Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Farley Reset

In Stand Under Bayocean Hotel Annex's Chimney, I used datasheets for two survey control stations on Bayocean that no longer exist in order to pinpoint where the Hotel Bayocean Annex and the Bayside Inn had been located on today’s landscape. Three other stations have also disappeared. Only one station, maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, remains. The Farley Reset datasheet says it was first established in 1935. Like Bayocean's initial point, the original monument has been replaced with a  bronze disc. But it still has historical significance, so I wanted to find it. On October 30, 2016 my bushwhacking buddy Eleanor Culhane joined me in the search.

Following datasheet directions we hiked 2.5 miles north from the gate at the Bayocean parking lot, and then west on a game trail to the top of a high dune just a few hundred feet away. In 1975 the dune was still described as being covered with short vegetation. Now the trees and brush are so thick that I’d hiked past it many times without knowing it was there. When Eleanor found Reference Mark No. 3 (another bronze disc) near the end of the trail at the top, we knew we were close. We had to do a little bushwhacking, but nothing like that required to reach Bayocean’s highest point. An orange, plastic witness post stood out from the greenery, but that was different than described in the last datasheet update, and the station disc was not two feet east of it, so that threw us off for a bit. But after clearing a circle all the way around the the post we found the disc two feet north of it.

Why was it there? David Moore, a surveyor from Albany, Oregon, said stations like this were set up all along the coast, and for miles inland, after average sea levels were determined in 1927. They were used by land surveyors to calibrate their equipment for elevation, after checking for updates. Though latitude and longitude were added to the datasheets, surveyors used other monuments to calibrate for that. This dune was an obvious choice for a station because it was high and stable. A hydro signal originally placed next to it must have have been visible from Tillamook Bay before trees obstructed its view. 

Barview Jetty image no. 57, Tillamook County Pioneer Museum
Why the name Farley? Captain Robert Farley was in charge of the first Coast Guard Lifesaving Station at Tillamook Bay from its beginning in 1908 until his retirement in 1935. Ironically, Captain Farley’s own home at Barview was a casualty of coastal erosion in 1915, soon after construction on the north jetty began.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Four Currin Cabins

The photos below were taken by Carl Schonbrod (Dorian Studies, Tillamook, OR) during the week prior to January 24, 1953, when a photo similar to the one on the right appeared in the Oregonian. There was no story; just a caption saying the cabin, which was built by the Hance brothers, had since slid into the ocean. I wanted to know where the cabin started its journey and who owned it. 

These contact photos were provided by John Chaix, a friend of the Schonbrods. 
After chasing leads nowhere for months, I sent the photo to Perry Reeder. He recognized the house as one of two little cabins sitting next to each other uphill and to the northwest from the Strowgers who lived right on Bay Street. Perry didn’t know the owners of the house. He and his buddies just called it the “fish pond house” because it had a manmade pond with some goldfish in it.

Perry’s description best fit block 48 on the Bayocean plat map. I noticed that property taxes on the 1958 Tillamook Circuit Court foreclosure proceedings were much higher for lots 23 and 24 than others in the area. The lots were owned by H. W. and Laura E. Currin.  I found a 1919 photo of Harvy William and Laura Estella Currin’s family at Find-A-Grave provided by their niece, Anna Dunlap, and a biography written by one of their daughters, Ruth Currin Spaniol. After Dunlap confirmed that the Currins had lost a cabin on Bayocean, I read Spaniol's biography Over the die-or-do: a story of a marriage at the Oregon Historical Society.

1919 Currin family photo, from niece/cousin Anna Dunlap.
Harvy Currin’s ancestors arrived in Oregon as pioneers in 1845 and settled at Currinsville, just north of Estacada. By the 1940s Harvy and Laura had a thriving real estate business in Hillsboro. They knew houses had been washing away for decades on Bayocean, but in 1945 decided to take a chance on “two little houses sitting side by side…they and all their family could have at least $600 worth of fun there before those houses, too, were washed away.” Even grandchildren helped fix up the cabins, including painting Dutch designs on shutters, which they recognized eight years later in the Oregonian photo. 

Next, I searched Tillamook County deed indexes and learned that Ella May Hutchinson, a widow, had first purchased the two lots in 1911 for $450. She transferred an adjacent portion of each lot to P.D. and Elizabeth Hance in 1914, which is when the Oregonian listed Hutchinson among new cabin owners. The cabins went through several ownership transfers before the Currins purchased them. They went on to buy most of block 47 during September and October of 1947. This was land between their cabins and Bay Street. 

