Winter Creek

Soapstone was originally designed and built in the 1970s by Portland architect, Will Martin, who designed Pioneer Courthouse Square and other notable Oregon landmarks.


A Short History of Soapstone, the Property

Located in Oregon’s Coast Range, approximately twelve miles from Nehalem, the property included 22.24 acres near the confluence of two fresh water creeks fed by a spring water lake. The combined waters flow as Soapstone Creek. Just downstream from the cabin, Soapstone Creek widens to form a swimming hole.

We purchased the property in 1991 from the estate of Will Martin and after intensive fundraising tore down what was no longer usable and rebuilt it around the central core. Generous architects donated their services: Michael McCulloch, and Martha and Jim Andrews. Landscape Architect, Jurgen Hess, with the help of Susan Hess and many volunteers, planned and maintained a native plant area that surrounded the cabin.

Soapstone was sold to wonderful new owners in the fall of 2013.

The stream is a spawning ground for annual runs of wild salmon. During the fall and early winter, you can see coho, chinook and steelhead as they swim up Soapstone Creek to lay their eggs. You can watch the females create a redd (nest) with much splashing of their tails, and see the males chase one another away.

Many hundreds of women and men came to work parties over twenty years to help maintain trails, cut and stack firewood, weedwack the meadow, wash windows, and do all kinds of necessary tasks. These days always included a potluck dinner and usually a poetry reading.

When asked what we will miss, the list was whittled down to this: Special trees, especially some of the old growth Sitka spruce and western red cedar. The joy everyone who used the cabin felt upon arriving, and the slowing down of the days that followed. Driving to the beach to have breakfast at Wanda’s then returning to the peace of the forest and creek. The hummingbirds, the first trilliums and pink fawn lillies of spring, the wild rose bushes in the meadow that bloom all summer, the vine maples in fall. The red huckleberries (tart and good on oatmeal). The stars and moon at night seen from the terrace or upper deck, or inside, through the sun roof and skylight.

The land was designated as worthy of special conservation protection by the North Coast Land Conservancy which holds a conservation easement on the property. The NCLC spent a year examining the property in all seasons before deciding that it should be preserved. Of particular note is its significance as a salmon-spawning tributary of the North Fork of the Nehalem River, the absence of invasive plant species, and the variety of wildlife.