Remember that disappointing movie, Waterworld featuring Kevin Costner? Well, I’m starting to feel like I live in some version of that planet. We’ve had nothing but record setting rain over that last 6 weeks and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Which brings me to why I named this article 30 Seconds of Sun in Grayland. It’s all we get.
Behind the Photo
Recently we were camping in Grayland on the coast of Washington. In all fairness it had been raining the whole time but it certainly was overcast the whole time. Theresa and I were headed back to our camp from a trip into neighboring Westport and decided to take the long way back. We popped out on the beach to see if anything interesting had washed up with the tide, when we suddenly had a bring in the cloud coverage with this brilliant sunset peeking through.
The water on the beach was projecting some stunning reflections back but I wanted to put something in the foreground that would give the photograph some dimension. It was obvious that our sunset was only going to last a few seconds so I parked the FJ Cruiser in the shot and jumped out looking for the right framing. I wasn’t really thinking of colors but as soon as I lined up the FJ I realized that this was going to be an interesting photo. Even if all I had on hand was my iphone.
Native peoples had been living on Chehalis Point for many years before the first white settlers arrived. The population in their once thriving town had dropped drastically due to the introduction by early explorers of diseases such as smallpox, tuberculosis and alcohol usage.
Spanish explorers were followed by Russian, English, French, and American fur traders. In May, 1792 Captain Robert Gray aboard the COLUMBIA discovered Bulfinch Harbor off the Pacific coast. Shortly after, Captain George Vancouver renamed it ‘Grays Harbor‘. Over the next fifty years, several expeditions came through the area. The land was charted but not until the 1850’s was the area surveyed and opened to donation claims by settlers.
In 1857 the first white settler, Thompson Speake moved his family from Oregon to the Point. They stayed only a few months and had not fulfilled the requirements of the donation claim when they turned it over to Glenn and Jane Peterson. They and their three year old son, Frank, were the only original settlers who lived out their lives on the Point.
Patterson Luark moved his family to the Point, also in 1858. He kept a remarkable diary, which details his ten years at Chehalis Point. He brought many fruit trees along with cattle, etc., for a steady supply of food. Other families followed. A store and hotel were built. The first sternwheeler appeared on the harbor in 1859. The town was platted in 1860. The same year an Army camp was erected as a protection from uprising Indians but was dismantled after the Civil War erupted in the Southeast. Over the next few years, all but the Petersons had moved away.
By the late 1870’s the area was discovered to be a potential recreational area and began its revival. Because another town to the east had claimed the name ‘Chehalis’, the Point took the name ‘Peterson’. Hotels were built, more land was platted, some of which along the ocean was named Cohassett. The harbor side was called Westport Beach. The town was officially named ‘Westport’ in 1890 but was not incorporated until 1914. Lloyd Cook became its first mayor.
A lifesaving Station opened in 1897, Grays Harbor Lighthouse began its service in 1898. The South Jetty was completed in 1902. These were the first projects to help ships move safely in and out of the harbor. Commercial fishing started in the 1920’s. The town slowly grew until World War II at which time the US Army moved in to protect the coast. After the war, the cove was dredged, breakwaters were installed, charter fishing began, more mooring facilities were built in the Marina. Fishing brought life to Westport but began a decline with the Boldt decision in 1972. Other recreational activities are now available and Westport is taking advantage of its unique Oceanside environment to attract visitors.