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Early commerce included company store

The Antler Hotel in Harbor hosted social events until it was destroyed by fire in 1918.  ().
The Antler Hotel in Harbor hosted social events until it was destroyed by fire in 1918. ().

Chetco, Dec 23, 1880

Editor Post - Sir:

In compliance with your request, I send you the amount of butter, wool and salmon as near as I can ascertain. During the year 1880 there was shipped from Chetco -- salmon 122,000 lbs., (canned at Smith River), and 30 barrels yet in store; wool, about ten tons; butter, 6 tons.

Charles Van Pelt shipped to the cannery at Smith River the above 120,000 lbs. of salmon.

Respectfully, Thomas Van Pelt

Port Orford Post, Dec. 30, 1880

Over the next several decades the community grew, developing ever more needs for goods and services provided by private business enterprises. Among these were stores, public lodgings, financial institutions, real estate developers, shopping centers, and the like.

Stores

Growing communities required stores of various kinds to meet people's consumer needs. In Brookings early years the C & O Lumber Co. maintained a "mercantile" store in what is now the Kerr building. After the company moved away, one of its top officials W. J. Ward, established his store in that same Mercantile Building. He began by drastically reducing prices, but this didn't last long and soon he was out of business. After he closed, the Driskells continued to operate a small store in their hotel building. Also a Mr. Steeves had a store where the Shell service station now is, and, later, Wilson Freeman opened a store in the building now occupied by Miller's Sports Unlimited. Thor Ask built a general store in 1940, the building now housing the Coast House Restaurant. Les and Bob Dimmick later bought that building and continued it as a grocery store until a year or so before it was rebuilt as the restaurant.

In early Harbor Fletcher Gardner had a small general store. Later, Mark C. Wood owned and operated a general store for many years, about where Hanscam Center now is. In 1924, Elmer E. Hanscam came from California, leased the Mark Wood store in Harbor, and bought its large stock. Wood sold out in order to pursue his mining interests and to develop a tourist park because many tourists were coming through during the summers. The Hanscam store was them located across from its present site on what is now the roadway. In 1925, when the old bridge across the Chetco River collapsed, the store was torn down and rebuilt where it stands today. Three additions have been made to expand the original floor space to four times its original size.

After the C & O mill in Brookings closed abruptly in 1925 a few hardy people hung on and started new business enterprises.

In Brookings, in the building now housing Kerr Hardware, there was a drug store at one end, and a shoe store at the other, while in between just about everything else could be purchased. Other drug stores in the 1930s and 40s were operated by a Mr. Foster, Mr. and Mrs. Robinson, Mr and Mrs. Reed, Mr. Hillyer, and Mr. and Mrs. Belknap. Mr. and Mrs. Ted Zenier bought out the Belknaps, and they sold to Francis Frenchy Arrell ran it as Chetco Rexall Store, with Douglas Peterson and Arrell's son, Jerry, and now operates at Chetco Pharmacy.

Max Brainard opened the first variety store in Brookings in 1939. He has reminisced that:

We'd start the day with $5 in coins and five $1 bills, in a muffin tin. Our store was in an 11-by-11-foot room, rent $7.50 per month. There were no banks her then and merchants had to swap money about.

Public lodgings

Enterprising business people and travelers needed a place to sleep and eat when drumming up business in the Chetco Valley, or traveling through the area. The first settler, A.F. Miller, kept a small public house on the north bank of the Chetco River, near its mouth. Early in the 1900s there were several public lodging houses in the area. The first one in Harbor, the second in Brookings. The Antler Hotel, built before 1900, burned down in 1918 when the great Harbor fire occurred. In 1916 the C & O Co.'s Chetco Inn, still a landmark, was built in Brookings. In October of that year the Oregonian printed a feature article about an auto trip taken down the coast by a party in a seven-passenger Studebaker car. One of the group, J. P. Jaeger, wrote that:

At Brookings they are preparing for the large transit travel which they are bound to get on this route next year, having just completed the Chetco Inn, a $50,000 modern hotel, electric-lighted, steam-heated, with telephones in every room. The view of the Harbor here is very fine.

For many years the Chetco Inn was the social center of the community the central meeting place for clubs such as Rotary and the "place to go" for parties.

In 1924 Harry Caltoft bought the Chetco Inn from the C&O Lumber Co. Caltoft, one of the biggest ranchers in the county, had for years furnished fresh meat and much produce to the company's logging camps, mess hall and general store. He also was president of the Brookings State Bank, president of the chamber of commerce, and chairman of the school board.

From 1937 to around 1940 the Chetco Inn was owned and run by Fannie Trimble. Later the Inn was owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, then sold to two businessmen from Bend. Closed since about the beginning of World War II, the historic inn was opened again in 1951 when Joseph Taylor and his wife from Los Angeles completely repaired and restored it to something of its original appeal. In the refurbishing, they included a few small apartments for rent to "sturdy tenants," and some electric stoves on which lucky fishermen could cook their own catch.

Since 1951 there has been a succession of owners. Eileen Nored purchased the inn in 1978.

Arthur and Priscilla Driskell in Brookings converted their clubhouse into a hotel in 1922. It was known up and down the coast for its hospitality and spotless cleanliness.

The first motel in this end of the county was a group of "tourist cabins" in Harbor, above Mark Wood's store near the Chetco River. They were owned by John R. Hill. Later, as U.S. Highway 101 was improved, modern motels were built: the Westward about 1948, the Beaver State in 1950-51, the Bonn in 1956, the Crest (in 1979 the Thunderbird), and then the Brookings Inn. When the original version of Then till Now was published, the latest addition is the Spindrift, completed in 1978.

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