Think about it - our home is a large sandspit with an elevation of perhaps 20 feet (if we're lucky), much of it surrounded by water, and the recipient of between five and eight feet of rainfall each and every year. Frank Turner of The Tribune laid it all out in 1938:

"The other night before the Town Council of Long Beach appeared some home owners seeking relief from winter water. The rains had piled it up around their homes, and across their roads until it was an aggravation no longer to be borne without complaint to the town fathers. One sympathizes with them. One Who Knows about winter water, and 'gumboot shows' feels for them.

"It turned out, apparently, there was no place to run their water but into the drainage ditch, perhaps, that overburdened and sadly overflowed gut of narrow shallow ditch that runs half the length of the Peninsula, and has heaped upon it the task of carrying the surplus rainfall off of twenty-odd sections of Peninsula swamp land - a job for which it is totally inadequate and unsuited.

"That brings us back again to one of the real problems of this Peninsula, to get rid of surplus winter water, meaning the top two feet of our annual five feet of rainfall. We need to spill it back quickly and effectively into a sea from which Old Sol lifted it up to make the clouds that spilled it out upon us.

"The water needs to go to Willapa Bay. The ditches carrying it there need to be big, and wide, and subject to control, with gates that may be placed to hold the water table. ...

"Given the right kind of ditches to the bay, such as exists at Cranberry road ... given these kind of ditches, and several of them, the low lands of the Peninsula would make ideal garden spots, and happy homes for very many people. They would be such homes as we are proud of, and such people as we are happy to have in our midst, growing the things that our visitors like to get in the summer time.

"The Peninsula should be a garden, but it never will be so until it ceases to be a swamp."

- Jan. 21, 1938, The Tribune

Five years later, we read,

"At a meeting here Saturday night about 20 drainage enthusiasts of drainage district number three decided to levy a 2-mill tax against the district members and go ahead with temporary drainage relief measures by digging a ditch out onto the beach sands at Holman, Seaview, the same as other years, to relieve high water around Seaview and lower Long Beach. This is estimated to cost around $200. A round-table discussion ... was held as to best plans for permanent drainage, but it was felt that nothing definite could be accomplished at this time as the district has practically no funds and labor shortage would make such a project difficult."

- Nov. 5, 1943

The problem remained, the water level rose seasonally, and occasionally the neighbors resorted to direct action:

"With high water practically threatening their freshly-starched collars, Herb Zahl down in Seaview on Sunday organized a crew of six fellows with shovels, and started digging on the old Suefert drainage ditch while they could still walk on bottom. By evening, they had opened a 500-foot long drain to the ocean, some 4 feet deep and 5 feet wide at the start, to nothing at the finish line, which served to lower water in the area to some degree. Those serving on the end of mucksticks besides Herb included Bill Elliott, Herm Abram, J. C. Kimsey, Emmer Marchant, Ed Malone and the morale-building shoveler Art Strand who was reputed to have come through with several blisters."

- Feb. 16, 1945

The next few years saw things looking a bit better in the downtown Seaview and Long Beach, but it didn't last.

In January 1946, "with heavy rains the past week or two [having] just about foundered Seaview and parts of Long Beach sufficiently to spur several Seaview men into immediate drainage action," Strand, Zahl, Abram, Malone, Kimsey, Elliott, and Mrs. Rose Strand formed the Seaview Drainage Committee.

"The state of Washington and Pacific county do not seem to have the means of taking care of flood conditions in the Seaview district," the Seaview group informed readers of The Observer. "Water stands stagnant after each heavy rainfall. The cost of forming a drainage district and taking care of this condition by direct taxation would be unduly high.

"Some years ago, private individuals put in a drainage culvert starting at Second avenue in Seaview and extending to the beach. This culvert worked successfully for years but recently sand has blocked the exit and it is necessary from time to time to open same.

"A committee has been formed to get funds for the purpose of keeping this drain open by the use of a bulldozer. The first clearing took place Jan. 6, 1946."

The group then collected enough money to buy a lift pump which volunteers installed. It served to drain excess water from Seaview and south Long Beach.

Next, Long Beach set to work installing pipes and sump pumps within city limits. In the fall of 1946, the Pacific County Drainage District No. 3 undertook a $7,000 project to clear the "principal drainage ditch from Holman to East Main ditch at Pioneer Road" and to clean and widen the East Main ditch over to the bay. "There are some 39,460 feet of ditch to be worked on. ... Work will be started at each end of the project, and it is planned to cut a brand new ditch from Butts Road north approximately one mile to connect with the old ditch, as means of getting away from considerable crooked ditch of the old pattern."

Half a dozen years later, the Observer reported the installation of "two new flood gates at the former Tor-Wood-Lea golf course property at the south end of Willapa bay, an old flood gate replaced after 41 years of service. ... As tides recede, drainage from inland forces the gates open, and as the tides come high it forces the gates closed."

As folks built homes and sank cesspools and septic tanks on land that in the winter tended to be awash, they demanded relief. The drainage authorities did their best, generally keeping pace with the population growth. But as everyone knows, Mother Nature has the last word.

Where there is standing water, there are beavers. Programmed by Providence to gather twigs, leaves, limbs, and shrubs, and to interweave them across flowing water so as to form an over-sized dome home with a back yard swimming pool, beavers are a marvel of industry and determination.

However, when our landscaping becomes the rafters of their great room, and our front yards their hot tub, we tend to see beavers as a menace.

"Complete eradication of beaver from drainage ditches of the Long Beach Peninsula, insofar as possible, will be the aim of state trappers, according to Art Crews, district representative of the State Game Department. This decision came about at a meeting of state game officials with drainage district officials and the beaver committee of Peninsula Cranberry club.

"Mr. Crews stated it was definitely not the desire of the State Game Department to use drainage facilities to raise beaver, and that if it was possible they'd take every beaver 'by the tail' and move them to stream headwaters where they belong. He stated that complete eradication would be difficult in Long Beach because of the near jungle conditions through which the ditches flow, and because of the ideal conditions for beaver migration up and down ditches."

- Dec. 7, 1956

As of winter 2002, the Peninsula still has standing water and beaver dams. The situation is normal - home, soggy home.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.