Bly Oregon 97622
is an un-incorporated town within Klamath
County. Because of being unincorporated there is no city
council, chamber etc. Most issues affecting our town are brought
community action team for resolution.
The actual founding of Bly is somewhat clouded and the date
cannot be positively determined. The general assumption is that there was no
settlement prior to 1870.
was first shown as being in Jackson County and then Lake County
before becoming Klamath County. The original township
site was platted and filed on June 28th, 1928 and was called
Sprague River. In 1882 Klamath County was created out of Lake
County and the name was changed to Bly.
The Native Americans disputed the reservation settlement in 1864 and
claimed that the land in the Sprague River Valley was to be
included in the reservation. A survey was conducted and accepted
in 1870 that did not include the Sprague River Valley now known as Bly.
On July 25, 1929 the Klamath News reported Bly as a prominent
town of about 300 people. "A fine new depot and a new well
providing the purest of cold drinking water, is transforming
Bly into a community of considerable importance."
The US census of 1890 had a population of 119 and had grown
to 145 by 1900. The 1905 election had 150 casting votes indicating
a population of approximately 750 in the precinct. The 2000
census had a population of 486 in the area we consider to
of the first settlers to the area were Gearhart and Munz. Gearhart
squatted on the land and never completed the
claim process and simply relinquished all rights to the land
when he walked away. John Gearhart made application for a post
office in his home in 1873 and called the town Sprague River
and stated "no village yet" but expected the
post office to serve 100. The location of the post office has
recorded in numerous homes and locations and was even discontinued
at least two times.
• Munz was a German bachelor that purchased the BK ranch. He shot
and killed a disgruntled Native American, later gave himself up and was
placed under $9000 cash bail. He later thought of the magnitude
of what he had done and left the area. That $9000 was said to
have built the first Klamath County courthouse.
The three Bloomingcamp brothers then purchased the Munz Ranch.
Henry was digging a ditch across the property using blasting
methods. He was 300 yards away, under a tree, when the blast
went off. A rock the size of a turkey egg hit him on the head
and killed him. The other brothers continued to operate the
early settlers included the Garrett, Owen, Casebeer, Reed and
Obenchain families. Reed purchased the Pioneer Hotel
with 20 rooms, became postmaster in 1904, was the proprietor
of a large livery and feed stable, kept the stage station and
owned the town hall known as Reed Hall.
Obenchain provided us a copy of a letter from D Goldberg that
either froze or starved to death near Bly. It is
dated March 5th but does not have the year. The man was brought
out in the spring in a casket. The letter is as follows:
Here is the long and short of it. When I could get out I didn't
want too. But when I wanted to I couldn't. The morning
I was set to leave it snowed, and snowed like hell, and I
couldn't make it."
the storm I started to walk to Bly, but I got off the trail
and got lost. After walking all day and night I gladly got
back to the cabin with frozen feet. They were frozen so badly
that I couldn't walk at all. I had to crawl on all
fours. I tried to get to Richardson's ranch by crawling
on all fours but I couldn't make it. And as you know
there is not much food in the cabin, the only thing left for
me was to starve. I am now without food for three day and
feel pretty sick. The end is not far off now."
my pillow you will find a letter to my mother, please see that
she gets it. Also mail the suitcase to the same
address. In the pocket of my Blazer (lumber jack) you will find
about $12 which I trust will be enough for postage for the letter
and suitcase, I would also appreciate it if you would stuff the
blazer and the Army breeches in the suitcase before mailing it.
That is I would appreciate as much as a dead man can appreciate
thank you sincerely" D
logging from 1929-1939 by the Pelican Bay Lumber Company and
Ewauna Box Company caused a boom to the area
in the early 30s. Pelican Bay Camp was originally located south
of Bly near Robinson Springs and employed 200 men. The timber
was transported by rail to Bly. Ewauna Box Company was located
on Quartz Mtn.
sawmills were located in or near Bly with the first being built
by Crane in or around 1931. The last owner
was Weyerhaeuser Company who purchased the mill in 1970. The
doors were shut in 1984.
