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Bayocean was to become the Atlantic City of the West in the dreams of the town’s founder and first promoter, T.B. Potter in 1906. Bad health forced Potter, a real estate promoter from California, to leave Oregon before the town officially opened and the task of promoting and building the Resort Community was passed on to Potter’s son, Thomas Irving Potter. The first lot was sold in 1907 to Francis Mitchell, a 37-year old druggist who opened a grocery store. By 1914, 600 lots had been sold to house 2000 inhabitants.

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This photo from about 1909 shows the Potter family (left to right): Thomas Irving Potter, Thomas Benton Potter and his wife Mary with grand daughter Helen Elizabeth Potter. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Kern Potter and Robert Kern Potter, Jr.)

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This photo shows the yacht Bayocean which was the largest yacht on the West Coast at the time and it weighed 148 tons. It was used to speed people from Portland to Bayocean. The Bayocean, was built at Portland, Oregon, in 1911. She was acquired by the Navy in June 1918 and placed in commission in August. Bayocean served at San Diego, California, from mid-September until mid-November 1918, then was sent to the west coast of Mexico, where she operated for the next two months. Soon after returning to the U.S., she moved north to the Mare Island Navy Yard and was decommissioned there in mid-March 1919. USS Bayocean was stricken from the Navy list in October 1919 and sold in August 1921. (Photo courtesy of Sarah KernPotter and Robert Kern Potter, Jr.)

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The building with the flag housed Mr. Mitchell’s Grocery Store and the post office, which was established on February 4, 1909. The upper floor housed the Bayocean Inn. The building on the right was the Bay Hotel.

 

The open air Dance Hall (foreground) and the Natatorium were built on sand, right at the edge of the beach. The Dancing Pavilion was built first and the Natatorium was built shortly thereafter. The Natatorium opened in 1914. This view is from about 1915.

 

Photo courtesy of Dave Elston

Exterior view of the Rustic Dancing Pavilion from the Natatorium

 

Dances were held on Wednesday and Saturday nights at the Rustic Dancing Pavilion where the Hotel Orchestra played. This fireplace warmed the open-air Dancing Pavilion on chilly nights.

 

Photo courtesy of Dave Elston

Drawing of the Natatorium from an early brochure about Bayocean.

 

This view from 1914 shows the Salt Water Artificial Surf Natatorium under construction.

 

An artist’s conception of the Grand Hotel that was never built.

There were grand plans for the new coastal resort, it was heralded as “The Playground of the Pacific Northwest”, but most of the plans never came to fruition. Bayocean was built on a sand dune on a spit between the Pacific Ocean and the fresh water of Tillamook Bay.

Sign from the Hotel Bayocean Annex, which opened in 1911

 

When the Hotel opened in 1911, the word Annex was included in the name. When Elaborate plans for an Amusement Park, complete with a magnificent Grand Hotel, never came to fruition, the word Annex was dropped from the name as it was Bayocean’s largest hotel.

 

The Annex’s Switchboard can be seen behind the front desk from this early view of the Annex Lobby

 

View of the Hotel at Bayocean, which was equipped with Automatic Fire Sprinklers. You can also see the Natorium over the hill and to the right.

View toward the bay from the Hotel at Bayocean.

 

This rare view shows the Dining Room at the Hotel Bayocean.

There were three Hotels and boarding houses, a School, a General Store, a Bakery and several other businesses. The Amusements consisted of a Trap Shoot Range, a Bowling Alley and Tennis Courts. Bayocean had a Cannery, a Tin Shop, Machine Shop and a Texaco gas station. The Town had a sophisticated water system, a telephone system and a power plant with a diesel engine that provided electricity. A Grand Opening for the Beach Resort was held on June 20, 1912 complete with a parade and marching band. 

 

View of the Avenue leading from the Amusement Halls and Pier to Tent City and the Hotel Bayocean. A flatbed railroad car from the Dinky can be seen in the lower right corner.

 

View of the Natatorium from the beach

 

Interior view of the Natatorium at Bayocean which also housed a 1000 seat movie theater. The 50 X 160 foot pool, which varied from one foot to 11 and 1/2 feet in depth, was heated and it was known for its wave machine. The building housed dressing rooms, tub and shower baths, boilers, pumping and heating machinery, a laundry and an electric light plant.

 

Photo courtesy of Dave Elston

“Submarine” in the Natatorium

 

Photo courtesy of Dave Elston

Water Heating Unit at the Natatorium

 

Photo courtesy of Dave Elston

Spectators line the gallery on the right

 

Photo courtesy of Dave Elston

To the left is the band that entertained the swimmers

 

View of the Natatorium shortly after opening. Cape Meares is located by the hill in the distance.

A road from Tillamook was finally completed in 1928 and a school opened in 1932. The school doubled as a house of worship. Eventually, more than 2,000 sandy lots were sold and about 60 homes were built. The town boasted four miles of paved streets.

 

View of the Bayocean Railroad carrying building supplies. Potter used his Bay Ocean Railroad, which was known as “The Dinky” to haul in gravel from the rock crusher, as well as concrete from the batch plant and other building supplies. With portable tracks, Potter could move the railroad as needed.

 

On weekends, the narrow guage railroad carried in hundreds of “potential buyers or investors” who were basically just there for a fun time. This view from July 4, 1910 shows the many passengers that arrived on his train.

View from the Hotel looking down to the Bay

 

 

Until Bayocean’s new residents could purchase a tract of land or build a house, many of them stayed in the Tent City. Each tent had a wood stove and some of the tents were equipped with lights and electricity.

 

Bungalow City replaced the Tent City

 

Cottages at Bayocean built by Portland’s Poulson Lumber family.

 

The Natatorium on the left was popular in the daytime and the Rustic Pavilion on the right was popular on Wednesday and Saturday nights when the Hotel Orchestra provided the music.

 

A romantic rendezvouz on the hill above the Natatorium

By the time the road opened, erosion had begun to take a toll as several buildings washed into the sea, and the Dance Hall had burned down. The town had about 50 year-round residents, but in the summer, the crowds would swell to several thousand inhabitants.

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This Rose Festival Float was used to promote Bayocean in 1909. It depicts a re-creation of the sand dunes and several landmarks of Bayocean, which were never built: the Grand Hotel and the Amusement Park. Pictured are the proposed Ferris Wheel and the Water Chute ride.

By 1932, the ocean had taken a tole on the Natatorium. It was no longer safe to swim there. As the ocean washed away the sand and under footings, the walls of the Natatorium began to sag and the roof collapsed in 1936. It had totally disappeared by 1939. The Post Office closed on March 31, 1953 as most of the resort town’s residents had moved away. Mr. Mitchell was the last resident to leave. By 1954, the spit washed out, making Bayocean an island. It became known as the town that fell into the sea.

Over the next few years, the town was closed and the remaining buildings were burned down, removed or torn down. The last house fell into the ocean in 1960. Several of the original buildings from Bayocean were moved to Cape Meares, including the School House, which is now a Community Center. Funds are being raised for restoration, and they are over half way to their goal of $40,000.

Unfortunately, very little else of Bayocean survives today, just a few pieces of concrete here and there, and just a few fading memories.

would be much more enjoyable if the water was not so cold. This is the pleasure that Bayocean Natatorium offers you. Breakers are made artificially and the water is an agreeable temperature; also still water for swimming. A fine hotel or summer bungalows at reasonable rates insure a delightful vacation.

Rates. Information and reservation: 722 Corbett Bldg. or any S.P. R.R. Agent

Re-creation of an Oregonian Newspaper Ad from August 16, 1914

Last updated 12-9-12

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