Sunday, January 18, 2009

Another Peek at the Willamette Falls Locks and the Hertzil Family History

18 January 2009
Remember my friend Larry, the Captain of the"Starship". He's the funny guy that found himself caught inside of his fold-a-boat. See archived story on October 2008. He is descended from some interesting people who lived and worked along the Willamette and Columbia River cities. I have asked him to add some stories that we might all enjoy, as we pass the cold winter months. He has come up with quite some interesting items which I will share with you.

The Willamette Falls Locks
Built in 1870 and opened 1 January 1873. It was 3 feet deep and the walls were made of quarried stone ranging from 5-15 feet high. To this day the walls have remained watertight. In 1916 the Locks were purchased by the Corps of Engineers and deepened to 6 feet.

In 1941 the original wooden lock doors were replaced with metal gates.

The Spruce Goose Goes through the Willamette Locks:

On 18 Dec 1992, the fuselage of the famous Spruce Goose, designed and built by Howard Hughes
headed upriver on a barge to enter the Willamette Locks. Prior to that the tail section had traversed the locks. The wings joined the other sections up river and moved overland to McMinnville, Or, where it is part of the Evergreen Air Venture Museum.

Preparing to enter with locks. Tugs assist with maneurving the barge which holds the fuselage.

Spruce Goose traversing the locks.

This is Larry's cousin, Rex Lapp who was Lock Master for many years until his retirement in 1995 or 96. He is now deceased but his wife forwarded brochures and information about the locks.

Larry writes,"Newberg is my Mom's old stomping grounds. It was also home to Pres. Herbert Hoover. After his parents died in Iowa, an uncle in Newberg adopted him. The house where Herbert grew up is still located there. Mom's grandfather was Telesphore Brouillette. Telesphore was the first Presbyterian minister in the area, married Ida Raymond. My Grandmother, Jessie, married J. Wesley Boyes. Local lore has it that his family engineered the Boysen Berry, for which there was a parade and city picnic every summer (Berrian Festival),since 1920. I remember what seemed like acres of berry pies on picnic tables, just waiting to be eaten. Grandma Jessie was poor in money, but rich in love and talent. She was the featured soprano soloist in the Newberg's annual Handel's "Messiah", year after year. Jessie was also a great orator. Whenever anyone or thing was to be dedicated or graduated, Jessie gave the speech. Newberg High School grads asked Jessie to give the graduation speech every year until she was no longer able to stand at the podium. Several times a year, Jessie gave the Gettysburg Address on Radio. I remember my grade school teachers stopping class to turn on the radio for her show and we lived miles away, in Vancouver, WA. Jessie was known mostly for caring for the town's less fortunate. She didn't have much to offer, but often brought the town's forgotten women home so they cold bathe, clean their clothes and have a hot meal. Jessie's small apartment was a day spa for the town's homeless."
"Summers in Newberg were wonderful, and the town remained a rural farming community until the '80's. My Uncle Tom's farm was always the site of our annual family picnic. Tons of "old people" brought wonderful food from all corners of county. There was a huge shade tree with a rope swing hanging down and oh yes...the barn. The barn was full of old tools that had no motors and it was haunted, for sure. Something lived in there that made strange noises, so none of us city kids ever went inside."
"My mother and her female cousins were all very adventuress. As teenagers, they all flew to Chicago and NYC, in the early thirties. After that, she married and had two daughters. Her husband, a successful CPA, soon contracted Leukemia and died. Mom went back to college at Newberg's Pacific College (now George Fox University) where she met my Dad. Two years later, they were married. Dad was the music professor. He directed the choral and instrumental ensembles. Dad was a also a violin soloist who had traveled the country and world playing concerts. Dad was then invited to direct the string program in the Vancouver, Washington, so in 1942, they moved from Newberg and bought one of two houses that were for sale in all of Vancouver."
In the 80-s, "I am heavy in to sailing and have first, a Cal-20 and then a Cal-27, moored on the Columbia River, at Kalama, WA." Larry explains how he gets his boat slip in Kalama,"I went exploring one day to see what slips were available and stopped in to the marina office in Kalama and introduced myself. Turns out the Port Manager I was talking to, was a cousin. He was the grandson of my Dad's Uncle from Rainier, Oregon...What waiting list???"
"I struck up a conversation with one of the local sailors and we exchanged names. He said his music professor in college was Mr. Hirtzel. I asked where he went to college and he said in Newberg, at Pacific College. I said, "That was my Dad". Turns out he and his wife were both in Dad's choir. I brought Dad to Kalama to visit with my sailing friends in their home. He brought a choir photo that had been hanging in his teaching studio for years. I always wondered who those folks were and now I knew two of them."
"By 2005 Dad has passed and so has my sailor friend in Kalama. The sailor's wife, is now living at the retirement village in Newberg, and invites me and my wife to lunch. She asks that I bring the choir photo with me. When we get to the retirement village, I am introduced to about 1/3 of the people who were in that photo. One of those people was my Dad's piano accompanist. She has many stories of long hours of rehearsal, working only on getting the endings to great works of music...perfect! At this point, she has been a professional pianist all her life and said she learned more about performing "Music", from Dad, than all of her university piano teachers put together. The funniest story she told was that she and Dad would be working for hours on a particularly difficult piece of music and she said; "Your future mother would walk by the practice room and your dad would ask me to take a break". She said, "I knew that meant we were done practicing for the day", and then she chuckled. The pianist was also my older sister's first piano teacher. I invited my sister to have lunch with us at a later date and so they were re-united. Turns out this pianist was Queen of May Day celebrations one year in Newberg, and my sister, four or five years old at the time, had carried her train for the crowning ceremonies. Sometimes, things have a way of coming full circle. It is so strange how I got my first slip in Kalama and then find out all the other Kalama connections took me back to Newberg."
"One thing I forgot to mention: I taught all the stringed instruments and some band classes in all of the schools in Newberg School District for three years after college. I loved every moment working with the kids. Also, it didn't take long to realize, that if I wanted to live the sailing life, it wasn't going to happen teaching in public schools. That's when I turned to teaching privately and performing music. I immediately quadrupled my income."
Larry is an accomplished musician and singer. Visit his website: to listen to his recordings, buy some of his cd's. He is a multi-talented guy. Larry, thank you so much for giving us all this information. I have enjoyed reading it, and putting it together for others to read. It is a wonderful way to honor your historic river family.
I give Credits:
1. Willamette Locks, Corps of Engineers Brochure
2. The Eugene Emerald Newspaper, 18 Dec 1992, Spruce Goose Takes To Water",by Bob Baum AP.
3. Larry Hitzel, emails.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Beyond Rain, Snow and Floods: Fog and Sunshine

