SEVERAL PEOPLE RECOGNIZED the October picture from the past as Sekiu. The year was 1947.
The following information came from “Jimmy Come Lately: Sekiu” by Ralph Gullikson. He wrote that Sekiu started in about 1870 as West Clallam when J.A. Martin started a salmon cannery there. This was an extension of the main cannery in Seattle. Eventually the cannery was moved to Blaine. In 1889, the California Tanning Co. started an extract factory in Sekiu. This factory brought people to the area and they found they could file homestead claims of 160 acres each and become owners of valuable timber land.
According to Gullikson’s book, people came by boat, as there were no roads and few trails. Sekiu was just getting a good start when a new method of tanning was discovered and the Pacific Tanning Extract factory went out of business. People turned to fishing to make their livings. In about 1907, Goodyear Logging Co. came into being. They built the Rayonier machine shop and enlarged booming grounds. Tugs towed flat rafts for Goodyear.
Gullikson wrote that in 1920, a petition went up to change the name of West Clallam to Sekiu and in 1923, Bloedel-Donavan bought the logging operations from Goodyear.
By 1945, they had sold to Rayonier Inc.
The author added that fishing in the area changed because of new laws passed and commercial fishing closed around Sekiu. By 1930, there were several fishing resorts, as people were sport fishing. It turned into a large industry for Sekiu.
Randy Boston, a reader, wrote that the photo would no doubt be Sekiu in the summer and the heyday of sport fishing for salmon. Sekiu was a hot spot and always crowded in the summer months.
He also said that the railroad in the photo belonged to Rayonier. It brought logs in from the Hoko.
At the east end of town was a building where they serviced and worked on the trains, Boston wrote. There also was a pier where logs from the trains would be dumped and boomed up. Rayonier also had company housing at the site.
Ken Jacobson, the gentleman who gave me the Sekiu photo, said his adopted brother and sister, Cherie Estes and Rusty Jacobson, lived in a Rayonier house behind their grandma Lillian Coventon’s house and that their stepdad, Ted Watts, worked for Rayonier. They lived there for several years.
Sande Balch wrote in to say that her husband, Herb Balch, once had a motel called Herb’s Motel in Sekiu. He has since passed away and the motel is a private facility right now.
Balch said that the opening day of salmon fishing would leave Sekiu so full of cars the bus from school would have to leave the students at the top of the road into Sekiu and the kids would have to walk.
She wrote that in those days most fishermen rented small kicker boats from the resorts so cars did not have a boat trailer.
I don’t believe there was any parking enforcement at the time.
Estes remembered living in company housing across from the mill and the train tracks near the entrance to Sekiu behind her grandma Lillian’s house.
Jacobson also remembered that house and playing in the woods behind the house with Rusty and Curt Klock.
Estes said that it was great fun playing on a rope swing until she crashed her head into a tree. Her adopted sister, Jan Schultz, remembered that swing.
Dorthy Coventon Amiot said, “This is how I remember Sekiu.”
The house Amiot lived in with her brother, Ernie Coventon, and their parents, Lillian and Bill Coventon, is out of sight in the photo.
Margaret Levitan guessed that the event was the opening of the new Community Center Building in Sekiu.
June Bowlby of Clallam Bay wrote that she was born there in a little house at the end of the street by Olson’s Resort (now Masons) in 1932 and has lived there her entire life.
She wasn’t sure what the occasion was but guessed that the fishing season could have been in full swing.
Bowlby said that Kon’s Cove, bar, restaurant and boat rental building was the one with the tobacco truck parked in front.
It was owned by Carl and Vi Konopaski.
Next was a white house (a private home), then was Al Anderson’s Restaurant, bar and boat rental.
Anderson had partners, Walt and Frieda Funk, who helped him run the resort.
Richard Bjerke, the Funks’ nephew, came from Seattle to help with cleaning boats in the summer.
George and Viola Sands lived in the dark house next.
Ray and Flora Konopaski ran the Sekiu Grocery Store, but it is out of sight in the photo.
Weldon and Wilburta Morris’ home was next, although it was set back from the road and not visible in the photo.
Curley’s Resort, a company house, Arbeiters home, another company house and the Sekiu Post Office were next.
The post office was run by Mrs. Evelyn Ackerman.
There were more company houses on both sides of the street along the railroad and then there was a big company shop that is not seen in the photo.
Bowlby also wrote that their first Sekiu Days Parade was Sept. 3, 1949.
Betty Davis wrote that her husband, Buck Davis, believed the photo for October was of the train tracks leading to the log dump at Seiku.
She said he thinks that at the time of the photo the tracks were operated by either Ozette or Milwaukee timber.
It was later owned and operated by Rayonier Timber and ceased operation in the early 1970s.
Those who lived or visited in Sekiu will always remember the great fishing and the comradeship of small town living.
Alice Alexander is a Clallam County historian, author, and a descendent of an Elwha Valley pioneer family. She is a recipient of a 2014 Clallam County Heritage Awards. She can be reached at [email protected].
Alice’s Clallam history column appears the first Sunday of every month, alternating with Linnea Patrick’s Jefferson County history column on the third Sunday of the month.