Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Three Other Houses Moved From Bayocean

Previous posts discussed moving the Bayocean schoolhouse, Hicks house, and  Pagoda house(s) to the mainland before the November 1952 breakthrough could destroy them. Three other houses were moved, though only two remain. 

Photo of A.G. Beals house on Bayocean, which Sherwoods rented. Courtesy of Mike Watkins.
Jerry Schlegel says that when A.G. Beals (a prominent Tillamook businessman) heard Woodrow Chase was moving some houses off the spit, he paid him to move a house he owned, from just south of the Bayocean schoolhouse to a spot on the shore of what was then Biggs Cove. Barbara Bennett said Beals never lived in the house but rented it out. The people who owned the house in 1976 replaced it with another that looks very similar.

Photo by the author
This house was owned by O.P. Brigham. Pop and Bob Watkins bought it and moved it to a lot along Bayocean Road in November 1952. It was the last house moved. 

The house below was given to Jerry Schlegel in return for the work he did moving the schoolhouse and other houses from Bayocean to Cape Meares for Chase. Jerry lived in Forest Grove at the time but his family used it as a beach house for several years. It still stands in Cape Meares.  It was originally built for Corinth Crook and sat near the Pagodas along the ridgeline. Woody Chase bought it from George and Merle Selfridge and moved it in the summer of 1949. 

Photo of Schlegel house while still on Bayocean, from Bayocean
school scrapbook in the Cape Meares Community Center 

Recent photo by the author of the house that was first owned by Jerry 
Schlegel after being moved to Cape Meares from Bayocean

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Videos of Bayocean History

When Grant McOmie mentioned having once seen an aerial video of Bayocean, taken soon after the 1952 breach that made it an island, I got excited. But before I could even start looking for it, the video's creator, Tom Olsen, sent it to me. Tom is a fellow member of Garibaldi Oregon Memories. He'd seen my posts about Bayocean there, and thought the video might help my reseach.  Serendipity at its best. 

These extra scenes are on the DVD; not online
In 2010 the Port of Garibaldi hired Tom's company Anchor Pictures to produce The Port of Garibaldi: The Centennial History (1910-2010)The Garibaldi Maritime Museum has it for sale as a DVD. The Port of Garibaldi also had their employee Jesse Coon upload the story in nineteen clips to YouTube so that anyone can watch it. It's easier to find all the clips all in one place by going directly to Tom's Vimeo account. Extra clips on the DVD include World War II footage and stories about blimps. 

Clip no.10 is the flyover of Bayocean after the 1952 breach that Grant recalled seeing.  Additional clips that focus on Bayocean are nos. 3, 4, and 7; but the entire series will be fascinating to watch for anyone interested in Garibaldi and Tillamook Bay history. All of the historic aerial videos Tom used in his documentary were taken by Doc Adams, who contributed them to the museum.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Barbara Bennett

Since I've used Barbara Bennett as a source in past posts, and likely will in the future, I thought it would be good to let readers get to know her better.

Barbara moved to the village of Cape Meares in 1943 with her parents, Milton and Edith Schlegel, and brothers Jerry and Jim. The original Bayocean Park plat included Cape Meares (see Cape Meares and Bayocean) so the children all went to Bayocean School together. The schoolhouse was actually closer to Cape Meares than central Bayocean. 

Barbara had fifteen classmates during her seventh and eighth grade years at Bayocean School. They included her older brother Jerry, Perry Reeder, Ernest Knutson, and the Bennett siblings Harold, Rosemarie, and James, and the Sherwood siblings. She graduated eight grade with Ernest Knutson in 1945, attended ninth through twelfth grades at Tillamook Junior High School, and graduated in 1949. 

Soon after graduation, Barbara married her classmate James Bennett, which is why she stayed in Cape Meares when her family moved to Forest Grove. Jim and Barbara moved to Fort Ord where he served as a military policeman until they returned to Cape Meares in 1954. Since then Barbara has never left. She worked in the Tillamook Cheese Factory for many years and raised her family. 

Jim was interviewed in a video by Rick Dancer called "Oregon Ghost Towns: Bay Ocean, the saddest story of all" in 2005. Jim died nine years later. His father Lewis Bennett was the primary source of information for the Webbers (who spelled his name incorrectly as "Louis" ) in  Bayocean: The Oregon Town that Fell Into the Sea. Jim's brother Harold still lives in the Cape Meares home their father remodeled after moving there from Bayocean. 

