CHINOOK OBSERVER ARCHIVES
OYSTERVILLE — “Rails in the Surf: Reshaping the Mouth of the Columbia River” is the topic to be presented by Community Historian Gary Kobes at the Oysterville Schoolhouse on Thursday, Oct. 19. It is the story of the construction of the jetties — a story of pile drivers and railroad cars, of tugs and barges and of locomotives and shipwrecks.
The immense structures that define the mouth of the Columbia River took more than 50 years to build with the best turn-of-the-century technology. For the North Jetty, alone, steamships and locomotives moved and placed over 3 million tons of stone. Their construction has had a profound effect on both the people and the landscape of our region.
Kobes, a Chinook resident and self-described “history addict,” is on the Board of the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum (CPHM) in Ilwaco and the Maritime Museum in Astoria. He is a founding member of the Nahcotta railroad passenger car preservation committee and has a deep affinity for the history of railroads and engineering. According to CPHM Director Betsy Millard, Kobes is known among researchers and historians of the area as “the go-to expert” for information about the jetties on both sides of the river.
Kobes’ 45-minute talk begins at 10 a.m. and is open to the public.
Born and raised in the Yakima Valley, Kobes attended Saint Louis University and Washington University, where he earned an undergraduate degree in architecture. For 30 years, he lived in Saint Louis, Mo., working in real estate development, construction management — including the Beards Hollow Overlook on State Route 100 — and retail development for corporations such as May department stores. Now manager of the Astoria-Warrention Regional Airport, he spends his free time helping with local historic preservation projects, flying planes, and volunteering with the Coast Guard Auxiliary. He and his wife, Connie, live in Chinook.