Thursday, July 30, 2015

Dolan House

With the help of Facebook groups and friends, one of the two houses next to the Hicks house is now known to have been last owned by A.T. and Hazel Dolan. All three houses were built by wealthy Portland lumberman Johan Poulsen and continually owned by family members until 1944. They were known to the be the most extravagant homes on Bayocean, which seems fitting given their placement catty-corner to the Bayocean Hotel Annex, on the highest point on the spit (What Happened At Bayocean: Is Salishan Next? Expanded Edition12-13). Though photographs exist for many Bayocean houses, few are identified, and even fewer are located. That's why it's such a pleasure when one can be nailed down. 

Photo of the front (eastern side) of the Dolan house  taken by Dorothy Dolan Williams (daughter)
in 1945.  From left to right, standing to sitting: Hazel Wolfe Dolan, a visitor whose name has been forgotten, Joann Dolan Steffey (daughter), and A.T. Dolan
Tom Williams is a Tillamook, Oregon native who enthusiastically introduced me to several Facebook historical interest groups a few months ago. The Dolans were his grandparents. They lived in Tillamook and used this as a beach house. Tom was born too late to visit them there, but ever since his grandmother told him she'd watched a blimp drop depth charges on a submarine right out in front of the house he'd wanted to find its location.

Peter Bellant has an excellent Bayocean album in Oregon History and Memory's collection. I recently noticed that one of the photos was captioned "The Dolan house at Bayocean." When I alerted Tom he posted the photo at Old Tillamook Times, where most Bayocean alumni congregate, including his cousin, Barbara (Steffy) Sisson. She then acted as an intermediary with her mother, Joann (Dolan) Steffey, Tom's aunt, his mother Dorothy's sister, and the Dolans' daughter. 

Joann confirmed it was her parent's house and provided the information in the caption (she also confirmed watching the blimp drop grenades on a submarine, watching it happen alongside her mother). Next, by looking over the drawing at Bayocean Then And Now, Joann recalled the house being just west (and north) of the Hicks house. Luckily there are many photos of the three Poulsen houses. Joann confirmed that it's the house on the left in the photo below.

Dolan house on the left. The view is of its southwest corner, from the northeast corner
of the Bayocean Hotel Annex across the street.  Tillamook County Pioneer Museum #93

Unlike the Hicks house, the Dolan house was not moved to the mainland. Nor was it destroyed by the sea. It burned to the ground late in January 1950. Joann said that her father let the family of his friend A.G. Beals' son Roland stay at the house when they moved there just after the start of the school year. Roland's son Bruce was a new classmate who she had dated. The fire started when Roland used gasoline to help get a fire going in the woodstove. He was badly burned and the house burned to the ground. Most all of the Dolan's Bayocean memorabilia were destroyed in the process. This was a hard blow to Joann's parents, who never spoke of it again.

Sad as the story is, at least Tom (or anyone else) can now stand under the Bayocean Hotel Annex chimney (45.52982, - 123.954258) at low tide, hike about 380' bearing N 60 E, look 110' into the sky, and imagine what it might have been like for his grandmother to see and hear the depth charges dropped by the blimp over 70 years ago. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Mine That Exploded On Cape Meares Beach in 1953

"Mine on Cape Meares Beach" is a story told by Buck Sherwood in Oregon Coast Magazine's January/February 2008 edition. This was after Buck died, so he must have submitted it before that, and he never got the pleasure of seeing it published. I took a photo of the article at the Cape Meares Community Center. It didn't turn out well, so I found a digital copy online. That version does not credit Buck and changed the date, which is why I included both. In any case, it's a great story. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Tillamook Bay Run

The 14th annual Tillamook Bay Run starts 10 AM, Saturday, August 15. Both the 10k and 5k routes begin on the ocean side of Bayocean Spit and cross over to return on the bay side. With both gravel and sand to contend with, rugged shoes are a must. For more information and/or to register go to If you were looking for a nice, quiet day on the spit, you might want to choose a different one.

Update: unfortunately I've not been able to find results or an event report anywhere online. What's posted at the organization's web site is for the previous year, so take a look in 11 months. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Oregon Beach Bill and Bayocean

In addition to videos specific to Bayocean history, Tom Olsen of Anchor Pictures also produced Politics of Sand, a documentary about the Oregon Beach Bill. The film is based on Oregon Beaches, A Birthright Preserved by Kathy Straton. It can be seen in segments on Vimeo or purchased (with some extras included) as a DVD from the Cannon Beach History Center.  