17 January 2009, Saturday
The weather report states the weather will be sunny in Scappoose, Oregon where Shatoosh is berthed. However, this morning Puyallup looks gray and foggy. I decide to go anyway. There is fog all the way down I-5, but as soon as I cross the Lewis and Clark Bridge at Longview, Washington the sun appears and it is bright and beautiful and I can see alot of water still hanging around: ponds are small lakes, creeks are rivers, and trees have slide off the mountain sides.
I stop and get lunch and water at Fred Myers and I notice ice on the sidewalks and some left over snow piles. Hiking up to the top of the levee I have a spectacular view of the valley. The sky is crystal clear, the air clean and crisp. Mt Hood is off to the east, Mt Adams northeast of me and Mt St. Helens west of Adams.
The beautiful farming and nursery to the west of me. I amble down the steep ramp to the marina and there is some frost on the decks and I notice some new decking is in place. I turn down E dock and have to play hop-scotch to keep from stepping in all the poop from the Great Blue Heron who lives on the dock at night.

Alas. there are my favorites: Shatoosh and Pashmina, waiting patiently for me to visit them.

It is so beautiful I decide to go for a short cruise downriver. I check out the cabin temperature: 48 degrees, burrsy. After unplugging the electrical cord, turning on the battery switch, firing up the diesel heater, and opening the water intake valve, I start the engine. On the first crank it starts---I love it!
All the osprey are in South America and have been replaced with hundreds of cormorants. They are very busy warming their wings, fishing and having a good time. There are many fisherman on the Multnomah Channel and a few speed by me and kick up quite a wake. Shatoosh takes them all well with quite a bit of maneuvering on my part. There is a lot of debris in the water, logs, small trees and small wood chips, so I have my eagle eyes open.

I circumnavigate Coon Island. Since it is a long weekend, there is a Yacht Club spending the weekend on the east dock. There is only one boat on the west side. I head back up river and meet the 3 knot current. Later, I pull off to the side to get a glimpse of 10 cormorants sunning themselves on a floating log. Boy, I know how that feels, the sun is warm on my face and with the heater on I am getting hot. I turn the heater down to the bare minimum, drink most of my water and then have a horrifying thought! The heater is on and I forgot to lower my fenders on the starboard side near the heater exhaust. Yipes, I slow the boat down, quickly open the starboard window flap and see a burnt, melted spot on my fender. I slacken the line and return to the helm. I am always so mindful of this possibility happening that I always check where that fender is when I have the heater on. Ugh. The fender feels soft, so may not hold any air, which means another trip to the marine store for a replacement. A lesson well learned. Thank heavens the heater was on a low setting.

