Saturday, February 14, 2009

1976 - Letter From The Gardners

Kirkland, Washington
September 7, 1976

Mrs. Clyde Payne
Camas, Washington, 98607

Dear Mrs. Payne:
For six years now we have been enjoying the beauties of the Long Beach Pininsula, and for the past five years have spent quite a few pleasant vacations at the Sunset View Motel. During thse past five years we have enjoyed and admired your beautiful log cabin home, and have some beautiful pictures that have been taken by our children.
We have been saddened, however, these past two or three years to see that it is unlived in, and that no one has been around to take care of it. After making inquiries we find that it has been in your family for such a long time, and I know it must be a sad situation for you that you can no longer live there and enjoy it.
We are very interested in learning what your future plans for it might be. We would love to see it restored and added to the registry of historical buildings, since we believe it would be old enough to qualify.
We would be interested in dealing with you for the purchase of the property but our finances at this time do not warrant our being able to spend large amounts for it. However, if tender loving care would mean anything, we could certainly provide that, and could possibly negotiate a fair purchase price.
My husband is medically retired, due to injuries that have left him without legs and one arm. However, if you could see him active in his workshop restoring antique furniture, or on a charter fishing boat bringing in the beautiful salmon, you would find it hard to believe the extent of his "handicap."
Just this past weekend when we were there, we noticed several young people taking pictures of the cabin, so I am sure there are snapshots in a good number of places. We have an enlargement in our living room, next to a picture of our 23 year old son, whom we lost last October. His ambition was always to build a log cabin to live in, and he admired the workmanship of that old place each time we were in the area.
We have three married daughters and four grandchildren, so they, along with a number of good friends, would be able to do the restorative work needed, and enjoy every moment spent there.
We will look forward to hearing from you, or if you would care to talk with us, feel free to call us collect at our home phone number.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this letter.

Sincerely yours,

Mrs. Roy A. Gardner (June)
Kirkland, Washington 98033
phone: 206-822-xxxx

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Allison Letter to the Paynes Upon Purchase

Sept. 6, 1963

My Dear Mr. Payne and family,

We welcome you to the Wreckage, and hope that it will bring you the joy, peace and rich living which we have enjoyed through the years. I am sure that you will carry on the fine traditions for which it has been noted for a long time. Over 50,000 people have passed thru its front door.

Mrs. Allison and I are invited out to breakfast at 8am and you are welcome to come in and prepare your breakfast in the Wreckage as we shall have a fire going in the stove and fire place. We shall wait for the morning’s mail at eleven a.m. and then bid farewell to our beloved Wreckage.


Guy and Virginia Allison

Sunday, March 1, 1992

Davy Jones’ Locker Furnishes Blockhouse Material

Davy Jones’ Locker Furnishes Blockhouse Material

By Walker A. Tompkins
(Reprinted from the The Sunday Oregonian, July 5, 1931)

Editor's note : About this article which he wrote at the age of 22, Tompkins later remarked "(it) contains some Hollywood touches--as a naive interviewer I took for gospel what oldtimers told me." In 1979, The Wreckage was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Larry Weathers, former editor of The Sou'wester , researched the history of the cabin, and wrote the nomination for presentation to the Washington State Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. His article on The Wreckage, excerpted from that nomination, was published in the Winter, 1983 issue of The Sou'wester.

Deep in the recesses of the forest which flanks the Shoalwater peninsula north of Cape Disappointment sits a weather-scarred blockhouse. Although situated near the placid little town of Ocean Park, it is off the beaten path of summer vacationists. The few who visit its log-fluted walls little realize that they are witnessing a structure whose architect was old King Neptune and whose component materials were snatched from the very depths of Davy Jones' Locker.

Spelled in bleached driftwood letters across the overhanging dormer, the words "The Wreckage" give the passer-by some clue as to the nature of the cabin. Twenty years ago the logs and timbers which constitute the house were riding on the lather-crested waves which beat upon the shelving beach. Today they form a monument to King Neptune, a few hundred yards from the Pacific's churning surf.
The Wreckage owes its existence to a peculiar combination of nautical tragedies in years gone by. During the winter of 1911 a huge raft of massive fir logs was bound down the Columbia river for San Francisco. But fate decreed otherwise. While crossing the perilous bar into the open ocean a boomchain snapped and driving swells split the great raft asunder. Tugboats were helpless in the midst of disintegrating areas of heaving logs, which seemed to stampede animal-like for freedom as the restraining booms were threshed aside by heavy, seas .

