Welcome to the WestportWa.com's driving tours. This tour takes you through the cranberry farming area of Grayland Washington about 7 miles south of Westport. This tour should be fun and easy to follow. The starting point is at the intersection of Highway 105 and Cranberry Road. If you are not familiar with the area, you may want to print the map. Click on the small cameras to see photos of the area.
Instructions: The actual instructions on where to drive are listed in red. Read the comments and stop at each point of interest, and when you get to more red instructions, head on. Enjoy the informative and fun tour of Grayland's cranberry farms!
2/10 of a mile south of mile marker 27 on highway 105, take a left and head east on Cranberry Road. Cranberry road was a plank road until 1933. It was gravel until about 1976 and the bridges were narrower and made of wood.
About 150 yards down the road you will cross a small bridge. Immediately after the bridge, look to the right. Do not pull into the driveway please. This is private property. This is the site of the first cranberry bog, which was planted by E.B. Benn in about 1919. It was about a 1-acre bog and it was harvested by hand. As the years went by, it was overgrown and was later cleared and planted again in about 1985.
Continue east on Cranberry Road, and slow down about 100 feet before the four-way intersection. On your right is a bog planted around 1993. These vines are the Stevens variety. They generally ripen and grow earlier and have a sweeter taste. They also grow larger than the more typical varieties of cranberries in Grayland. The drawback is that they are not as durable, and tend to break down more quickly.
From where you are, look to your left. This brushy area was once a cranberry bog. For several years now it has been only brush. Without regular care, the weeds and trees will easily take over a cranberry bog. Weeding is a slow and tedious process done by hand.
Proceed through the intersection and go straight on Turkey Road (which is a dead end). Drive about 100 yards and stop. Cranberries are harvested in Grayland by using one of 2 methods. Dry harvesting with a machine called the Furford Picker , which is named after its inventor, or water harvesting. There is currently only one grower in Grayland that water harvests his cranberries. The bog on your left is one of the few that is water harvested. You will notice the dikes that surround these small land parcels. They are used for the flood harvesting process. This bog was planted about 1988.
Continue down Turkey Road and as it goes up a slight hill, you will find a turn around spot about 100 feet ahead on the right. Turn around and head back down Turkey Road. You will notice the bog on the left and you will see that there are several gray spots. The cranberry black vine weevil causes these. The farmers have nothing to effectively kill this pest. It will take these dead spots 4-6 years once replanted to reach full production again.
Proceed to the intersection and take a left. Go about 1/10 of a mile. You are once again on Cranberry Road and you are headed south. As you head south, you are looking for the address 1818 Cranberry Road. It is right before a red metal warehouse. As you head down the road, you will notice signs on warehouses and in yards with numbers by them. Some also may say "Ocean Spray Grower #" or have a grower number on them. This number is used by Ocean Spray to identify the incoming berries and is placed on every tote or box of berries sent by each grower. All of the growers in Grayland except one sell to Ocean Spray. 1818 Cranberry Road is the historic site on which the Furford Picker was first used. Pickers prior to this only harvested, but Furford invented a machine that both picked and pruned. As he was testing it on the bog behind the garage you see on your left, the neighbor was watching him and saying, "What are you doing? You are going to ruin the bog!" The Furford picker proved to work extremely well, and now it is used by every grower in Grayland. Even the grower that floods his bog uses it for pruning after harvest.
Continue south for 3/10 of a mile and slow down right after the street addresses of 1911 and 1912 Cranberry Road. Look at the brush on the right as you drive slowly by for about the next 150 feet. You will notice an old warehouse right across from the next telephone pole which sat on what used to be another cranberry bog.
Continue south and stop about 100 feet short of grange road. As you continue, look at the hill on the left. The exposed clay banks are a result of landslides from growth of vegetation. More trees and bushes will grow on these bare areas, and it gets heavy enough, the shallowly rooted plants will slide again. Stopped 100 feet short of grange road as you look to your left, you will see the warehouse of a fisherman where a home once stood. A young boy had one of the all-time bad days on this spot. He carelessly left a loaded .22 on his floor. His dog wandered into the room and stepped on the trigger shooting him in the foot. He went the hospital, and was allowed to return home that night. He was chilled and a little scared, so that night he moved his bed closer to the baseboard heater. His bed caught fire, burning the house down. Everyone was just fine, but the family moved away, and in the place of the home, this gear shed was built.
Proceed ahead and pull off into the Grange parking lot. The Grayland Community hall was built in 1930 and has been used by thousands of people for community events, plays, as a gym, for flea markets, bazaars, and much much more. The small park and baseball field is Ken Miller memorial park. Ken Miller owned the 76 station on the main road in the 70's. He died when a propane tank he was filling exploded. He was loved by everyone in the community.
Continue south on Cranberry Road. On the right before a slight turn you will see a building now occupied by Church Antiques. This was an actual church at one time. In fact, the WestportWa.com webmaster's parents were married there.
Follow Cranberry Road to the stop sign and take a left on County Line Road. This road marks the boundary between Grays Harbor County (which you just left) and Pacific County (that you just entered). As you follow the road east about 200 yards, you will soon notice on your left a grassy area then a cribbed ditch and then more cranberry bog. This ditch cribbing is needed because the ground is so soft that if a farmer walked on the edge, the ditch edge would cave in. Cribbing helps prevent erosion. The bogs are planted in peat, but are plenty firm enough to walk on. Never walk on a bog. It causes damage. Farmers walk on them at certain times, but since those are plants you are walking on, you have to be careful. Keep off. The ground is not mushy and swampy like many people think. It is as firm as the yards that you see in Grayland.