I am sorry to report that Barbara died on April 7, 2019. A nice obituary ran in the Tillamook Headlight-Herald

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Hicks House

One building moved from Bayocean is referred to as the "Hicks house" because it was last owned by C.G. Hicks. Located on the highest point of the town, at the apex of High Street, Bay Terrace, and 14th Avenue, it sat catty-corner to the Bayocean Hotel Annex. It's the one on the right, south of the other two, in the photo below.
This photo, from Tillamook County Pioneer Museum, must have been taken
from a hotel room on the northeast corner, looking northeast.
In What Happened At Bayocean: Is Salishan Next? Expanded Edition (12-13) Bert Webber reported that all three homes were built by Johan Poulsen, a prominent Portland lumberman, and continually owned by family members. In 1944, after having rented it to the US Coast Guard during World War II for a war dog beach patrol, they sold one to A.T. Dolan and one to C.J. Hicks. The third went through several owners until Hicks bought it near the end. Webber said these were the most extravagant homes on Bayocean. Perry Reeder said that a butler answered the door at the Hick's house. 

Barbara Bennett said that it was known as the "House of Hicks" because they operated a catering service there. Joann Steffey, the daughter of A.T. Dolan, said Hicks also owned a restaurant by that name in Portland. This is confirmed by the January 1947 newsletter of the Geological Society of the Oregon Country, which held a meeting there.

Early in 1952, Hicks accepted the inevitable and sold both houses for next to nothing to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Ross, according to Barbara Bennett and Dr. Rex Parsons, who lived in the house on the Netarts Highway from 1983 to 2002 . The Rosses paid LeBeck and Sons, a Portland contractor, $7000 to move both houses (February 7, and March 27, 1952 articles int the Tillamook Headlight Herald ). They subcontracted Leonard Bales Construction and Morgan Burckard Plumbing to get the house ready to move. Leslie Vaughn Burckard was with her father the entire time, and later married Morgan's son Gus. She was only nine years old, but remembers being frightened by the cliff moving closer to the house each day. One of the photos depicts this clearly, in that the Bayocean Hotel Annex, which was to the right of the Hicks house, had already fallen 100' to the beach below. 
Looking north, from the south down route taken.
Dorian Studio photo provided by John Chaix
Photo taken from the north, looking south, ocean to the right, hotel 
ruins gone. The Dolan house is  not obstructing the view because 
it had burned down.  Dorian Studio photo provided by John Chaix

In order to get it onto a barge and ship it across the bay, the house had to be cut in half. Parsons was told that Mrs. Ross (just 5' tall) ignored state policemen's orders to stop because of concerns that the house was too close to the power lines, and just "kept on trucking". He added a two-story addition that's not shown in the photo below, but he preserved the original walls and ceilings of two bedrooms, the bath between them, and the hallway leading to them because they were old-growth, tongue-and-groove, clear fir.

Photo of the Hicks House taken in 2016 by the author.
The Tillamook Headlight Herald  reported on February 21, 1952, that the first Hick's house was moved a week earlier and that the crews intended to come back for the second house the following week, but they never did. In their March 27 issue, Lewis Bennett explained that by the time they could return the foundation of the second house was crumbling, so they packed up their equipment and headed back to Portland. Another likely factor was that (as reported in the paper) a breach made the road impassable from March 20 to April 3. On December 10, 1953 the paper shows the second Hicks house sitting alone with the garage of the first one. 

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 a 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. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Earliest Days of Bayocean School

A family like Bertha Pearl Morgan's
living in Bayocean's tent city.
Tillamook County Pioneer Museum
The Tillamook County Pioneer Museum has a paper titled "Memories Of Bayocean School" written by Bertha Pearl Morgan. In 1907, when she was just 9 years old, Bertha's family traveled to Oregon from Minnesota to find work. The men signed on as laborers to construct Potter's resort at Bayocean. The family lived in the tent city set up for workers.

