Early Days on Siletz Bay
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Volcanoguy
N 44° 55.608 W 124° 00.869
10T E 419941 N 4975319
This history sign is located at Siletz Bay Park.
Waymark Code: WMHG39
Location: Oregon, United States
Date Posted: 07/07/2013
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 1

This sign is located in the interpretive kiosk at Siletz Bay Park. The central support is surrounded by a six panel sign board covering a variety of topics: wildlife, tides, the estuary, industries, and history.

Marker Name: Early Days on Siletz Bay

Siletz Bay’s first residents were Indians, who lived off the abundant resources of the estuary. In 1849, Lt. Theo. Talbot and his party from Fort Vancouver reached Siletz Bay on the first official overland exploration of the central Oregon Coast. Talbot’s journal reports sightings of a great number of Indian dead in canoes on platforms along the borders of Siletz Bay. Each platform was surrounded by poles from which hung personal effects of the deceased.
Talbot’s party was visited by an old Indian who told them that only about nine native Siletz Indians, speaking the Coast Salish language, survived an 1831 epidemic that killed most of the large population once on the bay. This small village remained on Siletz Bay at least until the 1880s.
Most of the land around Siletz Bay was allotted to Indians under the Dawes Severalty Allotment Act of 1887. William “Charley” Depoe whose allotment around Depoe Bay led to its name, was also allotted the peninsula Siletz Bay we know as Cutler City. Jakie and Sissie Johnson, a Siletz Indian couple were granted an eighty acre farm on the north shore of Siletz Bay. They built a house and barn back from the bay, north of the present dock, and lived there from 1894-1922.

The remains of an unidentified schooner lie in the sands of Siletz Bay just west of the rock islands at the mouth of Schooner Creek. The rotting ribs of the wreck which gave the creek its name were visible at low tide until buried by sand several years ago. One of several old Indian stories about the wreck tells that the schooner came straight in off the ocean without a man aboard and ran aground in the exact spot where it now lies.

In 1904, the ocean going vessel “Della” brought sight-seers from Cloverdale to Siletz Bay. Two Cloverdale merchants on board, Charles Nelson and Charles Ray, made arrangements to supply a general store on Siletz Bay in the home of homesteader John Bones. Overcrowding led Bones to rent Jakie Johnson’s house for a store until the new store was completed next to it. Bones established a post office in the store on January 22, 1906. He named the town Taft, after William Howard Taft, then Secretary of War. William Dodson bought out Bones’ store in 1911. In 1912 he built a new store, and the upstairs served as a dancehall. That building now houses Hershey’s Restaurant.
Taft’s first schoolhouse was in operation by 1910 a short distance up the south side of Schooner Creek, in Jack Wick’s abandoned store building. The chimney and fireplace of this building still stand on S.E. 54th Place.

The waters of Schooner Creek, Siletz Bay, and the mucky tide flats made early travel in the area a challenge. Indians relied on cedar dugout canoes. Talbot and his men put a found Indian canoe to use to cross Siletz Bay, after swimming their horses across. Settlers utilized a variety of boats, horses, and ox carts to move people and goods. A swinging bridge across Schooner Creek was built about 1910 by Jess Stone. In 1923, the covered wooden Schooner Creek Bridge was completed and was used until the current concrete bridge was built in 1947.

Historic Topic: Pioneer

Group Responsible for placement: City Government

Marker Type: City

Region: Coast

County: Lincoln

State of Oregon Historical Marker "Beaver Board": Not listed

Web link to additional information: Not listed

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Volcanoguy visited Early Days on Siletz Bay 05/18/2013 Volcanoguy visited it