SMS001: Nine Men Posing in Studio Scene at Seaside, Oregon – 1916.

Before the Restoration:

This restoration from the original damaged glass negative shows nine friends posing in a fun-loving day at the beach style in William John Montag’s Seaside Oregon studio in 1916.

Montag was Seaside’s preemminent photographer who recorded many of the early turn-of-the 20th century images of the Seaside area in his studio and out when the town was in it’s early days of development. Montag’s studio (& residence) was originally several blocks from the beach but when the Oates Baths Natatorium building opened in 1914 at the turnaround, Montag leased a small space in the building near the boardwalk (promenade) for his studio while still maintaining his original studio & residence on Broadway until it was sold in 1924. He then moved his entire photography business to the Natatorium location.

Montag sold his business in the early 1930’s but continued in his photographic work until the early 1940’s when he became ill & bedridden, finally passing in September, 1943.

SMT006: Oates Natatorium at the Turnaround in Seaside, Oregon – c1922.

Before the Restoration:

circa 1922.

This restoration from a William Montag glass negative shows the Oates Baths Natatorium at the turnaround in Seaside, Oregon circa 1922.

The Natatorium was built in 1914 by J.E. Oates costing $30,000 1914 dollars and was known at various times as “The Nat,” “Salt Pool” and the “Turnaround Building.”

In the early days there were small businesses within the building that faced Broadway street. Some of these were the Montag Studio, a Cigar Store, Ice Cream & Candy store, Barber Shop & Oregon Woolen Mills shop.

The building was remodeled in the 1940’s adding a skating rink and was in operation until 1967 when it was demolished and Worldmark timeshares was constructed in it’s place.

GT036: Swasey (or Swazey) Hotel Building in the Ghost Town of Bodie, CA – Aug. 1952.

Before the Restoration:

This is the Swasey (or Swazey) Hotel on Main St. in the ghost town of Bodie, California as seen in 1952. It was built in 1894, by Nevada rancher Horace F. Swasey two years after Bodie suffered it’s first devastating fire. In it’s life, the building served as a hotel, casino & clothing store. Known as Bodie’s chief “leaning building” it was propped up on one side for many years and still stands today in the same condition. To the rear left of the photo is part of the schoolhouse building.

Bodie came into being when a small group of prospectors discovered gold in the hills above the town in 1859. The prospector the town was named after, W.S. Bodey, died in a blizzard the following year never seeing the emergence of the town that would be named for him.

In 1876, the Standard Company discovered a profitable deposit of gold-bearing ore, which transformed Bodie from an isolated mining camp comprising a few prospectors and company employees to a Wild West boomtown. By 1879, Bodie had a population of approximately 5,000–7,000 people and rode it’s boomtown status into the late 1880’s. Gold bullion from the town’s nine stamp mills was shipped to Carson City, Nevada, by way of Aurora, Wellington and Gardnerville. Most shipments were accompanied by armed guards and after the bullion reached Carson City, it was delivered to the mint there, or sent by rail to the mint in San Francisco.

In it’s heyday, Bodie had the amenities of larger towns, including a Wells Fargo Bank, four volunteer fire companies, a brass band, railroad, miners’ and mechanics’ union, several daily newspapers, and a jail. At its peak, 65 saloons lined Main Street, which was a mile long. Murders, shootouts, barroom brawls, and stagecoach holdups were regular occurrences.

The first signs of decline appeared in 1880 and became obvious toward the end of the year. Promising mining booms in Butte, Montana; Tombstone, Arizona; and Utah lured men away from Bodie. The get-rich-quick, single miners who came to the town in the 1870s moved on to these other booms, and Bodie developed into a family-oriented community.

In 1882 residents built the Methodist Church (which still stands, left center of photo) and the Roman Catholic Church (burned in 1932). Despite the population decline, the mines were flourishing, and in 1881, Bodie’s ore production was recorded at a high of $3.1 million. Also in 1881, a narrow-gauge railroad was built called the Bodie Railway & Lumber Company, bringing lumber, cordwood, and mine timbers to the mining district from Mono Mills south of Mono Lake.

A devestating fire in 1892 destroyed a large section of the town core. Though the mining still continued to prosper, the population had significantly declined further & the town continued to mirror that through the early 19 teens. The towns last newspaper ceased production in 1912, the Standard Consolidated Mill (center-middle in the photo) closed in 1913 & in 1917, the railway was abandoned & tracks taken up. Though families still resided in town, & several mills still operated, Bodie was declared a “ghost town” in 1915. Despite this designation & a subsequent fire in town in 1932, Bodie still maintained a post office & mill until 1942 when the last mill closed & the town was essentially deserted.

James Cain, President of Southern Consolidated Mining Co., started purchasing the bank, lots, buildings & most of the available property around town during the early 1900 decline, believing the town would experience a resurgence. The town never saw that resurgence & after the 1932 fire & further decline, Cain began hiring some of the last residents as caretakers to protect and maintain the remaining buildings.