Bertha said the school she attended "was about a quarter of a mile toward the worker's camp from the cape. a oneroom school house on the ocean side. one teacher, there was a tribe of Indians on the cape, and nine Indian kids went to school, and two white kids swedes from the lighthouse, Bob and Ruth Ford. and me from the spit." Later, "one Indian girl was bout 16, Ruth Ford was 9 or 10, and Bob was about 14, and the rest in between, just a nice bunch of country kid. and Happy I think." 
Photo of the last Bayocean Schoolhouse, in the 1940s, with Russell Parker on the left and Harold Bennett on the right.
From Tillamook County Pioneer Museum collection.
She described a tree in front of the school with a large limb that hung out over the ocean, where Bertha said the kids would "sit with our shoes and stockings off, and let the waves from the ocean wash our feet at high tide." But someone told on them, and Bayocean Park Superintendent Jim O'Donnell had workers cut the branch off. The kids were angry at the time, but looking back she knew it was for the best, because if they'd fallen they'd have drowned. "...but kids will be kids, and we loved everyminute of it, lessons were nil. just play, School days." Two schools would later be built out on the spit itself. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Cape Meares Landslides

The closure of one mile of the Cape Meares Loop Road in 2013, between the communities of Cape Meares and Oceanside, was caused by a landscape that has been moving for centuries. The historical record begins in 1899, based on information discovered by a Tillamook County engineering consultant and forwarded to me by Cape Meares resident Mike Neal.

In "A Phenomenal Land Slide, Paper No. 984" in Volume 53 (1904) of the Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers,  D.D. Clarke describes venturing "partly by rail and boat, but chiefly by stage or mudwagon, crossing the Coast Range, and occupying 36 hours or more," to spend three and half days measuring and sketching the slide. He'd been inspired to do so by a May 21, 1899 Sunday Oregonian article describing a slide that was 1/4 mile wide, four miles long, traveling two inches per hour, that "tears great trees and boulders from their places and hurls them into the bay."

Clarke estimated that 30 acres had slid 400 feet from May 10 to June 13, starting up at the 300 foot level, 1/2 mile in total length, and averaging 500' in width. Not quite as dramatic as the newspaper report, but still impressive. He reported that the ocean had already begun to scour away the end of the slide. Mike Neal says that what still juts out a bit in that location is very hard clay. Zoom in on the Google map and you'll see Neal's best estimate of the 1899 slide boundaries. It's very close to what's still sliding today. 

These landslides are just one way in which Cape Meares has been falling into the ocean for a millenia. Cliffs also crumble. Mike Watkins pointed out a cave out near the edge of Cape Meares that had collapsed since his childhood. Debris from similar collapses in the past formed Bayocean Spit and continues contributing to it today. 

Clarke's sketch provides some early historical information as well. The wagon road sketched was built to haul materials for the construction of the lighthouse from 1888 to 1890 (Cape Meares And It's Sentinel, 44). It wound its way down to the beach, between the two streams, at which point travel would proceed on wet sand during low tide - a good example of what's discussed in The Oregon Beach Bill and Bayocean. The break in the road must have been repaired because the children of lighthouse tenders and their teacher road it down to a school that operated even before Bayocean was built (ibid, 68-70). Tenders originally used the road to get to Hauxhurst landing on Tillamook Bay, from which they'd row over to Tillamook to get supplies, but in 1893 Hodgdon Road (now the Netarts Road) had been extended to the lighthouse (Ibid., 44,66). The buildings depicted belonged to Henry M. Sampson, who was granted patent #1339 in 1882. On page 234 of Tillamook: Land of Many Waters, Ada M. Orcutt said one correspondent described the slide "being on the Hauxhurst beach in a valley of Foley Creek." Another called it the "Barnegat Slide."

To find more stories about the geological history of Bayocean, or any other category, see the Index

Monday, May 18, 2015

Pagoda House(s)

After the Bayocean School (now the Cape Meares Community Center), the Pagoda house is the most famous of the buildings moved from Bayocean to Cape Meares before a 1952 winter storm inflicted final destruction on the once-thriving resort town.

