LOON LAKE METHODIST
by Bob Hale 1959
During the 1950’s many people felt the need for a Methodist camp in Southwest Oregon? While pastor of the Coos Bay United Methodist Church and a member of the conference camping committee, the Rev. Walter Warner, conducted a search and finally zeroed in on Loon Lake. Loon Lake is a three mile long lake in the Coast Range 13 miles east of Reedsport and 7 miles south of Highway 38. The lake is about 50 miles from Coos Bay 75 miles from Eugene and 60 miles from Roseburg. The climate is typical Western Oregon with warm dry summers, ideal for camping. In 1958 a beautiful tract of land at the north end of Loon Lake was obtained on lease from the Bureau of Land Management. A sub district camping committee was organized, a number of picnics were held, but no development was accomplished before the B.L.M. decided the property would be ideal for a public campground and cancelled the lease in 1959. The chief advantage of having use of the B.L.M. site was that it made people aware of Loon Lake and a sub district camping committee was in place ready for the next opportunity.
The next opportunity was not long in coming when later in 1959, the Rev. Paul Peterson and Bob Hale of Coos Bay discovered the property for sale that eventually became Loon Lake Methodist Camp, Those who viewed the property felt that it was ideally suited for the camping needs of S. W. Oregon and the Oregon Conference as well. The campsite is about 40 acres on the S.W. corner of the lake with about 15 acres of creek bottom land and the rest forest hillside. It is accessible only by boat except for an unimproved summer access road. Included was a fully equipped ranch house which was adapted and rebuilt to become a suitable headquarters lodge, with staff quarters, large kitchen, lodge room and with plumbing and sleeping for small group camping.
There had been a desire for a primitive camping facility in the conference, and Loon Lake was ideal for that purpose. The lodge overlooked the lake, a small bay for boating, a. swimming area which included the only naturally sandy beach on Loon Lake.
The small Salander Creek meandered through the bottom land providing many interesting sites for small group primitive camps. After showing the property to members of the several United Methodist Churches in Oregon, every one became excited about the possibility of obtain this beautiful site. Major obstacles stood in the way, however, most important of which was the fact that the Oregon Idaho Conference was not in a position to purchase the property at the time. The conference indicated, however, that there might be funds available in about three years for that purpose. After much discussion and many ideas presented and discarded the following was proposed:
1. A corporation be formed named Loon Lake Methodist Camp, Inc.
2. Shares in the corporation be sold in amounts of $100 each.
3. Property would be purchased for $20,000 with 1/3 down and the balance payments of about $500 per quarter.
4. Shareholders would agree to further investments of about $9 per share quarterly as needed to make quarterly payments.
5. The camp would be operated by the conference during the camping season and by the site committee the rest of the year.
6. The conference would purchase the property and payoff the shareholders in three years. There was little danger of anyone losing their investment because the property was so desirable that there were other offers to buy before the sale was completed.
At the committee meeting to discuss this proposal, finally one person asked, "Shall we do it?" and another person responded “Why not”. Thus was born Loon Lake Methodist Camp.
The founding committee immediately got to work by incorporating and selling shares to 27 individuals and organizations from churches in Reedsport, North Bend, Coos Bay, Coquille, Myrtle Point, Drain and Eugene. First officers and shareholders of the corporation are listed on the attached sheet. The down payment of $6,700 was raised and the property purchased on Oct. 21, 1959. In order to lessen further investments by the stockholders as quarterly payments became due, various means were used to raise money. The property had been a holly farm with about 200 trees still in good shape. Holly was picked and sold on the market on Thanksgiving weekend for three years, yielding about 2,000 Lbs. worth about $500 each year. Timber was sold allowing for the timber access road to be built and netting about $6,000. The barn blew down during a storm and was not rebuilt, insurance providing $500. Thus the corporation was able to make regular quarterly payments and maintain and improve the property without unduly burdening stockholders with much further investments.
The first camp was held in July 1960 and operated by the corporation under the direction of Beth Hurlocker of Reedsport with 19 junior campers. The camp was a complete success as were the camps in subsequent years when operated by the conference. It was decided then that primitive camping was the way to go. Tepees were obtained and individual camps for about eight campers plus counselors were set up by the campers themselves at sites selected by the campers, usually along the creek. Each camp was a self-contained family unit providing a rich environment for close Christian fellowship. Depending on the age group, some or all meals were prepared by the campers. Swimming, canoeing, and hiking were among the recreational activities.