The right to access all coastal beaches is taken for granted by Oregonians today, but that was not assured until the Oregon Beach Bill passed in 1967. Forces were in play then that would have restricted beach access to adjacent property owners, as was the case - and still is - in most other coastal states. The video shows how close the Oregon Beach Bill came to failing, and lays out all the pieces that had to fall in place for it to pass and survive legal challenges. 

Wagon using the beach at Barview for travel route in the 1890s; photo attributed to
the Oregon State Library in Oregon's Beaches: A Birthright Preserved
Until Highway 101 was finished in 1932, beaches provided key transportation routes for travelers along the Oregon Coast. No one seemed to realize that the Oregon Legislature had put this in jeopardy when they started selling tidelands to settlers, until Governor Oswald West came along in 1911. He pushed through legislation in 1913 that declared the wet sand area between low and high tide as a public highway.

Governor West's bill did not address the dry sands between high tide and the vegetation line because vehicles wouldn't travel there. This meant that only private landowners had the legal right to hike on the beach at high tide. No landowners enforced their right to exclude the public from dry sands until 1967. The actions by just a couple resort owners led to passage of the Oregon Beach Bill.

The landowners that sold to the Potters had tideland rights, so Governor West's 1913 bill did not matter as far as Bayocean was concerned: wagons and cars could drive the entire length of the beach if they wanted to. So, the Potters could have saved money by building concrete roads only on the inland sections of the spit, and let people drive to the Natatorium from Cape Meares on the beach. Evidently, they were willing to spent a lot of money to make sure resort customers weren't impeded by high tide or winter storms. Their dreams were more powerful than their accounting, because they lost their development to foreclosure before a road from Tillamook to Bayocean was built.  

If you look closely at the drawing in Bayocean Then and Nowyou can see a "zone line" shown separate from the "vegetation line" in some places. Paul Levesque explained that this was a result of the Oregon Beach Bill. Politics of Sand  explains why. Following passage of the bill, and as mandated by it, Oregon State University engineers established the zone line to be a permanent boundary between public/private use, that would endure regardless of changes in the vegetation line. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Grant McOmie Cockle Clamming at Bayocean

Jeff Kastner shows how it's done
A couple of weeks ago Grant McComie featured Bayocean's history. In this episode, he covers cockle clamming in Tillamook Bay, along the spit's eastern shore. Grant also learns how to cook and feast on the cockles, and it appears he's a good student.  See the video, read the story, and enjoy some great photos by Jeff Kastner at Grants Getaways: Cockle Clamming

Photo by Jeff Kastner of cockle raking in Tillamook Bay, just off the east shore of Bayocean, with Garibaldi in the background

Friday, July 3, 2015

South Jetty Commemorative Plaque

Near Kincheloe Point, at the north end of Bayocean Spitis a huge boulder on the left side of Dike Road. It was placed there to commemorate the completion of the south jetty in September 1979. Thousands of similar boulders were used in its construction.

Given their size, it's amazing that the ocean can so easily bust up these stones; but it's doing at a current pace that's removing an average of 100' per year according to an Army Corps of Engineers report quoted in the Tillamook Headlight Herald of March 24, 2015. The jetty has lost a 900' since 1979, and "meets the completely degraded condition criteria." Tillamook County and the Port of Garibaldi hope to get federal funding to rebuild it soon. 

The north jetty was repaired in 2010. As the story of Bayocean Park's demise makes clear, it's critical to keep the two jetties in balance. Building just the north jetty in 1914 prevented the summer replenishment of Bayocean sand that had been scoured away during winter storms. We understand this now, but at the time many reasoned the slow loss of sand could have been just part of a generational ebb and flow. By the time the north jetty had been lengthened to its current length of 5700' in 1931, beach erosion had accelerated dramatically. In 1932 the Bayocean Natatorium, which sat right on the beach, was undercut and partially collapsed. One house after another fell into the sea until a 1952 storm created a breach a mile wide at the southern end, and left Bayocean an island until the Corps build a dike to close in 1957. The beach began to grow as construction of the south jetty began in 1969. It took three phases of funding to get it to 8000'. See Oregon Coastal Atlas and Bayocean Then and Now to get an idea of how dramatic the changes have been over the last century.

Getting back to the boulder at Kincheloe Point, you can see there is a square carved out of the upper right side of it. This once held a commemorative plaque. It was stolen 10 years ago. Until it can be replaced we can see what it looked like thanks to Walter Van Camp, who provided a photo of it. You can watch a video about the building of the South Jetty produced by Anchor Pictures for the Port of Garibaldi.