Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Children Of Bayocean

In 2015, Sue Bagley Barr wrote a wonderful story about her early years growing up on Bayocean for her family titled The Bagleys of Bayocean and allowed me to post it here for others to enjoy. She has just updated it with new information discovered over the last four years about her grandfather Judge George Bagley, who owned and lost one of the few homes built north of the Bayocean Hotel on High Street. 

Most of what's been written about Bayocean focuses on the tragedy of a resort town and the homes of its residents being destroyed by the sea. So it is refreshing to see how good life was for the families who lived there during and just after World War II. The views of houses, streets, sidewalks, stores, etc. are different than I've seen elsewhere: they depict people living normal lives in an extraordinary place. And little Sue and Sally are such cuties. 

Perry Reeder loves to talk of the sugar sands of Tillamook Bay and snorkeling for hours along the shallow bay waters that were protected from sea winds by a high ridge of sand during languid summer days. He is featured in many of my posts and has obliged my questions on many occasions, as did Barbara Bennett before her death.

Mike Watkins and his dog Sally 
Mike Watkins was one of the younger boys. He lived in the Oceanview subdivision, just south of Bayocean Park in the community of Cape Meares, but often ventured out onto the spit in order to slide down the long, steep, pure sand slopes on cardboard. He also collected wooden water pipe couplers. 

Vance Mason and his little sister Phyllis Locke
near their home on Bayocean about 1950.
Vance's stories were fun to hear. I was sad
to hear of his death at age 83 on 8/27/2017. 
The oldest boy was Vance Mason. His step-father Walter (Shorty) Locke managed Bungalow City and they lived just across the street in a house they built. Vance often led the younger boys in explorations of hotel ruins and into the wilder parts of Bayocean. When he saw blimps coming Vance would run to the highest ridge and yell up at the pilots asking them to drop candy bars (the military wasn't rationed like civilians), which they often did, along with notes asking older girls to meet them at a dance on the weekend.  When a blimp once crashed into Tillamook Bay, Vance took advantage of their teacher Mrs. Mitchell (not Ida) having let them out of school early to scavenge chunks of rubber, maps, a radio, and some flares. Unfortunately, he had to give it all back to FBI agents when they came calling. Vance's step-sister, Phyllis (Locke) Anderson, loved the bay so much that her mother had to tie her down when Vance wasn't around in order to keep her from scampering off to it every time she looked away. Phyllis and other girls recall the Bennett and Reeder boys finding some sort of odd satisfaction from tossing frogs at them. I can't imagine. 

Other posts that include Baycoean alumni can be found at the Index page. 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Air Force Survival Training on Bayocean

On April 8, 2015, I was looking for a cadastral survey monument (see Rewitness Card #56 ) at the north end of Bayocean when I noticed red-striped plastic ribbons hanging from tree limbs. Following the flags from the ocean side to the bay side, I could not figure out their purpose. Cape Meares resident Robert (Ollie) Ollikainen later suggested they play a role in Air Force survival training held on the spit periodically. 

While researching to write Western Snowy Plover and Bayocean a month laterI learned that the Air Force had a contract with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to hold survival training each spring and fall and found a CoastWatch report dated 9/13/03 by YaakovM that said:
On this Sunday through Thursday, Sept. 18th, the US Air   Force was conducting coastal survival training exercises. Saw four young soldiers building shelters out of driftwood, putting up rescue flags, and otherwise going through assigned tasks. On bay side of the spit, I saw several trucks, a bus, many tents, and equipment for the exercise noted above. The soldiers appeared to be doing no damage to the beach area and, from what I later learned, completely clean up the area when they're through.

When I called Paul Levesque, Chief of Staff for the Tillamook County Board of Commissioners, about this he said the Air Force notifies him when the training is scheduled, but it's not made public to avoid interference by observers because these are flight crews learning to hide behind enemy lines if their planes go down. This made me wonder if eyes were observing me while I was bushwhacking across the spit back in April. Perhaps I had inadvertently become part of their training. If so, they did well.

I happened upon the training in person while picking up garbage for SOLV on September 21st, 2019. A male soldier (one was female) inflating rafts at Crab Harbor waved permission to take photos. Their camp was at Kincheloe Point was empty. There were several boats near the end of the south jetty but I couldn't see what they were doing. Perhaps eyes hidden in the beach grass were observing me again. 

See the Index page to find more articles to read. 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

1949 Ackroyd Aerial Depicts Bayocean Hotel Ruins and Erosion

For years I've wondered about the posts in the bay visible during low tide that run parallel to Dike Rd. and the wider posts just barely reaching above the mud on low tide that cross the small inlet near the gate at the south end of the hills. 

I've found no evidence of them in any aerial photos and maps from all my individual and archival sources as well as US Army Corps of Engineer records at the National Archives. I  thought they might have been installed after the breakwater was built in 1956 because they were so far out into the bay before that time (though not to the end of the original dock). Perry Reeder told me they were there when he was a kid. He thought they probably once held boards that served to protect the bay side of Bayocean from erosion during storms. This recently discovered aerial, taken by Hugh Ackroyd in 1949, confirms Perry's recollections. It was taken from the southwest, so 12th leading down to the dock and main part of town is out of sight to the right. 

Print and high-resolution digital versions of Ackroyd 01751-05 can be ordered at www.historicphotoarchive.net or by calling
 Thomas Robinson at 503-460-0415. He was kind enough to allow me to display it here when I told him the significance.

Posts running parallel to Dike Rd and crossing the inlet from the gate at the base of the hills.



Comparing Ackroyd's 1949 aerial to a profile view from the north not long after the hotel was finished (at 100' elevation) in 1912 gives you a sense of the great volume of sand lost to erosion during the intervening 37 years. What was left of the hotel in 1949 were ruins caused by deconstruction. It was abandoned by 1932, when the Tillamook Bayocean Company (local businessmen who bought it out of receivership in 1928) gave up trying to make a go of it. 

Bayocean photo #214 at the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum. Call (503) 842-4553 for print or digital copies.
The cottages shown at the top were all built by Johan Poulsen, Portland lumber baron, in 1912 for use by himself and his daughters' families. The most southerly of them, known then as the Hicks House, was moved to the mainland in 1952, just before Bayocean became an island. It had been rented out to the US Coast Guard to house a war dog beach patrol unit during World War II. They built the small building below it as additional housing. The other cottages were sold to A.T.Dolan. The one closest to the sea burned to the ground shortly after Ackroyd shot his aerial. Ocean erosion continued until the bay side cottage crashed to the sea in 1954. The last house (Notdurfts; hidden behind the trees to the right) succumbed in 1960.   

See the Index page to find more stories like this.