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. 

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