A recent photo by the author of the Pagoda House in Cape Meares (address withheld to protect the privacy of residents) 
There were actually two separate houses on Bayocean, on the east side of Clarke Street, one of them moved from a previous location on the west side as the dune approached. The photo below was taken at the original location, with the front door facing east, away from the force of winter storms. 
Photo from Oregon Historical Society photo collection 93-B.
Harold Bennett recalls his mother cleaning house for the Miss Cake and Miss Brownell, ladies who lived there full time in the mid-1940s. Harold's brother James did yard work and split wood for them, according to his widow Barbara

Photo by Howard "Buck" Sherwood
of Pagoda Houses being prepared for the move
 from Cape Meares Community Center scrapbo

Photo by Buck Sherwood, courtesy of Mike Watkins,
 who lived in the Pagoda house(s) on Cape Meares

Milton and Jerry Schlegel (Barbara's father and brother), and Woodrow (Woody) Chase, a logger from Willamina, moved the Pagoda houses, and others, to the mainland as erosion threatened them at the new location. They used a tractor to push and pull the truck through bad spots like the gaps. The Tillamook Headlight Herald of April 7, 1949, announced the start of the process. 

During that summer, Milton and Jerry excavated property purchased on Pacific Avenue in Oceanside, built a basement, and fit the two houses together on top of it. On August 11 the Tillamook Headlight Herald described a larger housewarming by Bob and Barbara Watkins that celebrated its completion.  Mike Watkins was a young boy then, but he recalls a dumbwaiter that came with the house which his father wouldn't let them use to lift wood from the basement. His father had them remove the fancy rafter end trim because it was too fancy. As can be seen in the photos, the house originally had clapboard siding. Shingles were added before being moved and maintained for decades. More recent owners removed the shingles and went back to the original siding. Mike still owns a beach house next door. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Walking Past The Pier

Letter from Potter to Beebe  at
Tillamook County Pioneer Museum
Looking at photographs of the Bayocean pier, where boats docked in Tillamook Bay, you can see that it was quite long. I wanted to know exactly how long, to see if I crossed the spot where it would have been hiking on Dike Road now. Luckily, the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum provided the answer, by way of a letter in their collection that T.B. Potter wrote to Charles Bebee in 1911, reporting that the pier was 1400 feet long. 

The pier was an extension of 12th Avenue, which stopped at Bay Street. The Bayside Inn was on the east side of that intersection. If you were arriving by boat, you could just walk off the pier and check-in. 

We know the coordinates of the northeast corner of the inn because the National Geodetic Service placed a Continuously Operating Reference Station there (see Stand Under Bayocean Hotel Annex's Chimney). Its description says the CORS was 260' west of the shore of the Tillamook Bay. By using online measuring tools and a Tillamook County tax map that shows both the Dike Road and original Bayocean plat map, I determined that end of the pier would have been at least 1/8 mile west of Dike Road.

Photo from Tillamook County Pioneer Museum
This point is about 1/2 mile north of the parking lot gate. It's close to a sandy spot on the west side of Dike Road.  If you have a GPS reader it will be at latitude 45.527 (since the dock was pretty wide we don't need to go beyond three decimal points). When you get there, stop for a moment and imagine hiking out to watch the "dinky" railroad engine unload construction materials from a barge.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Competition for Bayocean's Natatorium

I recently learned from Cape Meares resident Deborah Thomas Neal that Bayocean's natatorium had competition in its day. I'll admit to having thought the term was just something the Potter's made up. Not so. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition defines "natatorium" as "an indoor swimming pool" and says the use of the term began somewhere between 1885 and 1890. Today, indoor swimming pools are commonplace. Perhaps at the end of the 19th Century promoters thought it would increase business by giving them a fancier name. Several were constructed in the Pacific Northwest soon after the start of the 20th Century.

Nye Beach Natatorium photo from Salem Public Library
The Ashland Mineral Springs Natatorium was the first of its kind in Oregon, opening Saturday, October 30, 1909. Nye Beach Natatorium in Newport was much closer to Bayocean, and thus would have been tougher competition. Descriptions of photos in the Salem Public Library collections say that it was built in 1911. Since it was rebuilt after burning down in 1922 it must have been a profitable business. But by 1966 it was in disrepair, and eventually was replaced by the Nye Beach turnaround and beach access. This was a use much better suited to the location, as made evident by a 1939 photo by Roger Hart showing ocean waves crashing onto the natatorium's porch.
Photo of Bayocean Natatorium in its final days,
from the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum

