Friday, October 16, 2015

Happy Camp's Old Town Park

"Old Town River Park", AFTER Community work!
©By Judy Bushy

In the beginning the park idea was brought to the Happy Camp Chamber of Commerce by Charlotte and Willie Attebery of Evans Mercantile and Ellen Johnson. At that time the Chamber was having lunch every Wednesday at the Pizza Place and More that Bill and Ellen Johnson opened after Headway Market on 2nd Avenue closed. They proposed that the half acre piece of land, now owned by two private parties be purchased for the enjoyment of the whole community.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to take  old, overgrown lots in the "old town" of Happy Camp and make a nice "village square" for members of the community to enjoy!                                          
Ellen Johnson BEFORE beginning all the hard work
 to tame the wild weedy lot!

The empty lot that had at once been the site of the Del Rio Movie Theater, Timber Inn Cafe and Saloon with a Dance Hall behind had burned to the ground. It had a long bar, some say the longest bar in California, in a "U" shaped configuration in the back. We still get inquiries about that bar at the Happy Camp Chamber of Commerce. The Del Rio had been in that place from 1945 until the disaster on 1975. I remember eating at the Timber Inn when my uncle came to visit me in Happy Camp a few years before then,. The Dance Hall had been called Russell's Hall. After the fire, the lot was overgrown with weeds which became small trees and other assorted refuse added to the eyesore. The purchase of the land, and it's improvement were the first orders of business. The Happy Camp Action Committee was given a $5,000 grant toward work at the Old Town Park. Bill Heitler, who worked for the Forest Service, was working with a group from different Districts, on community improvement projects and they came to Happy Camp to help with the old town park. They put in some water lines and Howard Garthwait, President of the Happy Camp Chamber of Commerce at that time, used his engineering expertise to assist in sidewalk improvement.  Yet there was still more to do and funds to bring in.

W. Beth Buchanan fundraiser, with Frank Davis, and two teens who
drew out the winning raffle tickers, (Miss Loyd &    )
Beth Buchanan began to assist with Fundraising in unique ways. There was a big raffle and dinner at the Old Elementary School which began to make the funds grow. Through bake sales, raffles, plant sales and donations from concerned citizens and organizations they raised $24,300 by January 2011.

Beth Buchanan and a group of others: Deb Hale, Patt Celayeta of Clinic Pharmacy, Helen Forbes a massage therapist, Barbara Thrasher of the Happy Camp Post Office, Jill Livingston of Living Gold Press and Wendy Beth Buchanan of Mosaic Press began collecting recipes. They put signs up in bulletin boards, e-mail, phone calls, friendly visits and drop boxes and the recipes poured in. According to Beth, "Project pace was affectionately referred to as "River Time" and suited their job schedules nicely" And they collected"All the best dishes from the creatively self reliant inhabitants of the spectacular Klamath River mountain region at the very top of California's wild west."

Finally, the "Old Town Park" was paid for and became the gathering place for many in the community. There are plans in the works for improvements yet to come: perhaps, drinking fountains, lighting, public restrooms, perhaps a gazebo with a small performing stage. The Happy Camp Service District holds the title to the property and will assume all future maintenance responsibilities. It's a great gathering place for neighbors and visitors alike.

                                      Timber Inn before the fire that destroyed buildings on half an acre of land                                                             in Happy Camp at Washington and Second Avenue. 

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