Thursday, September 24, 2015

Bayocean Park's First Sale

Francis Mitchell always claimed to have been the first to buy a lot on Bayocean. I accepted that until I read an unpublished letter to the editor of the Oregon Journal at the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum (TCPM) from Kaaren Ann Kottages dated May 12, 1949, that was critical of Mitchell in many respects, including: "He did not buy the first lot here [It]was given to him and he was supposed to sell lots for the company." 

To check on this, I visited Tillamook County Clerk Tassi O'Neil's office. Chief Deputy Clerk Christy Biggs introduced me to their record systems (Susan Holmes, Teresa Marshall, and Robyn Jolly and Tassi have all been helpful during the days I've spent there since this first visit). The direct index lists land ownership transfers alphabetically by the last name of the seller, indirect indexes list transactions by the last name of the buyer, and both refer to the page in a deed book where the entire transaction is detailed. 


Deed Book 7, Page 473 
Tillamook County Clerk's office
 Bayocean Park's first sale
by Potter-Chapin Realty 
Direct Index Book P, Section 10
Tillamook County Clerk's office
    The first Potter-Chapin Realty Company sale of Bayocean Park lots was recorded on April 8, 1908. The buyer was Darrell Davis from Portland, Oregon. He bought lots 19 and 20 in block 122 for $120 ($3000 in 2015 dollars). The Mitchells eventually bought many lots, but the first deed recorded for them was on July 18, 1910 (Deed Book 18, p.1). However, when Potter-Chapin first started selling lots on July 29, 1907, they were all by contracts that were not recorded in the deed books until paid off. T.B. Potter Realty Company (Potter-Chapin successor) vs. Mitchell (1914-1916, Tillamook Circuit Court Case # 1503) involved a contract on lot A of block 59 that was said to have been signed on July 30, 1908. In the Amended Complaint, the date was corrected to July 30, 1907. Unfortunately, the original contract itself was not in the file. But it could not have been the first purchase because many people must have bought lots on the first day due to publicity. The first contract TCPM has a ledger for is numbered 370. Until number 1 shows up we just won't know for sure who bought the first lot, but it wasn't Francis Mitchell. 

So, who was Darrell Davis? The 1910 Census on Ancestry.com indicates he was from Iowa and twenty-seven years old, so twenty-five when he bought the lots two years earlier. He worked as a furniture maker and boarded at house number 128 on 14th Street. Portland city directories at Ancestry.com show Davis moving a lot over the next eight years, but he continued working in the same field. The last listing (1918) shows him married to Emma and living at 192 Porter. I could find no additional information about him. 

Oregon Journal, August 25, 1907, p19

Davis' $120 bought him a 100' x 100' spot on the southeast corner of Mound Street and 24th Avenue; the streets were never built, nor anything else near this location at the north end of the spit. It's about 700' N30W of Bayocean Park's "Initial Point". Today, the land has trees and thick underbrush, but in 1907 it was bare, low-elevation, sand dunes. Davis would not have known that when he bought the lot  in the Potter-Chapin Realty Company office at 402 Couch Building, 109 Fourth Street, Portland, Oregon.


In their initial push, during the last half of 1907, Potter-Chapin was running two or three ads per week in both the Oregonian and the Oregon Journal. Some guaranteed buyers they'd double their money. Others said twenty times their investment was more likely. They suggested buying two lots and selling one later for the price they paid for both and keeping the second to enjoy for themselves. Many writers have used these ads as evidence that Potter and Chapin were aggressive to the point of dishonesty, but they were correct in Darrell's case.

In 1910 Davis sold lot 20 for $650 ($15,925 in 2015 dollars according to Deed Book 16, pp. 303-304. In 1913 he sold lot 19 for $300 ($7115 in 2015 dollars per Deed Book 26, pp. 86-87. So, in just five years Davis made about seven times his investment. Unfortunately, whoever last owned these lots lost everything, because they were eventually foreclosed on by Tillamook County for non-payment of taxes. This is the sad story shared by most folks who owned property on Bayocean. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Artisans' Co-Operative Community

The Great Depression hit Bayocean as hard as anywhere else. The town had just emerged from a bankruptcy war with the Potters, and a road finally built to it, when tourism was killed by the stock market and banking collapse. It must have lifted the spirits of locals, especially the Mitchells, when sixteen men and women of the Artisans' Co-operative Community drove up in a couple rickety vehicles on February 16, 1934. They only had $20 and some lofty ideals in their pockets, but the Mitchells offered them free use of the hotel in exchange for much-needed repairs (October 6, 1935, Oregonian). 

