Friday, May 29, 2015

The Earliest Days of Bayocean School

A family like Bertha Pearl (Weaver) Morgans living in 
the worker's camp. Tillamook County Pioneer Museum
The Tillamook County Pioneer Museum has a paper titled "Memories Of Bayocean School" written by Bertha Pearl (Weaver) 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 a tent at a worker's camp set up for workers.

Bertha said the school she attended "was about a quarter of a mile toward the worker's camp from the cape, a one room school house on the ocean side. [It had] 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 Indian girl was about 16, Ruth Ford was 9 or 10, and Bob was about 14, and the rest in between, just a nice bunch of country kids, and Happy I think." 

Bertha described a tree in front of the school with a large limb that hung out over the ocean where she 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 every minute of it, lessons were nil. just play, School days." 

Two schools would later be built out on the spit itself. 

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, was caused by a landscape that has been moving for centuries. The historical record begins in 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 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 to scour away 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. Coleman Creek, just north of the slide, was the source of Bayocean's water. 

These landslides are just one way in which Cape Meares has been falling into the ocean for a millenia. Cliffs also crumble. Mike Watkins pointed out a cave out near the edge of Cape Meares that had collapsed since his childhood. Debris from similar collapses in the past formed Bayocean Spit and continues contributing to it today. 

Clarke's sketch also provides early historical information. The wagon road sketched was built to haul materials for the construction of the lighthouse from 1888 to 1890 (Cape Meares And It's Sentinel, 44). It wound 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 belonged to Henry M. Sampson, who was granted patent #1339 in 1882. The "small creek" on the north edge of the slide is Sampson Creek. 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 (now the Cape Meares Community Center), the Pagoda House is 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 the privacy of residents) 
They were two separate houses on Bayocean, on the east side of Clarke Street, joined by a hallway because the residents were close friends. One of them had been moved from a previous location on the west side as the dune approached. The photo below was taken at the original location, with the front door facing east, away from the force of winter storms. 
Photo from Oregon Historical Society photo collection 93-B.
Harold Bennett recalls his mother cleaning house for the Miss Cake and Miss Brownell, ladies who lived in the second Pagoda full time in the mid-1940s. Harold's brother James did yard work and split wood for them, according to his widow Barbara

Photo by Howard "Buck" Sherwood
of Pagoda Houses being prepared for the 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

Milton and Jerry Schlegel (Barbara's father and brother), and Woodrow (Woody) Chase, a logger from Willamina, moved the Pagoda houses, and others, to the mainland as erosion threatened them at the new location. They used a tractor to push and pull the truck through bad spots like the gaps. The Tillamook Headlight Herald of April 7, 1949, announced the start of the process. 

During that summer, Milton and Jerry excavated property purchased on Pacific Avenue in Oceanside, built a basement, and fit the two houses together on top of it. On August 11 the Tillamook Headlight Herald described a larger housewarming by Bob and Barbara Watkins 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 fancy. 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 saying the pier was 1400 feet long, just over a 1/4 mile. 

The pier was an extension of 12th Avenue, which stopped at Bay Street. The Bayside Inn was on the southeast corner of that intersection. If you were arriving by boat, you could just walk off the pier and check-in. Tillamook County Tax Map 1N1031D shows Dike Road 500' east of that intersection, so the pier would have extended 900' past the road into Tillamook Bay, nearly out to the oyster beds. 

Photo from Tillamook County Pioneer Museum
Where the pier would have crossed Dike Road is about 1/2 mile north of the parking lot gate. It's close to a sandy spot on the west side 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.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Bayocean's Dinky Railroad

A popular belief that the fencing around the modern Bayocean Spit parking lot is made with rails from the resort town's railroad is 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 railroad was what the Potter's referred to in their promotional material as a "dinky." 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.
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 began. The route always went back to the pier where construction materials were unloaded. 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 hid 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