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 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.

In 1916, Edwin Billings was born a strong, healthy baby.  When he was 15, an accident resulted in permanent injury, yet he strived to work as hard as any man.

The Knapp Hotel in Port Orford, Ore., was a lodging landmark for traveling dignitaries and a beacon for sailing ships until it was demolished in 1945 to make room for Highway 101.

The Brookings, Ore., Azalea Festival has expanded in size and popularity since its beginning in May 1939.

Here’s a glimpse into life, circa 1924, on the Southern Oregon Coast:

For eons, Sisters Rock sat undisturbed, but in 1893 S. H. Frank purchased the natural harbor formation, located midway between Port Orford and Gold Beach, Ore., for storing and shipping tanoak bark to his tannery in San Francisco.

A solitary grave-marker stands at Clay Hill Rapids, a few yards uphill from the Rogue River Trail.  The marker only hints at a woman’s sad story.

In early January 1919, John Stannard, left Gold Beach, Ore., by commercial vehicle to attend the opening session of the State Legislature as the newly elected representative of Coos and Curry Counties.  Stannard never returned.

In the spring of 1924, rumors began to fly that a Ku Klux Klan organization was being organized in Curry County, Ore.

In 1962, a century-old tower bell was spotted at the bottom of a deep part of the Smith River, 24 miles east of Crescent City, Calif.

Prior to 1924, the village of Gold Beach, Ore., was hardly recognized by the Catholic Church until Father L.E. LeMiller decided to build a small place of worship to accommodate the dozen or so parishioners.

In February 1937, the vessel Cottoneva docked in Port Orford, Ore., to take on a load of lumber.  It would be its final stop.

In 1903, the Little Nanny ship was in service transporting goods between Eureka and Klamath, Calif., when a couple of unusual passengers were brought aboard.

In spring of 1936, the Reliance Production Corp. chose two locations in Del Norte County, Calif., as settings for the film “The Last of the Mohicans,” based on the novel by James Fenimore Cooper.