History on Wheels at the Running Anvil Carriage Museum in Montesano

Well over a century ago, a newspaper foreman named J. E. Calder travelled from Tacoma to the budding town of Montesano. With only 75 cents in his pocket, Calder refused to spend a third of his money on a 25-cent shave at the local barber shop. As a result, he vowed never to shave again and was, for the rest of his life, trademarked by his long beard. By the 1930s, Calder had achieved the founding of the Vidette newspaper office and become the mayor of Montesano.

Doug and Janet Rice share a lifetime of passion for horses, carriages, and history.

Calder’s life was marked by the developing newspaper and by the welcoming of President Franklin Roosevelt in front of the Montesano Post Office. After Calder’s eventful life, it is no surprise that the Vidette newspaper continues on today. But less expected is to know that Calder’s “trap” – a small, open carriage – is preserved for viewing at the Running Anvil Carriage Museum.

The Calder trap is a glimpse into the life of a very influential man who helped shape the town of Montesano. It helps you visualize what life must have been like for him during a period of quickly changing history. But the Calder trap is only one of many peeks into yesteryear within the Running Anvil Museum.

The Running Anvil has an astonishing variety of carriages, traps, historical matchbooks and paraphernalia. Most of the carriages come from Grays Harbor County such as the “Donovan Carriage” from the owner of Donovan Logging in Aberdeen, farm wagons from more remote parts of the Harbor, and enclosed carriages from doctors and vetrinarians. Each piece has a story and sometimes accompanying accessories. Resting on a wagon seat lies a gift from the renowned Indian Chief, “Sitting Bull” – a Buffalo robe seven feet square. A weathered note and photo document the robe and add yet another dimension to the history of former Grays Harbor residents.

Janet and Doug Rice, owners of the Running Anvil, have been horse people since their youths. Competing in dressage, cross country, and racing, they have also bred horses and travelled across the states. Horses are their passion and now in retirement, they’ve channelled that passion into the refurbishing of historical carriages. Some pieces they’ve discovered have needed only a little time and effort, others, they’ve received in pieces.

The Running Anvil Museum features different carriages and local history.

The Brittain Farm Wagon, for example, came out of Humptulips as a pile of old wood, metal, and a couple of wheels. Using a photo from 1970 when the wagon was in better shape, Rice was able to recreate the piece using the original metal and new lumber. Two of the wheels were also salvageable. Some of their carriages are on loan from friends, and some of them are garnished with beautiful paintings from local artists, giving new interest to an already beautiful piece.

The Rice’s began collecting carriages by fluke. Some they’ve hunted down, some have been given to them, and some have been purchased. Now after decades of collecting, the Rice’s are running out of space. One carriage house was expanded, a chicken coop was converted, and two outer buildings with plexi-glass house the carriages they couldn’t fit in the main building.

If you were to truly admire each piece and hear about the lives behind them, the tour would easily take two hours or more of your time. And the Rice’s are happy to take that space out of their day to educate people about the history and beauty of Grays Harbor County. To top off the experience, the Rice’s don’t charge a dime. By inkling or by appointment, the Rice’s cheerfully guide visitors through their outbuildings and delightfully narrate as you go along.

The Running Anvil Museum has hundreds of matchbooks on display.

Exciting as the history is, there is something especially charming about the fact that many of the carriages under the Rice’s care have received a second life. Some have been used in local weddings, carting the bride and groom away behind the smooth trot of the Rice’s trained carriage horse. Others have been photographed for magazines or used in parades.

The Rice’s possess a pride and willingness to share the local history they’ve collected. Refusing to keep the antique treasures to themselves, the couple has done a beautiful job of preserving history for many generations to come. As with the story of Calder, the Rice’s provide a tangible way of relating to the lives of those gone before.

The Running Anvil Museum can be found at 445 Black Creek Road in Montesano and is open seven days a week. You can call for more information at (360) 249-3645.

