Reliving Finn Rock Camp
February 27, 2016
FINN ROCK: “I always wondered why they called it a camp,” Billie Rose recalls. “Our folks lived there for almost 20 years. I guess ‘camp’ sort of gave the impression we were transients but we weren’t.”
Billie, her sister Nancy and brother Joe, were part of a gathering of old friends last Saturday who grew up in a community that many of today’s McKenzie Valley residents might never know existed. Their home, the Finn Rock Camp has long roots, stretching back to 1890, when Thomas “Whit” Whitaker Rosborough built a sawmill in Rosboro, Arkansas. After his honeymoon itinerary swung though the Pacific Northwest, Whit had a longing to return. He did that in 1939 when he moved to Springfield, Oregon, and built what a newspaper of that time called the region’s “most modern timber manufacturing plant.” Timber for the mill came from lands he’d purchased up the McKenzie Valley.
Many of the men who brought the wood out of the woods followed Whit from back East. Nancy said their Dad made the move on his own at first and later arranged for his family to move out on a train.
Doyle Hawks said his father had been hired to build the houses at the camp. When his family rolled into town on a Greyhound bus, Whit’s chauffeur was their to pick them up in a black limousine. He and Whit’s housemaid had also made the move, living in Oregon until he died.
David Quillin’s Dad heard the call from Texas, leaving behind a job as a welder in a shipyard. His family, he said, “sold what they had, loaded up an old black Packard and the clothes on their backs.”
The reminiscing was part of a story gathering process in anticipation of this year’s McKenzie Memories event sponsored by the McKenzie Watershed Council. Scheduled for April 1st in Eugene, the program will include a “Fireside talk” with people recalling what it was like growing up in the Finn Rock Camp, as well as a session with local author Barry Lopez.
This year’s McKenzie Memories will be held at Venue 252 (the old Eugene Planing Mill), 252 Lawrence Street in Eugene, beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets for $15 will go on sale on March 1st. For more information, call 541-345-2799 or contact [email protected]
Top Photo Courtesy Curtis Irish. Back in the 1950’s, the Finn Rock Camp was a thriving community with 27 homes for employees of the Rosboro Lumber Company.
Second image: Lamar White, Nancy Rose, Joe Rose, Billie Rose, Doyle Hawks, and Dave Quillin in front of the last structure standing, the old camp’s pumphouse.
McKenzie River Reflections