Sunday, June 28, 2015

Paul Levesque

Photo from Statesman Journal 
Residents of Tillamook County know the name Paul Levesque. When he was Chief of Staff for the Board of County Commissioners, he was in the news on a regular basis. He also was honored as one of the “Local Heroes in Action” for coming to the aid of a woman being assaulted at a gas station. 

What folks may not know is that Paul is a historian with a personal interest in Bayocean; which is why he agreed to an interview despite being a busy fellow. 

Paul has been a resident of Tillamook County since 1971. He lived on Cape Meares in 1973 and 1974, while working oyster beds for Cecil Harris. During that time he was on Bayocean regularly, for work and play.  

Since 1976, Paul has worked for Tillamook County, in several different capacities. In 1985 he wrote the two-volume A Chronicle of the Tillamook County Forest Trust Lands that is available at libraries. Paul has written three other unpublished papers that he has allowed me to provide access to:  

Each of the works is well documented and gives information specific to Bayocean and/or provides historical context. I was surprised to read there was a Port of Bayocean that played a part in early jetty discussions with the US Corps of Engineers. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Grant McOmie Captures The Bayocean Story

Wednesday, June 17th, I had the pleasure of introducing Grant McOmie and his videographer/editor Jeff Kastner to Bayocean alumni, tagging along while the alumni showed them around the spit's "townsite", and giving Grant and Jeff a tour of the few buildings moved off Bayocean before the sea took them. The resulting Grant's Getaways: Bayocean was shown during KGW newscasts on June 26, but can be viewed online at Travel Oregon. The show will be one of four segments in a dedicated half-hour Grant's Getaways program in the fall. 

A week earlier Grant had asked me to set this up, after hearing about Bayocean from mutual friend Don Best. With the help of Sarah MacDonald (daughter of Bayocean alumni Perry Reeder) and Charles Ansorge (President of the Cape Meares Community Association), I managed to pull it off. Don couldn't join us because he was taking advantage of a sunny day with a minus 1.4 tide to take aerial photographs of Tillamook Bay - including a particularly dramatic one of Bayocean. Don provided some of the photographs Jeff and Grant put into the show. Tom Olsen provided them a copy of the DVD he produced for the Port of Garibaldi (see Videos of Bayocean History) which they used to powerful effect. 

Left to right: Barbara Bennett, David Bennett, Grant McOmie, Kevin Bennett, 
Harold Bennett, Perry Reeder, and Sarah MacDonald 

Perry Reeder's maps of  Bayocean 

Our day started at the schoolhouse, which Charles was kind enough to open ahead of time. Each Bayocean school alumnus arrived with an interested son or daughter: Perry and his daughter Sarah; Barbara Bennett and her son David; and Harold Bennett and his son Kevin (wife/mother MerryAnn bolted before the cameras came out). Perry and Sarah laid out some maps on a table. Barbara spread out some photos on another. The stories soon began. Everyone had warmed to the occasion by the time Grant and Jeff arrived. Charles greeted them on behalf of the CMCA and left to teach an (online) university class. 
Grant McOmie interviewing Barbara Bennett
with Jeff Kastner recording it all

Perry Reeder describes  the Bayocean that once was,
while standing where kids waited for the school bus:
across from Mitchell's store on the south side of 12th.

Watching Grant, it's easy to see how he gets people to feel comfortable and open up: he's an engaging fellow who is genuinely interested in what folks have to say. Barbara, Harold, and Perry seemed to enjoy telling their stories, and the telling helped us all imagine the Bayocean they once knew. Visiting the "townsite" that Perry and Sarah set up on the spit really got Harold and Perry going. 

The last part of the day was spent visiting the Pagoda house(s) and two others moved to Bayocean that are still standing. I showed them the house that was built using wood salvaged from the Natatorium that I'll post on in the future. I had tried to stay off-camera all day but got tagged at the end because all the more interesting folks had left. Grant's Getaway: Bayocean is a pleasure to watch despite that. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Three Other Houses Moved From Bayocean

Previous posts discussed moving the Bayocean schoolhouse, Hicks house, and  Pagoda House(s) to the mainland before the November 1952 breakthrough could destroy them. Three other houses were moved, though only two remain. 

Photo of A.G. Beals house on Bayocean, which Sherwoods rented. Courtesy of Mike Watkins.
Jerry Schlegel says that when A.G. Beals (a prominent Tillamook businessman) heard Woodrow Chase was moving some houses off the spit, he paid him $2,000 to move a house from just south of the Bayocean schoolhouse to a knoll about the meadow at the mouth of Coleman Creek. Barbara Bennett said Beals never lived in the house but rented it out. The people who owned the house in 1976 replaced it with another that looks very similar.

