Sunday, September 24, 2023

Competition for Bayocean's Natatorium

Bayocean Natatorium. BOB95, Tillamook County
Pioneer Museum.
On July 5, 1914, the Bayocean Natatorium offered heated, saltwater bathing to the public for the first time (it opened a day earlier, but the boiler didn't work, so it was a chilly dip for those who initiated it). The building took up five oceanfront lots and was more than two stories high. A balcony let folks watch swimmers and kids paddling inflatable canoes around during the day and enjoy movies on a screen pulled down from the rafters at night. Sometimes bands played there. The Bayocean Natatorium quickly became the resort's most popular attraction. 

Seaside's first natatorium was the two-story
part of the Turnaround Building, on the right
(south) side of this photo. The Trendwest Resort
stands there now. Seaside Museum image.
Bayocean Park ads started promising a natatorium after news that construction of Ashland Mineral Springs Natatorium - the first in Oregon -had begun reached Portland in 1909. But 
by the time it was finished, three others operated along the Oregon Coast. Gearhart Park started advertising its little natatorium in the Oregonian on May 22, 1910. The one at Nye Beach opened in 1912. J.S. Oates placed the first ad for his Seaside Natatorium in the Oregon Journal on June 3, 1914. That allowed him to claim its 40' x 80' pool was the largest in the Pacific Northwest until Bayocean's 50' x 160' pool opened a month later. 

T. Irving Potter tried to regain lost ground by making his natatorium larger than the rest and installing a wave generator he invented. The first of its kind had been used at the outdoor Bilzbad baths in Radebeul, Germany since 1911, but Bayocean's was the first indoor application. Unfortunately, it was difficult to maintain and was offline more often than it worked. The rest of the structure also required constant maintenance, which is why it lost money every year it was open.

BOB 68, Tillamook County Pioneer Museum. 
the Rockaway Natatorium was finished in 1926, folks started going there instead of Bayocean because it was much easier to get to and better maintained. As a result, the Tillamook-Bayocean Company (a group of local businessmen) could find no one to lease Bayocean's natatorium, so it stayed closed in 1927 and never reopened to the public. In 1932, erosion that had been moving the waves closer for a decade undercut the west wall during a winter storm, causing it to collapse. The building was later deconstructed and used to build the Sherwood House on Cape Meares. Bayocean Natatorium competitors all lasted longer, but t
he only one still standing is the second one built at Seaside, which now hosts the Seaside Aquarium.  

See the Index for more articles that might be of interest. 

Sunday, September 10, 2023

The Hillsboro Connection

Postcard courtesy of Mark Moore, "Oregon Electric Railway"
by Richard Thompson,  Oregon Encyclopedia. 
Bayocean was closely connected to Hillsboro from the start. Sales and construction of the resort would not have begun if, in September 1906, Elmer Lytle had not promised Tillamook County completion of his Pacific Railway and Navigation Company (PNRC) by the end of 1908 in exchange for their guaranteeing rights of way from the county line and land for a Tillamook Station. Lytle did not keep his promise - which was the primary reason the resort failed financially  - but passengers from Portland could travel to Tillamook (after reaching Hillsboro on the Oregon Electric Railway) on the PNRC after November 10, 1911. 

Lytle lost his PNRC to the Southern Pacific Railroad soon after it was finished. The Port of Tillamook took over increasingly more of the line after 1983, until a flood damaged so much of it in 2007 that it was shut down permanently.("Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad"). It's now destined to become the Salmonberry Trail, for the benefit of hikers and bicyclists. Just for the fun of it, I hiked all accessible existing sections in 2022. I also visited the original Hillsboro station after finding out it still stood in the same location. The photo to the right is of its northeast corner, taken from SE Cedar Street looking towards S 1st Avenue, the same perspective as the postcard above.

Card provided by granddaughter Sue Bagley Barr.
Because of this key transportation link, many of the people involved with the Bayocean during the half century it existed were from Hillsboro. The most prominent of them was Judge George Bagley. In addition to serving as Tillamook's Circuit Court Judge, he owned cabins on the spit. So did others from Hillsboro, like the Currins

In addition those cited here, see Bayocean: Atlantis of Oregon for additional sources and information. If you are unfamiliar with the Bayocean story, please read The Bayocean Story in Brief.  Look at the Index to find more articles that might be of interest. 

