THE STORY BEHIND THE NAME

Pilot story and photos

by Andrea Barkan

Several Brookings-Harbor residents took a historical hike through Harris Beach State Park Friday.

A reprieve from the rain lingered long enough to allow for an enjoyable 1 p.m. nature walk led by Interpretive Ranger Angela Stewart.

Stewart leads a series of andquot;1 o'clock Nature Walksandquot; this month.

The educational hikes highlight features of the park including birds, wildlife, geology, history and edible plants.

andquot;It's always fun digging up the secrets of the park and sharing with people,andquot; Stewart said.

Harris Beach State Park is named for George Scott Harris, who settled 20 acres of land in 1871, Stewart told hikers Friday.

Harris was a Scot who served with the British army.

After settling his initial homestead, Harris bought more land - between 40 and 60 acres - and raised cattle and sheep.

Harris was a confirmed bachelor with no heirs. Eventually he brought out his nephew, Henry Cooper, from San Francisco.

When Harris died the land passed into Cooper's possession. He sold it to Oregon State Parks in 1925, Stewart said.

He requested they name the park after his uncle, who is buried in Smith River.

While Harris had quite a role in molding that land into the state park it is today, there were others who touched it too, Stewart said.

She reminded hikers of the American Indians who lived at the site.

andquot;Their hands touched the park in a gentler, less invasive way,andquot; Stewart said.

Treasure Rock was a quarry for chert, stone with high silica content.

Local American Indians traded chert for obsidian, which they fashioned into knives and scrapers, Steward explained.

Then she hit fast-forward on the history lesson plan and went from the first residents to a first lady.

In the 1960s, Lady Bird Johnson's nationwide beautification project touched Harris Beach State Park.

As part of that mission, the Oregon Department of Transportation planted sweet pea and vetch along some of the park's less aesthetically pleasing hillsides.

The tour weaved through old and new campsites. Hikers even got to peek inside a vacant yurt.

As the tour drew to a close, Stewart noted how glad she is to be back at the park after working as an administrator last year in Coos Bay.

She'd been a ranger at Harris Beach 15 years before she left a year ago.

andquot;I really missed doing this,andquot; Stewart said.

Upcoming walks include wildlife trails on Friday and geology of the park on Saturday.

All walkers meet at the woodbin by campsite A-14.

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The Curry Coastal Pilot
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