SOME HISTORY OF THE GOBLE AREA
James P. Archibald, who lives on the home place in the Beaver Homes section south of Goble, is not exactly what you would call an “old” pioneer, but there are a few sections of the county in which you can be a pioneer and still not have arrived there so long ago as you might have to do in some other parts. Besides that Mr. Archibald has lived there since he was five years old, and he knows the country as it was in its almost virgin state of wilderness when he arrived there to the present open country where farming is possible on as extensive a scale as will prove profitable in that locality for some time to come.
Some time between Christmas of 1879 and the New Year following, the Archibald family, consisting of the parents, John N. and Mary Archibald, and the seven children, arrived in the Goble section. They landed at what was then known as ENTERPRISE LANDING , which was located near the place where the Shell oil station now stands. The father had built a house on a place he had bought, and the family moved into it. This has been the family home throughout the years that have followed.
Two years before that, on April 23, 1877, to be exact, the family came to Oregon from Iowa by rail to Sacramento and from San Francisco by the old “walking beam” boat “Ajax” to Portland. The father had some paper money, which, however, was of no use on the coast, and so, when the family finally got settled at Quinby’s in Portland, there was only an un-influential four bits left. The elder Mr. Archibald proceeded at once to borrow five dollars on which to get a job, and, landing one on the lower Columbia river, he went to work at shearing sheep.
Later the family lived on Sauvies island, and also on a dairy ranch on Deer island until 1879.
This, it will be remembered, was 10 years before Washington became a state. The country across the river therefore was Oregon as much as it was around what is now Goble. The fact that the nearest postoffice was at Kalama therefore was nothing to be surprised at. It was simply a matter of crossing the river to get the mail.
Kalama remained the post office for the Goble country until 1884, when a post office was established at HUNTER’S, with Pete Hunter as postmaster. Hunter’s which later became known as Hunter’s Point, was located close to NEHALEM JUNCTION, on the river approximately two miles up the river above Goble. The post office came with the railroad, which stopped at that point on this side, ferrying the trains across the river to Kalama.
GOBLE was established when the railroad was extended to that point to facilitate ferrying the trains across the river. The townsite was laid out by George Foster in 1891, and named after a trapper by that name. Goble creek, in the Kalama region, also bears this man’s name.
At the time the Archibald family came to that section there were several families already established. Among them were the Stehmans, Pete Hunter, Abe Neer, Reuben and George Foster, William Link and the Makinster family.
The elder Mr. Archibald later became locator of claims for settlers who wished to settle there as well as for those who wished to move away. As in the case of the most of the earlier settlers, he soon knew the ground in that whole section well, and his son became as familiar with it as he.
The work of locator consisted of knowing who wanted to come in and who wanted to go out, and of making the connection for them, so that all parties would be satisfied. The transaction of locating a new settler on a homestead that someone else had given up cost $16, and the homestead included as much as 160 acres. Such a price for so much land sounds cheap, but the odds, of course, were tremendous, for the problem of clearing the land for use was almost beyond our power to understand now.
“In other words,” said Mr. Archibald during this interview,” the settler bet the government $16 that he could stick until he proved up.” Often he lost the bet.
Timber, in those days, was not a commodity to be saved and protected. It was something that stood in the way of the settler’s hope to make a better living from this land. If he could set a fire that would burn off a few acres, he considered it a good piece of work. Some, of course, sold wood, but even after the market for wood became better, the problem of clearing the land was beyond the settler’s power.
In fact, few if any of the early settlers in that vicinity undertook to make their living wholly from the land they took up as homesteads. They planned to work in the sawmills or logging camps, wherever such work was available. And if it was not convenient to walk to and from work the settler either boarded at the camp or moved his family there.
With the coming of the Columbia River Lumber and Fuel company the country adjoining Goble began to grow. This company put in a mill and 12 miles of flume and employed something like 200 men in the woods. Their product was lumber and piling. They operated with 12 spans of horses and three six yoke teams of cattle.
This company operated as far out as it was profitable for them, and then sold to the Goble, Nehalem Pacific company, sometime around 1902. In this company were H. B. Borthwick, Walter Frame and D. J. Moore.
The new concern salvaged those of the buildings of the former company that were worth saving, built new ones, and painted all of them red. Thereupon the place became known as “REDTOWN.” It had a more official name — that of “MOOREVILLE” — Mooreville has been forgotten while there are still some people in Columbia county who refer to the place as “Redtown.” Various explanations have been advanced for such a name for the community and some of them are none too complimentary, but this is the origin of the name.
In comparatively recent years homesites have been for sale throughout that region, and the neighborhood was named “BEAVER HOMES,” which it now carries. The later name is more appropriate to the country as it now is, since it is being opened up for farming and home making. In many places farms are flourishing where beaver dams formerly existed.
“I can’t help but think of the social life as it was then, compared with the present,” said Mr. Archibald. “Fun ? say, we had it.”