The Potters knew their natatorium couldn't be the first in Oregon or on the beach, so added a wave generator that simulated ocean waves so bathers could enjoy the experience year-round. This wave generator appears to be the first of its kind, though Wikipedia's coverage of "wave pools" erroneously gives that honor to the Gellert Baths of Budapest, Hungary, which were built in 1927. Perhaps Wikipedia authors don't count Bayocean because it no longer exists. Being closest to the ocean, it was the first of the resort buildings lost. The west was partially collapsed after being undercut during a winter storm in 1932. It was later deconstructed.
Photo of Bayocean Natatorium at its best
from the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum

Rockaway and Seaside built natatoriums in the 1920s. It was evidently quite the rage, according to More Beneath Sands of Oregon Coast Town Than Meets the Eye, a story told with the help of local historian Don Best. Unfortunately, their fates were all the same - though the Rockaway Natatorium's nemesis was a river, not the ocean. Using ORMAP with a Tillamook County tax map overlay, the GPS coordinates of the southwest corner of the lot where the Bayocean Natatorium was built are 45.527644, -123.955606. You can reach it on low tide. Concrete chunks were last seen during an extremely low tide several years ago by Harold Bennett and his son Kevin. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Bayocean's Dinky Railroad

A popular belief that the fencing around the modern Bayocean Spit parking lot is made with rails from the resort town's railroad is false. In "Chapter 8" of  Bayocean: The Oregon Town that Fell Into the SeaBert and Margie Webber point out that the rails used for the parking lot fence are standard size, while Bayocean's railroad was what the Potter's referred to in their promotional material as a "dinky." This was recently confirmed by Harold Bennett, who grew up on Bayocean in the late 1940s. The engine was gone by then, but many of the rails remained. 

Photo of "dinky" railroad picking up construction material
from a barge,  from Tillamook County Pioneer Museum
Tourists riding "dinky" railroad shows how small it was.
Tillamook County Pioneer Museum

Section of rail from "dinky" railroad
 contributed by Dale Webber for
a 2014 exhibit on Bayocean at the
Tillamook County Pioneer Museum
The small rails and engine made it possible for workers to change the route as one building was completed and another began. The route always went back to the pier where construction materials were unloaded. On occasion, it would be used to give guests of the resort a fun ride. 

The Webbers led a 1972 search party that found remnants of "dinky" rails, which they hid and later shared among those involved. Thankfully, the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum received a piece one for its archives.

A "dinky" rail system was also used by the Whitney Lumber Company, over at Kilchis Point, starting in 1919. This was after Bayocean Park was completed, so this may be where their engine ended up. According to Gary Albright, the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum Director, and driving force behind the Kilchis Point Reserve, the rounded point at the end of the Reserve trail was deposited after the ocean created a 3/4 mile wide gap in the Bayocean in November 1952. Kilchis Point proper is south of the Reserve on private land. The end of the trail would have been a little bay where Whitney dumped its logs, to be taken to its mill in Garibaldi.  

Plaque along the Kilchis Point Reserve trail 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cassin’s Auklets Wreck Hits Bayocean

This winter tens of thousands of dead Cassin's Auklets have appeared on beaches all along the Pacific Coast, 10 to 100 times normal rates, according to the University of Washington report "Cassin's Auklet North Pacific Winter Wreck 2014-2015". Volunteers with COASST and CoastWatch have been collecting and counting specimens, many of which were autopsied to determine cause of death. Audubon Magazine's "Lost at Sea: Starving Birds in a Warming World" agrees with UW and others that the dead birds are juveniles who starved for reasons associated with global warming.

Photo by D. Derickson of COASST

Unfortunately, Bayocean participated in this "wreck". In a CoastWatch report on December 26, 2014, Cape Meares resident Olli Olikainen counted 126 dead auklets along Mile 289, which is at the northern end of the ocean side of the spit, and 121 dead auklets along Mile 286.  The Cape Meares Community Association web site lists others who helped out: Keith and Anita Johanson, BJ Byron, Kevin and Kathy Burke, Carolyn Olikainen, Wendy Kunkel, Dave Audet, John Harland, Ciel Downing, Rod Pelson, and Pete Steen. Thanks to all of you for doing this unpleasant but important work.