Continue east on County Line Road, and take a right on Evergreen Park Road. After turning, you will see a corner a ways up ahead. When you are about half way to the corner, take a look at the bog on the right. Many farmers are losing the battle against weeds. Since prices have dropped recently, many farmers cannot afford to hire people to weed. These bogs are still picked, but production is extremely low. You can help us all out by buying more cranberry products!
Go around the S corner and continue south, stopping across the street from 2482 Evergreen Park Road. You will notice off to your right an old building that is sinking into the ground. The ground is very soft in Grayland, and the piling foundations that the houses are built on have many problems. See the upstairs window? That used to be the WestportWa.com webmaster's room in 1978. Trust me. It used to be livable. The bog to your right was lost to weevil and was renovated and replanted. You will notice that the irrigation pond (called a "Sump") on your right is using an aerator to keep the water fresh. This may or may not do anything, it is hard to tell. Most sumps have a supply of fresh water that runs from steams from the hill or artesian wells. Some of the growers use shallow sand point wells to get water. The town gets its water from artesian wells. Grayland arguably has the best drinking water in the state, and since Washington supposedly has the best drinking water in the country...
Continue south for a ways until you hit a stop sign. Take a left on Heather Road. (It is not marked, but take the left and trust me, you are on Heather Road. As you drive, you might notice that the buildings are more weather beaten on their south sides due to strong winter storms that regularly carry winds as high as 90 to 100 mph from the south.
Take a left on Lindgren. Follow the road east. Past the blue pump house (these small building house the irrigation pumps for the farms) on your left, you will see a small piece of new bog that was recently planted. Keep going straight toward the hill. Notice the slide areas. Take a right on Smith Anderson Road.
Follow Smith Anderson Road and stop right before Udell Hansen Road. Many of the farms use light steel railroad track on which a small track car (the old timers still call them push carts) runs. These track cars are used for stacking bags of berries on in harvest, hauling fertilizers, and bringing equipment out into the fields. The majority of farmers use these. Some others due to the expense of railing use roads. Roads are made for light farm equipment only. The bogs are still growing on soft peat. Roads tend to grow weeds, which is one of the drawbacks.
Continue south on Smith Anderson. About 100 feet ahead on your left is an entrance into the logging roads which go for miles. This is a great place for riding mountain bikes. You will pass Jacobsen road on your right, but keep going straight. Jacobsen road has the first bog that was put in using a power shovel. The earlier bogs were put in by hand.
Take a right on Gould Road. You will notice brown on several of the warehouses. This stain comes from the mineral rich irrigaion water hitting the buildings from the sprinklers.
Take a left on Larkin Road. Each bog has sprinklers that are permanently buried in the ground. Some farmers pour concrete around the sprinkler heads so that they can be removed and replaced during picking, but most of the farmers just leave them in all the time and steer the pickers around them. The berries that are missed can be picked off with a hand scoop. When you get to the large red barn-shaped warehouse on your left, look at the bog on the right. Notice how flat and even this 6-year-old Stevens bog is. Over time, bogs settle, which makes them more uneven and harder to pick. Continue on Larkin and you will cross a small bridge. Larkin ends at the highway.
Take a left on the highway and travel about ½ mile. Take a left on Smith Anderson road. On the right is a big irrigation pond called a sump. They vary in depth from 5 to 15 feet. They support many kinds of life including frogs, fish, ducks, salamanders, and some of them even have mud clams. On a dry summer, the farmers sometimes get a little grouchy with each other over the water issue. Some farmers have water rights, and others don't, so the ones with the rights get water first and the other farmers are stuck, hoping to get some water as well.
Between 3604 and 3590 Smith Anderson Road, you will see more new bog. Notice again the abuse that the southern exposure of buildings takes. As you are going, look at the pump houses. You will notice that they have a couple of external lights on them. This lets the farmer know if the pumps are running. Frost and cold can devastate a cranberry crop. Sprinklers come on when temperatures hit 32-36 degrees. This warms the vines and keeps them from freezing. If it is really cold, it forms a protective layer of ice. Sprinklers are also used for general irrigation during the growing season.
Follow Smith Anderson past Gould and Jacobsen Roads. Take a left on Udell Hansen. Continue straight towards the highway. You may have noticed that many of the old warehouses are 2-story. They often had an apartment-like living area above and the cranberry warehouse below.
Stop at the intersection of Udell Hansen and Alexson Roads. This is where Grayland's second cranberry bog was grown. (There is just brush now.) It was owned by a woman from Oregon. She refused to sell her excess vines to one of the locals. Since she was being obstinate about it, he went out on a moonlit night and using a pruning rake, he pruned some of her excess vines. (The pruning actually helped her out.) He used these vines to start his own bog. Offspring from his bog was used to start many of the bogs in Grayland.
Follow Udell Hansen the remainder of the way to the highway. Taking a right will bring you back to the point that the tour began.
We really hope that you have enjoyed it! We would really appreciate it if you would send us your comments and questions, so that we can improve the tour for others who will take it. Please fill out our comments form.