Friday, April 12, 2013

A Vision for the Garibaldi Smokestack

The Garibaldi Smokestack in April 2013

Imagine: an approximately 200-foot tall historic smokestack, the centerpiece of a small bayside nature park, complete with informative interpretive signs describing the history (both human and natural) of the area. Over here are some picnic tables, and over there perhaps a bird watching platform, and off that way are a few rustic campsites. This is part of the vision that my dad and I put together when we read in a recent issue of Tillamook county’s Headlight Herald that the iconic smokestack on Garibaldi’s waterfront is in danger of demolition.

It came as no surprise to us that the Garibaldi city council has been advised that the stack has “started to disintegrate and has become a safety hazard”; we’ve been observing its deterioration for decades (Wrabek A1). But a spark of hope was kindled when I read that “councilor John Foulk suggested fiberglassing the smokestack, as was reportedly done with the Astoria Column,” and I was not altogether disheartened at the suggestion put forth by others to demolish only a part of the stack and leave a portion standing (Wrabek A3). Moreover, the article reports that the property owner has offered to donate the stack and a small piece of the surrounding land to the city.

These possibilities got me envisioning what a lovely little park could be created around the smokestack. The article does not state how much land is included in the offer, but I think that our ideas could be adjusted to fit a smaller or larger park. If the city council were to put together a cohesive plan and explain the long-term vision, perhaps they could even raise the money to purchase more land, little by little, or come to an agreement with the property owner.

Naturally, our fondest hopes are that the smokestack might be saved, but the next-best option would be to preserve a portion of it. Even, if worst came to worst, just the remaining foundation could become an attraction. As suggested above, the smokestack (or its remains) would be the centerpiece of the park, with a series of interpretive signs or a kiosk explaining the history of the place. I thought that, given the historical value of the structure, it might be beneficial for the city to partner with the Garibaldi Historical Museum, which stands only a block or so down, on the other side of the highway. Perhaps the park could even be used as an extension of the museum. In fact, if a proposed Miami Cove shoreline trail goes through (see Garibaldi Connections Project), the locations could make a very interesting and appealing complex.

Dreaming even bigger, my dad tells me that a bike route has been proposed along the railroad tracks through Rockaway Beach. If that route were to be continued south through Garibaldi, a park by the smokestack could easily become a nice stopover for bicyclists riding down the Oregon coast. A campsite or two, with a drop-box for fees and donations toward maintenance, might be able to fit in a corner of our imagined park. Although the camp would be primitive, the view would be ample consolation.

The smokestack was built in 1927, the same year that the Hammond-Tillamook Lumber Co. took over the mill from the Whitney Co. Prior to that, two relatively short metal smokestacks served the mill. A photo printed in Jack L. Graves’ book “Now” Never Lasts shows the smoke-enveloped town, virtually invisible through the haze. Clearly the situation was far from ideal. It was decided that a taller chimney was needed to lift the smoke above the city and thereby improve air quality. The result was the now-beloved landmark. Originally built at a height of 225 feet, some of its height has been lost due to removal and deterioration, but it remains one of the tallest manmade structures on the Oregon coast (Graves 201).

Looking across Miami Cove at the smokestack and the Big G on the hill in the distance. Picture taken in April 2013.

Garibaldi Connections Project Design Action Team. “Garibaldi Connections Project.” City of Garibaldi. Oregon Coastal Futures Project, Feb 2006. Web. Accessed 10 Apr 2013.

Graves, Jack L. “Now” Never Lasts. Bend: Maverick Publications, Inc., 1995. Print.

Wrabek, Joe. “No more smokestack?” Headlight Herald [Tillamook]. 27 Mar 2013: A1 & A3. Print.


  1. Well said Amber...

  2. Any update? wondering from Tampa, Florida

    1. Well, the smokestack is still standing, but I haven't heard anything more about its future, good or bad. Fingers crossed!

    2. July 4th, 2014 the tower is still standing, and no updates have reached me.

  3. Stumbled across this today and wondered if you are interested in helping with or discussing another Garibaldi project?

  4. AND, the smokestack is still far!

  5. I always envisioned a scene of some kind in the opening. At Christmas, perhaps a nativity with backlights. I can envision a scene of pirates, too. Which would fit in with the rest stop-park vision of yours.

  6. I always envisioned a scene of some kind in the opening. At Christmas, perhaps a nativity with backlights. I can envision a scene of pirates, too. Which would fit in with the rest stop-park vision of yours.

  7. Drove by it yesterday 07-13-2016 and it was still standing,
    Chuck from Astoria.

  8. 3/31/17
    Visiting from Portland and love to report it's still standing.

  9. Grace (Betsy) CurnuttFebruary 15, 2018 at 7:29 PM

    I love your park idea! I probably will never get to visit the area again, but I have so many fond memories of our years in Garibaldi! Some may recall my Russell was the mayor for 17 years!