Within several months, the Artisans had grown to a community of forty-nine men, women, and children. Members fished, dug clams and caught crabs; then canned the meat and sold it up and down the Willamette Valley, mostly at farmers markets. They were purchasing the Mitchells' Bayside hotel and had a net worth of $5000. 
Scan of Artisan script in the possession of Joyce Loftis, daughter of Alvin and Blanche Sweger

Artisans were mostly Salem residents who had first tried communal living at Black Rock, which had been located just above Falls City. Bert and Louise Smith led disgruntled members away and found their way to Bayocean by luck. Louise worked out a deal with Marion County to trade the Artisans' canned seafood for fresh fruit and other commodities. She emphasized the Artisans weren't communists; they were people who had lost their jobs and wanted to pool their skills to support themselves (Oregon Statesman, May 26, 1934). 

In April 1935, with the help of Senator Steiwer, the Artisans received a Federal Emergency Relief Administration grant of $3900. That may seem small, but in today's dollars, it's $68,000. They used the money to buy more fishing boats and gear, and a printing press, which they used to print their own currency and stationary at 1231 Edgewater Street in Salem. Glenn Hammaker ran it (Oregon Statesman, May 16, 1935). 

When the Artisans were inspected by Albert Wieland of the Self-Help Cooperative Division of FERA, he told the Tillamook Headlight Herald (Aug 8, 1935) that "everything was very satisfactory and stated that it is now the only cooperative of the kind in the United States which is not on relief." In a report filed by the administrator of the program in 1936, there were 214 cooperatives listed. 

After interviewing Francis Mitchell for his May 18, 1949,  article "Coney Island For Clams," Charles Oluf Olsen reported that "In the depression, an artisan colony breathed a spark of life into Bayocean surroundings. That project was 'killed' by more prosperous times." In a letter to the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum dated October 21, 1970, Charles Carson fondly recalls operating a crab market on Bayocean's dock from 1912 through 1915. He was sorry to see that the place was already "dead" when he returned for a visit in 1924, adding that it was "only to be rejuvenated for a short time by the WPA fiasco during the depression." 
Photo and names provided by Joyce Loftis
I found out what Mitchell and Carson meant from Joyce Loftis, whose parents met at the community in October of 1934. Alvin (Al) Sweger was already there, having grown weary of riding the rails with his friend Glenn Hammaker to find work. Blanche Parrish came from dust-ravaged South Dakota in a truck with her brother Derewood, his wife Angy, and their parents Harry and Ethel. 

Blanche wrote in her diary that she loved Bayocean, having her own room in the Bayside Hotel, and dancing and playing games at night in the living room with the many people who had been drawn by word of the Artisans' success. But some of them didn't want to work as hard as others, which caused resentment and bickering. The men had to work based on tide tables, and that meant getting up at odd hours. They would be woken by children playing, and in turn, would wake up others as they prepared to go out. Not enough sleep exacerbated the conflicts. Harry and Ethel only put up with it for a few months. Al and Blanche held out until October 1935. By then they were in love and Al found a good job in Portland. Blanche stayed with her parents in Forest Grove until they were married on December 1, 1935. Derewood, Angy, and six-month-old Elvin left with a few remaining members in July 1936. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Perry Reeder Presentation August 19, 2015

Perry Reeder gave his Bayocean presentation to a packed house at the Tillamook County Library on August 19th, 2015. Sarah Beeler did a great job of promoting the event by placing a sign at the entrance to the library and advertising in the Tillamook Headlight Herald weeks in advance. I posted in on several Facebook groups and saw a few history friends in the audience, some even came over from Portland. Unfortunately, our efforts were so successful, and the interest so high, that some folks had to be turned away, but not before Perry promised them to schedule another presentation. It was held on October 24th at 1 PM. 

Sarah MacDonald getting things ready for the Bayocean presentation
by her father, Perry Reeder, August 19, 2015 

Perry used a PowerPoint, created by his daughter Sarah MacDonald, to accompany his telling of the geological processes that caused Bayocean's demise - and its human impact. Perry added some entertaining personal stories along the way. After an hour or so, he answered questions from the audience.  

