Know any old loggers? We’re on a quest!

Jan 4, 2024 | 2 comments

Our 150-year-old Pear Tree — on Kathleen’s Heritage Fruit Tree List

Despite several setbacks (speakers who were unable to attend due to illness) our History Forum yesterday was grand!  The subject was Agriculture in Pacific County in all its facets — from its beginnings to now and concerns for the future.  Kathleen Davies spoke about her Heritage Fruit Tree Project and the discovery of old homesteads (and possible burial site of a murdered pioneer.) Tucker Wachsmuth told about his great-grandfather coming north by schooner from San Francisco in 1864 to buy potatoes at Woodard’s Landing (now Willapa).  Mike Lemeshko spoke of the “prairies” on the Peninsula where John Briscoe and Annie Stout had their farms — areas that have not yet been “developed” and where the grass still grows thick and green.

Ardell and Malcolm McPhail told about the development of cranberries — from the wild variety that James Swan and other early settlers tried to cultivate to present-day domestic varieties,  farming techniques and concerns for the future.   Malcolm, who never seems to forget a name or a face, involved several of the “audience members” in the “conversation” — Jean Nitzel (whose father’s place Ardell and Malcolm bought when they first got into the business) and Melinda Crowley who has been the the main force in establishing the Cranberry Museum and Gift Shop on Pioneer Road.  Each added another aspect to the historical conversation.

Even afterwards, there were questions and comments from the attendees — people wanting to know more specifics about Kathleen’s discoveries or wanting to take a better look at Michael’s map showing the vegetation patterns on the Peninsula in the early 20th century. And several folks, (especially those interested in Kathleen’s Heritage Fruit Tree Project stayed to learn more about her “discoveries”  and to share a few of their own with her!  Yay!  Long may the conversations continue!

Just north of Black Lake…

All-in-all, our monthly Forum is beginning to actively involve more of the community in our conversations about history and, hopefully, is enticing others to get involved in adding to our historical record.  I’m always amazed at the little pieces of information that are offered at each gathering which, bit-by-bit, give us a picture of the way it was and where we are heading.

Meanwhile… Bob Rose of the Rose Ranches in the Bay Center/South Bend area became ill and could not attend.  I don’t know who was more disappointed, Bob or me.  His cattle ranch is now in its fifth generation (!) of Rose ownership and he and I (though we’ve never met) were both looking forward to his participation.  He called me about nine yesterday morning (sounding dreadful “but it’s not Covid”) and said he’d like to come next month,  “Let me think about that,” I told him.  “Steve Rogers is scheduled to talk about early logging at our February Meeting.”

The Rose Ranch – In its 5th generation!

Just about then, Steve walked through the schoolhouse door.  When I asked how he felt about sharing the spotlight with Bob next month, he said, “Perfect!  He actually has a small logging operation on his ranch!”  So it sounds like we’ll be talking about multiple subjects at our February Forum — which is the way our history develops, after all — intertwined.  Meanwhile, I am on a quest for old loggers — or young loggers or those with knowledge about logging then, now, and in-between in Pacific County.  If you know of someone who would like to join our conversation next month please let me know.  Or let them know.  Or somehow connect them up with the History Forum.  Our next get-together will be Wednesday, February 2, at the Oysterville Schoolhouse!


  1. Jean Nitzel

    Sydney— A small correction, My father, Don Tilden, sold the MacPhails his cranberry bogs in 1981 It wasn’t me!! It was a good forum, thoroughly enjoyed it!!

    • sydney

      Yeah… I knew that. I’ll fix it. Sorry!



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