Do people make the place… or vice-versa?

Feb 12, 2023 | 0 comments

Moby Dick Hotel

As I’ve been reading and sharing information about Little Creatures Everywhere by Mary Brindle, I am struck by some of the quirky history of the Moby Dick Hotel.  Yes.  Quirky since its very beginnings.  And I can’t help but wonder how certain places and the people who populate them influence one another.

The Moby Dick was built in 1929 by Theo and Margaret Russell.  From the onset it has provided the little town of Nahcotta with some interesting experiences.  During World War II, it served as headquarters for the men and horses of the Coast Guard Beach Patrol.  In 1948, a night at the Moby Dick was awarded by the popular radio show, Queen for a Day.  And Margaret, herself, gained notoriety for taming three raccoons — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego — and giving them an upstairs bedroom.

Spartina on Willapa Bay – A Chinook Observer Photo

Environmental controversy marked the years of the Moby Dick’s ownership by Fritzi and Ed Cohen.  For years Fritzi negotiated (read: fought) with the Noxious Weed Control Board regarding the invasive spartina grass on the hotel property as well as on a parcel she owned personally.

Finally, after numbers of court cases and hearings, Fritzi was told that spartina on the land must be completely eradicated by the winter of 2012.  If the spartina was not eradicated to the board’s satisfaction by that time they would use whatever means necessary to do so.  At which point the Moby Dick Hotel’s manager Keith Stavrum threatened to sell the property to the Aryan Nations white supremacist group.

WWII Beach Patrol

I’m sure that there are many hotels approaching the century mark that have had interesting histories — but a Queen-for-a-Day guest?  A bedroom reserved for three raccoons with Biblical names?  A horseback riding beach patrol headquarters?   An illegal sanctuary for an invasive noxious weed?  A possible sale to a white supremacist group?

I ask you — was it the owners or the property?  Or is that like asking the old chicken and egg question?


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