Earlier in the day, Bayocean alumni gathered at the community center/schoolhouse to reminisce. They were gracious in letting me hound them with questions. 

Perry Reeder at Bayocean sign
July 3, 2013
Photo by Sarah MacDonald
Sarah MacDonald photo of folks gathered at the Cape Meares
Community Center August 19, 2015, who lived on Bayocean
and Cape Meares before a storm made it an island in 1952

Perry's family moved to Bayocean Park when he was six years old - in 1944. With his buddies, he explored the ruins, yelled at the blimp pilots as they passed close overhead each day, kept cool snorkeling along the sandy shores of the bay, and listened to Mr. Mitchell's sermons while waiting for the bus or buying candy at his store. In 1950, watching the sea moving relentlessly closer, his family moved to Cape Meares. There he eventually raised his own family while watching Bayocean's destruction - and rebuilding.

Prior to the construction of Tillamook Bay's South Jetty, the Army Corps of  Engineers hired Perry to captain a charter boat, from which their engineers and scientists took measurements that helped finalize its design. From 2002 to 2003 he served on the Bayocean Task Force. Perry owns a piece of property on the spit. A few years ago he coordinated county and family efforts to post signs to show where the business center of Bayocean had once stood - on the bay side of the spit. The fact that the signs are closer to the ocean now graphically illustrates the extensive geological changes that have occurred.  Perry now lives in Oceanside and spends most days managing his family farm in Beaver. In July 2017 Perry and his daughter Sarah wrote Bayocean: Memories Beneath the Sand


Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Mitchells Watch Bayocean Go

Buck Sherwood photo
courtesy of Lorraine Eckhardt

On November 13, 1952, a severe winter storm ripped a 3/4 mile wide gap into Bayocean Spit, isolating the town center on an islandSoon after that, the Oregonian sent William Lambert to cover the story with photographer W. Kirk Braun. The article filled page 32 and part of part 33 in the November 23, 1953 edition. In one of the photos, Lambert changed the sign in Mitchell's General Store window from "Watch Bayocean Grow" to "Watch Bayocean Go" by covering up a couple letters. He may have thought it ironic, but it must have greatly distressed Francis Mitchell. He was known to be such a strident supporter of Bayocean that I'm surprised he let it happen, even at the age of 83. He must have been there because he and his wife Ida were two of the eight residents who stayed on the island after the breach.  

Mitchell was one of the first to buy into the Bayocean dream and never let go of it. He would bend anyone's ear about Bayocean - even the children who lived there. One of them, Perry Reeder, recalls "Mr. Mitchell" stopping them each morning on the way to school, or at the bus stop, to preach about his political views and plans to make Bayocean great once again. 

Photo of Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell
from Tillamook County Pioneer Museum

The only thing that could tear Mr. Mitchell from Bayocean was Mrs. Mitchell. On October 22, 1953, the Tillamook Headlight Herald reported that she'd suffered a stroke on the 18th and that after frantic efforts by islanders to send a signal, she was transferred to the Tillamook Hospital the next day with the help of folks on Cape Meares and the Coast Guard. According to the Tillamook Headlight Herald of November 5, 1953, Mr. Mitchell spent his nights with friends on Cape Meares to remain as close as possible to Bayocean but spent each day in Tillamook to be near his wife, who was not doing well. He'd only leave her side to wander about town and preach to folks at the courthouse, newspaper office, on the sidewalks, and in stores, as he had the children of Bayocean. But on the 4th he got so agitated that he threatened the sheriff, was taken into custody, and later judged insane. He was taken to the Oregon State Hospital on November 7th. Mrs. Mitchell died on December 28th. 
Six years later, on October 22, 1959, Mr. Mitchell notified the editor of the Tillamook Headlight Herald of his move to Ward 2 so that he could continue receiving the paper. He complimented Mrs. De Cook for her work with Judge Effenberger to increase Tillamook tourism, adding that if folks had taken his advice about that in the past, "Bayocean would have been a success." Mr. Mitchell's fellow residents at the Oregon State Hospital heard about Bayocean every day until July 25, 1965. Only death could kill his dream and stop his expounding on it. 


The bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell were reunited when Nellie Reeher purchased a combined headstone on 
November 11, 1965, and had it placed at Spaces 1 and 2 of Lot 79 in 
Block 4 of the Tillamook IOOF Cemetery. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Locating Bayocean School

One of the buildings Bert and Margie Webber did not locate on their drawings in Bayocean: The Oregon Town that Fell Into the Sea was the Bayocean School. Written reports said it was close to Cape Meares, and Perry Reeder pointed to the area on the original Bayocean Park plat map where the narrow southern section of the spit started to widen out, but I wanted to find the exact location so I can stand there like I had the Bayocean Hotel

When I met Mike Watkins, he remembered that the school had been just a little northwest of the west end of A.G. Beals' dike. The dike had a one-way gate that let Coleman Creek flow out at low tide but kept Tillamook Bay water from coming back in at high tide. This changed the wetland into a meadow that dairy cows could graze. When he came to believe the ocean would eventually take the spit, Beals sold much of his Bayocean/Cape Meares holdings to Mike's grandfather, Robert W. Watkins. The land at the east end of the dike passed down to Mike and his siblings, which is why he's so familiar with it. When the breakwater that is now Dike Road sealed the breach in 1957, the ocean beach reformed (east of its previous location) and created Cape Meares Lake. Though the meadow and dike are now submerged, Mike said that remnants of the dike were still visible and could be used to point to where the school had been. 


Corps of Engineers aerial photograph # 39-1546, cropped. 
I then looked at 1939 aerial photographs from the Army Corps of Engineers. Because it was earthen, the dike is lighter in color and stands out against the grey background. By zooming in, I saw the schoolhouse just northwest (up and left in the photograph) of where the dike ends at the spit, confirming Mike's recollection. I also noticed that the school was in line with 4th Street, which is the road at the bottom of the photograph running south (down) from Bayocean (or Meares) Rd which runs east to west (left to right). Since 4th Street still exists, this gave me two sightlines, which were the same today as in the past, that I could use to find where the school had been on today's landscape. 

That would have been good enough, but while looking at the Tillamook County Tax Map for other reasons I noticed an active tax lot in the area. The Summary Report for lot #1200 shows it's owned by Tillamook County School District #9. Like many other landowners, they'd kept ownership over the years. ORMAP and other GIS mapping systems project county tax lot layers onto modern aerial landscape views and provide GPS coordinates where a cursor is placed. Coordinates at the center of the school lot are 45.505148 N, 123.958730 W. The school may not have been at the center of the lot, but since the tax lot is only 100' x100' (.23 acres) it couldn't have been far from it. Now I had two ways to locate the school. 

The next step was a field trip. Mike was gracious enough to lead me down a trail (viewing deer and an eagle along the way) to what had been the east end of Beals' dike. From there we were able to sight the west end using dike remnants. We then hiked out on the spit. Sighting south to 4th street, and east along the dike, we arrived at a spot on the beach where the coordinates matched. We were there! The spot is just 1/10 mile north of the parking space at the end of Bayocean Road, so easy to reach, and a stump just east of the spot makes it hard to miss. If the ocean reclaims or moves the stump, the coordinates will still work. Based on the aerial photograph and county tax map, the road out to Bayocean from Cape Meares would have been about 500' west of the spot. The average high tide in 1939 would have been about 1000' out. 

Left to right: James Bennett, Rosemarie Bennett, Barbara Parker,
Russell Parker; photo from Tillamook County Pioneer Museum
When I asked, Mike recalled the school grounds being about 10-15' above sea/bay level. After leaving Mike, I saw Harold Bennett in his yard. He had attended Bayocean School, so I stopped to let him know about the stump, and asked him what he thought the school elevation had been. His answer was the same as Mike's. I later found a 1939 USACE topo map confirming Mike's and Harold's recollection. When you stand there, listen for the yells of children at play in the wind above you. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Bayocean Rezoning Approved By Tillamook County Planning Commission

On November 12, 2015, the Tillamook County Planning Commission voted 5/2 in favor of changing all land north of Cape Meares Lake on Bayocean Spit that is currently zoned Recreation Management (RM) to Recreation Natural (RN). This came after listening to about 3 hours of staff input from Community Development Director Bryan Pohl and Senior Planner Sarah Absher and testimony from the public testimony. Written testimony, including detailed maps and zone change details, as well as audio of the entire meeting, can be downloaded at their website

My earlier post Zoning Change For Bayocean Moves Forward reports on the April 9, 2015, Tillamook County Board of Commissioners meeting that started this process. Bayocean Park Eco-park Rejected reports on the proposal that prompted a request for this rezoning from the Cape Meares Community Association

Whether you take a position on rezoning or not (I do not) the testimony given provides useful historical as well as current information about Bayocean. 