The G. N. P. company built a store building with a dancehall overhead, and this, too. was painted red. It provided a dance floor 36 by 70 feet, which was larger than any floor either in Rainier or St. Helens at the time.
When the hall was opened there was a gala time. An excursion boat was run down from Portland. On it was a piano and a full orchestra, horses and hacks to supplement the company’s rigs, and a crowd of celebrators bent on dedicating the hall to dancing.
There were eats for all who came. A man and all his family ate and danced to their hearts content for a $1 ticket. The mess hall seated 110 men, and here the dancers took nourishment for more dancing.
Incidentally, there were rules against drinking, which were rigidly enforced. Drink, of course, was handy, and most of the men generally partook of it. They had to stay away from the dance hall when they were under the influence, however, on pain of losing their job. Those who forgot the ruling were relegated from the hall at once and fired from the job the next day.
The dances lasted all night, not alone because the revellers could hold out that long, but because it was more convenient to go home by daylight than in the dark, over the hills and through the woods.
During the week the dance hall was converted into a gymnasium or athletic club, where, in Mr. Archibald’s words, “after the men worked eleven hours they went up there to get more exercise.” There were clubs and other athletic equipment, together with boxing paraphernalia.
“They had no rounds,” Mr. Archibald stated, telling about the boxing bouts up there. “The fellows stayed in the ring till one got knocked out. When anybody got a bloody nose the bout was over.”
The big hall burned after the company had left off operations and had sold to the Clark Wilson company. George Marcott has a garden where the building stood.
Schools came to the community soon after the Archibald family moved there. There was a subscription school at Hunter’s, where an old dwelling house had been put in condition for that purpose. Captain Gore’s oldest daughter, Frances, taught the school. Mr. Archibald went to school there two years.
The subscription school cost $2 a month for those who attended. There were 14 boys and four girls, a fair sized school for a pioneer community. The pupils from the Goble neighborhood made the trip over a trail that had been cut out through the woods.
In 1881 there was a public school a little way back from Enterprise landing, and that marked the first public education in the district. The school stood approximately where the present Goble school now stands, and Miss Flora Archibald, a sister of the Mr. Archibald of this interview, was the first teacher. Miss Archibald, by the way, was a graduate of the McMinneville college at that time.
School lasted three months — June, July and August — and the pupils attended barefoot. For her three months’ work Miss Archibald received the total sum of $20.
The original school board for district 20 consisted of John M. Archibald, Charley Makinster, Francis M. Fowler, Sr., and William Link. Of this original board, William Link alone survives.
The first little school continued until 1886 or 1887, when another school was built at the forks of the Reuben-St. Helens road. This, however, was outgrown in time, and later the present school was built.
In what is now known as Beaver Homes the school started sometime about 1891, at a time when the logging operations began to gain momentum there. Miss Fannie Burk was the first teacher there, and an efficient teacher she was.
Miss Burk hailed from Iowa, where she taught in high school. She not only knew her subjects but she maintained a strict discipline; so strict, in fact, that at one time her pupils went out on strike against her. There were about a dozen pupils in the school, and these were children of mostly transient parents. There was no compulsory school law at that time, and pupils went to school if they so chose, and if not, they stayed away. That was how it happened that an Englishman, telling of the strike as he saw it, used language to this effect: “The teacher rang the bell and one bloody, bloom’ng, blasted kid ran in!” (For all of that, however, Miss Burk held her post, and she also held the respect of the people in the district.)
This story concerns the Beaver Homes and Goble districts principally, but farther and farther out, as the logging operations cleared the woods away, the settlement pushed themselves. Out in the southern recesses was a community in which lived some of the veterans of the Civil war, and of these three or more had been through the battle of Shiloh. First one man applied the term “SHILOH BASIN,” then someone repeated it, and eventually the community became known by that name. It was Mr. Archibald who first jokingly referred to the place by that name, but later the cognomen stuck, and now the community is as well known that way as is the Beaver Homes section under its present name.
Out in the Shiloh Basin community, which by the way, is now considerably well turned to agriculture, the earlier settlers were the C. C. Clark family, who came there about in 1885; the Ned Cushman and Frank Bishop families, who moved into the woods there in 1882. John Jakes was another early settler there.
As the logging operations pushed farther out, the land was broken up into smaller parcels, and turned over to agricultural pursuits. The shacks that go with logging camps have been torn down and what was useable was turned into farm buildings. The others have been burned or otherwise obliterated to make way for the new industry that must follow the passing of the timber.
Out in the hills behind the quiet little town of Goble an epic of the northwest has been dramatized. That country has seen its heyday of rush and boom, and has now settled itself down to become a matured agricultural region, with only a memory of a day that came rather swiftly and now has gone.
— From The Rainier Review, Vol. XXII Friday, Oct 28, 1927 No. 14 ;from an article titled “Sketches of Those We Know”