Museum celebrates 10 years and more than a century of history

The Museum of the North Beach is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year with a growing collection of artifacts, treasures and events that highlight the fascinating history of the entire North Beach.

To kick off a year of anniversary festivities. Cindy Gaddis from Portland, Ore., signed the guestbook earlier this year and became the 30,000th visitor, a milestone to mark the first decade of growth and plans for a bigger, more spacious and modern museum in the future.

The museum’s official grand opening was on Jan. 18, 2003, with over 250 guests celebrating the groundbreaking event. There are now 340 members from Alaska to Virginia.

The idea of a museum to showcase the North Beach’s unique history, its rich number of artifacts and its unknown treasure, began with the inspiration over friendship and curiosity about local history. Moclips friends Kelly Calhoun, Kathy Jaquet and Lee Marriott got talking about their interest and the museum started to take shape from there.

“We just got to talking because we had all these pictures, so we started out as a historical society just representing Moclips,” Jaquet said. The more they dug into things, the more they began to collect what became the start of the museum.

“And we had so many artifacts that were donated to us, and we found so many, that we realized that we needed to have a museum to display them and share them with the community — the entire North Beach,” Marriott added. “So that’s where the museum itself came about.”

They also were graciously provided quarters for the museum in an old gas station/meat locker building donated by Ocean Crest Resort owners, the Curtright family, for the 100th anniversary of the town of Moclips.

“Our imaginations brought a lot of this to life,” said Calhoun, now the museum’s executive director.

Displays include Quinault Indian baskets, artifacts from the old Northern Pacific Railroad that once made Moclips its Westernmost stop, historical pieces from the M.R. Smith lumber mill in Moclips, the old Aloha Tavern, the Navy facility at Pacific Beach, the cabin of Dorothy Anderson and a host of items from the early days of Ocean Shores.

Calhoun, who moved to Moclips from West Seattle, found out while doing research for the museum that he actually had relatives in Moclips 100 years ago, and one of them was the postmaster at the time. Back then, Moclips was a major seaside destination with a hotel that claimed to be just 12 feet from the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, its proximity to the ocean caused it to be devoured by what Calhoun said were three massive storms.

The 270-room, three-story hotel was owned by Dr. Edward Lycan and had been built after another 150-room hotel built by Lycan had burned down in 1905 only months after being completed.

Jaquet went looking for a photo of the second old hotel, searching 6-9 months for it. Once she found one, however, she kept running across many others.

“Once you find it and people see it, then others come out of the woodwork,” she said of how they began to gather museum pieces. “Once we got in this building, the locals really came forth with a lot of artifacts from their history.”

“This whole museum came together that way,” Calhoun said.

Marriott recalled how the three of them would start having questions about some events in local history and then suddenly find the answer only a few days later as word got around town.

The ultimate goal is to build a new museum in a replica rebuild of the old Northern Pacific Depot, exactly as it was when the train used to end its line at Moclips. The design is for 4,000 square feet of display space on the ground floor with three upstairs rooms.

When they look back at photos of the opening in 2003, the trio of friends chuckle at the bare walls and open spaces, which are now all packed with historical photos, paintings, artifacts, posters, displays and trinkets. None of them had any previous museum experience.

“We look back on the last 10 years and wonder how the heck did we do this and what did we get ourselves into?” Calhoun said.

Asked if they are all retired, Calhoun pauses before answering: “… But not from the museum”

The anniversary festivities started in January and continue through the fall. For her signing the guestbook as the 30,000th visitor, Gaddis received a one-night stay at the Ocean Crest Resort in an ocean-view unit with fireplace.

Another event, “Neptune’s Treasure Chest.” will begin on June 1 and run through Sept. 30. This is a free drawing to win prizes that include dinners for two, lodging accommodations, gift certificates for groceries, activities and special events for kids. Further details will be announced at a later date.

The museum is located at 4658 State Route 109 in Moclips, one block north of the Ocean Crest Resort.

For more information, call the museum at (360) 276-4441 or email at kelly@moclips.org.