McKenzie River Reflections - Make the McKenzie Connection!

“Like Mayberry - without Barney & Andy”

 

April 10, 2016



Doyle HawksEUGENE: “It was a wonderful place to live,” Billie Ruth Rose had to say about the community of logger’s families that once thrived near Quartz Creek on the McKenzie River. “My folks lived there for 20 years. There were probably 100 kids in the area and the mothers mainly stayed home to raise families. It was a good place - like Mayberry without Barney and Andy.”

Rose and Doyle Hawks, also a fellow kid from “Arkyville,” as the camp was called locally, were featured last weekend at the McKenzie Memories presentation in Eugene. Hawks shared some of the history about how the settlement came to be - tracing founder “Whit” Rosborough’s migration from the pine woods of Arkansas and the contingent of workers who followed him when he reestablished his mills in Oregon.

“I grew up with a fishing rod in one hand and a rifle in the other,” Hawks recalled. But he and other boys in the neighborhood had their hands on some tools. Most started working in the woods when they were in the 9th grade, and kept at it until they graduated - planting trees for Rosboro for a dollar an hour.


Helping people follow their recollections were photos from the past projected on a large screen. A few showed some of the 27 homes people lived in while others illustrated how something like going to school was a bit different in those days.

“We weren’t allowed to cross the logging bridge. Trucks came down the mountain, around the corner and across the bridge,” Billie said. “They didn’t want to stop or slow down for anything. We had to cross the swinging bridge for anything - to the store, to go to school. Little first grade kids crossed that bridge twice a day.”

At times crossing that pedestrian bridge became a challenge. “Some of the boys would get on one end, swinging it back and forth or stomping on it,” Billie remembers. “But we all survived. Nobody fell in.”

Doyle noted that today’s McKenzie Schools campus dates back to its construction in 1941 for grades 1 through 12. “The best thing about being in Finn Rock was playing sports,” he said. “It was a small school. About anyone who went out could make the team.”

Their baseball team,  “The McKenzie River Bums,”  put some miles on their roster. “One summer we went to Yreka, California, spent a week and then went on to Happy Camp. The next winter we went up to Seattle and played some big schools,” Doyle said.

They more than held their own. In a game against Oakridge, “Dennis Baldridge scored 54 points - way before the 3-pointer,” Doyle pointed out. He later played for Oregon, scoring 35 points against Oregon State as a freshman on the basketball team. Rounding out his accomplishments, “He signed a contract and played seven to eight years for the New York Yankees.”

Many people, “Have no clue there was a settlement there,” Billie said of the old Finn Rock Camp. “I used to sort of mourn that. But a few weeks ago I visited it with some other people. It’s so beautiful. I’m okay with it now, let it go and become what it needs to become. I’m really appreciative of the McKenzie River Trust purchasing it and saving it.”


Editor’s note: Dave Quillan, also grew up at the camp and is remembered as the only guy who had a camera. He took extensive photos in the 1950’s and ‘60’s. Some are posted on our website. To view them, go to: http://alturl.com/rb9qe

Image above: Doyle Hawks, left, and Billie Rose took to the stage at Avenue 252 in Eugene on Saturday to share stories about growing up at the Finn Rock Logging Camp.

 

McKenzie River Reflections

 

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