In 1961, the town of Bodie was placed on the National Historic Register and in 1962, the State of California purchased the land & buildings from the Cain family and has maintained it as California’s Smallest State Historical Park and in a state or “arrested decay,” meaning that the existing buildings will be maintained as they were but with no improvements.

Visitors to Bodie can visit the buildings and see how they were left when the last residents left over a half century ago. It is considered the best existing example of a frontier mining town today.

SSA1289: RMS QUEEN MARY Leaving New York – Aug. 1958.

Before the Restoration:

In this restoration from the original slide, the Moran tug ALICE M. MORAN moves into position to assist Cunard’s QUEEN MARY as she starts backing away from her pier at New York on an August day in 1958.

Construction on the 1,019 foot QUEEN MARY was started in 1930 by John Brown & Co. in Clydebank Scotland & she was launched on Sept. 26, 1934.

As built, the ship was 80,774 gross tons with 12 decks, a beam of 118 ft. and she drafted 38.9 feet. She was equipped with 24 boilers that were geared to four Parsons single-reduction steam turbines giving her a service speed of 28.5 knots (32.8 mph). She had a sailing capacity of 2,139 passengers & 1101 crew.

She made her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on May 27, 1936.

QUEEN MARY was the flagship of the Cunard Line from the time of her maiden voyage until she was replaced by her near-sister QUEEN ELIZABETH in October 1946. Equipped with four propellers, she twice held the coveted Blue Riband for the fastest crossing until she lost it to the United States Line’s UNITED STATES in 1952.

At the outbreak of WWII, she was converted to a troopship & was painted wartime gray earning her the nickname “Grey Ghost” for her speed at ferrying the troops and eluding U-boats. During the last week in July 1943, the ship transported 16,683 troops & crew, a record that still stands for the most passengers (15,740) ever transported on one vessel.

After the war, she was refitted for passenger service & served in that capacity for Cunard until she was retired in 1967 due to rising costs & declining revenue and was put up for sale.

She was purchased by the City of Long Beach, California for $3.4 million and arrived at the city on Dec. 9, 1967.

The ship is permanently moored at Long Beach & serves as a hotel & museum. After changing owners several times since her arrival, the ship gradually fell into a state of disrepair but before the pandemic hit efforts had been made to initiate much needed repairs. Since the pandemic however the ship has been closed to the public and Urban Commons, a real estate company who held the lease on the ship and was responsible for repairs & maintenance filed for bankruptcy in 2021. A naval architecture firm hired by the city found that $23 million was needed for urgent safety repairs to keep the ship viable over the next two years. The ship currently sits in legal limbo at Long Beach, closed & still waiting for desperately needed repairs.

SMT012: Aftermath of Seaside, OR 1912 Fire – May 14, 1912.

Before the Restoration:

In this followup to my previous post about the Seaside OR Fire, this restored image was taken the morning after the fire by Wm. Montag, standing in about the same spot he did when he took his nighttime image while the fire was raging.

This restoration from the William Montag glass negative shows the burned business district of Seaside, OR the morning after a disasterous fire that destroyed four city blocks & 54 businesses. The east end of the bridge was burned away and townspeople laid planks down to get across. .

No lives were lost in the raging three hour fire but rebuilding continued for the next three years.

SMT011: Seaside, Oregon Town Fire – May, 1912

Before The Restoration:

The year 1912 had a dubious start in the world. In April, the new luxury liner TITANIC sank on her maiden voyage and across the continent less than a month later the little beach town of Seaside, Oregon suffered this catastrophic fire that destroyed over four blocks of it’s downtown core on May 13, 1912.

This view, restored from the original William Montag glass negative, is taken from the boardwalk area of the Octagon Dance Hall on the West side of the (now Broadway) Bridge looking to the east. The flame on the left center is the current location of the Gilbert Block building.

A view from almost the same position today:

The fire began at 11:00PM on a warm evening, down from 92 degrees earlier in the day, when a gasoline stove in one of the back rooms of the Bridge Exchange Saloon located the northeast end of the bridge exploded. George Powers, proprietor of the saloon was badly burned but escaped with several others.

As men started running & yelling “Fire!” in the streets they also saw that the fire was growing at an alarming speed, helped by a strong southeasterly wind.

John Selnes, the town’s fire chief organized the men & got fire carts engaged. However, Seaside had only a one inch water main, run from a creek behind town and after 15 minutes of using the gravity-fed water system in the city pipes, the system failed. Men started a bucket brigade but quickly realized their efforts would prove futile.

Calls were put out to Astoria for assistance but help would have to come by rail. The equipment & men were loaded onto a flatcar and the normally one hour trip was made in 35 minutes but by the time they arrived at the depot, the fire had grown into a raging firestorm consuming the business district.

