“Terrible Tilly” came by her name honesty, because from the start, the lighthouse seemed to be nothing but trouble. “Terrible Tilly” is the nickname of the Tillamook Lighthouse sits on top of a sea stack of basalt, more than a mile off the banks of Oregon’s North Coast. Looking to put up a lighthouse in the area Tilly’s story began in 1878 when a solid basalt rock was selected as the location for a lighthouse off the coast of Tillamook Head. Any construction work can have its dangers, but construction a mile offshore in all kinds of weather, can be particularly dangerous. Such was the case with “Terrible Tilly” when even before the work began, a master mason surveying the location was swept out to sea, never to be seen again.
Even with the dangers and the loss, work began in 1880, and the lighthouse went into operation in 1881. In those days…the days before GPS, lighthouses were a vital part of the shipping business. The ships couldn’t see the dangers that lurked in the night, so knowing what was just below the surface, or even above the surface of the water was very important. As ships got closer to shore, the possibility of hitting rock or small island could be disastrous. Never was that more evident that the disaster that occurred just a few weeks before the lighthouse opened. A ship sailed too close to the shore because of low visibility, and crashed, killing all 16 crew members. The need for the lighthouse was proven once again, in a very sad way.
While you might think that making the lighthouse operation would have ended the tragic connections with “Terrible Tilly,” but that really wasn’t the case. The conditions on the lighthouse were extremely rough, and one lighthouse keeper even allegedly went insane. Being even just a mile offshore, made life very isolated. The storms beat on the lighthouse, and I’m sure they sometimes wondered if the lighthouse could take it. The howling wind can be enough to drive some people crazy. Living in Wyoming, I know that there are times when we wonder if the wind will ever quit. When it finally does, it is almost shockingly quiet. Not everyone can take the howling wind.
As GPS came into being, the need for lighthouses is becoming less and less. It’s rather a sad fact, because these icons of history, are fading into the past, and for me, that feels very sad. Decades after the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1957, it was turned into a columbarium, which is a storehouse for urns of cremated remains. To this day, the remains of 30 people are still stored inside the lighthouse. “Terrible Tilly” was closed down in 1957 and remains off limits to the public to this day.
My son-in-law, Travis Royce is always willing taking on something new in the yard. Whatever my daughter, Amy Royce can dream up, Travis is willing to make a reality for her. He even goes so far as to indulge her “need” to buy flowers. Travis is more of a lawn guy. He loves mowing their lawn and loves dressing up the yard part of their home into a beautiful sanctuary, and together, they have definitely succeeded. When we are at their house, the back yard if everyone’s favorite place to be. It’s quiet, peaceful, and relaxing. I love their back yard. The kids, Shai Royce and Caalab Royce, have even helped to make the back yard wonderful They got them some heat units so that when the nights are a little chilly, they can still enjoy the patio.
Travis and Amy have found their own little getaway. They love to go to a little town in Washington called Ilwaco. It is a quaint little town on the Washington coast. They love to stroll through the cute little town and along the trail to Cape Disappointment State Park. The lighthouse there is of particular interest to them. Travis always looks like he is so at peace when he is standing there looking out to the ocean. It’s not really so odd, because he was born in San Diego, California and went to school in Puyallup, Washington. The West Coast is really in his blood, and anyone who knows him can easily see that.
Travis is an innovative man, who is quick thinking and can be very funny. In fact, he loves to be funny. I have always loved that about him, because his humor fills my daughter’s home and life with laughter…and let’s face it…what could be better than a life with laughter in it? I have never been around someone, quite like Travis before…but, when I think about it, he really is one of a kind, with the possible exception on his son, Caalab, who is so much like his dad that it’s uncanny.
Travis has been a part of our family now for almost 27 years, and he has been such a blessing to us. There is no greater blessing for a mother, than to know that her daughter’s husband is her soulmate and best friend. I have been very blessed to know that Travi is exactly that for Amy, and always will be. Today is Travis’ birthday. Happy birthday Travis!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
During our visit to Superior, Wisconsin, my sister, Cheryl Masterson; her daughter, Liz Masterson; and I were treated a couple of wonderful tours of the area. Our cousin, Pam Wendling and her husband Mike took us down to Canal Park, where we watched the Paul R Tragurtha coming into port to pick up a load of coal…that come to Duluth by train from none other than Gillette, Wyoming, by the way. The Paul R Tragurtha is known as the “Queen of the Lakes” and is the longest vessel on the Great Lakes at 1,013 feet 6 inches. Watching that great ship come into port is amazing. It was also great to have Pam and Mike there to give us the lake and ship history. Though we had been to Canal Park before, it just never gets old.
