I wanted to write this story a long time ago, but I guess because of a recent visit to the Oregon Coast I came back to this true tale.

Cascade Head

Cascade Head is a headland and 270-acre (110 ha) UNESCO biosphere reserve and United States Forest Service Experimental Forest. It is situated 85 miles (137 km) southwest of Portland, Oregon on the Oregon Coast between Lincoln City and Neskowin. Cascade Head Preserve is a Nature Conservancy Selected Site.

The Nature Conservancy

In the early 1960s, volunteers organized an effort to protect Cascade Head from development. By 1966 they had raised funds and purchased the property, and then turned it over to The Nature Conservancy. Because of its ecological significance, Cascade Head Preserve and surrounding national forest and other lands won recognition in 1980 as a National Scenic Research Area and a United Nations Biosphere Reserve.

Conservancy researchers are testing methods of maintaining and restoring grassland habitat for the Oregon silver spot butterfly, including prescribed fire. Conservancy ecologists also monitor the populations of rare plants throughout the year. In spring and summer, teams of volunteers remove invasive species (such as Himalayan blackberry), help maintain trails, assist with research projects, and teach visitors about the Preserve.

Experimental Forest

The 11,890-acre (4,810 ha) Cascade Head Experimental Forest was established in 1934 for scientific study of typical coastal Sitka spruce-western hemlock forests found along the Oregon Coast. The forest stands at Cascade Head have been used for long-term studies, experimentation, and ecosystem research since then. In 1974 an act of Congress established the 9,670-acre (3,910 ha) Cascade Head Scenic Research Area that includes the western half of the experimental forest, several prairie headlands, the Salmon River estuary to the south, and contiguous private lands.

Before the establishment of the experimental forest in 1934 and for some time after, an intense forest inventory was done to determine distribution, age classes, and volumes of major tree species. Early research at Cascade Head includes studies that determined life history and characteristics of native tree species; growth and yield of Sitka spruce-western hemlock, Douglas-fir, and red alder stands; and basic relations between vegetation and climate. A climate station established in 1936 is still operating and is an official United States Weather Bureau site. Between the 1940s and the 1960s, experimental, commercial sized harvests were done to evaluate the silvicultural and economic results of various tree-cutting methods. Current research is being done on forest ecosystem productivity, wind disturbance, nutrient cycling, and global carbon cycling.

Research on the Salmon River estuary has been ongoing since the first dike breaching in 1979. Reestablishment of the salt marsh ecosystems continues to be studied and more recently use of these restored ecosystems by anadromous fish is being studied.

Flora and fauna

Cascade Head is home to many native plant species, including red fescue, wild rye, Pacific reed grass, coastal paintbrush, goldenrod, blue violet and streambank lupine. The hairy checker mallow (Sidalcea hirtipes) is a rare flower found here.

Ninety-nine percent of the world’s population of the Cascade Head catchfly is found here. The Oregon silverspot butterfly, federally listed as a threatened species, is known from only five other locations in the world. The butterfly depends on a single plant species, the early blue violet (or hookedspur violet, Viola adunca, which grows coastal grassland openings), to serve as food for its larvae. Elk, deer, coyote, cougar, black bear, snowshoe hare and the Pacific giant salamander are also found in the preserve, as well as osprey, bald eagle, great horned owl, northern harrier, red-tail hawk and the occasional peregrine falcon. Aquatic animals include such as Gray whale, Humpback whale, 5 species of salmons.

My Memorial to two friends

My senior year of high school started in the fall of 1975. It would be a memorable year for sure. I played soccer that fall, started in goal for Lincoln High School, we were ranked #2 going into the season. My backups at goalkeeper going into that year were John Montague and Eric Martin. Remember their names if you will, I’ll come back to them in a moment. They became good friends, comrades if you will. They would help me with goalkeeping drills and played in scrimmages and also would play on the Junior Varsity to get more experience.

We went through the season, wound up playing to a three-way tie for first in the P.I.L West Division with Wilson and Benson. It was decided that we would play in a playoff that would lead to the winner of our division to advance to the High School City Championship of Portland.

John Montague suited up for those games. We first played Wilson and won that game 3-0. We next played Benson and played to a three-overtime shootout in PK that we won 4-3. We had advanced to the City Championship game which would be played the next night at Civic Stadium. We would play in three games in three consecutive days. Going into the City Championship game we were confident, and we were tired.

