1900's Seal Rock
, word must have reached lumbermen in the once flourishing forests of
Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin that men were needed to work in Pacific Northwest. This opportunity piqued the
interest of a young family man from Park Rapids, Minnesota. Frederick H. Orton
. He and his wife
decided to pack up their children and belongings and made the nearly 1,700 mile trek to the Oregon coast to make a new life.
Adelia (Holt) Orton seated right (c. 1888) with her Sisters.
(Courtesy of Barb Day - Distant Relative)
was the year Edmund Creffield
and his followers,
the "Holy Rollers
" walked nearly 70 miles through the mountains and wilderness. From the
Yaquina Bay, Creffield and his flock walked to South Beach, going inland over sand and a corduroy road – a "road" made of
fallen trees laid side by side. The fourteen-mile journey from South Beach to Waldport was an arduous trek that took most travelers
at least a day, and sometimes two.
There were places where during a high tide, travelers had to wait before going on. Hidden sink holes that acted much like quicksand sometimes swallowed
horses unfamiliar with the coastal routes. In the summer, wagons had a tough time moving through the soft beach sand, and in the winter, folks didn't
travel unless they had to. Still, the beach was easier to walk on than most inland trails, which were heavily overgrown. From South Beach, the group
walked past SEAL ROCKS and down to the Alsea Bay. The only way to cross the Alsea Bay to Waldport was by ferry. To notify the ferryman that a
foot party was waiting to cross, travelers raised a signal flat to half mast. They were at the mercy of the tide. If it was coming in, the crossing
took about fifteen minutes. If the tide was going out, travelers had to wait six or more hours until it began coming in again. (1)
It would be nearly 20 years before roadways would connect these small coastal towns and almost 50 years before bridges would bring these small
communities together. This may be why the neighboring towns feel so closely connected and remain friendly to this day.
- Driver Kit Williamson
delivers the mail on his way taking passengers along from Waldport to
This photo was taken just outside of Squire F. Farrier's
(pictured right) house in SEAL ROCK and was
noted as still standing in 1961. Mail along this route had been delivered for 21 years at this point.
The Vegetable Lady"
- This popular photograph of Mrs. Mary Addie (Hanlon) Ryan (aka "Mollie") was taken in front of "Elephant Rock"
at the SEAL ROCK viewpoint.(2)
Mollie and her husband, Mr. George Ryan were pioneers from Missouri.
View of Seal Rock from William Brown's Cottage (c. 1915)
William Brown's cottage (c. 1915)
- Still undeveloped, this jagged stretch of coastline began to lose its luster to vacationers due to the
rerouting of the Oregon-Pacific Railroad
toward nearby Toledo. This photo shows the few homes and businesses
that dotted the SEAL ROCK area. At the front, far left, you can see Squire F. Farrier's home as referenced in a previous 1911 photo.
In the center of the photo are private residences, some of which still stand, and in front of which now exists
Seal Rocks RV Resort
. Just right of center at the shore stands the SEAL ROCK RESORT
built in 1887. Further south are a few of the storefronts of the town.
saw the construction of a motor road along the coast, first called the Roosevelt Military Highway
and later named the Oregon Coast Highway
(Hwy 101). This was approved by Oregon voters after being
championed by Benjamin F. Jones
. Until its completion, visitors would have had to traveled to SEAL ROCK
from Newport or Waldport by ferry boat across the Yaquina and Alsea Bays.
Helen Virginia Smith Lewis Hanson
(1917-2004) recalled as she rode across the bay on the farewell
voyage of the old ferry. “It was a picturesque but sturdy old craft with its weather beaten cabin and its ample decks secured
on all sides by protective guard rails. Once a vital link in the Coast Highway system, it had piled its course faithfully across
the Bay day after day, year after year, except on those rare but tempestuous days when the stormy Pacific would fling its wild
breakers far into the river's mouth. The bridge overhead shadowed its path. The green waves lapped against its sides, and the
white wake trailed lazily behind until we docked on the opposite side of the Bay. Like the other old ferries, it had been outmoded
and would soon fade into obscurity, for progress cannot be thwarted by sentiment.”(3)
A Minnesota lumber baron, Charles Axel Smith
also came out west to pursue his business interests. With his
Oregon partner, Albert Powers
, he operated seven logging camps along the wooded tributaries down to Coos Bay.
, about half the loggers and sawmill workers worked for Smith.
An era homestead behind the Seal Rock Store (courtesy Seal Rock Store).
the Seal Rock Store
began its long legacy of serving the community as a general store.