In 1949, seeing the ocean approaching their hilltop cabins, the Currins bought another house further south on lot 33 of block 44. Buck Sherwood recalled Judge Richardson owning the house. Deed Book 74, page 244 shows Richardson purchasing the lot on October 17, 1936. Bayocean News columns of December 17, 1936, and February 25, 1937, in the Tillamook Headlight-Herald, describe Swan Hawkinson building a cabin there. Judge Richardson sold the cabin in 1945, it turned over a couple times before the Currins purchased it. The Currins lost this cabin first because it was part of the spit that the ocean tore out on November 13, 1952. “Fish pond house” and its partner were at the southern end of the island that remained, but on January 29, 1953, the Tillamook Headlight-Herald reported them having fallen. The paper called them the "Pratt houses," mistakenly referring to previous owners.  

What most surprised me is that on June 25, 1952, just a few months before Bayocean became an island, the Currins bought lots 29-31 of block 57. The house on lot 29 may be remembered as Mueller’s by Bayocean alumni, but Frank and Rose Dordan, John and Ethel Scott, and Edwin and Jean Jenkins owned it after them. This Currin house was half-filled with sand by the US Army Corps of Engineers when they built the dike that sealed the gap in 1956. It was one of just three houses they left standing. The last of these, belonging to the Notdurfts, fell in 1960. 

In 1957 the Currins bought a lot in Garibaldi but sold it just four years later, not long before Harvy's death. Tillamook County deed records show the property passing through many hands over the decades since then. The current tax lot number eluded me but Wendy Schink, Tillamook County Cartographer, quickly determined it was 21BD02200. This .86 acre lot climbs the hill behind Garibaldi and the home there has a great view of Bayocean. The Currins would have loved it. 
October 30, 2021 update: eBay has the print version of the Schonbrod photo used in the Oregonian for sale. A note at the bottom says it was taken January 23, 1953. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

T. B. Potter's Success Before Bayocean

Photo of Thomas Benton Potter, from the 
Dobbins-Duff family tree at Ancestry.com.
The 1900 U.S. Census shows T. B. (Thomas Benton) Potter working as an advertising agent, and his family living as boarders in a household of ten, at 232 S. Hill Street in Los Angles, California. A year later they were living at 418 Eugene in Portland, Oregon, and Potter had formed a real estate partnership with H.L. Chapin, with offices at 246 Stark (1901 and 1903 R. L. Polk Portland City Directories at Ancestry.com). They worked with landowners to carve homesteads into marketable lots and share the profits. From 1902 to 1906, Potter (with Chapin most of the time) created more than a dozen subdivisions in Kansas City, Missouri, Portland, Oregon, and in the San Francisco Bay area (Bayocean: The Oregon Town that Fell Into the Sea, Appendix D). They eventually lost the wealth acquired doing so in chasing their Bayocean dream. But neighborhoods continue giving tribute to their success, several of them being named after Potter's youngest daughter, Arleta.  
Sail (Multnomah County’s GIS system) lists four Alberta Parks. The first was platted in NE Portland in 1902. Alberta Parks No. 2, 3, and 4 were platted in 1903 and 1904 in SE Portland. Multnomah County deed records show their Arleta Land Company purchasing and selling four additional subdivisions in NE Portland as well: Lester Park, Ina Park, Elberta Park, and Vernon. Incorporation papers at the Oregon State 

Arleta Park No. 3 is located within the Mt. Scott–Arleta Neighborhood in SE Portland.  Arleta Neighborhood grew up around the Potter-Chapin subdivision, with its school, post office,  and library. Grocery stores and other retail stores made it a retail hub midway between downtown Portland and Lents on the Mt. Scott Trolley. The lots were cheap relative to the west side of the Willamette River, so working families could afford to buy them, build a home, and catch the trolley to work each day. 

A. Natalia (Potter) Dobbins,
from Dobbins-Duff Family
Tree at Ancestry.com
In 1906 T. B. Potter developed another Arleta Park at Half Moon Bay on his own (as well as another subdivision called Reis, per California newspaper ads). He likely saw the potential of this area becoming a suburb of San Francisco by way of the Ocean Shore Railroad, which reached there in October, 1908. Local history buffs indicate (via Wikipedia) that there was an Arleta Station at Railroad Avenue and Poplar Street that is now used as a residence. 

Arleta's descendants told the Webbers she changed her name to Natalia as an adult because she didn’t appreciate her father naming subdivisions after her. One can just imagine schoolmates kidding her about it. She must have got her point across because nothing in Bayocean Park bore her name. Ironically, Arleta was the last Potter to own a Bayocean lot. She stopped paying taxes on lot 81 in block 39 only after the sea destroyed it in November 1952.

Building and running a resort requires a completely different skill set than developing subdivisions, but the Potters might have pulled it off if the railroad to Tillamook had not taken three years longer than promised to get people to Bayocean Park. The hectic schedule and stress are the most likely causes of Potter going insane in July 1910. His wife Fannie took him home to California, then across the world in search of a cure, but found none. He died at home in 1916. By then, his son Thomas Irving and Fannie had lost control of Bayocean to a court-mandated receivership. Two succeeding ownership groups couldn't make a financial go of it either. The Bayocean dream failed financially long before the ocean washed it away. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

William George Owned Mitchell's General Store

The mercantile operated by Francis and Ida Mitchell was the heart of Bayocean. It stood on the southwest corner of 12th Avenue and Bay Street, the town's main intersection. In the mid-1940s, the children of Bayocean would catch the school bus across the street. Everyone assumed the Mitchells owned the store. But they didn't. From 1917 on it belonged to William George. 