Photo by the author
This house was owned by O.P. Brigham. Pop and Bob Watkins bought it and moved it to a lot along Bayocean Road in November 1952. It was the last house moved. 

The house below was given to Jerry Schlegel in return for the work he did moving houses from Bayocean to Cape Meares for Chase. Jerry lived in Forest Grove at the time but his family used it as a beach house for several years. It still stands in Cape Meares.  It was originally built for Corinth Crook and sat near the Pagodas along the ridgeline. Woody Chase bought it from George and Merle Selfridge and moved it in the summer of 1949. 

Photo of Schlegel house while still on Bayocean, from Bayocean
school scrapbook in the Cape Meares Community Center 

Recent photo by the author of the house that was first owned by Jerry 
Schlegel after being moved to Cape Meares from Bayocean

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Videos of Bayocean History

When Grant McOmie mentioned having once seen an aerial video of Bayocean, taken soon after the 1952 breach that made it an island, I got excited. But before I could even start looking for it, the video's creator, Tom Olsen, sent it to me. Tom is a fellow member of Garibaldi Oregon Memories. He'd seen my posts about Bayocean there, and thought the video might help my reseach.  Serendipity at its best. 

These extra scenes are on the DVD; not online
In 2010 the Port of Garibaldi hired Tom's company Anchor Pictures to produce The Port of Garibaldi: The Centennial History (1910-2010)The Garibaldi Maritime Museum has it for sale as a DVD. The Port of Garibaldi also had their employee Jesse Coon upload the story in nineteen clips to YouTube so that anyone can watch it. It's easier to find all the clips all in one place by going directly to Tom's Vimeo account. Extra clips on the DVD include World War II footage and stories about blimps. 

Clip no.10 is the flyover of Bayocean after the 1952 breach that Grant recalled seeing.  Additional clips that focus on Bayocean are nos. 3, 4, and 7; but the entire series will be fascinating to watch for anyone interested in Garibaldi and Tillamook Bay history. All of the historic aerial videos Tom used in his documentary were taken by Doc Adams, who contributed them to the museum.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Barbara Bennett

Since I've used Barbara Bennett as a source in past posts, and likely will in the future, I thought it would be good to let readers get to know her better.

Barbara moved to the village of Cape Meares in 1943 with her parents, Milton and Edith Schlegel, and brothers Jerry and Jim. The original Bayocean Park plat included Cape Meares (see Cape Meares and Bayocean) so the children all went to Bayocean School together. The schoolhouse was actually closer to Cape Meares than central Bayocean. 

Barbara had fifteen classmates during her seventh and eighth grade years at Bayocean School. They included her older brother Jerry, Perry Reeder, Ernest Knutson, and the Bennett siblings Harold, Rosemarie, and James, and the Sherwood siblings. She graduated eight grade with Ernest Knutson in 1945, attended ninth through twelfth grades at Tillamook Junior High School, and graduated in 1949. 

Soon after graduation, Barbara married her classmate James Bennett, which is why she stayed in Cape Meares when her family moved to Forest Grove. Jim and Barbara moved to Fort Ord where he served as a military policeman until they returned to Cape Meares in 1954. Since then Barbara has never left. She worked in the Tillamook Cheese Factory for many years and raised her family. 

Jim was interviewed in a video by Rick Dancer called "Oregon Ghost Towns: Bay Ocean, the saddest story of all" in 2005. Jim died nine years later. His father Lewis Bennett was the primary source of information for the Webbers (who spelled his name incorrectly as "Louis" ) in  Bayocean: The Oregon Town that Fell Into the Sea. Jim's brother Harold still lives in the Cape Meares home their father remodeled after moving there from Bayocean. 

I am sorry to report that Barbara died on April 7, 2019. A nice obituary ran in the Tillamook Headlight-Herald

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Hicks House

One building moved from Bayocean is referred to as the "House of Hicks" because it was last owned by C.G. Hicks. Located on the highest point of the town, at the apex of High Street, Bay Terrace, and 14th Avenue, it sat catty-corner to the Bayocean Hotel Annex. It's the one on the right, south of the other two, in the photo below.
This photo, from Tillamook County Pioneer Museum, must have been taken
from a hotel room on the northeast corner, looking northeast.
In What Happened At Bayocean: Is Salishan Next? Expanded Edition (12-13) Bert Webber reported that all three homes were built by Johan Poulsen, a prominent Portland lumberman, and continually owned by family members. In 1944, after having rented it to the US Coast Guard during World War II for a war dog beach patrol, they sold one to A.T. Dolan and one to C.G. Hicks. The third went through several owners until Hicks bought it near the end. The tenants Bayocean alumni recall are the McManns, primarily because their daughter Mickie was a tomboy who could hold her own in BB fights with the boys in the woods. Webber said these were the most extravagant homes on Bayocean. Perry Reeder said that a butler answered the door at the Hick's house. 