Friday, June 9, 2023

The Hough House Suffers a Slow Demise

As noted previously, The Last House on Bayocean fell to the sea in 1960. Another home within the Bayocean Park subdivision succumbed later, but it was on Cape Meares, so not tallied among the 59 lost. It was located on the southeast corner of 2nd Street and 1st Avenue (now Bayocean Road) as shown on the original Bayocean Park plat map.

Culp 115 image (undated), Lorraine Eckhardt.
Erosion hit the mainland as hard as the spit, but owners simply moved their houses back from the advancing sea, in some cases, multiple times. Unfortunately, this house was too big to move. Instead, its empty, deteriorating shell provided tourists something to explore and photograph. On November 20, 1958, the Tillamook Headlight-Herald said it sat “deep in debris and rocks as the beach moves farther inland.” Since no specific day it was taken by the sea was ever noted, it must have slowly given way over many years. 

After Bayocean: Atlantis of Oregon was published, I heard from David Hough, son of Lawrence (Evert) and Edith Hough, the last owners of this house. The 1943 photo he sent is the first I'd seen of it shown in a livable condition. It has the same perspective as the Culp image above, providing a before and after comparison. David also described it: "The Bay Ocean house was a bit primitive. We had running water, probably from the Cape Meares system, and electrical power, but limited plumbing. Heat was from a single woodstove. The house sat just above the water level of the nearby swamp, and there was an outhouse perched at the end of a sploshing board walk." 

I hope the publication of Bayocean: Atlantis of Oregon prompts others to share their personal Bayocean stories and photographs. 

Find more article in the Index tab

Friday, May 26, 2023

Bayocean Losses Tallied

At one time or another, the resort town of Bayocean included everything listed below, as chronicled in Bayocean: Atlantis of Oregon. Absolutely nothing remains. 

59 Residences (not all stood at the same time; the number peaked at 36 in 1939):
30 slid to the sea, undercut by erosion 
  8 were deconstructed 
  6 were moved off the spit before it became an island in 1952
  4 burned down for lack of a fire department
  9 were burned, and buried to enable construction of the breakwater  that reconnected the island to Cape Meares in 1956
  2 had unknown fates 
Rock crusher: used to manufacture 3.5 miles of concrete streets  and sidewalks along High Terrace and Twelfth Avenues                Two schoolhouses
Machine shop 
Warehouses: at least two; many untallied outbuildings 
Kaaran Ann Kottages: a duplex
Cottage Park42 rental cottages (the number and style varied) 
Annex: 38 guest rooms and a restaurant
Amusement Pavilion: a three-sided structure including a bowling alley, billiard room, ice cream parlor, game room, and curio shop
Tennis courts
Bayside Inn: 24 guest rooms and a restaurant 
Three dance halls: at different times, the last put up by Reed College students when they ran the resort in 1921
The Mitchella mercantile with at least three apartments upstairs
Pierone quarter mile long, with a harbor for ocean-going ships
Water lines: run from Coleman Creek on Cape Meares
Sewer lines: run along High Terrace and Twelfth Avenues 
6-7 million cubic yards of sand: which would have filled a cube 545’ to  573’ on each side, roughly two Portland city blocks and the street between

To find other articles of interest, see the Index or scroll through them on the Home page. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Post Offices and Postmasters

In Bayocean: Atlantis of Oregon, I discuss changes in the name, location, and postmaster of all of the post offices on Tillamook Spit and Cape Meares, from the first in 1891 to the last in 1954. Below, I summarize that progression and list every postmaster who served during the sixty-three year span. 

The first post office on Tillamook Spit was dubbed Barnegat by Absalom Hallock, who set up shop in his cabin just north of Jackson Gap. When he died a year later, Webley and Mary Hauxhurst's daughter Lizzie (wife of Bert) and then daughter-in-law Carrie (wife of Joseph) ran the Barnegat Post Office out of their homes on Biggs (now Pitcher) Point. Cape Meares Lighthouse keepers then served as postmasters until the construction of Bayocean Park began. For more on this era, see Barnegat Before Bayocean.  

Mary Jones (wife of construction superintendent George Jones) stamped Barnegat, and Bayocean after the name was changed, on envelopes inside a tent. 
The next superintendent, Jim O'Donnell, took on the role himself, but continued working out of a tent until workers finished the administration building - later known as the Bayside Inn - and amusement pavillion, where it was also housed from time to time. (The photo to the left and those below are from the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum.) 
For most of its forty-one years the Bayocean Post Office was located in
The Mitchell, and Ida Mitchell served as postmaster, although her husband Francis performed the duties most of the time.