A Visit to the Wynoochee River Valley

At 63.5 miles long the Wynoochee River is always flowing, thanks to the 140 inches of rain that fall in this region annually. While many flock to the more popular rivers of the area, or head to the Olympic Mountains or Cascades to explore nature, the Wynoochee River Valley and surrounding foothills are some of the more beautiful spots in the state. With tales of lost treasure, stunning waterfalls, recent Bigfoot sightings, great fishing, miles of amazing hikes and a unique history, Wynoochee needs to be your weekend destination.

While best known for timber, the Wynoochee region was first left alone by the local settlers. Huge old-growth forests and abundant wildlife upstream made the region an outdoor lover’s paradise. Until the 1940s, the towering timber of the area Wynoochee was basically untouched, with locals enjoying hiking, hunting and exploring the wilderness.

That all changed during World War II, when logging took off in the region and many hillsides were clear-cut. This practice continued well into the 1980s, leaving Wynoochee to be the home to what many consider the worst logging practices in state history. Because the region was harvested so heavily, it has caused widespread erosion along its banks, as well as creating numerous landslides. The river was dammed in 1972, and over the past 44 years, the Wynoochee River Valley has been struggling to return to its original splendor.

Despite the Wynoochee region being logged heavily, natural beauty is slowly returning to the area, making it once again a great destination to hike or camp in the remaining old growth timber.  Home to some of the more beautiful waterfalls on the Olympic Peninsula, as well as a great 16-mile long trail around Wynoochee Lake, a trip to Wynoochee doesn’t have to be a day trip. The Coho Campground sits along the lake with forty-six campsites that can fit tents or RVs, as well as eight hike-in sites and three canvas sided yurts that can accommodate up to six people. With views of the lake from most places to stay, this is an awesome spot to spend the weekend. More information about the Coho Campground can be found online at www.recreation.gov  or via phone at (877) 444-6777.

Wynoochee also has a history of the unexplained. In the past fifteen years, there have been twenty-two reported Bigfoot sightings in Grays Harbor, with countless more going unreported. The region has even been investigated by the team at Finding Bigfoot, a television show on Animal Planet. Wynoochee is a common location for members of the Bigfoot Research Organization to conduct research, but amazingly enough, the prospect of sighting a Sasquatch isn’t the most bizarre aspect of the region.

Wynoochee Falls

The strangest aspect to the Wynoochee region has to be John Tornow, better known as the Wild Man of the Wynoochee. This murderer and thief was known to terrorize Grays Harbor in the early 1900s, eventually robbing a local grocery store, that also served as a bank, of $15,000 as well as killing a Sheriff and a Warden. Eventually, he was found hiding in the woods, where he was shot and killed. His last words were the location of the $15,000, which has never been found.  The money, which has never been recovered, is said to be near a boulder that appeared to look like a fish fin along an old channel of the Wynoochee River.

While camping near lost treasure and Sasquatch may be appealing, the highlights of the Wynoochee Area for most are the numerous waterfalls around the lake.  From the seemingly ever-expanding base of Maidenhair Falls to the gorgeous two-tier Wynoochee Falls and the easy accessible Spoon Creek Falls, the region has some fantastic natural wonders. The great thing about these waterfalls is that they are mostly easy to hike to and perfect to wade in on a hot summer’s day.

With the weather getting warmer, and the daylight lasting longer each day, now is the perfect time to take a day or a weekend at Wynoochee. With great history, fantastic hikes and a chance to discover either Bigfoot or a long lost treasure, pack up the car and head to the southern end of the Olympic Peninsula.

How to get to Wynoochee: Take the Devonshire Road Exit West of Montesano, turning left on Devonshire Road. Take another left on Old 410 Highway, followed by a quick right on Wynoochee Valley Road. This road will eventually turn into National Forest Service Road 22, which will lead you to the Wynoochee area.

Originally posted on graysharbortalk.com

It’s Dirt Track Nights At the Grays Harbor Raceway

ELMA – Early in life, I desperately wanted to hear the racing engines blast and see the tire-to-tire action of the modified sprint cars at the local dirt ring. I begged my father to take me on warm Saturday nights, driving out the country to for a grand show. Finally he agreed. We arrived in to see the cars lock tires, sending one in a dizzying crash into the wooden barricade.

Grays Harbor Raceway is cast in the same mould as the dirt track of my youth. The third-mile bullring at the county fairgrounds is flanked with bleachers and hotdog stands next to the animal pavilions and display halls.