Pam and Mike also took us up the North Shore of Lake Superior to Two Harbors, Minnesota, and showed us all the sights in that area. The lighthouse there is really pretty, and we were able to get lots of pictures. There was a ship in the harbor that was loading Taconite, which is a low-grade iron ore. For a long time, when the high-grade natural iron ore was plentiful, Taconite was considered a waste rock and not used. Then, as the supply of high-grade natural ore decreased, industry began to view Taconite as a resource. Had it not been for Mike’s knowledge of all these mining, railroad, and shipping industries in the area, and in the United States, we would have seen these things, but really wouldn’t have know anything about the rich history that went along with it. It takes someone, like Mike, with a love of history to give us that.
Pam and Mike also do some hiking in the area, and we were shown some of the beautiful hiking trails, and the beautiful wooded areas around the lake. The streams and waterfalls especially appealed to us. That area has so many more trees that we have in Wyoming, and all that greenery made me long to get out and wander down the trail, but we just didn’t have the time, unfortunately. Pam suggested that Bob and I consider a hiking trip to the area, we may have to try to do that. The tours were beautiful, and the time we spent with them was very special to us. I am so glad that we have reconnected with all of our cousins in the Superior/Duluth area, and all over the nation. Amazing family connections.
Most of us think of April 1st as April Fools Day…a day recognized all over the world as a day set aside to pull pranks, hoaxes, and practical jokes on your friends neighbors and co-workers. I can remember many pranks pulled by my sisters, my parents, and me over the years. But, not everything that happens on April 1st can be considered a funny joke…as was the case on April 1, 1946, when a 7.4 magnitude earthquake was recorded in the North Pacific Ocean off of Unimak Island. The island is a part of the Aleutian chain in Alaska. When the earthquake struck, in the middle of the night, 13,000 feet beneath the surface of the ocean, a devastating tidal wave immediately hit the nearest land…Unimak Island. The wave estimated at 100 feet high, crashed into a lighthouse located 30 feet above sea level, where a five people lived. The lighthouse was smashed and the people living inside were killed instantly. They had no warning of impending disaster and death.
The Wave then headed toward Hawaii, at 500 miles an hour. Hawaii was 2,400 miles south of the epicenter. Captain Wickland of the United States Navy spotted the coming wave at about 7am…four and a half hours after the quake. Wickland’s position on the bridge was 46 feet above sea level, and he said he was eye level with a “monster wave” that was two miles long. I can only imagine how he must have felt looking at that wave. The word helpless is the first word to come to my mind. As the wave came into Hilo Bay, the water first receded, leaving ships on the sea floor beside fish flopping in the sand. Then, the tsunami struck full force. The wave was 32 feet high, and it completely destroyed about a third of the city. The Wailuku River bridge was picked up and relocated 300 feet from it’s original position. In Hilo, 96 people lost their lives. Other parts of Hawaii were hit by waves up to 60 feet. In Laupahoehoe, a schoolhouse was crush, killing the teacher and 25 students. The tsunami was seen as far away as Chili, where unusually high waves crashed ashore 18 hours after the earthquake hit. There were no casualties were reported there.
The tsunami brought to light a need for some kind of a warning system. The warning system, called the Seismic SeaWave Warning System was established two years later. It is now known as the Pacific Tsunami Warning System, and it uses undersea buoys throughout the ocean, along with seismic activity detectors to predict killer waves. The system is still in use, and has warned many people in time to get to safety. Nevertheless, on its first use…November 4, 1952, the people evacuated successfully, but the wave never materialized. I suppose that could have been listed as a successful failure, but in that case, it wasn’t about whether or not the wave came, but rather, if it did, that the people were safely away. A system like this one can’t save everyone. I’m sure that some waves just get to land too quickly, but every life saved matters. The April Fools Day tsunami was on April 1st, but no one would call it a joke… and that’s for sure.