Photo of the Mitchells in front of their store; Tillamook County Pioneer Museum. 
Tillamook County Deed Book (DB) 21, pages 219-220, shows the Mitchells purchasing lot 44 in block 54 of Bayocean Park (the store's legal description) on June 23, 1911, from the T.B. Potter Realty Company for $450. Tillamook County Mortgage Book (MB) U, page 114, shows the Mitchells taking out a loan for $500 from the Tillamook County Bank just a couple weeks later - on July 5th, 1911. On February 3, 1913 (MB U:413) the Mitchells took out another loan for $1200, which paid off the first, and agreed to keep $1000 insurance on their store.

On August 6, 1914, the Mitchells sold their property to G.W. Rice of Jackson County, Missouri, for $2000 cash. Rice also agreed to pay off their loan (DB 28:268) but did not. The Tillamook County Bank foreclosed on Rice and the Mitchells on June 21, 1915, and bought the property back at auction two months later for $1461.85 (including accrued interest at 8% and fees; Circuit Court case 1633; DB 35:187). The bank then sold the property to William George on June 6, 1917, for $1374.30 (DB 36:2). George maintained ownership until Tillamook County foreclosed on the property for non-payment of taxes on June 19, 1958 (DB 166:579). Two years earlier the store ruins had been burned and buried by contractors who built the breakwater that sealed the gap created by a 1952 storm

The 1915 foreclosure and auction notices were published in the Tillamook Headlight, but if anyone noticed the Mitchells no longer owned their store, they must have kept it to themselves. 

So who was William George? Deed records and tax foreclosures show no middle name or hometown. The Corps of Engineers found out who he was in 1956 because they added the middle initial "A" to their records but didn't get his signature, which meant that he had died. That points to William Albert George of Kansas City, who died on January 7, 1952, without heirs (located via Find-A-Grave on Ancestry.com). 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Sandbags Couldn't Save E.H. Roberts's House

Ben Maxwell Photo ID 5507, Salem Public Library Historic Photograph Collections, Salem Public Library, Salem, Oregon.
When Tom Olsen of  Anchor Pictures shared his video on the history of the Port of Garibaldi last year, he told me of a video on Bayocean he'd produced twenty years ago. He recently found it, digitized it (the original was shot on Hi-8), and uploaded it to Vimeo for all to view. It tells the story of one of the houses lost to the sea, using an interview with Nancy Lee Goldberg and photos provided by Betty Lou Roberts. Tom had not been told who owned the house, or the women's relationship, but I had to know. Betty's last name was the main clue. I previously identified E.H. Roberts as the owner of the house shown on the right, by way of captions on photos of the same house in an Oregonian story on February 19, 193, and a 1940 Army Corps of Engineers report. Records at Ancestry.com list Betty as the daughter of Evan Harry and Sylvana Huddleston Roberts, and that she died in 2002. Nancy was her cousin, the daughter of Winbert Huddleston, Sylvana's brother. Nancy refers to "Harry" in the video. Perhaps the woman on the beach is Sylvana. Pat Patterson told me he helped the Robertsons remove items from the house before it fell. Nancy died on May 10, 2016.

Tillamook County Deed Record 39, pages 331-333, shows E.H. Roberts buying the house on lots 29, 68, and the north halves of 28 and 69 in 1919 from the estate of W.J. Clemens, a Portland insurance man. This was just north of Jackson Gap.

Westview (as Clemens dubbed the house) was moved back from the edge at the end of January 1940 after storms first breached Bayocean, but the sand kept giving way, and by early 1945 it was again in danger. Near the end of February that year, the Roberts finally gave up and sold it for salvage to fellows named Strube and BarryIt was so large that each planned to build a house from the materials salvaged (with eleven rooms it must have rivaled the three Poulsen houses). After just a couple weeks of deconstruction - on March 13 - the house crashed into the sea. Beachcombers got what they could before continuing storms washed the rest away. (Oregonian 3.19; Tillamook Headlight Herald 3.15 and 3.22). 

E.H. Roberts was the President of the Roberts Brothers department store, located at SW Morrison and 3rd in Portland. His father Thomas had founded it fifty years earlier, and his sons Richard and William (Betty's brothers) carried on the family tradition. (Oregonian 10.18.1952). In Tom's video, Nancy identifies the boy in the photo to the left as Dick. He's lifting driftwood up from the beach below, for use as firewood, using a winch they rigged up for that reason. 

