by Judy Bushy
The Log Memorial Building on 4th Avenue & East Street is an important part of Happy Camp’s History. It shows how one man with a vision of giving the young people of Happy Camp an education could enlist the support of many community members. Out of the unity of working together towards that purpose, great things were accomplished. Times looked bleak in 1933 and the country was in the great depression, but that obstacle didn’t stop the community from completing a high school in Happy Camp.
In 1922 Gorham Humphreys started a school for Happy Camp Students that included the first two years of high school. The classes were held at the local grammar school. Mr. Taylor was the school’s first teacher. He was followed by Miss Rudd who taught for four years. The two year course was discontinued in 1928 for about three years, according to Justice Court Judge Philip Toleman. He spoke at a dinner served by the high school home economics department.
Humphreys obtained re-establishment of the two year high school after campaigning at his own expense to the district board. There were about 30 students then and they needed a four year course and a separate place from the grammar school which was also overcrowded.
On March 3, 1933 with all the banks in the country closed and the depression in full swing, Gorham Humphreys, Dr. Mason and Judge Toleman presented to the district board the Grange plan to get people together to build a school for Happy Camp. Toleman said that, “the board had a really a tough row to hoe, taxpayers were broke and appeared to request all expenditures be cut to the bone.” Still, Ed Kaupp of Mt. Shasta helped turn the board in favor of the project and they promised $500 for the purpose.
Bert Newton donated the land, helped build the Log High School and lost his life due to illness contracted when serving at a school activity. Bert Newton started freighting with horses from Hornbrook to Klamath River points in 1910. From 1919 to 1930 he carried mail and parcel post from Hornbrook to Happy Camp, buying freighter franchises from Walter Bower and George Howard. By 1927 a new era arrived—the automobile replaced horses everywhere—so that spring he turned 57 head of stage horses loose with a herd of wild horses on the Bogus Range. He couldn’t even give them away!
Meanwhile, in 1920, he and his partners, his brother I.S. Newton and Harry Pence, purchased most of the unimproved land in Happy Camp. They erected a store, some cabins, a campground and a saw mill. He built the first building on what is now the Happy Camp Ranger Station at 2nd Avenue and Airport Road and leased it as headquarters to the Forest Service for many years. The Log High School was then where the present high school is located.
Gorham Humphreys initiated the idea of the high school building and must have been able to convince many in the community of the value of proceeding to build, as it seems the community worked together with uncommon unity.
Logs for the new log high school were donated by the Forest Service and cut under the direction of Bob Titus. Toleman was in charge of the building operations. Milt Fowler set the foundation forms. Gravel was hauled by Ralph Gordon. Pete Grant, Mike Effman and others chopped notches in the logs. When things got “bogged down” in August (of 1933) men weren’t able to come when needed and a few forgot they had pledged a certain amount of labor. Many in town thought maybe they had “bitten off more than we could chew…” That is when the women of the Grange put on a couple of noon picnics to get a large group together to put on the roof. Other women encouraged the work on optimistically. Ora head (Mrs. Guy Head) encouraged the workers to stay with it, urging all to remember that “Rome wasn’t built in a day!”
In September, two large classrooms were ready for Mr. Lowe and Miss Fite, the teachers, to begin classes. The people of Happy Camp had built a high school for education of its young people with only about $1,000 from the District Board.
In November of 1933 a dedication was held. At that time, Toleman said, “we were hearing a lot about the age of rugged individualism that was past. At this time I would like to say that it was that spirit, combined with a will to help each other, that did the job. And in passing I believe that it is proper to note that the teachers who lead in the education of our youth and who at times may wonder if their efforts are really appreciated cannot help but feel that the answer is YES, when they have occasion to work in or even hear of a high school that has grown under the conditions that this one has here in Happy Camp.”
The first graduating class in 1935 included Mae Barney, Marshall Vanhoy, Ruth Baker, Robert Humphreys, Nina Sedros, Edna Fowler, Paul Good, Geraldine Titus, George Logan and Florence Sutcliffe.
Gorham Humphreys must have felt great happiness when his son, Robert, was one of the first graduates of the school. He had seen a need for a high school and enlisted others to work with him to bring his vision to reality. Several of his children had died but his surviving four daughters and son had a great example of a father’s concern for their education. Of his daughters, Bertha married Tom Carter who was Forest Ranger. Viola became a nurse, Aurelia was a teacher and Hazel went to college in Marin County and then married Finley Joyner. The son, Robert, who graduated in 1935 died in Italy on the last day of the war in Europe.
Eventually a new high school building was needed. The principal, Arthur French, said “For two and one-half years teachers and equipment have been crowded together into 2,400 square feet of floor space.” The new building was expected to cost $438,000 and the bond bill was to be voted on according to the April 16, 1955 Klamath River Courier. “The new facility provided a large modern home economics room and a complete science room. It would also allow development of a commercial department and library.” Dr. Jere Hurley, Superintendent of Siskiyou County’s Joint Union High School District gave the speech dedicating the new building to “the principles of democracy and the Constitution of the United States, to all students –past, present and future.” Short addresses were also given by Sharon Titus, Carol Evans and Gene Erskin of the High School Student Board.
The old Log Memorial Building was to be moved to another site, and perhaps used for a library or museum. It was believed to be the only high school building constructed of logs still in use at the time. When “Old Timers” look at the Log Memorial Building they recall how the whole community united in the effort to bring education to our children.. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when we work together toward our goals!