Laurel Gerkman

As It Was Contributor

Laurel Gerkman is originally from Canada. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. This fed a lifelong curiosity of observing physical and human landscapes—always wondering “why.” Laurel, retired from real estate sales, has lived in Gold Beach for 20-years. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. She remains intrigued by the hardy people who originally came to inhabit this rugged, isolated, and spectacular region, and enjoys seeking stories that weave these elements together. Laurel is the author of Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery, a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.

In November 1924, the bow from a wrecked ship burned in the harbor at Port Orford, Ore., freeing tons of salvageable metal, including spikes and drift bolts.

On a stormy day in 1934, the Southern Oregon coastal town of Gold Beach held an Armistice Day program in the community hall, followed by an outdoor flag-raising.

In October 1881, a distinctive gravestone arrived in Port Orford aboard a ship from San Francisco for delivery to the town’s founder, Capt. William Tichenor.

On October 5, 1942, a Japanese submarine torpedoed the SS Larry Doheny, which sank off the Southern Oregon Coast near Gold Beach.

There are no complete records for the Brother Jonathan Cemetery in Crescent City, Calif., located on an early burial site described in the 1920s by a newspaper as “a jungle, littered with broken stones removed from their proper graves.”

In the early days, isolated Curry County settlers built schools that serviced several neighboring homesteads.  Students of all ages walked or rode horses on trails to school, often accompanied by their dogs. 


On Sept. 9, 1942, Japanese pilot Nobuo Fujita dropped incendiary bombs near the town of Brookings, Ore.

When Heck Timeus was a boy living in Agness, Ore., he witnessed in the fall of 1918 an act that he found embarrassing and could not condone.  He said to avoid conflict he waited until after his father’s death to talk about it.

An authentic 1902 one-room schoolhouse is tucked away on the Del Norte County Fairgrounds in Crescent City, Calif.

The South Coast town of Bandon, Ore., held an unusual Indian pageant at the town park one August Saturday night in 1924.

In August 1914, the Southern Oregon river hamlet of Illahe held its first picnic and venison barbeque at Gold Bar on the Rogue River.  It lasted four days and nights.

An entrepreneur who owned large tracts of land in Curry County, Ore., Robert D. Hume, announced a land giveaway in March 1908.

On July 24, 1928, the editor of Port Orford News, George Sorenson, called for the end to wanton hunting of sea lions.  The misguided carnage had been ongoing for a quarter century, and in 1928 hunters received a $10 bounty for each sea lion scalp.

In 1917, The Ladies Improvement Club of Agness, Ore., organized a Fourth of July celebration for the people of Curry County.

In May 1939, the Fourth of July committee in Crescent City, Calif., chose pirates as its celebration theme, complete with treasure hunts, parades, water and land sports, and a mussel feed.

The morning of July 4, 1880, opened fair and pleasant at Port Orford, Ore., with many celebrants arriving early to take part in Independence Day celebrations.

In June 1934, Ed Huntington was badly injured in eastern Curry County and had to walk 28 miles through the wilderness for help.

The Crescent City Chamber of Commerce and the Siskiyou National Forest promoted new parks by inviting everyone in Del Norte County to the grand opening in June 1936 of a picnic ground in Gasquet, Calif.

Seeking retirement, Dr. Wilbur Cartwright came to Gold Beach, Ore., in 1930.  Instead, when the area’s only doctor quit, Cartwright spent the next 30 years actively practicing medicine.

In 1925, Bandon, Ore., highly anticipated the completion of an indoor and heated salt-water swimming pool.