While waiting for the help from Astoria and lack of water pressure to fight the fire, business owners & townspeople resorted to moving as many items from their buildings as possible. The SEASIDE SIGNAL newspaper reported three men each weighing less than 150 lbs carried a large piano down a flight of stairs at the Waunoma Rooming House and to safety in less than five minutes.

In an attempt to stem the flow of the flames from reaching other buildings and heading across the river and into buildings in West Seaside, men armed with dynamite set off charges inside several buildings to collapse them & reduce the size of the flames & embers. They were largely successful in their attempts & combined with the Astoria company setting up at the fire’s perimeter, they managed to contain the fire’s damage to about four blocks but that damage was extensive & complete!

Fifty four businesses were destroyed most with very little insurance if any and the four block business district was leveled by the flames. The conflagration was quick, the damage done in about three hours and the estimated loss was about $350,000 1912 dollars.

However, bright spots emerged. The area of West Seaside, across the Necanicum River was spared from the inferno. In rebuilding, Seaside and West Seaside, which had incorporated independently in 1905, merged and the center of the city grew along Broadway (Bridge) street. The town rebounded from the fire quickly with businesses setting up tents & shacks on their burned locations within a week after the fire.

Over the next three years, new buildings were built & with the merging of Seaside & West Seaside the city continued to evolve into the coastal destination it is today.

About a week after the fire, Chief Selnes wrote a piece recapping the fire for FIRE & WATER ENGINEERING magazine and is reprinted here:

“The territory covered by the fire was about four blocks. Our buildings are mostly constructed of wood, and those destroyed were one and two stories in height, having been built about six years ago. The fire-swept district includes both business and residential, and the town is in a chaotic state. The flames were first discovered in the rear part of a saloon at about 11 o’clock at night, having been caused by the upsetting of a gasoline stove. An alarm was given by the fire bell, followed at once by the cry of ‘Fire!’ from the people who had not yet retired. We have a gravity water system here, and have no need of fire engines, our department consisting entirely of hose carts. The fire company was soon on the scene, and after laying about a thousand feet of cotton rubber-lined hose we got two streams at work, but inside of 20 minutes the water supply gave out and the firemen were helpless. There were eight hydrants available, but without water they were of no use. At first there was a hydrant pressure of from 35 to 40 pounds. After the water supply gave out we resorted to dynamite, which did some good by way of checking the progress of the flames. We called on Astoria for help, and that city sent a Silsby engine and 20 men by special train, but they arrived too late to be of service in saving any part of the business section. Among the buildings destroyed was the post office, hotel and electric light and telegraph offices.

It is likely that the town will be rebuilt, although the insurance will cover only a part of the loss.”

GT014: Partial Carriage Frame in Shed at Ghost Town of Bodie, CA – June 1962.

Before the Restoration:

This restoration from a damaged slide shows an image of a long-abandoned partial carriage frame tucked in a shed opposite dilapidated houses in the ghost town of Bodie, CA as seen in June 1962.

Bodie came into being when a small group of prospectors discovered gold in the hills above the town in 1859. The prospector the town was named after, W.S. Bodey, died in a blizzard the following year never seeing the emergence of the town that would be named for him.

In 1876, the Standard Company discovered a profitable deposit of gold-bearing ore, which transformed Bodie from an isolated mining camp comprising a few prospectors and company employees to a Wild West boomtown. By 1879, Bodie had a population of approximately 5,000–7,000 people and rode it’s boomtown status into the late 1880’s. Gold & Silver bullion from the town’s nine stamp mills was shipped to Carson City, Nevada, by way of Aurora, Wellington and Gardnerville. Most shipments were accompanied by armed guards and after the bullion reached Carson City, it was delivered to the mint there, or sent by rail to the mint in San Francisco.

In it’s heyday, Bodie had the amenities of larger towns, including a Wells Fargo Bank, four volunteer fire companies, a brass band, railroad, miners’ and mechanics’ union, several daily newspapers, and a jail. At its peak, 65 saloons lined Main Street, which was a mile long. Murders, shootouts, barroom brawls, and stagecoach holdups were regular occurrences.

The first signs of decline appeared in 1880 and became obvious toward the end of the year. Promising mining booms in Butte, Montana; Tombstone, Arizona; and Utah lured men away from Bodie. The get-rich-quick, single miners who came to the town in the 1870s moved on to these other booms, and Bodie developed into a family-oriented community.

In 1882 residents built the Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Church (burned in 1932). Despite the population decline, the mines were flourishing, and in 1881, Bodie’s ore production was recorded at a high of $3.1 million. Also in 1881, a narrow-gauge railroad was built called the Bodie Railway & Lumber Company, bringing lumber, cordwood, and mine timbers to the mining district from Mono Mills south of Mono Lake.