Night descended over the Pacific, and next morning King Neptune chuckled to see the great logs hurled upon the ocean beaches from Tillamook Head to Leadbetter Point. There they remained, flung against the gray dunes, to be bleached by sun and polished by swirling sand .
As if deliberately planning the future "wreckage" cabin, King Neptune turned his attention to the steam freighter Washington, which was transporting a cargo of lumber from Astoria. As the vessel paused to drop its pilot outside the bar the Washington unshipped its rudder.
Helpless before the surging tide and lashed by gales and the treacherous cross-currents which a few weeks before had whipped the log raft to pieces, the steamer began to drift toward the rocks at North Head.

Anxious landsmen watched helplessly from the cliffs around Cape Disappointment while the proud liner drifted closer to what seemed an inevitable grave in Peacock Spit.

But Neptune was cheated out of the Washington as a victim. As the vessel drifted nearer and nearer the shore the crew jettisoned a large portion of the cargo, composed of flooring and dimension lumber. Relieved of this weight, the Washington rolled on the swells until the Astorian tug Tatoosh slipped in close enough to get a line to her. A few hours later the liner was towed safely to deep water, where repairs were made.

However, Neptune had contributed a goodly supply of choice lumber on the beach, which was still tiered with logs from the ill-fated raft of a month previous. And it happened that a young business man from Tacoma, Guy S. Allison, paused on the beach next morning and viewed the heaving surf as it deposited its load of jetsam.

Cooperating with Neptune's designs, Allison conceived the idea of combining the logs and lumber into a cabin--and so he did.

In the spring of 1912 he dragged 48 of the choicest logs upon the shore beyond the ridge of sand dunes. Notching them carefully, he built a pen of logs surmounted by an over-hanging upper story in replica of an ancient log fort he had seen in Sitka, Alaska.

King Neptune proved to be a most efficient partner, his oceanic majesty delivered an abundance of shingle bolts, from which Allison split cedar with which to roof the house. Salvaged lumber from the Washington cargo provided the floors and rafter timbering. Before the summer was over The Wreckage had risen to assume its place among the unique houses of the world.

Cement, salvaged from the wreck of the French barque Alice, which stranded near Ocean Park in 1909, was used in a sturdy fireplace. The hearth was constructed of rocks brought from Long Island, in Willapa Bay. Imbedded inside the concrete was a whisky bottle containing newspapers, pictures and other data found in cornerstones. "The christening liquor was poured on the house, not down the necks of its builders," Allison adds with a chuckle.

Having completed the rough exterior of the structure, King Neptune again opened Davy Jones' locker and began selecting bits of flotsam with which to embellish the interior. Life preservers, relics of unknown dramas of the sea, were cast ashore and utilized for decorative purposes.
Fishermen's floats of wood and glass and metal drifted in and were picked up. Souvenirs of doomed ships--strips of sail cloth, clew rings, companionway ladders, lifeboat oars, bits of spars, all found their way to clever uses inside the cabin.

The furniture was designed for the most part on a driftwood motif, which knows no "period" limitations and whose burnished gray tones are the product of the north wind's brush. A bedroom set of silverbarked alder wood, a settee of sand-burnished driftwood from the beach, bookcases and desks and stools made from countless bits of wreckage joined their companions of the deep.
With the passing of the years much bric-a-brac of historical and nautical interest has been assembled. Under an ingenious driftwood balustrade may be seen carefully preserved charts and logbook sheets from the wreck of the Laurel, which came ashore and broke in two on Peacock Spit three years ago. An Indian tomahawk, made by some aboriginal artisan out of the iron tire of a massacred pioneer's prairie schooner, came from the Yakima valley. Lamps which once swung in ships' cabins around Cape Horn are now fitted with electric lights.

Oil paintings depicting local scenes adorn the walls. Deer horns, bear skins, cougar skulls and other trophies of the hunt may be found. The ocean is represented by countless sand dollars, cockle shells, crab backs and whales' vertebrae. Upstairs a priceless collection of photographs taken in Yosemite, southern California, historical cities in the eastern United States, Alaska and England are employed in lieu of wall paper. One side of the front dormer is papered with maps like a ship's chartroom.
While but little known to the thousands of tourists who visit the Washington beaches annually, The Wreckage boasts the only driftwood "menagerie" in the world. This rare collection of animals, many of which are formed on a single piece of fantastic driftwood, is complete with wooden "keepers". A boa constrictor, fish duck, camel and a mysterious biological monstrosity known as a "hipposwinocerus" are among the specimens in the "Flotsam & Jetsam Bros. Zoo".


This article appears courtesy of the Pacific County Historical Society and Museum, South Bend WA. It originally appeared in the Sou'wester - Spring, 1992 - vol 27 - no 1.