When Gladys Hoover took over as postmaster, she moved the post office into one of the Cottage Park bungalows she and her husband Russell owned.

At the end of October 1951, the Bayocean Post Office was moved to a new building at
 the southwest corner of 4th Street and Bayocean Road on the mainland (Cape Meares) section of the Bayocean Park subdivision. By then, erosion of the sand gaps on the spit let waves wash out the road so often that delivery into town was unpredictable. The name was changed to reflect the new location a year and a half later. Ten months after that, the Cape Meares Post Office was shut down and mail delivered by automobile thereafter. 

The list of postmaster assignments below is from the microfilmed Record of Appointments of Postmasters, 1832-1971, at the National Archives and Records Administration. I viewed them at the Seattle branch originally, but a digitized version at now makes them more accessible. I corrected misspellings caused by transcribers working with poor handwriting and/or deteriorating media. 

Barnegat Postmasters
  • Absalom B Hallock          28 Apr 1891
  • Lizzie Biggs                     26 Mar 1898
  • Carrie A Hauxhurst          20 Jun 1898
  • Hermann Grossheim        18 Oct 1900  
  • George Hunt                      3 Feb 1902
  • George H Higgins            17 Aug 1901
  • Mary Jones                      14 Sep 1907

Bayocean Postmasters

  • Mary Jones                       24 Feb 1909
  • M J O'Donnell                      3 Jul 1909
  • Walter L Johnson             14 Nov 1913
  • David C Baker                    7 Oct 1915
  • Geo J Burckard                  9 Dec 1915
  • Francis D Mitchell            26 Sep 1918
  • Arthur L Springer                5 Feb 1923
  • Mrs Cosia N Oakes            3 Sep 1924
  • Miss Ida J Mitchell             8 Sep 1926
  • Stockwell H Cornelius      12 Oct 1926
  • Mrs Betty H Watkins         18 Apr 1928
  • Mrs Ida J Mitchell             23 Apr 1930
  • Mrs Gladys L Hoover        1 Aug 1946
  • Mrs Evelyn H Reeder      31 Jan 1950
Cape Meares Postmaster
  • Mrs Evelyn H Reeder        31 Mar 1953 - 31 Jan 1954

To find other articles of interest, see the Index tab.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Bayocean The Playground of the Pacific Northwest

The same year (1913) that Southern Pacific Railroad produced its first "Sea Shore Tillamook County" brochure, it collaborated with the T. B. Potter Realty Company to produce "Bayocean The Playground of the Pacific Northwest." Its seven pages feature drawings and photos of Bayocean Park and a Pacific Railroad & Navigation Co. map showing how to get there. The entire brochure can  be downloaded from the State Library of Oregon online. I include page 6 here because it shows seven of the fifty-nine houses eventually destroyed that I discussed recently in Bayocean Homes and Their Fate and cover extensively in Bayocean: Atlantis of Oregon. 

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Bayocean: Atlantis of Oregon Published

I'm pleased to announce the publication of Bayocean: Atlantis of Oregon (BAO). Its 290 pages of text and 57 photos, maps, and charts chronicle the story of the only resort town in the world completely destroyed by the sea due to human error. 
I encourage folks to purchase it from one of the local vendors listed on the Book Availability page. 

Folks unfamiliar with the Bayocean story may want to start by reading my Bayocean Story in Brief. As for BAO, Neal Lemery wrote an extensive book review in the Tillamook County Pioneer, and Amazon includes its introduction, table of contents, and index in its Look Inside preview. You're likely to find familiar names in BAO's index because the Bayocean story reaches far beyond Tillamook County. People from Portland, Spokane, and other cities across the Pacific Northwest, San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, and other cities in the Bay Area, and Kansas City, Missouri were involved throughout its half century of existence. 

I apologize to Bayocean enthusiasts who've waited three and a half years since I first announced having started drafting a book, b
ut I kept discovering new details and interconnections that needed to be worked out as I parsed out 30 GB of data stored on my computer. And I was forced to seek new sources to help clarify discrepancies and debunk myths. Fitting everything into a reasonably sized, chronological narrative was also time-consuming. 

I regret the passing of several Bayocean alumni before they could read BAO and see my acknowledgement of their contributions. As I say in its introduction, Bayocean's history would be more interesting than most small towns even if it still existed; that it doesn't is why telling it matters, now more than ever, while some of those who experienced its destruction are still alive.