Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle


February 9, 2023

This photo of the Lewis and Clark maps display is currently at the Appelo Archives. Photo courtesy of Pearl Blackburn.

In Bob Pyle's lovely second edition of "Sky Time in Grays River," he says, "Every day and every night of the shoulder season, winter into spring, the Swede Park census grows." He is referring to the increasing number of birds and butterflies appearing around his historic home built by H.P. Ahlberg, an early founder of Grays River. The idea of a "shoulder season" is so true. Even in February, some days feel like spring, then again winter sometimes appears in freezing nights. Either way, there are signs of spring occasionally, each one most welcome.

Recently, I overheard a comment with a question about Norse Hall. I shared the question with my dear friend, Kayrene Gilbertsen. Here is her information on its history. "I have taken this information from several copies of the annual "Eagle Special Editions" which my mother carefully saved. Hope this answers any questions about Norse Hall. "Norse Hall on Puget Island has been the center of the community for over 80 years. It was the vision and pride of Sigurd Blix, an early settler, who found it difficult to attend the Sons of Norway meetings in Astoria. He and several others commuted to that lodge in a four-horsepower fishing boat. It was a long and uncomfortable trip. Sigurd determined that the Puget Island Norwegians could support and enjoy a hall of their own. In 1934 Helgeland Lodge #30 was organized with 69 charter members. They met in the Tover's Store in Welcome Slough and at the Grange Hall until the Lodge was completed in 1941. John and Anna Grotan donated 13 acres of land for the lodge. Volunteers cleared four acres and laid the foundation with gravel brought by barge from east of Cathlamet in 1937. Lumber was purchased from the Wauna Lumber Mill with donations and the sale of newspaper ads, and in 1938, little by little, construction started. In 1941, the building was completed owing only a $400 loan from the Supreme Lodge. On April 5, 1941, Governor Arthur Langlie gave the dedication address. From the beginning, the women of the lodge not only organized fundraisers, they cooked and baked, cleaned and decorated the hall, and served as officers, while the men did the repairs and improvements to the building inside and out and developed the property with parking and picnic areas. Over the years, dances, wedding receptions, funerals, family and school reunions, group meetings, banquets, and many more events, have brought people together and formed lasting memories for young and old. The New Year's Eve Dance, the Senior Banquet, Prom and any events that required a large space were held here as it was the biggest hall in the county. Unfortunately, not many of these original lodges have withstood the test of time. Through many years of dedication, the members of Helgeand Lodge have kept the hall beautiful and active. New members, whether Norwegian or not, work to keep it the pride of the community. Thanks to Sigurd and Sigrid, this large attractive building has served Puget Island and the county well. Four generations later, Blix families remain on Puget Island and can be proud of the vision and dedication of the one called the "Father of Norse Hall."

The Grays River Grange hosts the weekly Wednesday AA meetings at noon. The meetings are confidential and you needn't even mention your last name. Based on the 12-step program that was first developed in 1935, it has changed lives ever since.

From Marie Green, Athletic Director at Naselle GRV School: Congratulations to both our boys and girls teams for qualifying for district basketball.

West End Food Bank: A woman who remembers how citizens of the area have consistently responded to needs of folks living here, called to report that the West End Food Pantry needs more volunteers. Open every Thursday afternoon from 1-5, the volunteers are sometimes overwhelmed with produce boxes, putting donated food on the shelves, delivering food to shut-ins, recording donations and keeping track of how much donated food weighs so they can keep an up to date total of how much donated food is being delivered to them weekly and helping visitors who come for help. If you have some time, please call their phone number (360) 465-2344 with your questions.

From Pearl Blackburn: The first Garden Club meeting was last night, Thursday, Feb 2nd with plans to meet monthly, first Thursday at 6 p.m. Many people showed up. Hopefully next month we can meet in a bigger room. Focus was on starting seedlings with lots of tips shared for our area. Everyone wants to talk about their gardens. Who cares that the groundhog says another six weeks of winter! Nicole did a great job. She entered a lot of flowers and vegetables at the Wahkiakum County Fair last year. Refreshments and door prizes were great. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

Coming Events:

Mondays: Naselle Lutheran Church sponsors knitters/crocheters at 1 p.m.

Wednesdays: AA meeting at the Grays River Grange at noon.

First Thursday of the month: Gardening group meets at Johnson Park at 6 p.m.

First Thursday of the month: Caregiver Support Group at Naselle Library with Ocean Beach Hospital staff from 1-2 p.m.

February 15: Senior Lunch Group at noon at Rosburg Hall.

February 21: School Board meeting at 6:30 in school library.

CAP Senior Lunches: CAP/Thursday Senior Lunches are located inside Rosburg Hall at noon.


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