Nancy makes an interesting point: summers at Bayocean were wonderful for kids but hard on mothers. These women left behind all the conveniences, social life, and cultural activities of city life, for the relative isolation of a spit. Their husbands could bring a few things with them when they took the train to visit on long weekends, but mostly they were stuck with whatever provisions the Mitchells offered.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Southern Pacific Railroad Brochures

Sue Bagley Barr recently sent me three brochures, produced by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1913, 1914, and 1915, that promote travel by rail to visit the beaches of Tillamook County. Interior pages are full of wonderful historic photos. Front covers show bathing beauties in period fashion and Sue's skill at digital restoration. She was kind enough to let me share the brochures with readers. You can download them here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The House at Jackson Gap

Whenever I show Perry Reeder a photograph and ask "whose house was that?" his reply is always, "well, what year?" After many hours of looking through Tillamook County deed records (the source of most information in this post), I know what he means: the houses on Bayocean changed hands regularly. A great example is the house at Jackson Gap.
From University of Oregon microfilm collection. 
E. Mortimer Fouch, President of Western Electric Works in Portland, built the house in the summer of 1911. The photo, looking north, is from the November 1911 "Surf," a monthly newsletter published by the Potters for a short time as part of their marketing plan. Its caption and text accompanying the photo below combine to provide a detailed description of the house.

From the Oregon State Archives
 Fouch sold the place in March 1912 to Elizabeth Kerns Potter, the wife of Thomas Irving Potter, who ran Bayocean Park operations after his father Thomas Benton left for California due to health reasons in 1910. Fouch and Potter must have been close because in 1915 Fouch was named as a Potter representative on a committee set up to guide Bayocean Park development through receivership by the Multnomah County Circuit Court (Judgement #35700A). 

The May 1912 "Surf," photo to the right and map below were presented as evidence in a lawsuit the Potters filed against George Breitling for non-payment of his Bayocean contract. Because the suit eventually became Oregon Supreme Court Case #8739, wonderful archival records like this photo have been preserved. Taken in 1914, the view is uphill and southwest from Bay Street. The Potter family would have arrived at the Bayocean dock by boat and traveled south a mile and a half to their cottage, likely on the only car on the spit. 

The house at Jackson Gap was on lots 14 and 15  of block 38, northwest
of Bayocean School, on the main route to Bayocean center
In 1918, Elizabeth Potter sold the house to Carl and Maud Jackson. The Jacksons owned it for a combined total of 14 years, the longest of any owner, explaining why the eventual gap was named for them. For a few months in 1928, the Jacksons lost ownership to Henry and Ava Shofner, Carl's nephew and his wife, who paid delinquent taxes and then returned it.  According to records on Ancestry.com, Carl Jackson died in 1933. He was likely failing in health when Maude alone signed the deed transferring the property to Bertha and George Joseph in October 1932. The Josephs only kept ownership a month, selling it in November 1932 to Swan and Othelia Hawkinson. The Hawkinsons were full-time residents living in a house on the ridge a mile north. The Hawkinsons sold it to Mignon (Mig) and Maud Ackley in May 1936. They were the last of the seven owners of this home during its short lifetime. 

Every archival institution I visited had photos contributed by the Ackley family. For obvious reasons, their photos of this house were all labeled "Ackley House." Luckily one adds "at Jackson Gap." I have no photos labeled "Jackson House," so for a long time I thought the several photos I had of it from varying perspectives were of different houses. Lot numbers from deeds, photos comparisons, captions, newspaper articles, and other stories eventually brought it all together. As an auto dealer in Tillamook, Mig had been interested in Bayocean Park since its inception, fortunately taking photos throughout the years. He was among the group of Tillamook businessmen who formed the Tillamook-Bayocean Company in 1926 that took over from the Bayocean receivers. 

1938 Buck Sherwood photo from his niece Bonnie Reddekopp Lawrence
Jackson Gap on January 5, 1939. Photo looking out to the ocean, from
"Report on Beach Erosion Studies Tillamook Bay, Oregon With Reference
to Bay Ocean [sic]".  August 26, 1940. Corps of Engineers 

The Ackleys  enjoyed their beach cabin for less than two years. Swan Hawkinson later told the Corps of Engineers that the house had been moved back from the cliff, though not clarifying when or by whom. On March 3rd, 1938, the Tillamook Headlight Herald reported that the Ackleys were dismantling the cabin known to old-timers as "Maudy-Carlo," explaining why I never found one called "Jackson House." The Ackleys planned to "rebuild it in part on their ranch." A fierce storm from January 3rd to 5th of 1939 blew all of Jackson Gap into Tillamook Bay. By the end of January, three more Bayocean homes were destroyed. Mig and Maude Ackley's son Walter was a teenager at the time. He would later become mayor of Tillamook. In the Oregonian of August 27, 1984, he spoke fondly of the few childhood summers spent there. Losing the cottage was so devastating he never returned to the spit. The Tillamook County tax foreclosure deed is dated September 13, 1944. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

