As It Was: Bear Learns Hard Lesson at CCC Camp in 1933
In 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps recruited George Morey and assigned him to a wood-cutting crew at Peavine Ridge near Brookings, Ore. Years later, Morey told this story:
One night, the camp was awakened by a loud noise. The cook investigated and came face-to-face with a large mother black bear. Surprised while finishing up a large pan of stewed prunes, the bear panicked and bolted through the back entry, leaving the cookhouse in disarray.
The pilfering critter came back each night, each time becoming bolder. The cook and crew devised a plot. They secured an old oaken barrel, drilled holes near the open end, and inserted 90 spikes with the sharp ends slanted toward the bottom of the barrel. They baited it and placed it outside the cookhouse.
The bear arrived and stuck her head inside the barrel, where the protruding nails took hold just behind the ears. When she couldn’t pull her head from the barrel, she panicked and ran at full speed into a large fir tree. The barrel exploded, and the animal fled to parts unknown, no doubt to nurse a headache.
Morey said the bear never returned.
Source: Morey, George & Edna. 88 Years on the Rogue River. Unpublished manuscript.
Schroeder, Walt. Characters, Legends & Mysteries of Curry County, Oregon. Curry Historical Soc. Press, 2007.