I bypass the marina and head up river a bit. I see hundreds, if not thousands of flying Canada Geese over Sauvie Island which is a wild life refuge. Three eagles are sitting in a tree and a few merganzers are swimming by the boat. I check out a few of the marinas and boats in the area and then return down river to my dock.

I take some photos of my friend's boat which is a very large steel cutter with about 7 guestrooms. Paul built it many years ago and has recently refurbished it. It is amazing to get to see this unique design. It is a great layout for a charter boat in Alaska. My leisurely round trip has been about 1 hr 40 minutes and 7 + nm.

I tidy the boat up and head back to Washington. I feel so happy on the water and especially if the sun is out. Driving up I-5, the fog greets me, but the twilight lingers, so I have extra time to savor my first cruise in 2009. I have had a wonderful, beautiful day filled with the glories of nature. How lucky I am!
Remember to double click on any photo to enlarge.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Flooding Up and Down River of Hira's House

As the rain continued to fall on the 6th and 7th of January 2009, I decided to cross the Puyallup River at the 5th St Bridge. "Wow", I said to myself as I looked at the raging river, all colored in brown mud with full sized trees rushing downriver at about 20 knots. As I try to turn left on Main, there is a steady stream of traffic, which is so unusual. The checkout clerk at the grocery store tells me that Orting and Sumner are flooded and traffic is being diverted onto Main. I stop at Mrs Turner's to have lunch on Main St. The police come in handing out evacuations orders, stating the river is supposed to flood Main Street to 5th St during the night. Sumner and Orting had been flooded and evacuated. No wonder the traffic jam.
I finish my lunch and head home, stopping at the bridge to look at the river closer. Noting the river had crested the southern bank and was about to cover the walking path that goes down river to River Road past the K-Mart Shopping Center. They were sand bagging the apartments next to Fred Meyer. I put in calls to my Reiki friends and request distant Reiki treatments to be sent to the River and my condo.

I get on my computer and go to the NOAA site to find out about the rivers which are flooding. You can track each river in the USA. I can see the only rivers which have reached flood stage are in Washington state. There are 7 out of over 4200 stations around the USA. This is good information. I look at the Puyallup River readings: It states flood stage is 30 ft and at 345pm it is 26.85 ft. The evening news and weather report is bad stating the Puyallup river has flooded downriver from me and many homes and mobile homes are under water. At 1000 PM I head back over to the bridge which is a block away. I'm wearing my heavy duty foul weather gear that Jean has given me from her Hawaii sailing days on Namaste, her 32ft. Gulf. The walking path is under water and the river is higher. I return home to check out the NOAA site. The height is 29.01. I send another Reiki treatment and fall asleep effortlessly. At 0300 I awake and check out the river height:28.98; it is falling, so I return to bed and fall quickly back to sleep. Having updated information and Reiki makes life very easy.....I'm certain I snoored the night away.

Afternoon on the 8th, I drive around and can see the flooding downriver which is significant. The river did not crest River Road, however it flooded a creek which flows under the roadway causing that to flood into the neighborhood of houses and mobile homes. The pictures below are all from the 5th St Bridge, one block from my condo.

The water was up to the deck flooring of this little cabin on the river, but the house barely missed getting flooded.

At the time of this writing 9 Jan 09 the river is at 21.82 feet at 1045hrs, the sun is out and many towns and cities are drying out. My old summer excursion town of Clatskanie, OR flooded. I'm happy to live on somewhat higher ground and feel grateful that my beautiful condo is high and dry. Many were not as fortunate. The Columbia River is 12 ft above normal near St. Helens, OR. Interstate 5 is still closed near Centralia (a 20 mile stretch) and may be reopened this afternoon. With this being closed I can't get to Shatoosh, but will check on her as soon as I can.
11 Jan 2009: the Puyallup River is now at 18 ft. Pre rain the river level was 12 ft. I forgot to give everyone the web site that I have been using. On this map you can see all of the river weather sites. Click on your local area and select your river. I am leaving the link on the right sidebar at the top of the page.
14 Jan 2009: The river is now at 16.56 ft.
18 Jan 2009: The river is at 13.61 ft at o845.
27 Jan 2009:The river is now at 12.5 ft., which is the level of the river at pre-flooding.