The War Dog Beach Patrol of Bayocean

Photo of unidentified dog and handler from US Coast Guard Historian's Office. I'm still hunting for photos of Bayocean's patrol.
From April 1943 to September 1944, the Coast Guard maintained a war dog beach patrol station on Bayocean. They rented the three houses  Portland lumberman Johann Poulsen had built at the inception of Bayocean Park. The station was headquartered in the house owned by Johann's daughter Thora King, later by the Hicks. Twenty-two enlisted men stayed in cots in the basement until they built a 25 x 50 barracks for themselves in the fall of 1943. Station logs show numbers fluctuating during the eighteen months they were there, with station commander First Class Petty Officer Ed Russ as the only constant. He and his wife Genevieve and infant son Phil (names provided by Lady Russ, wife of Phils' younger brother Brian)  lived in Johann and his wife Dora's place, which had been inherited by their daughters Marie Kerns, Kate Thatcher, and Louise Zan inherited in 1939 after Dora died. Second in command was First Class Petty Officer Kenneth Trafton. He and his wife Mildred lived in the house owned by the Poulsens' daughter Agnete Bates. 

The first 22 Coast Guard patrolmen 
listed in Bayocean logbooks. If you 
recognize any please contact me.

Edwin (Ed) Russ. Photo courtesy
of his daughter-in-law Lady Russ
In the early stages of American involvement in World War II there were fears of land invasion and sabotage by Germany along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, and by the Japanese on the Pacific Coast. So, in the latter half of 1942, the Coast Guard established a  Beach Patrol Division and set up an integrated network of lookouts and patrols by foot (with and without dogs), horse, and boat which left no stretch of beach vulnerable. They worked closely with the Army, whose soldiers would be called in to take over if an invasion was discovered. The Coast Guard would hold off the enemy as best they could with rifles, machine guns, and dogs. 

Based on interviews with those who were children at the time, the dogs of Bayocean did their job quite well. Vance Mason said they sometimes got loose and terrorized the neighborhood. To him, they looked like deer loping through the brush. He'd scurry to climb the nearest tree in terror. Joann (Dolan) Steffey, whose father A.T. Dolan bought one of the houses after the war dog patrol left, came very close to being mauled by one of the dogs. Donny Meyers fondly recalls watching movies at the main house (later owned by the Hicks) on Sunday afternoons with his buddies. He was befriended by one of the guardsmen, who would take him along when he fed his dog. It was friendly then, but he knew better than to approach it - or any other dog - at any other time. These dogs had all been someone's pet before the war. They were recruited and trained by Dogs For Defense. Men at the station, who were not their handles, would regularly "agitate" them to make sure they continued being ferocious to anyone who was not their handler.

Typically, two men and a war dog went out for six-hour shifts, and covered the entire coastline of Bayocean - around the clock at the beginning, just at night in the end. In August 1943, Oregon Governor Earl Snell established rules and gave the patrolmen authority to enforce them. They confiscated cameras, put out bonfires, and kept cars off the beach. They weren’t very popular with teenagers. 

Pat Patterson. Photo courtesy of his daughter Dee Cherry
The station logbooks (National Archives, Washington DC) show comings and goings of officers from the Naval Air Station Tillamook. Lieutenants (JG) Lynn Clapp and E.S. Klock handled things requiring a commissioned officer. Chaplain Townsend provided religious services. Harry Levin looked after their medical needs. Army Captain Burg was the veterinarian. 

After D-Day the threat of invasion by Germany and Japan was less of a threat, so beach patrols were fazed out, with the Pacific Coast being last. Some of the men, who had been recruited from farms in mid-America because of their experience with animals, went home. Most of the dogs were retrained for civilian life. But some went on to serve in battles overseas. One group helped train Chinese Nationalists in the use of war dogs and horses (information in this paragraph is from Prints in the Sand). Pat Patterson of the Garibaldi horse patrol stayed to marry a local girl and become a port commissioner. Now in his 90s, he fondly recalls stories from the time he served his country in this special way.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Reedies Run Bayocean in 1921

During the summer of 1921, Bayocean resort facilities were leased and operated by Reed College students John Van Etten, James Hamilton, and James Gantenbein. They employed more than twenty fellow Reedies to help out. It took them six weeks to get everything ready for the July 2 opening. 

Unidentified Reedies operate the light plant (left) and cut wood (right).  3.5 chords of
 wood was required daily to fire the natatorium boiler.
Oregon Journal 9.4.1921
Bayocean Park had been taken over by court-appointed receivers in 1915. Six years into it, they had lost money every year. Deferred maintenance was the result. The natatorium boiler was especially hard to keep running, but Reedies Craig Eliot and Harold Robinson got it going. Regular vacationers complimented the Reedies for providing the best experience in years, and it appears to have been the busiest as well. (Oregon Journal articles of July 2, 3, 9, and 24). 