Small, oval dirt track racing is serious business. The excitement of the action is palpable. Danger lurks at every turn.  And, fans root for local heroes.

With a racing schedule that starts on May 10 and lasts until the end of September, the action is at the raceway is spread among  Modifieds, 360 Sprints, USAC Midgets, Street Stocks, and Hornets. There is enough dirt-carving fun to satisfy the most die-hard racing loyalists.

The Grays Harbor Raceway is a sort of time-warp throwback. The mighty midgets still roar and a summer without one open-air visit is incomplete. There really is something about a dirt track on a comfortable Saturday evening with a hot dog, plus all the danger and noise under the lights. It’s a distinctly American pleasure. And, one that brings the family together under a blanket waiting for that final checkered flag.

Ticket and schedule information is available at: Grays Harbor Raceway, 32 Elma McCleary Rd, Elma, WA 9854, or call (360) 482-4374.

Renovation projects are underway at the Grays Harbor oval

The ink is barely dry on the contract with the Funtime Promotions Team but the track renovations are already at full speed. Several projects received the green flag as the 2014 racing season quickly approaches. Danny Kirkpatrick and his K & B Excavating crew are busy reshaping the pit parking area, allowing the auxiliary space to drain and dry much quicker after a rainstorm. General Manager Steve Beitler said, “The reshaping and a different parking pattern will make the pits nicer for the racing teams and fans. We also want to improve the raceway lighting and the sound system this summer, too.”

Other renovation projects underway include a total makeover of the main concession stands and upgrades to all the other areas. “There are a lot of projects that need to be completed on a orderly schedule before the first race. “We will gradually have them upgraded one by one.” said Beitler, “We are committed to give the racers and the race fans a great place to enjoy their Saturday nights, once again”

Coming up in Grays Harbor County…

Some really remarkable events are on the calendar for the couple weeks in our corner of the world. This weekend, April 25, 2014, in Hoquiam, we welcome the Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival. A first-class avian festival unfolds over three days of bird sightings, tours, lectures and more. Bowerman Basin is aflutter with a wide range of migrating birds this time of year.

 

Also the weekend of the 25th weekend is the Rock and Gem show at the fairgrounds, sponsored by the local Gem & Geology Society. Learn all about the world of lapidary and see a fine range of specimens form society members.

 

Take a look at the calendar below and make plans to visit Grays Harbor soon!

 

25-27  Spring Fling Arts & Crafts Show – Ocean Shores. Artisans and crafters display and sell their handcrafted works in the OS Convention Center. For more information, contact: (360) 289-9586.

 

25-27   Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival – Grays Harbor. Thousands of birders flock to Grays Harbor County to view this natural spectacle. Field trips, lectures, viewings and more are available all weekend at the Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge- on Paulson Rd., south of SR 109 at Bowerman Basin. Parking and registration begins at 9 a.m. at Hoquiam High School, 505 Emerson Ave., Hoquiam WA 98550.  For more information contact:  Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival, (360) 289-5048. (www.shorebirdfestival.com)

 

26        Run for the Birds – Hoquiam. Featuring 2-mile, 5k, and 10k run for enthusiasts of all ages. Coincides with the Shorebird Festival.  Registration is at 8 a.m. and entry fee is $15 with a race shirt and goodie bag/$5 without. For more information contact:  City of Hoquiam (360) 637-6040.

 

26-27   Rock and Gem Show – Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds, Elma – Browse through thousands of stunning natural stones and gems presented by the Grays Harbor Gem & Geology Society. From 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free. For more information contact: Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds (360) 482-2651.  32 Elma-McCleary Road, Elma WA.  (www.ghcfairgrounds.com)

 

26      Annual Loyalty Day Parade – Westport. Sponsored by the local VFW, this expression of patriotism winds through downtown Westport and the marina. For more information contact: Westport/Grayland Chamber of Commerce 800-345-6223.

Rediviva Chef Forages for Dinner at Seabrook

Have you ever tried to create a meal created entirely from local ingredients? No, shopping at the local grocery store doesn’t necessarily count. Few of us have experienced a full meal created completely from locally grown and foraged foods.