The good new is that Olli saw no dead birds on March 30, 2015 , just a few remaining bones and feathers. Hopefully all  seen on Bayocean in the future will be flying by like little tennis balls against the backdrop of a coastal sunset.

Photo by Jamie Chavez via Flickr Creative Commons
Photo by Julio Mulero via Flickr Creative Commons


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bayocean Shoreline Changes Over Time

In Oregon Coastal Atlas I mentioned a web viewer set up by Tanya Haddad to view changes in Bayocean's shorelines from 1939 to 1964, using aerial photographs from the Army Corps of Engineers. The four diagrams below show the changes in a different way. Figures 19 and 20 are the last two pages of the Final Impact Statement for the Extension of Tillamook South Jetty, again provided by the Corps.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Trail Signs

If you've hiked the signed trails on Bayocean you'll have noticed that the ones on the bay side are just off Dike Road, while the ones on the ocean side are not visible from the beach. Rather, they are posted where trees begin. I wondered if that was because they were installed before the south jetty was built and thus could be used to see how much sand accretion could be attributed to them. Since the Tillamook County Parks Department is in charge of trail maintenance, I called Director Del Schleichert to find out.

Del informed me that the signs were placed there in the early 2000s, just before he was hired. He said they were made of a weather-resistant, composite material by workers employed at a state correctional institution, with the date stamped on the back. I confirmed this during a hike on April 8, 2015. They were all stamped either June 2002 or  November 2001.

Signs are not placed on the foredunes because the sand is constantly shifting. Thus, any signs installed, or trails built, would require constant maintenance. Tillamook County just doesn't have the budget for that. Bayocean hiking enthusiasts have resolved the problem on their own by placing and maintaining tripods and posts with colored strings to let folks know where they need to leave the beach. Once on the foredune, you can see the trails sign or footprints leading to them.  On behalf of those of us who benefit from those tripods, I'd like to thank those who set them up.

As to accretion of sand attributable to the south jetty, that can be seen in aerial photographs and sketches drawn by the Corps of Engineers. Time-lapse photo overlays at Google Earth show very little change since 1994.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Zoning Change For Bayocean Moves Forward

Map by John Harland
On April 9, 2015, the Tillamook County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to direct the Tillamook County Planning  Department to initiate steps to change the zoning of Bayocean Spit from Recreation Management (RM) to Recreation Normal (RN). If finalized, this change, which was requested by the Cape Meares Community Association (CMCA), would preclude commercial development like the recent  Bay Ocean LLC proposal to build an eco-park, which was rejected by Tillamook County Planning Commission.

John Harland was the primary spokesperson for the CMCA. He argued that any commercial development on Bayocean would be inappropriate for reasons detailed at the CMCA web site. Vic Affolter, Deborah Neal, Chris Spence, and Charles J. Ansorge also spoke in favor of the zone change. See the  notes taken by Ansorge, CMCA President.

According to multiple sources, including a story in the Tillamook County Pioneer, approximately 50 people attended the special workshop, with most of them in favor of the change. An article in the Tillamook Headlight Herald covered the one exception at great length. Chris Stellflug said that his family's desire to build a cabin on the shoreline of Cape Meares Lake had been stymied by zone changes since buying the property in the 1960s. They also may want to build a commercial fish farm in Cape Meares Lake, most of which covers land owned by them. As long as the proposed zone change has no effect on them, Stellflug said they would  not object to it. Commissioners Tim Josi and Mark Labart both made statements supporting that outcome.

This decision to proceed by the Board of County Commissioners is just the first step. After the Planning Department drafts a proposal, their Planning Commission will hold public hearings and make a recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners. Josi expected that process to take about four months.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Kincheloe Point

Kincheloe Point, the northeast section of Bayocean Peninsula, was named after a man who drowned while taking soundings of the bar at the mouth of Tillamook Bay for the U.S. Coast Survey on May 20, 1867. 

Sketches of the Pacific Coast had been drawn by the earliest of mariners, but they were so imprecise as to make port entries hazardous. Once California, Oregon, and Washington had been brought into the United States, the Superintendent of the U.S. Coast Survey sent "assistants" to draw accurate charts and make shipping safer along the West Coast. When the first assistants arrived in San Francisco in 1849, they surveyed the most critical ports - like San Francisco, Astoria, and Seattle - first.  As years went by they hired "sub-assistants" to fill in the gaps.