It has seen many owners and patrons in it day and is rumored to be the oldest continuously running grocery store in the state of Oregon.
The store celebrated 89 years
in business in 2012!
"A letter from Kenneth King
, whose parents ran the Seal Rock Store at one time tells of his early life here,
growing up and going to the small school (one room, one teacher, 6-8 pupils, all grades). He said Seal Rock was a poor place for a child
to be because playmates were so few and there was nothing to do in the winter. But in summer, when the visitors came, life was not too bad
through he was happy to leave. [This was before the bridges and highway brought the outside world in]."(4)
as the Art Deco period was gaining popularity, Conde B. McCullough's
career in Oregon reached it's pinnacle with the completion of five major bridges along the Oregon Coast Highway - the
Yaquina Bay Bridge
at Newport which opened September 6, 1936 (listed on the National Register of Historic Places),
the Alsea Bay Bridge
at Waldport, the Suislaw River Bridge at Florence, the Umpqua River Bridge at Reedsport
and the Coos Bay Bridge at Marshfield/North Bend.
The original Alsea Bay Bridge was the longest cement-poured bridge in the world,
but was torn down in 1992 and reconstructed.
"Pillars of the Community" (right) by B. Goody
These major accomplishments finally connected Seal Rock to its neighbors and the time for change began. At this stage
owned several hundred acres on all sides of Highway 101. Mr. York and his wife,
Gladys, developed their property into a large plant nursery called York Gardens by the Sea
where they hybridized their own Fuchsias and grew and sold begonias and geraniums.(5)
"Johnny Marine" by B. Goody
visitors to the coast would find that the section of now accessible U.S. 101 near SEAL ROCK
even more closely hugged the sea than does the section to the north near Newport. Villages here are fewer because the coastal
mountain range presses closer to the sea.
Summer cottages here and there along the coast were trim and brightly painted, but the majority of the houses had
a haphazard look. Each had been placed where its owner thought he could gain the most protection from wind and waves.
Most of the weatherboarding (locally called shiplap) and shingles were a uniform silver gray. Formerly, shingle "seconds"
could be had at the mills without cost, or for very little, and many coast homes were covered with them. Shingles over
shiplap were considered the best walling though discouraged coasters insist that a weatherproof house simply cannot
be built – the wind will whip rain through the most cleverly joined and mortised walls. The same wind tears
loose both clapboards and shingles, so every house more than a few years old is bound to show the marks of repeated
repairs, unless the owner has given up the struggle.(6)
had a new focus and during WWII all efforts went toward the conflicts happening abroad.
It was at this time that the Seal Rock Garden Club held meetings in the "Russell Cottages
at SEAL ROCK. They also used the club as a shelter and storage facility.
Frederick Henry Orton and his wife Adelia ("Delia") made their way to purchase land
in SEAL ROCK. Like many other logging families, the Ortons had traveled from Minnesota where the family were primarily
farmers in spring and summer and worked the lumber industry in winter. Now aged 71, Fred purchased several acres
of land owned by Frank York
and began to build their home.
Caledonia House, 1970s
, the Orton's completed their cottage style bungalow with help from their sons
who felled trees from the property and milled them to order in their own sawmill behind the house. This historic home
still stands as a shining example of pioneer dreams come true and has found new life as
Caledonia House Bed & Breakfast
Seal Rock's Richfield Service Station
"Bill" and Florence Viola Boone (Duley)
- Headquartered in Los Angeles, California, Richfield Oil Company
(now Atlantic Richfield or ARCO) began making their way up the coastline. For their time, they were an environmentally
friendly company developing method making high octane fuel which eliminated the use of acid in the process, which in
turn reduced the corrosive properties of the fuels. The SEAL ROCK store and its service station were one such stop along
- The Seal Rock Community Club
formed with Connie Balram
as President. Their club motto was "Harmony - Peace - Unity".
According to an account penned by member Nell McDuffie
, who prepared a summarized history of the club
from it's inception through 1988. Annual dues would be at the rate of $1.00 per member. The name of the club was suggested
by Mrs. Gladys York
, a member of the Garden Club and remains the name to this day.(8)
-, Fred and Adelia Orton sold their home and land to their son Ralph and his wife Irene
for a grand total of $10.00. Ralph lived out the remainder of this life until his passing in 1977 in Grants Pass, Oregon.