During the 100 mile dinner, all food will be sourced within 100 miles of Seabrook.

This Earth Day weekend, Andy Bickar is up for the challenge of giving a small group of guests the opportunity to see and taste the local potential.

The 100 mile dinner is the first in a series of wine dinners that will be hosted at the Seabrook Town Hall, a quaint venue north of Ocean Shores in the resort town of Seabrook. Guests are invited to enjoy a casual dining experience with a six course menu and wine pairings, created by  Andy Bickar’s team from his restaurant, Rediviva.

Many of the items on the menu will be locally foraged by Damion Barnes, a foraging and outdoors enthusiast. Due to the nature of the event, the chef and his team will have to face the challenge of creating a meal based on what they are able to acquire.

“There will be a lot of seafood and mostly greens, roots and mushrooms, which is what was historically consumed in the area,” explained Andy. Locally raised beef from Gleason Ranch in Satsop will also be a part of the meal plus a variety of wine from local wine makers, some of whom will also be attending the event.

Not only will the meal be full of foraged plants and seafood, but the team will be creating their own oil, spices and even sea salt from the ocean.

“We wanted to do the first event with Rediviva because we knew that Andy would provide a unique and extraordinary experience for Seabrook homeowners, guests and local foodies,” said Jaclyn Stevenson, who is part of the Seabrook team putting together the event.

Chef and owner of Rediviva, Andy Bickar, will be creating the menu for the April 18 event.

All of the food, beverages and wine for this meal will be from within 100 miles of Seabrook and the hosts are especially excited to provide the space for such a unique event.

Jaclyn continued, “We love the idea of providing a completely locally sourced meal to show that our region has so to much offer and we are excited to showcase local farms and winemakers as well as educate people about where their food comes from.”

Tickets are available online and are selling quickly for the event on Friday, April 18 at 6pm in Seabrook, Washington

Rebuilding the Dream at Ocean Crest Resort

On June 20, 2011 a fire devastated the community that supported the Ocean Crest Resort in Moclips, Washington. A memorable event for many, the fire burned on for three days, as recommended by the fire department in order to preserve the hillside. Preservation of the area was key, because even in the midst of a disaster, the crew of the Ocean Crest had plans to rebuild.

Jess Owens is now the Assistant General Manager, just one of the family management team that now owns and operates the business. The building that once was the Ocean Crest Resort Restaurant had begun as the home of Jess’ grandparents. They assumed ownership of the resort in 1953 and lived on site. In 1963 they turned part of their home into a restaurant and expanded with a building addition in 1964. Over the years, the resort expanded and now includes 45 rooms, a pool, gym and spa.

Seventeen years ago, Jess moved back in order to work at the Ocean Crest Resort among his family. At some point, he began focusing more on the restaurant and eventually took over as the executive chef during a particularly important dinner when they were suddenly left without a chef to prepare the meal. He called it the “great chef shuffle of the North Beach,” as he explained the inconsistency of personnel in the area. He stepped up in order to fill a need, and things clicked. He enjoys taking risks in the kitchen and challenging others to do the things that they didn’t believe could be done.

After three years of rebuilding, the restaurant is nearing completion. The design will be reflective of the natural surroundings and reminiscent of the original building the restaurant resided within. The view is better than ever in the dining room, plus they have added a lounge with a section of outdoor dining on a deck overlooking the 150 stairs down to the beach. The entire space will be filled with fine art pieces and a collection of wines with a particular bent toward Pacific Northwest wines. The building is built high up in the trees, but is extremely safe on the 32 steel pilings running deep into the ground.

The improvements to the restaurant are very exciting. Jess explained how nice it has been to build from the ground up and design a more functional space, but he is still sentimental for what once was. “We’ll never get grandma’s house back,” he added.  “ But, we’ll be able to serve our guests much better now.”

The journey has been a challenge, but Jess’s positive attitude has kept the project moving through this tough time. The community also rose up to support those affected by the loss, including the staff of the restaurant. Many businesses in the area provided jobs as they could with the understanding that many of the staff will return to the Ocean Crest upon its reopening. The feelings of gratitude showed on Jess’s face as he spoke about the community support.

