LONG BEACH - In 1906, the Chinook Observer printed this brief note: "Last Saturday, it was rumored that a tidal wave 40 feet high and traveling at 200 miles per hour would strike Chinook.
Buy the book"Observing Our Peninsula's Past: The Age of Legends through 1931" is available at the newspaper's office at 205 Bolstad Ave. E., Suite 2. It may also be purchased by calling (800) 643-3703. Cost is $29.95 for a single copy, with discounts for multiple copies. "One child in town cried because she was told that the wave would sweep away Chinook and the rest of the world. Her mother told her she would sweep the wave away with a broom, and the youngster has not bothered her head about it since."
It's stories like this that make Oysterville author and artist Nancy Lloyd's new book "Observing Our Peninsula's Past" so entertaining. The book is part of the Chinook Observer's centennial project and was edited and published by the paper's editor, Matt Winters. Packed with stories of salmon, sewers, saloons and other issues in the Peninsula's past, this first volume provides hours of fun - and valuable history.
The book details the Peninsula's storied past through 1931, seen through the eyes and ears of the newspaper, which was founded in 1900 in Chinook by George Hibbert. It is divided into nine sections that discuss Chinook Indians, explorers, residential life, fish, politics, industry, tourism, shipwrecks and the mouth of the river. Some information has been printed verbatim from old copies of the Observer, with essays written by Lloyd.
The book started as a series of weekly articles printed in the Observer to mark its centennial in December 2000. But Lloyd started her initial research in the late 1980s when she was working for the paper as a copy editor. She was asked to put together a timeline of the area for the state's centennial in 1989 and began to look at back volumes of the newspaper.
"I was astonished at what I saw," she said. "I mulled over it mentally and started going back through each issue of the paper, some on microfilm."
It took Lloyd almost six years to sort through almost a century's worth of newspapers. She transcribed anything that piqued her interest into her computer, which she would sort by date and subject matter. She also used information from another Peninsula newspaper, the Ilwaco Tribune (no longer in business), to add information and fill in gaps.
"We're really a depository for the Peninsula's history," Winters said of the Observer. "But there was no way for the public to access it. The bound issues of old papers are too fragile for the public to handle. This book is a way for people to easily access our history. It is the community's book."
One of the book's richest treasures are the incredible photos, many of which are courtesy of Kjeld Enevoldsen, a Peninsula summer resident who now lives in California. The story of how Winters found Enevoldsen's photos is truly serendipitous.
"When I put on my photo editor's hat and started the process of image acquisition, I was looking online, because every so often a local photo would come up for auction on eBay," he said. "One day, I got an e-mail from one of the other bidders asking my why I wanted the photo. I told him and within hours, I got an answer. I could just feel the exclamation point in his e-mail. He was delighted."
The e-mailer turned out to be Enevoldsen, whose family had been coming to the Peninsula for years. He collects historic photos of the area and offered to loan them to Winters for the book.
"He offered us untold thousands of dollars in unique images," Winters said. "The fact that a virtual stranger sent us his entire collection was just amazing."
The book also features photos from Lloyd and Winter's private collections and the Lloyd "Bud" Howell collection, courtesy of the city of Astoria.
Work has already started on a second volume of Peninsula history, which may be published as soon as next Christmas.
"There's a lot to be proud of," Winters said. "The Peninsula is developing a sense of itself. There's still a lot of people who have a real inferiority complex, that it's this little remote corner of Washington, forgotten by the state. But it has some of the most potent, dynamic history on the coast."