=== Tilt-A-Whirl® ===

The meandering thoughts of a self-proclaimed dork

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Bayocean, Oregon
goofiboy

Originally published at Tilt-A-Whirl®. You can comment here or there.

So, I went on a three mile hike today. I didn’t wanna be stuck at home alone all weekend, so enlisted a friend to take a short hike with me to Bayocean. If you search Wikipedia, you won’t find much about Bayocean at all which is strange considering that there’s an entire article about Natalie from The Facts of Life. I had to delve into my small home library to find some information about this town that was washed into the sea mid-century.


Bayocean was founded in 1906 by a Midwestern developer who wanted to create a resort community. Initially, the development company would rent a yacht and usher crowds of prospective buyers from downtown Portland, up the Willamette, through the mouth of the Columbia, and down to Bayocean. It’s a bit reminiscent of the way timeshare resort communities offer lucrative vacation packages in hopes that the visitors will buy into one of ‘em.

By 1911, after much campaigning by the developer, the Southern Pacific/PR&N started service between Portland to Bayocean via Hillsboro. Interestingly enough, this line is still used to transport lumber between Portland and the coast (and vice versa). The line comes within a few blocks of my place and I hear the whistles nightly.

Initially the only two ways to get to Bayocean, or most of Tillamook County for that matter, was by rail or boat. The resort town was made up of an elaborate hotel, an indoor salt water swimming pool slash dance hall, a gas station, newspaper, post office, houses, cottages, and a grocery store. Most of these buildings (with the exception of the indoor pool, were all built on top of a 50 metre (~140 ft) sand dune.

Bayocean Natatorium

Bayocean Natatorium

Shortly after the town was developed, the US Corps of Engineers agreed to build two jetties at the entrance to Tillamook Bay in order to make the bay deeper to handle ships, as long as Tillamook and Bay City agreed to split the cost. The two small towns couldn’t afford such a giant project. They told the Corps to only build one jetty and they would pay half of the cost. The Corps advised against this, as it would cause the sand on the spit to be carried away and be displaced somewhere else. The two cities eventually talked the Corps into their plan of only constructing one jetty, which was completed in 1917 for $814,000.

Bayocean Hotel

Bayocean Hotel

By 1925, the beaches and dunes on Bayocean spit started to erode away, just as the Corps had predicted. When the Corps decided to extend the jetty in the 30’s, the erosion became even more destructive. Residents’ front yards started to drop down the dune into the sea at first, followed by houses and entire streets. After several big storms, the peninsula was finally breached in 1948, turning the spit into an island. The breach was up to a mile wide in some spots. What little was left of the town by this time, vandals would soon destroy. Vandals would take motorboats to the new island and do crazy stunts, like pushing a grand piano inside the hotel down the stairs, breaking all of the fine china, and razing houses and sheds.

In 1952, the Corps moved in and burned down all of the structures that remained standing. They then created a new breakwater to recreate the peninsula.

Bayocean Flora and Fauna

Bayocean Flora and Fauna

Erosion is still a threat on the peninsula today, although not as fast moving as it was before. Native plants are growing all over the dunes once again–from wild strawberries to Scotch broom.

IMG_0059

Bayocean

Bayocean


Bayocean Goats

Bayocean Goats

Sources:
Webber, Bert and Margie. 1989. Bayocean: The Oregon Town That Fell into the Sea. Medford, Oregon. Pacific Northwest Book Company.
“Bayocean: The Playground of the Northwest”, Retrieved 14 June 2009. (http://pdxhistory.com/html/bayocean.html)


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