In an autobiography, Assistant Superintendent James Lawson , Kincheloe's supervisor, said that he and his wife arrived in Tillamook in June of 1866. He hired locals Charles West, Samuel Lanagan, Henry Ballou, Beveriah Steelcup, and Elias Steelcup to assist him and started establishing precise geographic coordinates. Later, they took soundings to map out Tillamook Bay's hydrography.

In the Obituary and Section XI of his 1867 report, Superintendent Benjamin Peirce said that after eleven months Kincheloe's work was mostly complete; he was just waiting for calm seas to get a couple final soundings to create a "concluding line across the bar." Opportunity came May 20, when "the channel was perfectly smooth...not a ruffle on its surface" according to a story in Oregon City's Weekly Enterprise . Kincheloe and his five men had finished, and were heading back when a breaker swamped the boat. Before they could recover (due to the anchor falling out) another one capsized it, and others washed them overboard. The only man to hang on and survive was James Steel.  

On May 8, 1902 T.B. Handley was prompted by the drowning of the Steelcup brothers' nephew Fred to write about the Kincheloe event in the Tillamook Herald. Steel was saved by a boy named Duvall Clark (Pierce called him George Clark, Jr.). His family was living at what's now Barview, so he could see what was happening. He headed out in a small canoe "despite the entreaties and commands of his frightened mother." In the meantime, Daniel Bayley (at whose home the Kincheloe's were staying; his land claim was to become Garibaldi) hired four Indians from a nearby village, who relieved Duvall from pulling Steele behind him (to avoid swamping the little canoe) against a heavy outgoing current.

Superintendent Peirce said that, "On July 1st the bodies of Sub-Assistant Kincheloe and Elias N. Steelcup, one of the crew, were found at a point on the coast about fourteen miles distant from Tillamook Bar." Bodies of the others were never recovered. The Herald reported that Ballou was survived by a wife and child, implying the rest were bachelors.

At Neah Bay, James Lawson heard the news from a passing ship and went to Olympia where he received orders (as expected) via telegraph to proceed to Tillamook. When he arrived he found Mrs. (Jennie) Kincheloe " in great distress." No wonder: she'd watched the entire event from shore, wrote a final report for her husband, and then (according to Handley) "went to bed and was prematurely [sic]delivered of a stilborn [sic] child."
While waiting for Captain Flavel to send a schooner to retrieve them, Mrs. (Cecilia) Bayley nursed Mrs. Kincheloe to the point she could travel to Astoria, where Mrs. Flavel took over. Lawson then accompanied her on a passenger steamer to San Francisco, from where she sailed back home in Maine.

The first Coast Survey chart of Tillamook Bay was published in 1869  along with the superintendent's 1867 report.  It was credited to Kincheloe but left the spit unnamed. When Superintendent F.M. Thorne updated the chart in 1887, he named the spit Kincheloe Point. This honor had been preceded by a Coast Survey ship being christened the Kincheloe in 1876. As discussed in Stand Under Bayocean Hotel, a survey control station was named after Kincheloe in 1926. All the men who drowned that day are listed at the Coast Survey's In the Line of Duty web page.

The Corps of Engineers and the Coast Survey both referred to the entire spit as Kincheloe Point until long after Bayocean was built. It wasn't until Bayocean was washed to sea that the name Kincheloe Point was relegated to just the northeast corner of the spit. Before the levies were built, the narrow spot between Kincheloe Point and Green Hill was the mouth of Tillamook Bay. Reports of the drowning said the bar was about 1 1/4 miles out from there, which would be near the end of the current jetties.

