Wilark

Wilark was named by combining the names of Wilson and Clark from the Clark and Wilson Lumber Company which operated a mill at Linnton and owned timber lands throughout Columbia County. The post office was established in 1924 and served the logging camps. Located near the headwaters of the Clatskanie River along the Pittsburg road, Wilark had rail service via the Goble and Nehalem Valley Railroad to Goble. With trackage up the hill to the Reed place on the summit between the Clatskanie River drainage and the Nehalem Valley drainage, Clark and Wilson gained access to ridge which extends throughout Columbia County which separates the Nehalem River (which drains into the Pacific Ocean from the Clatskanie River which drains into the Columbia River at (you guessed it) Clatskanie. After the war (WWII) Wilark served as a 'fire camp' for the State Forestry Department and was 'electrified' by West Oregon via a line over Bunker hill from Chapman. The site is now abandoned and the forest has reclaimed it. The infamous Bunker Hill Line has since been abandoned as well, and electric service to the nearby Camp Emerald Forest is provided via a distribution voltage wheeling meter on the end of a Columbia River PUD feeder near Apiary.

While there isn't much there now, Wilark was will known in its time as a major logging camp. It is featured in a book entitled An Oregon Schoolma'am by Grace Brandt Martin, Callapooia Publications (1981). It seems that Ms. Martin taught school there for a couple of years in the depth of the depression and shortly before the camp closed as a Logging camp. She reports that she taught school there in the 30-31 and 31-32 school years. The operation was clearly financially desperate during this era and closed not long after. She estimated that the camp had in its heyday served as 'home' for up to 800 men.

Her diary entry of her first visit to the school was that:

"However, the Wilark schoolhouse is wonderfully equipped for a country school with carbide lights, a furnace and a janitor to keep it stoked, swings, slides, a large playshed, and very good furnishings inside the building. But I must sadly admit that for all their prosperity, they still have outdoor toilets."

She spoke less kindly of the house was was given to live in:

"The weather-beaten shack that we are to occupy has never been painted on the outside, just like all the other houses I saw around the camp. In the small Kitchen there is a sink piped for cold water and the only, places for storing things are a few crudely built shelves. The bedroom is about the same size as the kitchen, so there is just enough room for a double bed, dresser, and my wardrobe trunk. No closet, naturally, but a makeshift place to hang clothes has been built in one corner.

Later she acknowledged that things were not quite as rosy at school. It was a typical one room school that had been partitioned down the middle so as to make 2 long skinny classrooms. She started with 24 students (including 6 from Trenholm) in 4 grades in a single classroom with barely space to walk beside the desks along the wall but was down to 14 by spring due to move outs.

This writer also provided a glimpse of the financial conditions of the camp. She was paid $140 per month and figured that she cleared $130 a month as she had no rent, fuel or water bills and groceries cost her less than $10.00 per month. Apparently by the end of 1931 loggers wages were in the range of $4.00 per day. She does not record the demise of Wilark, but did report a declining school population (even with the Trehholm students bussed in, and did report that for the 1932-33 school year, the school was scheduled to be reduced to a one room school in which the teacher was to teach all 8 grades and the pay was to be cut to $110.00 per month. No one said the depression was easy.

Alas, that which once was home to 800 men, and was served by 2 railroads, and had regular bus service as well as a machine shop and and roundhouse, has vanished back into the forest.

See also Logging History

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