The new restaurant will offer meals that can be defined as Northwest cuisine with world flair and, of course, grandma’s famous clam chowder. Jess is excited to see old friends return to a place where many hold such fond memories. The restaurant will likely be open in late spring, bigger and better than ever. “Never limit yourself,” Jess said to encourage all of those, including himself, to do what seems impossible.

Ocean Crest Resort, 4651 Washington 109, Moclips, WA 98562

Phone:  360-276-4465

Grays Harbor Spring Razor Clam Dig Approved on Morning Tides

                                   

It is a boom year for razor clams in Grays Harbor!

 State fishery managers have approved the second of two razor clam digs on morning tides at various ocean beaches in Grays Harbor County. The digs are set for April 17-20.

  • April 17, Thursday, 8:43 a.m.; -0.8 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach
  • April 18, Friday, 9:26 a.m.; -0.8 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks
  • April 19, Saturday, 10:14 a.m.; -0.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • April 20, Sunday, 11:06 a.m.; -0.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has approved the harvest schedule pending future marine toxin tests showing the clams on those beaches will be safe to eat. Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, said this event could be one of the season’s best razor clam digs.

“We’ve seen three good waves of successful spawning events this winter,” said Ayers. “Clamming is strong now and should remain strong.”

Ayres reminded diggers that best results typically occur one to two hours before low tide.

Under state law, diggers can harvest 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container. All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2013-14 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on the Washington DFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors in Grays Harbor County.

Comprehensive information about razor clams – from updates on tentative digs to how-to advice on digging and cooking – is available at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/.

 

 

Growing Heritage of the Cranberry Coast Passed Down through Generations

The Washington coastline is especially colorful when you make your way through Grayland. Driving south, you can see sparkling sandy beaches and ocean waves on your right and to the left, a sea of bright red berries reaching toward the green hillsides. It has been nicknamed the Cranberry Coast Highway for good reason with nearly 70 farmers tending cranberry bogs, most of which supply the Ocean Spray company. One of these farmers is Carl Waara, a fourth generation farmer.

Carl lives in the home passed down to him from his father along with the perennial vine growing in the fields. Most of the time, he takes care of his 30 acres by himself which he enjoys because he is able to be outside and set his own hours. When he graduated from Ocosta High School and went away to college, he already knew he would return. When he met his wife while away at school, he told her right up front that she had to be content with moving back to Grayland to live on a cranberry farm.

Cranberries are not native to the Washington coast, rather settlers from the East Coast brought them along, finding the moist and highly acidic soil of the ancient Grayland swamp perfect conditions for cranberry growing. Early farmers also found new ways to pick berries. Instead of flooding the bogs, as you’ve likely seen on Ocean Spray commercials, the majority of farmers in this area use the Furford Picking Machine. This machine was invented and is still manufactured locally. It has not been improved upon in many years and many farmers even still use Furford Machines from the 1930s.

For the most part, the cranberries grown in Grayland are sent off to Ocean Spray to become products like cranberry juice and craisins you find in the supermarket. Despite the seemingly high numbers of cranberries produced in Grayland (10,000 pounds per acre), this constitutes just 1% of Ocean Spray’s overall production. Ocean Spray operates as a co-op, made up of 700 members who not only provide the cranberry production but also make company decisions.

Recently, Carl contributed to the Ocean Spray marketing campaign when he was asked to send a piece of his bog to Hollywood so they could set up an authentic cranberry bog on the street.

Cranberry growing is a big business. “Grayland was built on the cranberry bogs,” said Carl. Though most farmers work on their own, they hire pickers in the fall to harvest the cranberries by hand. The farmers are among many independent business owners in the area. “It’s a largely self-employed community,” said Carl, mentioning that nearly all people living in the area also worked independently in a variety of industries.

A small percentage of cranberries from each farmer’s land is also available to be sold in ways other than through Ocean Spray. For example, the Cranberry Road Winery got off the ground through farmers providing cranberries for their wines. The community members enjoy supporting each other and celebrating their love for cranberries including providing a museum to teach about the history of cranberry growing and a yearly harvest festival held in October.