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 http://bayrun.org. 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. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Paul Levesque

Photo from Statesman Journal 
Residents of Tillamook County know the name Paul Levesque. When he was Chief of Staff for the Board of County Commissioners, he was in the news on a regular basis. He also was honored as one of the “Local Heroes in Action” for coming to the aid of a woman being assaulted at a gas station. 

What folks may not know is that Paul is a historian with a personal interest in Bayocean; which is why he agreed to an interview despite being a busy fellow. 

Paul has been a resident of Tillamook County since 1971. He lived on Cape Meares in 1973 and 1974, while working oyster beds for Cecil Harris. During that time he was on Bayocean regularly, for work and play.  

Since 1976, Paul has worked for Tillamook County, in several different capacities. In 1985 he wrote the two-volume A Chronicle of the Tillamook County Forest Trust Lands that is available at libraries. Paul has written three other unpublished papers that he has allowed me to provide access to:  

Each of the works is well documented and gives information specific to Bayocean and/or provides historical context. I was surprised to read there was a Port of Bayocean that played a part in early jetty discussions with the US Corps of Engineers. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Grant McOmie Captures The Bayocean Story

Wednesday, June 17th, I had the pleasure of introducing Grant McOmie and his photographer/editor Jeff Kastner to Bayocean alumni, tagging along while the alumni showed them around the spit's "townsite", and giving Grant and Jeff a tour of the few buildings moved off Bayocean before the sea took them. The resulting Grant's Getaways: Bayocean was shown during KGW newscasts on June 26, but can be viewed online at KGW and Travel Oregon. The show will be one of four segments in a dedicated half-hour Grant's Getaways program in the fall. 

A week earlier Grant had asked me to set this up, after hearing about Bayocean from mutual friend Don Best. With the help of Sarah MacDonald (daughter of Bayocean alumni Perry Reeder) and Charles Ansorge (President of the Cape Meares Community Association), I managed to pull it off. Don couldn't join us because he was taking advantage of a sunny day with a minus 1.4 tide to take aerial photographs of Tillamook Bay - including a particularly dramatic one of Bayocean. Don provided some of the photographs Jeff and Grant put into the show. Tom Olsen provided them a copy of the DVD he produced for the Port of Garibaldi (see Videos of Bayocean History) which they used to powerful effect. 

Left to right: Barbara Bennett, David Bennett, Grant McOmie, Kevin Bennett, 
Harold Bennett, Perry Reeder, and Sarah MacDonald 


Perry Reeder's maps of  Bayocean 














Our day started at the schoolhouse, which Charles was kind enough to open ahead of time. Each Bayocean school alumnus arrived with an interested son or daughter: Perry and his daughter Sarah; Barbara Bennett and her son David; and Harold Bennett and his son Kevin (wife/mother MerryAnn bolted before the cameras came out). Perry and Sarah laid out some maps on a table. Barbara spread out some photos on another. The stories soon began. Everyone had warmed to the occasion by the time Grant and Jeff arrived. Charles greeted them on behalf of the CMCA and left to teach an (online) university class. 
Grant McOmie interviewing Barbara Bennett
with Jeff Kastner recording it all

Perry Reeder describes  the Bayocean that once was,
while standing where kids waited for the school bus:
across from Mitchell's store on the south side of 12th.


Watching Grant, it's easy to see how he gets people to feel comfortable and open up: he's an engaging fellow who is genuinely interested in what folks have to say. Barbara, Harold, and Perry seemed to enjoy telling their stories, and the telling helped us all imagine the Bayocean they once knew. Visiting the "townsite" that Perry and Sarah set up on the spit really got Harold and Perry going. 

The last part of the day was spent visiting the Pagoda house(s) and two others moved to Bayocean that are still standing. I showed them the house that was built using wood salvaged from the Natatorium that I'll post on in the future. I had tried to stay off-camera all day but got tagged at the end because all the more interesting folks had left. Grant's Getaway: Bayocean is a pleasure to watch despite that. 

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.