Owner plans restaurant, museum at site of toppled Clatskanie dock
The Daily News Online, August 20, 2012, by Amy M.E. Fischer
"A week after part of the century-old Mayger fish station collapsed into the Columbia River near Clatskanie, the property owner said he plans to salvage the old timbers to restore the historic fish packing warehouse into a restaurant and museum.
“There’s a lot of history here. Huge history,” the owner, Jack Davis of Milwaukie, Ore., said Monday.
The evening of Aug. 11, the net shed — a 40-foot-wide, 300-foot-long building where generations of fishermen repaired and prepped their nets — toppled into the water. Davis, 47, said he was told the pilings had been pulled out from beneath it, possibly by a boat witnesses spotted in the area when the shed fell. Other witnesses said a wake may have toppled the building.
“It went like dominoes because it’s built in sections,” Davis said.
But Davis, a former Portland recycling center owner who bought the property in 2004, isn’t upset about the loss of the shed, which was visible from Willow Grove Park’s boat launch across river in Longview. He’d been planning to replace it next summer with a dock, anyway, so boaters would have a place to moor their vessels when they visited the waterfront restaurant and museum he intends to create inside the property’s two-story warehouse.
Davis’s goal is to open next summer. In the meantime, though, the property is listed for sale for $975,000. Davis said he’d only sell to the right buyer who understood and valued the property’s historical significance and had a good plan. He’s also interested in selling the hundreds of enormous old-growth logs submerged on the property in the river that he discovered with ground-penetrating radar, he said.
From 1910 to 1998, fishermen sold millions of pounds of salmon at the fish station, said Davis, who has all the purchase records. Every season for a nearly 50 years, he said, there were about 10 different salmon runs in Greens Creek, which empties into the Columbia River nearby.
“The fish volume was phenomenal,” he marveled.
At the Mayger fish station warehouse, workers would pack fish in ice and load it onto trucks for transport to canneries and processing centers. The property also has a boat lift and a boat-building workshop where wood was steamed and bent into planking for boat hulls.
Those buildings are more solidly built than the net shed, said Davis, who will reuse the shed’s clear-grain fir when renovating the warehouse. He hopes local businesses and community members will be interested enough in the project to become partners in restoring the property and collecting artifacts for display for public enjoyment.
“This is great history, and we’re going to work to make sure it’s around for a long time,” said Davis, who has experience restoring some old Portland houses from the ground up."