Some of this success can be attributed to a letter dated June 22 (in my collection) that James Hamilton mailed "To the Teachers of Oregon" in which he makes assurances that the students' "youthful energy, efficiency and ingenuity" would be accompanied by "every effort...to quell any distrust of college ability that may exist." In case the prospect of being catered to by Reedies wasn't enough to entice teachers, he offered them a 10% discount. 

The first thing the Reedies did was build a dance hall across from The Mitchell, on the north side of the pier. Reedie George Henny set up a radio station with plans to send daily reports to a receiving station in Portland. Unfortunately, on July 25, a telephone pole he had climbed fell over, and a piece of it fractured his skull. When Bay City physician Dr. Boals saw Henny's condition he telegraphed Dr. A.E. Rockey in Portland, who reportedly drove 112 miles in just four hours (remarkable given the condition of the roads and automobiles of that era) to operate successfully on Henny the next day. (Tillamook Herald articles of June 30 and July 28). The experience must have made quite an impression on Henny because he changed his career path and became a physician. (Reed College Bulletin, April 1936)

Mark Kuestner and others at Reed College's Special Collections were kind enough to provide documents that list other Reedies who participated in the management of Bayocean during 1921. They were Carl Larson, Grace (Linklater, maiden) Stone, Alvin Pearson, Ruth Linklater, Herman Kehrli, Helen (Pippy) Kehrli, and Jean (Pugsley) Eliot. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Healing After Sealing The Gap

Recently I spent some time perusing Bayocean photos that Lorraine Eckhardt has collected over the last few decades from fellow Tillamook County residents. Lorraine honors each source, most of whom are deceased (being a lively octogenarian herself), by noting their name on the front of each print. She also transferred inscriptions that were on the back to the front of her copies. Though I'd seen many of the photos previously, I learned more about many of them because of this. Some of them I'd not seen, like a group taken by Virgil Magarell.

The photo on the right was taken by Magarell after the 1952 breach was sealed with a dike in 1956. He was standing at the top of a remnant dune. The trees in the foreground were killed by saltwater soaking their roots. He was looking northeast, across the part of Bayocean that was raised by 10' -15' with sand dredged from Tillamook Bay and then planted with rows of vegetation to prevent erosion when the ocean breached again. Garibaldi is in distance.

I was struck by the eerie quality of the photo. I imagine Magarell felt something similar to what I did while hiking across the blowdown area on the north side of Mount St. Helens in 1992. The land was healing, but there was still much to remind me of the great cataclysm that had occurred a few years earlier.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Bayocean Road Hard To Build AND Keep Open

The Oregon coast was hit hard over the last couple weeks by record rainfall and strong winds, causing temporary isolation of many communities in Tillamook County due to road closures. Cape Meares was one of them. Bayocean Road, the only way in and out of the community, was flooded in some locations, covered with debris from several landslides, and undermined by a culvert failure. Residents were locked in for short periods on a couple occassions. Charles Ansorge, President of the Cape Meares Community Association, wrote a report and posted photos at their website, and provided additional information in this post. 

Photo by Charles Ansorge
Cape Meares Loop Road had been an alternative route to the south, through Oceanside, Happy Camp, and Netarts, but it was closed by landslides north of the road to the lighthouse in 2013. When a failed culvert blocked the Loop Road between Oceanside and Happy Camp, Tillamook County provided 24-hour pilot service through the landslide-buckled sections for three days so that Oceanside residents had a way in and out. By then Bayocean Road had been cleared. 

In her December 16, 2015, Cape Meares Fencepost, long-time resident Barbara Bennett recalled how grateful she and her neighbors were when the Cape Meares Loop Road was completed, because they then had a way out when Bayocean Road was closed by landslides. This would occur regularly and last for days at a time. Oceanside residents were equally pleased to have another way out when the loop closed south of them. Efforts have been made to acquire state and/or federal funding to repair it, so far without success.

Photo from Tillamook County Pioneer Museum,
looking west, with Tillamook Bay on the right. 
The original construction of Bayocean Road required some sections to be cut out of the hillside. In other places, pilings had to be driven into Tillamook Bay and land backfilled behind them. This is why it took 20 years for a county road to reach Bayocean Park. Then the challenge became keeping it open. When storms hit, flooding from the bay, and slides from the rain-soaked hillside, slam Bayocean Road from both sides. Bayocean alumni like Perry Reeder tell stories of extended periods when heavy equipment, like tractors and bulldozers, were used to pull cars through the mess. On December 28, 1931, the Oregonian reported a slide dumping 30,000 cubic yards at Biggs (now Pincher) Point, bringing the point home with: "A steam shovel was buried by the avalanche." They hoped to open the road (evidently with a spare steam shovel) in four days. 
Photo by Charles Ansorge

