Claudia Elliot

The Baby Boom peaked with 4,300 U.S. births in 1957, which may explain the preponderance of advertisements for station wagons in the pages of what was then known as the Brookings-Harbor Pilot.

Ray Pisarek and Joe Murphy were editors and publishers, having purchased the paper from Mrs. Minna Akers, who took over following her husband Dewey’s death in a plane crash in 1952.

The pair added a slogan to what was then known as the Brookings-Harbor Pilot: “Nowhere a Finer Climate — Nowhere a Finer Community.” The slogan was dropped in July when there were several redesigns of the newspaper’s flag.

The Pilot had become a larger newspaper, a broadsheet instead of the smaller tabloid format of its early days, but on April 11 readers were surprised with a smaller page again and a very different look as the newspaper converted to the new “photo offset” method of production that also allowed easier and better quality reproduction of pictures.


In January, Southwest Airways Co. urged people to petition officials to change the air travel route. At the time the airline offered service out of Crescent City, but planes flew only to Medford and then required a transfer. The company hoped to change to allow direct flights from Crescent City to Salem and Portland.

In his column, co-editor Joe Murphy confessed to inaccurately reporting that there were 366 curves in the road between Brookings and Gold Beach, as he had been told. Actually, he said, after counting the curves himself he learned there were only 362. Of those, 148 were between Brookings and Carpenterville, 68 between Carpenterville and Pistol River, and 146 from there to the Gold Beach city limits. Some of the curves were about a half-mile long. He called those compounded curves and said the next time he made the trip he would count the straight stretches as that would be quite a lot easier.

In February the state’s plan to fund $16 million to “eliminate the Brookings to Gold Beach bottleneck” in Highway 101 was announced. The first section of the new route between Gold Beach and Pistol River was set to be contracted during the summer of 1957, following approval of a $12.6 million bond issue.

The realignment would cut about eight miles from the trip between Brookings and Gold Beach. However in late October residents were disappointed to learn that there was not enough money in the state bond to finish Highway 101 from Pistol River to Gold Beach that year. In December Peter Kiewit Sons Construction was the low bidder for the first 3.5-mile section of Highway 101 construction north of Brookings and started bringing in equipment. The firm’s bid was $1,056,000 for 3.5 miles.

In October the Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce sponsored a meeting to discuss possibilities of an Oregon road from Brookings to Grants Pass.


In January, the city of Brookings reported that $602,205 in building permits were issued during 1956. This included permits to build 27 new homes and three commercial buildings as well as 39 additions and improvements to existing structures. This was down from the banner year of 1955 when more than $1.2 million in building permits were issued, and 100 new homes built.

The cornerstone of the new Curry County Courthouse in Gold Beach was set to be laid on Jan. 26 under the auspices of the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Oregon and said to be the first time in the history of the county that the Masons participated in a ceremony of that type.

Although the cornerstone was set, the new courthouse was not completed by the end of January because the contractor was behind schedule and much work remained. The Pilot reported that the contractor had run into financial difficulties and several suppliers had filed liens against the building.

In early April, the Pilot said that work had been stopped on the courthouse at the beginning of March when the bonding company had to step in and assume liability because the contractor defaulted. All concrete had been poured, but the building lacked interior finishing. The contractor blamed the architect, and the county had to obtain a new set of plans and specifications.


A January ad for West Coast Telephone said it was “easy as ABC” to call long distance. All you had to do was ask the operator for long distance (or dial “O” to reach an operator if you had a dial phone), be ready to give the long distance operator the city, name and number of whoever you wanted to call, and then commence your conversation once the connection was made. And you could call anywhere in the United States for $2 or less, plus federal tax, after 6 on weekdays and all day Sunday. That was for three minutes only.

In February, West Coast Telephone advertised to encourage customers to add extension phones in additional rooms of their homes at the cost of about four cents a day and also touted new color telephones available in “eight attractive pastels.”

Timber and mining

The Oregon-Washington Veneer plant in Harbor was set to reopen Jan. 22 after being shut down for three months. The mill was to start off with one shift of about 20 men. It had been closed down Oct. 15, 1956, due to a price dip in plywood.

South Coast Mill had also been closed down and took advantage of the downtime to install new equipment. The mill was set to reopen March 18 with a single shift, adding a second shift once everything was up and running.

A slight improvement in the lumber market was noted in March.

In August, District Forest Ranger W. E. Ragland announced that nearly 50 million board feet of timber was available for sale on the Siskiyou National Forest. He noted that there was also increased interest in mining with claims being staked in the Snow Cap area and Red Flat country.

In August, Curry County was allocated $296,131 in O&C timber funds, representing 75 percent of the total receipts of timber sold in 1957 (624.5 million board feet).

Brookings Plywood bought 24 million board feet of timber in the Wheeler Creek drainage of federal forest lands in October for the appraised value of $424,485 and agreed to build 7.5 miles of permanent road in conjunction with the purchase.

Under the headline “Nickel Land Under Option” the Pilot in the spring reported that options had been taken on $1 million of Curry County land to develop low-grade nickel ore. The Pacific Nickel Corporation of Los Angeles picked up the options of 12,000 acres of land in the Hunter Creek area south of Gold Beach and north of Pistol River in the Red Flats area where exploration had been going on for many months.


In January, the Harbor Community Club presented a brand new set of Encyclopedia Brittanica to the Chetco Community Public Library, along with a subscription for annual updates.

Coos-Curry Electric Co-Op continued development of facilities and also offered financing to people who wanted to update their homes by adding more electrical outlets. No down payment was required, and customers had 24 months to pay.

Forty students were set to graduate during the 32nd annual graduate of Brookings-Harbor high school in May.

In September, school opened in Brookings with a total of 1,068 students compared to 1,026 the previous year and more students were expected (although by the end of November there was actually one fewer).

Curry County’s listings in the latest Dun & Bradstreet reference book showed a total of 231 mercantile businesses of which 88 were in Brookings, 68 in Gold Beach and 33 in Port Orford. The count did not include service establishments such as real estate brokers or barber and beauty shops.

—Claudia Elliott is a freelance writer. She lives in Brookings.