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.