The Civic Stadium (or what is now known as Providence Park) held around 30,000 people back then. We played Franklin High School that night late in October. There were around 5,000 people at the game. It was a great setting. The Timbers had come to Portland in the Spring of 1975 and the city embraced the game. People fell in love with soccer.

The match started and within the first ten minutes of the game there was a break away and the ball was in no mans land (a hospital ball). I came sliding out near the top edge of the box and a Franklin player came in challenging for the ball. His foot caught me in the side of the head and knocked my head to the tattered Astro turf field. I was knocked out. I remember waking up to the smelling salts and looking up at my teammates. I didn’t know where I was. They kept me in the game. John Montague (my backup) was warming up on the sidelines. People were yelling at me from the stands asking me if I was O.K.? I knew I was playing soccer, but who was the team that we were playing and where were we playing the game? I felt like I was in a foggy dream. A mystical experience with life I guess.

At about the 30-minute mark of the first half my head coach substituted John Montague in for me. I ran off the field. Players for our squad were nervous because of what had happened. Nobody expected that I’d get knocked out. John went on and played great, not allowing a goal in the first half. At halftime we were leading 2-0.

The Athletic director and the athletic trainers for Lincoln came into the locker room and hoovered over me as I tried to figure out what was going on. My teammates came over and looked at me.

“Are you O.K. Grant” asked the trainer. “I think so, I’m Ok” they huddled together, talked to Coach Krebble and decided that I was OK for the second half. The second half started, and we played on, I was in a fog. It was strange, dreamlike, I remember feeling anxious and perplexed.       

As time ran out my teammates jumped for joy. We won 4-0. The championship trophy was brought out, the crowd came down to the field. The student body roared, and the band started to play; it was something I’ll never forget. Reporters and photographers for the Oregonian, local television and radio stations covered the event. They interviewed players. One reporter for the Oregonian came over and asked me what I thought about the game. “Grant what did you think of the game?” I looked at him, “We won 3-0 didn’t we?” People laughed; we had won 4-0.

After the game we celebrated up at at Ben Millers house, Mrs. Miller brought out a couple T.V. sets out and set them up in the living room and we waited for the 11 o’clock news that night. Robert Jumonville (Team Captain) gave a speech. The local sports stations covered the game that night. I remember everyone celebrating. It was a great time. It was hard to described how great everything had turned out.

My mom picked me up that night in her white square back Volks. She was worried, worried about the concussion. The next day I went to a specialist to check out if I was O.K. “Yes Grant a concussion to the head, watch what you do and be careful” He gave me the OK to play in the Oregon State High School Playoffs. We eventually wound-up 3rd in State and I was named to the 1975 Oregon All-Tournament team and received First Team All-State honors. I received scholarships with playing soccer in college. It was a great run with soccer that year. John Montague and Eric Martin went on to play for Lincoln, graduated and we all went our separate ways.

While going to school as an undergrad at the University of Oregon (and while playing on the Men’s Soccer team in the late 1970’s) I tragically got the news from some of my Beta friends at Oregon that John Montague had died while clearing land out for his father. The family had a Ocean home off Three Rock Road at Cascade Head, near the village of Neskowin, Oregon. A beautiful place, old Douglas Firs cover the hillsides. My favorite spot on the coast.

According to his best friend, he had seen a huge Douglas Fir tree floating down the estuary, jumped in his 12-foot aluminum boat and towed it to the shore. Alone, he started bucking it up into eight-foot lengths and tying them up. He was in the water in chest waders with his Stihl chainsaw. There was a large tidal surge, and the lines crossed, and he was strangled by them. 

It was tragic. Hard to describe, I was stunned. Every time I hike up to Cascade Head, I pause a moment in his name. It brings me back to the night he came off the bench and played, he was so surprised that he could play.

Will Martin (Eric Martins father) was a top Architect in Portland at that time and designed Pioneer Square, located in the heart of Portland. He was famous and loved to fly. One day he took Eric out to take a flight and tragically their plane went down a few years after John’s tragic event.

Life is a gift. I think of these two from time to time and I can’t help but think that I’ve been lucky to be able to write this note in their name, in their honor. They were friends of mine from a time that was magical, at a time that helped make Portland, Oregon a wonderful place to grow up. I’m fortunate to have known them both.

Peace be in their name.

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