To make the camp useable for camping, many projects were undertaken by the corporation. Holly harvesting and marketing was very important to financial success. As many as 45 people were involved each year. One year the harvest followed right after a heavy rainstorm which raised the lake level by 12 feet. The ferry boat was then able to float right into the holly orchard for easy loading. Building the ferry boat was essential. Under the design and direction of Maurice Romig, a ferry boat capable of carrying 25 people with luggage was immediately built. The boat served well until it broke moorage and was carried over the falls in one of the high water storms. A second ferry was built that served until the conference purchased the aluminum pontoon boat.
The water system had to be improved. The solution was to use treated lake water. The lodge was improved in stages under the direction of builder Don Thompson of North Bend. The lodge was an amalgamation of three or four different wings built at different times. The one wing that was sound was converted into a large kitchen with a large deck outside for dining. The rest of the house was torn down in stages and replaced with a lodge room, two sleeping rooms and bathrooms. The storage building was replaced by the Cottage Grove Church with a new structure which provided much needed dry storage for canoes etc.
Host materials and all labor for all -projects was donated so that out of pocket costs were very reasonable. During the first years, off season use was promoted so that there were many winter retreats held. Several dedicated members made themselves available to escort groups into the camp. This job usually fell on the shoulders of Paul Hurlocker of Reedsport, George Ten Eyck of .North Bend or Bob Hale of Coos Bay.
In October of 1962 at the end of the three years of ownership and operation by the corporation, the Oregon Conference assumed the mortgage on the property. The Conference agreed to repay stockholders their original investment, without interest, in not more than three years. Repayment was made in July 1965. Most of the stock- holders donated all or a portion of their investment to the conference. Not only did stockholders and others donate thousands of hours of labor and much material, but also thousands of dollars in cash. Cash raised by the corporation for payment of the property and for maintenance and development is approximately as follows.
Gifts by stockholders $3,000.00
Timber Sales 6,000.00
Holly sales 1,500.00
Windfall (Barn Insurance) 500.00
Total raised by corporation $11,000.00
A debt of gratitude is owed to these dedicated people •
Thousands of children, youth and adults have benefitted from the Christian experiences of primitive camping at Loon Lake. The fire on August 6, 1985 t:1at completely destroyed the lodge and storage building at Loon Lake has caused the conference reevaluate the camping programs, not only at Loon Lake, but throughout the Oregon Idaho Conference, Questions to be resolved include: Should the facilities be rebuilt but modified to better serve today's needs. Should the concept of primitive camping be evaluated? Let us hope that from the ashes of the fire will rise a greater camping program for the Oregon Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Respectfully submitted Bob Hale
LOON LAKE METHODIST CAMP, INC
OFFICES AND TRUSTEES 1959
NAME TOWN POSITION
Robert Hale Coos Bay President
Rev. E. J. Heshcenbrenner Eugene Vice President
Paul Hurlocker Reedsport Secretary
Don Thompson North Bend Trustee
John Rhodes Myrtle Point Trustee
Ray Brouser North Bend Trustee
Maurice Romig Coos Bay Trustee
Rev. Paul Peterson Coos Bay Trustee
Mr. & Mrs. David Isaacson Eugene
Mr. & Mrs. Ross Rudin Coos Bay
Mr. & Mrs. Jim Whipple Drain
Mr. & Mrs. George Ten Eyck North Bend
Myrtle Point Methodist Men Myrtle Point
Mr. & Mrs. John Rhodes Myrtle Point
Mr. & Mrs. Willard Morgan Coquille
North Bend WSCS North Bend
Mrs. Lyle Chappell North Bend
Mr. & Mrs. Ray Breuser North Bend
Methodist Men Coos Bay Coos Bay
Lowell Russell Coos Bay
Mr. & Mrs. Wayne Andrews Coos Bay
Mr. & Mrs. Robert Proctor Coos Bay
Mr. & Mrs. Norwell Butler Coos Bay
Mr. & Mrs. Walter Hoover Coos Bay
Mr. & Mrs. Jim Hanson Coos Bay
Miss Edith Romig Coos Bay
Mr. & Mrs. Ed Cone Eugene
Dr. & Mrs. Glen Gordon Eugene
Mr. & Mrs. Robert Palmer Myrtle Point
Mr. & Mrs. Robert Hale Coos Bay
Mr. & Mrs. Paul Hurlocker Reedsport
Mr. & Mrs. Eldon Morse Coos Bay
Mr. & Mrs. Don Thompson North Bend
Mr. & Mrs. John Rhodes Myrtle Point
Mr. & Mrs. Ray Breuser North Bend
Mr. & Mrs. Maurice Romig Coos Bay
Mr. & Mrs. Paul Peterson Coos Bay