The Tokeland Connection

Jul 30, 2012 | 1 comment

Yesterday afternoon Nyel and I rendezvoused at Tokeland with long-time Astoria friends for our annual celebration of Nyel’s birthday.  As usual, the celebration involved a walk-about at the Tokeland Golf Links, a picnic supper and birthday cake, an evening of board games (last night, Trivial Pursuit), and an overnight stay at the old Tokeland Hotel.

This year our visit coincided with Wood Fest, a mostly all wood art show featuring chainsaw carving, live music, and food.  We arrived just as most of the vendors were beginning to pack away their treasures, but Jeffro Uitto’s “Knock on Wood” exhibit was still up.

As soon as we saw his work, we knew we had run across it before.  His is the stunning wooden archway in the tower at Leadbetter Farms.  And other stuff.  Fabulous other stuff!  But, nothing so fabulous as the wooden stallion that stood in front of his exhibit.  I have to say that when Jeffro said Greg Tillotson is going to be visiting Tokeland to take a look at it sometime next week, I actually felt relieved.  “Maybe, just maybe,” I thought, “this fantastic creature will gallop on over our way to Oysterville!”

We talked with Jeffro for some time.  He had a friendly smile, gorgeous eyes, and tattoos the likes of which we hadn’t seen before – two large hinges on the insides of his elbows!  Cool!  He was passionate about his work and told us eagerly about his recent opportunity to “network” with collectors and other artists while exhibiting at New York’s Park Avenue Armory.  We look forward to seeing him and his work again.

Later we visited with Steve Nelson, owner of the Tokeland Golf Links – one of the most beautiful and unusual courses imaginable.  Nelson is another of the “Tokeland – Oysterville” connections.  His great or maybe even great-great grandfather was Charles Nelson, Sr. who settled in Oysterville in the 1870s.  He and his wife Anna had one daughter and six sons, one of whom, Herbert, settled in Tokeland in 1929.  Nelson descendants and Espy descendants still feel an early-day connection.

This morning we lingered for a while after breakfast and talked with the present owner of the hotel.  We commiserated about the difficulties in keeping an old building going.  The hotel, built in 1885, is sixteen years younger than our house, but probably twice as big with twice the expense of upkeep.  We agreed that if we ever hear of an organization comparable to the Columbia Land Trust, but for old buildings, we’d share the information.  Misery does love company!

I love visiting Tokeland.  It takes a little less than two hours to get there from Oysterville, driving around the bay.  In the days before roads, it probably took about the same amount of time to sail there, if the tides and wind were right.  And, if that bridge north from Leadbetter Point ever gets built – the one the tourists are always insisting must be there, even though it doesn’t show up on the map – it won’t take much longer than going to Ilwaco or Chinook.

But we already feel that there is an Oysterville-Tokeland connection!  We’ll be returning next year about this time…if not before!

1 Comment

  1. Cheryl Kocher

    Happy Birthday to Nyel! Glad you had a great trip to Tokeland. It sounds like you celebrated in style!
    Cheryl & Virg


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