Monday, October 11, 2010

Moclips: The End of The Line

Moclips, Washington 1969

Over the weekend my wife and I took a trip to the coast of central Washington State, to the small historic community of Moclips.
Situated at the southern tip of the Quinault Indian Reservation, Moclips is as far as you can go, with Reservation and wilderness beach beyond.
The Moclips River is the site of an old Quinault village. In 1775 Spanish explorers came ashore just north of the river, erected a cross and left unharmed by the Indian tribe. But later seven Spaniards returned , this time to the Moclips river. Traditionally, the tribe had sequestered young puberty-aged women at that river site, and they were guarded by warriors that killed the Spaniards. From Moclips north is one of the longest stretches of wilderness beach in the continental United States.
The town of Moclips had many building, destruction and rebuilding stages, as it was repeatedly ravaged by ocean storms and fire.

Above is the former train depot. Before the railroad came to town, all supplies had to be brought by wagon up the beach. Moclips was the location of a mill operation that primarily produced cedar shakes. That business seems to have been fairly consistent, along with seafood canning and of course tourism.
Below is the old log pond and railroad trestle:

And below is a picture I took of the same trestle, or what's left of it:

Getting to Moclips proved to be challenging. We drove through the living Hell of Seattle/Tacoma, heading west from Olympia to Aberdeen. Aberdeen and Hoquiam are on Gray's Harbor, which is indeed "Gray" much of the fall and winter. Many of the buildings are boarded up; we saw one old apartment that advertised "One month free rent". Between brief sun sightings, it's your typical Pacific Northwest coastal rain. This is the atmosphere that drove "Nirvana" front man Kurt Cobain inland to the college party town of Olympia, and on to Seattle and rock stardom.
But the rain and depressed economy have no effect on the fishermen, clam diggers, dog-stick-throwers and romantic beach walkers. Even if rainy, it's not cold. Just wet. Everywhere.
Delayed by a bridge closure, we hit Moclips about sundown. The beach was filled with hundreds of flashlights and lanterns, as people were digging clams. This weekend was one with extremely low tides, almost tsunami-spooky. I mean at times it appeared the Waves were 1/4 mile from the high tide line, hence the great clam digging.
Not to be lost in all this historical beauty, we continued our quest to locate all the best dive-bars in Washington State and we were not disappointed-
"The Green Lantern"

Saturday we took a break from the pouring rain and had a late lunch in The Green Lantern. The place was packed with drunk fishermen and clam diggers. They have a beautiful 20-ft. shuffleboard table which are very rare these days, and it was great fun to watch:

By Sunday, the huge Pacific storm had blown itself out. Things got quite sunny, enough so that even the return trip through Gray's Harbor and Aberdeen seemed a little less "Gray".

There is a very interesting website about Moclips and the surrounding communities. It's fascinating to see how built up the towns were in the early 1900's, compared to the sleepy beach communities of today.
A good place to start is this website,


Orcasgirl said...

Love your words about Moclips. Is the Green Lantern a little inland? We went to the local dive just down the road. Pretty funny. We haven't been there during clam fun. I am glad you all had a good time.

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