The Tillamook Bar continues to be "one of the most treacherous bars on the Oregon coast" according to the Coast Guard Tillamook Bay website.  A 2010 story in the Oregonian titled  "Tillamook Bay bar grows more deadly, claiming 17 lives in seven years" explains why. The drowning of Sub-Assistant Kincheloe and his crew was an unfortunate harbinger of things to come.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Tillamook Indians and Bayocean

The Tillamook tribe enjoyed the use of Bayocean Peninsula long before any white men. In her testimony against construction of an eco-park on Bayocean, Merilee Sommers, board member of the Cape Meares Community Association , included a 1994 letter from anthropologist/attorney J.C. Steen, which said, "Bayocean Spit is the location of at least four and perhaps five significant early Native American occupation sites." She also said historian Garry Gitzen had told her on October 10, 2014 that there were "quite a few middens in the area...evidence to their dependence on fish and shellfish for food." With the ocean on one side and the bay on the other, Bayocean would have been an ideal spot for the Tillamook

Though Tillamooks likely had contact with sailors from Spanish ships that cruised Oregon's shores as early as the 16th Century, the first recorded contact was with sailors of the Lady Washington, captained by Robert Gray during his first trip to the Pacific Coast. After a couple days of peaceful trade, the encounter ended badly, with one sailor and three tribesmen killed in a skirmish over a cutlass. Third mate Robert Haswell dubbed the location "Murderers Harbour" in his August 16, 1788 log entry, as an expression of his angst over the event. The Oregon section of Haswell's log was published in the Oregon Historical Quarterly June 1928 article "Captain Robert Grays' First Visit to Oregon." Haswell mentions passing a spit while sailing into the bay but provided no description of Bayocean Spit. 
The Octopus Tree at Cape Meares was used for ceremonies  by Tillamook Indians 
In January 1806 William Clark, and several other members of the Corps of Discovery including Sacajawea, traveled to the Tillamook village of Necost to trade for blubber and oil the tribe had harvested from a whale that washed up onshore. They set up camp for a couple days on the tidal flats of Ecola Creek, across from the village. The Tillamooks weren't willing to sell Clark much of what they'd harvested from the whale, but they did give him a description of Tillamook Bay that he used to draw a sketch that can be seen at Neahkahnie Visions. It's an interesting historical artifact, but since Clark didn't visit the area personally the map can't be taken as an accurate representation of the shape of Bayocean Spit at the time.

For more information about Tillamook history, read what living tribal members have to say at Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, the Clatsop-Nehalem Confederated Tribes, and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.

Oregon Coastal Atlas

1953 USACE  aerial photo of Bayocean from
 a now-defunct Oregon Coastal Atlas web tool. 

Anyone interested in Oregon's coast should know about the Oregon Coastal Atlas. Whether your focus is history, environmental issues, shoreline changes, storm and/or tsunami planning, or photographic timelines, this site offers a plethora of data, and digital tools that bring it all to life. Some of the information is not available elsewhere. For example, their Estuary Data Viewer is the only place I've found that provides a township and range map layer for Bayocean.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Stand Under Bayocean Hotel Annex's Chimney

Would you like to stand on the beach precisely 100' below the spot where the chimney of the Hotel Bayocean Annex stood 100 years ago? Well, you can, thanks to NOAA's National Geodetic Service (NGS) and its database of survey control station datasheets kept on file even after the actual station (monuments similar to those by surveyors) no longer exist. 

Excerpts from the datasheet for KINCHELOE (RD2010):



Photos show the chimney to be about 33' tall. So, the station would have been at an elevation of about 133', the highest man-made point on the spit.

Coordinates translated into decimal degrees are 45.52982, -123.954258. The chimney appears well out to sea on the NGS map, but you can reach it at medium to low tide. Everything west of the vegetation line (including the beach) is evidently colored blue.

Web sites like ORMAP and Coastal Atlas project the Bayocean townsite onto current areal views, so are more realistic; but they don't label the streets. Just keep in mind that the Annex was in the large block just southwest of 14th Street and Laurel Avenue (see the map at Bayocean Then And Now).  

The other historical datasheet of significance is for CORN RD2011, coordinates  45.52683, -123.951464. Excerpts from it:

This was the Bayside Inn (see Bayocean Then and Now ). If you visit the coordinates today you'll find that the Reeder family and Tillamook County surveyors have installed signs nearby to locate what had once been the center of Bayocean commerce. After the 1952 storms made an island of Bayocean, the Mitchells hung on for a while but had left by the time "FN" visited the site in 1954. When the dike was built to reconnect Bayocean with Cape Meares in 1956 the store and other ruins were bulldozed and burned. The area was then leveled with sand dredged from Tillamook Bay.