Barbara Bennett said that it was known as the "House of Hicks" because they operated a catering service there. Joann Steffey, the daughter of A.T. Dolan, said Hicks also owned a restaurant by that name in Portland. This is confirmed by the January 1947 newsletter of the Geological Society of the Oregon Country, which held a meeting there.

Early in 1952, Hicks accepted the inevitable and sold both houses at a salvage price to Lebeck and Sons Construction of Portland (Deed Record 134, pages 503-503), who then sold it to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Ross for $7,000, including the move (February 7, and March 27, 1952 articles in the Tillamook Headlight Herald ). They subcontracted Leonard Bales Construction and Morgan Burckard Plumbing to help them get the house ready to move. Leslie Bales was with her father the entire time, and later married Morgan's son Gus. She was only nine years old, but remembers being frightened by the cliff moving closer to the house each day. One of the photos depicts this clearly, in that the Hotel Bayocean Annex, which was to the right of the Hicks house, had already fallen 100' to the beach below. 
Looking north, from the south down route taken.
Dorian Studio photo provided by John Chaix
Photo taken from the north, looking south, ocean to the right, hotel 
ruins gone. The Dolan house is not obstructing the view because 
it had burned down.  Dorian Studio photo provided by John Chaix

In order to get it onto a barge and ship it across the bay, the house had to be cut in half. Dr. Rex Parsons, who lived in the house from 1983 to 2002 was told that Mrs. Ross (just 5' tall) ignored state policemen's orders to stop because of concerns that the house was too close to the power lines, and just "kept on trucking". He added a two-story addition that's not shown in the photo below, but he preserved the original walls and ceilings of two bedrooms, the bath between them, and the hallway leading to them because they were old-growth, tongue-and-groove, clear fir.

The Tillamook Headlight Herald reported on February 21, 1952, that the first Hick's house was moved a week earlier and that the crews intended to come back for the second house the following week, but they never did. In their March 27 issue, Lewis Bennett explained that by the time they could return the foundation of the second house was crumbling, so they packed up their equipment and headed back to Portland. Another likely factor was that (as reported in the paper) a breach made the road impassable from March 20 to April 3. On December 10, 1953 the paper shows the second Hicks house sitting alone with the garage of the first one. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Bayocean Park Plumbing

Mike Watkins with wood coupler from old water system
In Bayocean: The Oregon Town That Fell Into the Sea  Bert and Margie Webber give extensive coverage of how wooden pipes took water from Coleman Creek high up on Cape Meares in order to build sufficient pressure to serve Bayocean residents several miles away. After Bayocean was abandoned the same wooden pipes continued to serve Cape Meares. As a child, Mike Watkins was paid $1.50 by his grandfather Robert W. (Pops) for any pipes (typically 6 to 8 feet in length) and couplers he could find on the beach, close to the gaps, for use in maintaining the system. Mike keeps a coupler in his beach home in Cape Meares. 

The Webbers don't say much about internal plumbing; just one paragraph that straddles page 47 and 48. They report that most residents simply heated water on their stoves when needed, like for baths. A few industrious folks ran water pipes through their fireplaces - but to where? They found "no mention of bathtubs, other than the hotel, in the earlier years."

Perhaps the Webbers hadn't ever taken a bath in a galvanized tub filled with buckets of water heated on a stove, as we did living in the backwoods of Minnesota. I can imagine a pipe running to the location where they'd set the tub saving a lot of time and effort. Maybe the pipes ran to an outdoor location that served as a hot tub.

A more serious problem would be how to deal with sewage. The Webbers reported that most folks had outdoor privies. However, a few tied into a system running from the hotel, across the spit, and down to businesses on the bay side, then out under the dock to empty into Tillamook Bay. Did it have a valve that was only opened during high tide? 

Photo titled "The end of discharge under dock" from the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum, contributed by the Ackley family

Webbers' research also led them to believe the natatorium was "the only building equipped with a septic tank. Its drain field was the beach!" A 1940 photo on page 84 shows a couple girls standing on it. One has to wonder if they or the photographer knew what it was. The Webbers said that chunks of it could still be seen on the beach in the 1980s. Other locals report seeing it in years since then. It's more likely during a minus tide in the winter when both sand and sea levels are at their lowest.