Siuslaw Pioneer Museum

See the history

By Louis Campbell reprinted from FOG DOG (1995)

The year was 1884. The 24' boat "Escape" brought Captain W.A. Cox and Dr. J.F. William Saubert with a load of houshold goods up the Siuslaw to a point about three miles above Florence.

Captain Cox built a home on the North shore, not far west of the present site of Cushman. This was the First home in what would become the town of "Acme" In 1885, Captain Cox, his wife and two children were the only residents of the future town site. That same year, a post office was established there, three years before the one was established in Florence.

Captain Cox had retired from the sea, but proceeded to build a successful second career in Real Estate. Captain Cox named Lily Lake, north of Florence, for his daughter Lily. She married O.W. Hurd, a successful Florence businessman.

A plat for the town of Acme was approved by the Lane County Clerk in June of 1890, and the little town began to grow along with Florence. The October 1891 issue of THE WEST (published in Florence) carried the notice:

The Capitalist of today and the future is the man who can see a city before it is built; a city after it is built can be seen by anybody.

Your Attention is called to Florence and ACME - The leading towns of the great Siuslaw Valley.

Captain Cox died in October, 1912. His grave is in the Pacific Sunset Cemetery, on the hill above Acme.

A little west of the Cox's first home, Dr. Saubert had built his sawmill at the river's edge, and a home for his family on a hill nearby.

Saubert's sawmill was the first permanent sawmill on the river. It flourished. The town of Florence was growing, and Saubert had "seen the city before it was built.” But Saubert did not have the only sawmill. I.B. Cushman had one at Acme, and O.W. Hurd built one in Florence. There were others, but not so well known. The first sawmill in the entire area, built by Duncan about 1876 near the mouth of the Siuslaw, only lasted about a year.

As lumber became plentiful, ships were needed to carry loads to sell at other ports. Acme was just as important as Florence as a lumber producer at this time, and the ocean was the only way to get the lumber to outside markets.

Boatbuilding was an important part of Acme's history. The schooner "Acme" was built for the use of Saubert's Acme mill. She was the first ship on the Siuslaw, launched September 15, 1887.

The fishing industry also contributed heavily to the growth of Acme. Even Dr. Saubert took over a salmon cannery from a prior owner, but he was still a doctor, and always found time to go to the aid of those who needed him.

Acme grew. In 1882 O.W. Hurd built a cannery on the north shore at Acme. His product was sold under the brand name "Corona7".

In 1887 a cooperative cannery, which became known as the Rose Hill cannery, was built on the south shore of the Siuslaw across from the North Fork outlet.

In 1895 Kyle & Cushman sold shares to build a three masted schooner. Total construction cost was $25,000. Launched at Acme in January, 1897, she was christened the "Bella.”

A new wharf was completed on the river above Acme by Christensen Bros, in July of 1896. It was 40 by 60 feet with a 20 by 40 foot saltery and described as the best on the river.

The population of Acme in 1900 was about 59, compared to about 300 in Florence.

The farming activities that were going on in the entire area were just as important as the more spectacular timber and the Fishing industries. Farming seldom got the publicity that was given to other businesses. All businesses that developed in Acme were dependent upon dependable shipping schedules. Like Florence, Acme felt the effects of the dangerous bar conditions at the river entrance. By the time the jetty was constructed, other factors affected the economy.

The railroad from Eugene to Coos Bay crossed the river at Acme in 1915. The new name for the town became Cushman. The railroad provided more dependable cargo service, providing faster shipping for all products.

But times were rapidly changing, and Acme, (now Cushman) was never to become an industrial hub in the modern world. Eventually, the canneries closed as the fish supply dwindled. What we now know as Cushman is but a small part of what was once Acme.

When the coast highway links were completed in 1938, the old town of Acme was remembered only by the local old timers.

The "Old Red Store" is gone, but the pilings where it sat over the river still stand along the north shore west of Cushman.

The Old Acme railroad station is gone, but the little road across from the Cushman store still leads up to the raised spot next to the tracks where it used to stand.

Skunk Hollow has changed, but the name on the road sign still catches the tourist’s eye and causes a few smiles as one drives along Highway 126, which follows the old main street of Acme.

Individual sport fishing has replaced the old commercial nets, and outboards roar upstream where the old drift boats used to quietly follow the current.

A few abandoned houses still stand. For how long, who can tell? Knowing what once was there, and seeing what remains is enough to make one wonder "will our contribution to this lifetime live on"...or will it too fade away into an almost unremembered past?