Recent high winds also blew the top off the Bayocean interpretive sign. Fortunately, the remaining section tells the story. Though much of the text is incorrect, the sign is historic in its own right. It's a good idea to check Tillamook County Road Status before traveling during the winter to Bayocean Spit or any of the communities around Cape Meares. You can also sign up for road closure notices, weather advisories, and other emergency announcements about Tillamook County at Nixle

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tillamook Coastline Studied

The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) recently published Coastal Flood Hazard Study, Tillamook County, Oregon to "develop a digital flood insurance rate map (DFIRM) and flood insurance study (FIS) report for Tillamook County, Oregon." Much of Oregon's coastline is discussed within its 274 pages, but specific focus is placed on the four littoral cells (coastline sections between capes) from Neahkahnie Mountain to Cascade Head. Bayocean is located within the Rockaway littoral cell.

The report reviews ancient geological processes that created Oregon's coast, then uses previous research to provide context for the most recent data gathered about earthquakes, tsunamis, tides, erosion, wave runup, overtopping, and floods. Wonderful color graphics - photographs (including aerials), charts, diagrams and maps - help explain the detailed analysis. Much of it is still beyond my understanding, but I didn't see anything that conflicts with Pre-historic Geomorphology of Bayocean Peninsula and Changes in Bayocean Beaches Studied by DOGAMI; most likely because the study's lead author, Jonathan Allan, was kind enough to give me feedback while writing them.

The jetty built on the north side of Tillamook Bay's inlet is blamed for Bayocean's eventual destruction. The report provides specific distances and rates of erosion post starting on page 36. After the south jetty was finished in 1979, the shoreline started to grow. These two maps depict shoreline changes across the last century. Other diagrams depicting these changes in different ways are at Bayocean Shoreline Changes Over Time and Oregon Coastal Atlas.

Shoreline changes at north end of Bayocean Spit (page 37)
Shoreline changes at south end of Bayocean Spit (page 39)
Those who attended Perry Reeder's presentation at the Tillamook County Library on October 24th heard and saw the evidence he has gathered over the last decade showing beach expansion (accretion) and dune growth (aggradation) parallel to the Bayocean town site. He noted that the area close to Cape Meares seemed to have stayed the same. Allan and his colleagues agree with him, using precise measurements taken from several gauging stations along the Bayocean shoreline. This figure and text are from page 66:

Figure 3-1 depicts the changes that have taken place over the past 15 years. In the far south, the beach is backed by an extensive gravel beach that provides considerable protection from erosion to the backshore properties. As a result, this section of the beach is essentially stable, oscillating between minor bouts of erosion and accretion. With progress north along the spit, it is apparent that the dunes have fully recovered from the late 1990s winter storms (Figure 3-12) and are now actively aggrading along the length of the spit. Accretion rates are highest along the north end of the spit (reaching around +1m/yr [3.3 ft/yr]) and lowest in the south.

The report listed 128' as the height of the highest dune measured on Bayocean. This concerned me because I'd reported hiking to 152' back in January. So I contacted Allan. He clarified that they measured the dune closest to each transect, not older ones farther from the beach.  His Lidar map showed the highest point on Bayocean to be approximately 153'. Close enough. 

This older comparison, based on Coast and Geodetic Survey records, shows changes in the shoreline of Tillamook Bay between 1867 and 1971. It's in a 1972 Oregon State University study. Though not as detailed or colorful, it shows how much has changed over the last 150 years. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Last House

Two of Bert and Margie Webber's books on Bayocean have slightly different photos on the front cover of the last house to fall into the sea. One was taken by Howard Sherwood on January 30, 1960; the other was taken by Burford Wilkerson on February 15, 1960 (the Bayocean sign where Dike Rd meets the mainland erroneously gives that as the date the house fell). On December 21, 1960, an article in the Tillamook Headlight Herald added earlier and later Wilkerson photos to show a progression. No one identified the owners of the house or the lot it sat on, which gave me an interesting subject to research.  

I first asked Bayocean alumni if they knew who owned three houses shown in a 1957 photo from the Maxwell Collection at the Salem Public Library. They identified the one in the middle as that of Lewis and Hilda Bennett, but no one knew who owned the cabin at the top of the hill. Given the nature of gravity, that one seemed like the best candidate. 
After following many leads down rabbit holes, I was looking at Webbers' What Happened At Bayocean and noticed a photograph on page 11 of Lewis Bennett holding another photograph of a house in shambles that the caption said fell into the sea. Bennett's property was in the foreground sans house, because he'd already deconstructed it. Looking at a Bayocean Park plat map I saw that the property just above Bennett's was lot 26 of block 57. 

At the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum, I found the original of the photo that Bennett was holding. A note on the back said "Last House In Bayocean." It had been taken by Hershel Stuart on February 4, 1958, and given to the museum on September 6, 2006, by Mabel Johnson. 