A devastating fire in 1892 destroyed a large section of the town core. Though the mining still continued to prosper, the population had significantly declined further & the town continued to mirror that through the early 19 teens. The towns last newspaper ceased production in 1912, the Standard Consolidated Mill closed in 1913 & in 1917, the railway was abandoned & tracks taken up. Though families still resided in town, & several mills still operated, Bodie was declared a “ghost town” in 1915. Despite this designation & a subsequent fire in town in 1932, Bodie still maintained a post office & mill until 1942 when the last mill closed & the town was essentially deserted.

James Cain, President of Southern Consolidated Mining Co., started purchasing the bank, lots, buildings & most of the available property around town during the early 1900 decline, believing the town would experience a resurgence. The town never saw that resurgence & after the 1932 fire & further decline, Cain began hiring some of the last residents as caretakers to protect and maintain the remaining buildings.

In 1961, the town of Bodie was placed on the National Historic Register and in 1962, the State of California purchased the land & buildings from the Cain family and has maintained it as California’s Smallest State Historical Park and in a state or “arrested decay,” meaning that the existing buildings will be maintained as they were but with no improvements.

Visitors to Bodie can visit the buildings and see how they were left when the last residents left over a half century ago. It is considered the best existing example of a frontier mining town today.

LS523: A Moment of Peace and Reflection

This image by Deb Andrews from November of 2019 of a solitary lighted lamppost on the turnaround at Seaside, OR offers us the quiet hope, that from the simpler days to the crisis-filled days of the pandemic & protests to the promise of better days to come…that there’s this view…always this…to offer peaceful reflection of the past & promise for the future.

SMP029: View of the Turnaround & Ocean at Seaside, Oregon During The Promenade Dedication – Aug. 1921.

Before The Restoration:

This restoration of a Frank Woodfield photo shows the recently constructed Turnaround with tourists and local townsfolk in town for the dedication of Seaside Oregon’s Promenade in early August, 1921, nearly 100 years ago. The landmark 8000 foot long Promenade was built as a breakwater spanning the north & south ends of Seaside’s coastline at a cost of $150,00-$200,000 1921 dollars.

While the center area of the turnaround has seen many changes over the years from a grassy park-like area to a Coast Guard Lookout station in the war years to the present day location of a Lewis & Clark statue commemorating the end of the Lewis & Clark trail, the Promenade has remained relatively unchanged since it’s construction in 1921 and still, along with the turnaround, is one of the state’s most recognized landmarks.

SS814: Union Steamship Line’s SS CATALA at Seattle, WA as a Floating Hotel For World’s Fair – Sept 1962.

Before The Restoration:

CATALA as seen on the beach at Ocean Shores, WA in July 1976, 11.5 years after her grounding in a storm and subsequent vandalism & fires. (Graffiti on ship has been removed by me digitally).

This is the former Union Steamship Line’s passenger ship CATALA as a floating hotel for the World’s Fair at Seattle, WA in September, 1962 (top two photos).

The 229 foot ship was built by Coaster Construction Co. in Montrose, Scotland in 1925. She had a beam of 37 feet & drafted 18 feet. The top speed for the ship was 14 knots (16 mph) and she had a passenger capacity of 267, in 120 staterooms & 48 steerage bunks. CATALA also was licensed to carry a maximum of 300 tons of cargo on any trip.

The CATALA made her maiden voyage for Union on July 28, 1925 from Vancouver BC to Prince Rupert BC. Most of the ship’s years in operation (1925-1958) was along various ports along the British Columbia coastline.

In 1958, Union Steamship folded and the CATALA was sold to new BC owners who intended to turn the ship into a fish buying vessel. This particular use never materialized & the ship was subsequently towed to Seattle for use as a “boatel” for the World’s Fair in 1962. After the fair ended, the ship was towed to California to be used as a floating restaurant. This venture failed as well and the ship was towed back up north in 1963 and berthed at Ocean Shores, Washington to be again used as a boatel for charter fishermen & others.

On January 1, 1965, a severe storm drove the ship from her moorings hard aground on shore at Damon Point, WA with a starboard list. Efforts to refloat her proved futile and the ship settled deep into the sands. After her grounding & subsequent abandonment, the ship was vandalized & partially set on fire by vandals making the wreck a hazardous site.
In the late 1980’s, that was proven when a girl fell through a rusted area of the deck while exploring, breaking her back. After that, the State of Washington had the ship cut down to the water level & removed. What remained was buried under the sands until the late 1990s when winter storms exposed portions of what had been buried.

In April 2006, a beachcomber discovered oil leaking from from one of CATALA’s tanks. After that, the hull was cordoned off, excavated & 34,500 gallons of fuel oil was removed. The rest of what was left of the CATALA was then completely cut up & removed, closing the book on one of the longest serving ships of the Union Steamship Line.