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.