Then the trick was figuring out who owned lot 26 in block 57. Since deed books in the Tillamook County Clerk's office are indexed by the last name, and not by the lot numbers, I had no way to get there directly. But while looking at a list in the county clerk's deed record index of people who gave perpetual easements to the Corps of Engineers in 1956 as a condition for the construction of the breakwater that closed the gap, I saw Otto and Maldeenna Notdurft listed as the owners of lots 24-26 of block 57. They had purchased them in 1943 and 1944.

Searching online, I was sorry to read that both Notdurfts were deceased. Norman Notdurft was suggested as a possible relative by People Smart, so I called and left a message. Ten days later he responded, saying he was the only son of Otto and Maldeenna. Norm confirmed the house on the cover of Webbers' books was theirs. He said they only visited the cabin a couple of times each year, so didn't get to know many of the Bayocean residents. But Norm did get to know Sally Bagley, who was about his age. They later got reacquainted while attending Oregon State University. Norm and Sally's husband ended up on the same military base, where they socialized. 

When the Notdurfts viewed the damage wreaked by the 1952 storm from Cape Meares, they assumed their cabin was lost and never went back. The 1999 edition of Bayocean: The Oregon Town That Fell Into The Sea the Notdurfts purchased doesn't have a caption saying that their cabin was the last to fall, so Otto and Maldeenna died not realizing they had that distinction. And even though they know their cabin had been lost, they kept paying taxes until Tillamook County stopped charging them. It's still in their name. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Perry Reeder Presentation October 24, 2015

Perry Reeder and his daughter Sarah MacDonald gave an expanded PowerPoint presentation on Bayocean at the Tillamook County Library from 1-3 PM on Saturday October 24. This was another packed house, but because the entire conference area was opened up, there was plenty of room and no one was turned away. See my post about Perry's last presentation for his bio and other information. The library had Jane Scott videotape the presentation, so at some point there will be a DVD available for checkout.  

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Bayocean Spit Breached in 1700

When a winter storm ripped a 3/4 mile wide gap between Cape Meares and Bayocean Spit on November 13, 1952, the sand covered oyster beds in Tillamook Bay. Over the decades that followed, research confirmed the residents' belief that construction of the north jetty at the entrance of Tillamook Bay, without a south jetty to match, caused the destruction of the spit and its resort town. What no one realized then was that this larger breaches had happened long before jetties were ever considered. 
Figure 10, page 467, Journal of Geology, July 2004

In "Sediment Accumulation in Tillamook Bay, Oregon: Natural Processes versus Human Impacts" (Journal of Geology; July 2004), Oregon State University oceanographers Paul D. Komar, James McManus, and Michael Styllas (whose 2001 master's thesis provided the data) conclude that the Bayocean Spit was breached many times - and to a much greater extent than in 1952 - following the last major Cascadia subduction zone earthquake in January 26, 1700. Figure 10 on the right makes the point graphically.

Studying Tillamook Bay core samples, the researchers found several layers of ocean sand (differentiated from layers of river sediment) in the century and a half after the 1700 earthquake, most of which were larger than the layer attributed to the years 1952 to 1956 (when the gap was closed). They knew from the research of others that fault movement accompanying the 1700 earthquake had lowered the elevation of Bayocean by a meter. This then made it possible for severe winter storms to breach the lower-elevation southern end of the Bayocean Spit. The breaches ceased, and the spit reconstituted by natural processes, prior to the arrival of white settlers. 

This surely was an event the Tillamooks would have experienced and passed down as legend. Though I've not found one in books on the subject, Mack Rhoades tells it on Garibaldi Oregon Memories:

I used to love sitting around the campfire and hearing the tale of 'Thunderfish' being told by a Native American local. Seems that tribes from the South came up to drive away the People's of the Tillamook... when they called upon Thunderbird to save them. Thunderbird flew far to sea and spoke to Thunderfish, who raised his mighty tail high above the water as Thunderbird flew back to tell the People's of the Tillamook to flee to the highest mountains. Then the mighty Thunderfish slapped his tail upon the waters, shaking the very land itself and sending a wall of water over the lands, drowning the invaders from the South and cleansing the land of their existence. Then the People's of the Tillamook returned, making sacrificial offerings of the survivors from the South to both Thunderfish and Thunderbird for their great help... the People's of Tillamook lived for many moons in peace until the great fish with white wings brought the White men to their lands....and the rest we all know, is history!

Legends from other tribes are told at Native American Legends of Tsunamis in the Pacific Northwest. In "The Really Big One" (The New Yorker; July 20, 2015) Kathryn Schulz includes similar legends, and then notes: "It does not speak well of European-Americans that such stories counted as evidence for a proposition only after that proposition had been proved." It is indeed hard to imagine T.B. Potter asking Tillamooks what they thought of his plans for Bayocean Park.