the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum


Rockaway and Seaside built natatoriums as well, in the 1920s. It was evidently quite the rage, according to More Beneath Sands of Oregon Coast Town Than Meets the Eye, a story told with the help of local historian Don Best. Unfortunately their fates were all the same - though the Rockaway Natatorium fought river more than ocean. Using ORMAP with a Tillamook County tax map overlay, the GPS coordinates of the southwest corner of the lot that the Bayocean Natatorium are 45.527644, -123.955606. You might reach it on very low tide in the winter. Concrete chunks were last seen years ago. 


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Bayocean's Dinky Railroad

The popular belief that the fencing around the modern Bayocean Spit parking lot is made with rails from the resort town's railroad is unfortunately false. In "Chapter 8" of  Bayocean: The Oregon Town that Fell Into the SeaBert and Margie Webber point out that the rails used for the parking lot fence are standard size, while Bayocean's was what the Potter's referred to in their promotional material as a "dinky" railroad. This was recently confirmed by Harold Bennett, who grew up on Bayocean in the late 1940s. The engine was gone by then, but many of the rails remained. 


Photo of "dinky" railroad picking up construction material
from a barge,  from Tillamook County Pioneer Museum
Tourists riding "dinky" railroad shows how small it was,
from  from Tillamook County Pioneer Museum


Section of rail from "dinky" railroad
 contributed by Dale Webber for
a 2014 exhibit on Bayocean at the
Tillamook County Pioneer Museum
The small rails and engine made it possible for workers to change the route as one building was completed and another begun. The route always began on the dock where they construction materials could be unloaded from barges directly. On occasion it would be used to give guests of the resort a fun ride. 

The Webbers led a 1972 search party that found remnants of "dinky" rails, which they promptly hid on the spit and later shared among those involved. Thankfully, the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum received a piece one for its archives.

A "dinky" rail system was also used by the Whitney Lumber Company, over at Kilchis Point, starting in 1919. This was after Bayocean Park was completed, so this may be where their engine ended up. According to Gary Albright, the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum Director, and driving force behind the Kilchis Point Reserve, the rounded point at the end of the Reserve trail was deposited after the ocean created a 3/4 mile wide gap in the Bayocean in November 1952. Kilchis Point proper is south of the Reserve on private land. The end of the trail would have been a little bay where Whitney dumped its logs, to be taken to its mill in Garibaldi.  

Plaque along the Kilchis Point Reserve trail 


Friday, May 1, 2015

Western Snowy Plover and Bayocean

Photo from Oregon Parks and Recreation Department
The April 8, 2015 Tillamook County Pioneer had a story with news on the avian front, titled "Western snowy plover sighting on Nehalem Spit surprised State Parks officials".

The source of their information was Vanessa Blackstone, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) wildlife biologist. On her Nature Notes blog she said, "This is the first time in 30 years that we have a confirmed nest here, and [it] supports all the hard work Oregonians have done to help this species survive.” 

More snowy plovers have been seen at Nehalem Spit since the first report and their numbers have been increasing along the northern Oregon coast in the last couple years.The most recent report from OPRD is from 2013. OPRD has a web site dedicated to snowy plover recovery because it's a species listed as endangered at both the state and federal levels, and they manage for both. According to their  2010 Habitat Conservation Plan there haven't been any snowy plover sighted on Bayocean since 2000.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service also has a detailed snowy plover web site as well as a Pacific Region tumblr page.