By Thea Skinner
Triplicate staff writer
City life meets rural hospitality at Blue Creek Lodge on the Klamath River.
The convergence of Blue Creek and the Klamath River is the site of part of the land that Blue Creek Lodge once occupied.
George Knapp purchased 120 acres in 1942 that included a small sandy beach. Sixty-two years later his great-nephew, Benjamin Taylor, penned a biography recounting the lodge's history. It's titled, "George Owen Knapp a Splendid Secret."
Morris' daughter-in-law, Judy, owns a copy of the biography.
The structures that Taylor's great-uncle Knapp constructeda main lodge, guest cabins, and a cookshackwere accessible only via the river.
Not only was Knapp a diabetic, he also traveled with an entourage. To reach his property he had to travel 14 miles upriver. To make the trip, he envisioned a flat speed boat powered by a 180 horsepower airplane engine that he fastened to the vessel.
"Everyone stared at us as we raced by," Mildred Wright, Knapp's dietician, wrote in a scrapbook.
Celebrities did not shy away from the areaone notable visitor was Clark Gable, the heartthrob of the 1930s.
Knapp eventually donated the property to Mills College, which later sold it to Jack Morris. After the new owner added more buildings, he renamed it Blue Creek Lodge.
The expanded structure could house up to 30 fishermen, lured to the area by the promise of steelhead and salmon.
Other guests included pioneers, who brought meat and alcohol with them, according to Morris' daughter-in-law, Judy.
"It was always time to have a good time," Morris said.
She also recalled some of the local trading that occurred nearbut not too nearBlue Creek Lodge.
"My husband (Chub Morris) used to say the Indians would not go to the Blue Creek side, because the Indian devil was there," she said. "They would cross the river at night to sleep. They traded baskets at the lodge. Twenty-seven cabins were there."
She added that the lodge's caretakers cultivated relationships with the local American Indians.
"They (the caretakers) had respect for them showing them things," she said.
Also cultivated, but on the Blue Creek side, was an acre-sized garden planted by Horticulturalist Luther Burbank.
Not only was Burbank schooled in plants, he also painted, using oils to create his works at the site.
Del Norte County's often fearsome weather took the buildingstwice. Floods in 1955 and 1964 swept nearly all of the structures away.
Their epitaph, written by Jack Morris, appeared in the final edition of the Blue Creek Herald, published on January 20, 1955:
"Rebuilding is out, but the flood can never destroy the memories of watching Blue Creek grow from several small cabins, a few tents, kerosene stoves, and a wooden kitchen range (the way Knapp left it), to around thirty buildings and virtually a small community."
After Morris offered the remnants of Blue Creek Lodge to the 777th ACWRON, Klamath Air Force Station servicemen and their families reconstructed the site in 1960 to use as a squadron camp.
The property dwindled from its formerly impressive 120 acres to 15 in a sale to Simpson Timber Company. Later the Morris family traded the final acreage to Simpson for property downriver, and opened a trailer park at the new site.
Blue Creek Lodge's history is included in tours run by Klamath Jet Boat Tours.
"It was remote and people came from all over to go there," said Rich Mossholder, owner of Klamath River Jet Boat Tours.
The flood that brought an end to Blue Creek Lodge, he recalled, was "the highest water that was ever recorded on the river."