• In 1934 a mill was built about 10 miles NW of Bly that
was to become Ivory Pine. Many of the local folks refer to the
community as Podunk. Ivory Pine was described as a pretty wild
place and had a house of “ill repute” as well as
a string of houses and a dance hall. Children from Ivory Pine
were bussed to Bly to attend school. The last timber was run
through the mill in 1948 and the community was dismantled.
There is evidence that a school was established in 1873 in
a log house but the exact location is not known. Weather and
distance prohibited school being held in the winter months
so classes were held during the summer months only. School
was sometimes cancelled if funding for the teacher ran out.
handsome new school was constructed in 1910" but
it burned to the ground in 1932. The gymnasium was built in 1928
and is still used today. A new building was constructed to replace
the burned school in the same year. Records show that in 1887
there were 3 students, 1930; 44 students and 2 teachers. The
Gearhart Elementary School now has approximately 75 students
with high school age bussed to Bonanza a distance of 40 miles.
theatre was constructed in 1948 and named the Arch Memorial
theater. There was standing room only on opening day.
It is currently being used as a Hardware and Craft Store. The
Logger's Club located about 1 block east of the theater,
printed matchbooks that read "In the heart of the
The first cemetery was located where the Forest Service and
homes now stand. There was once evidence of 7 or 8 graves
with only one having a tombstone, which read "Cruickshank".
This man was said to work at the Bloomingcamp Ranch, got drunk,
fell off the saloon steps and was killed.
a cemetery came into use about 3 ½ miles
west of Bly on land now owned by Marc and Kandy Hill. It was
used from 1901-1943. Research revealed that "Oscar
Laboree a prominent and wealthy stock man died from rheumatism
heart" and was buried at cemetery on 9/29/1918 according
to the record of funeral obtained from his relatives. Many graves
in the cemetery have gravestones of slab lava rock that are no
did have a range war in 1925 between two sheep men who quarreled
over a black sheep. One was killed and the other
sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was released after 5 months
and $5000 bail. He was retried in 1927, found guilty, and sentenced
to 1 to 5 years. He died in prison in 1930 ending the sheep/cattle
has had several hard liquor bars and beer parlors over the
years. Cowboys have been known to ride their horses
into the bars. At one time the bars kept a "black
those not able to purchase alcoholic beverages. There are many
wild stories over the years of fights and killings occurring
as a result of alcohol.
The Justice of Peace owned the liquor store and a drunk came
on a Sunday wanting liquor. After being refused he threw a
rock through the window. The owner had a hook for a right
arm, came out and hooked the drunk under the jaw and killed
him. Nearby children describe the sound of the bones breaking.
This same fellow later shot and killed his wife with a shotgun.
He received jail time after killing his wife.
card games (some illegal) were held in the local drinking establishments.
The bowling alley/bar/dance hall was not allowed to sell liquor
so those wishing to drink would bring their own alcohol and
buy the mix from the proprietors. Teenagers were hired to
set pins and made between $0.01 and $0.05 per row.
May 5, 1945 the Reverend Archie Mitchell, his pregnant wife
Elsye and 5 children from the Sunday school class of the
CMA church in Bly went on a picnic east of Bly. As Reverend Mitchell
parked the car his wife and the children called out to him that
they had found something. Before he could reach them an explosion
shattered the quiet Saturday morning. Elsye and the five children
became the only civilian casualties of Word War II on the continental
The incendiary bombs traveled over 6200 miles on air currents.
The expectation was to divert attention and resources from
the war effort by causing vast Western wildfires.
The government immediately censored the story for that if
the Japanese knew their bombs were reaching North America
they would redouble their efforts. The silence did not last
long after the six deaths. The tragedy was first announced
that Mrs. Mitchell and the five children had been killed while
on a fishing trip by an explosion of "unannounced cause."
Within two weeks the Government abandoned its censorship and
issued a statement describing the balloon bombs and warning
people to avoid tampering with strange objects.
The Japanese have donated dolls and paper cranes that on display
in the elementary school and the CMA church. Cherry trees
were planted, by the Japanese, at the church and at the site
of the bombing as an apology.