- A news article of the day reports "Mrs. Gladys York, Seal Rock fuchsia hybridizer, and The Oregonian
namesake of Portland's morning paper, which she developed for 1952 introduction. It's white, pink tinted."56 years later,
this same verity still blooms at Caledonia House Bed & Breakfast which used to be a part of
York Gardens By the Sea
"The Oregonian" by B. Goody
Other varieties released in 1952 were called "Johnny Marine
" a semi-double, outspread, white corolla with
sepals of red, "Skinny
" and "Edith Russell
" touts double pink and purple corolla with
sepals of pink. "Nina
" was a medium sized violet pink creation introduced in 1953
In June 1960
, her widower, Frank York, accepted a posthumous award presented to Gladys from the
Oregon Federation of Garden Clubs for Distinguished Achievement in Horticulture for her work in Fuchsia Development and Hybridization.
Evidence of their efforts remain ever-present in Seal Rock.
, this photograph was taken of Bill Maythorn's Agate Shop
by R.L. Grigsby
Bill Maythorn's Agate Shop
The Pacific Northwest has always been a home for loggers, lumberjacks and lumbermen. In later years, some
began to create artistic pieces from what was once their full time occupation.
An era post card from "Dry Gulch" and "Sea Gulch" Trading Company in Seal Rock.
(Courtesy of Waldport Historical Society)
The reverse offers the following information: "Sea Gulch Gift Shop - Home of the World Famous Chainsaw Wood Sculptor, Ray Kowalski
". It was published by Smith Western, Inc. of Portland. These tourist attractions were quite popular during their time.
Sea Gulch pennant
Mr. Kowalski lived out the remainder of his years in SEAL ROCK. Sadly, Ray Kowalski passed away in February 2008.
His son still runs the "Carvers Workshop
" carrying on the family tradition today.
- Deb and Ray Pedrick purchased the Orton's family home and property from
Ralph and Irene Orton
, the son and daughter-in-law of the original owners. The Pedrick's
maintained a nature preserve including friendly squirrels, peacocks and their own pet dogs. They worked tirelessly
planting many native trees, bushes and plants, including the rhododendrons that still grace the front yard. They also
weathered a terrific storm in 1982 that blew down many of the large pine trees that bordered the highway.
Caledonia House, mid 1070s
- Deb and Ray Pedrick sold their home to the Tartar Family
who opened "The Blackberry Inn"
which was a popular lodging destination for visitors to
SEAL ROCK and revived the resort
feel for the village.
"The Blackberry Inn" courtesy of The Pedricks
- Quirina Kryger
Bill's Agate Shop
and had it remodeled. She re-opened it as "Art on the Rocks",
which was a combination of gemstones, rocks, jewelry and art.
- Quirina had "Art on the Rocks
" redesigned by world
famous Architect Glen Small
. The design was Small's interpretation of the coastal
landscape, waves and dunes. Quirina also built on a new addition, which is called the Triad Gallery
hosting fine art and wine tastings!
The Triad Gallery by B. Goody; design built by Architect Glen Small
- The Traid Art Gallery was sold to Michael Smith
who has co-located the gallery with his Windermere Real Estate
Caledonia House Bed & Breakfast
- The Orton Family home changed owners once again. This time to Belinda Goody
who refurbished and returned the home to a Seal Rock icon - Caledonia House Bed & Breakfast
(inspired by Dee's native Scotland). Each year they host a free open house where interested parties can stop by and take a step into the past
and to enjoy their 2.4 acre Certified Wildlife Habitat.
Today there are a few relics that still stand which represent the pioneering spirit of early settlers to this area. The small stretch
of storefronts offer a glimpse into its remarkable past and it is surprising to note that SEAL ROCK remains the County's oldest
summer resort south of Yaquina Bay.
Credits and Contributions:
1) http://www.pioneer.net/~mchumor/hollyrollers_Waldpo3_bframe.html - Retrieved 02.26.08
2) Courtesy of Lincoln County Historical Society
3) http://ftp.wi.net/~census/lesson37.html - Retrieved 02.24.08
4) Courtesy of Seal Rock Garden Club
5) Courtesy of Waldport Historical Society
6) State of Oregon Archives
8) Courtesy of Seal Rock Garden Club
Our special thanks to the Lincoln County and Waldport Historical Societies
for their contributions of photographs and information.
All Photographs are copyrighted and remain the property
of the original named photographer with all rights reserved.
Using any of these photographs without express permission
by the owner is considered copyright infringement.
If you would like to contribute photos or information to the SEAL ROCK HISTORY project,
the webmaster today!
Updates, corrections and new pictures are always appreciated.