Camp Grisdale offered plethora of activities for campers


Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

In October 1947, The Journal carried a story celebrating the one-year anniversary of Camp Grisdale, Simpson Logging Co.'s "last word in logging camps," located in the heart of the South Olympic forest 48 miles west of Shelton.

Camp Grisdale was named after brothers George and Will Grisdale, nephews of Sol Simpson, who had spent their working lives with the Simpson Co. The camp was designed to be a full-service community for loggers and their families, providing "everything to be found in the most modern city, and in many cases for less cash."

The camp had 52 one-to-three bedroom homes for married men, with front and back yards and an "undressing" room at each back entrance "to keep soaking wet husbands from dripping all over a tidy kitchen." The houses rented for $20.50 and $29.50 per month. Rent included a garage, water, electricity, garbage service and home repairs.

Single loggers lived four to a room in bunkhouses. Each room had hot and cold running water, an oil heater, a card table, mat carpets and reading lamps. Accommodations included daily bed making, steam-heat, and hot and cold water. The Men's Health Center offered showers, wash tubs and drying rooms, and substantial meals were served in the mess hall. In the 1940s, room and board in the bunkhouses was 20 cents a day.

Children attended the first through eighth grades in a two-room schoolhouse with two teachers. First-, second-, and third-graders studied in one room and fourth through sixth grade students in the other. Older children took a bus from the camp to high school in Montesano.

For recreation and entertainment, there were "the perennial poker and cribbage games," but Camp Grisdale also offered bowling, covered horseshoe courts, and weekly movies, plus sports, dances and special entertainment. During the winter, when snow often got too deep for the loggers to go to work, the community dug out from the snow and then played in it, often riding bobsleds pulled behind trucks.

A Lumbermen's Mercantile satellite store offered Grisdale residents the same merchandise that was sold at the Shelton store "available at Shelton prices and with the added feature of a soft-drink bar providing spare-time snacks."

At the time of the Journal article, a self-government project, with employee-councilmen and administrators sharing the responsibility of running the community with company supervisors, was being developed.

The population of Camp Grisdale was about 400 adults and 100 children when it was running on full schedule. However, the camp was never intended to last forever — initially, it was expected to operate until 1987. It almost made it, but by 1985, market conditions impelled Simpson Timber Co. to end high-country logging. Camp Grisdale closed in November 1985.

Anyone who is curious about what it was like to live at Camp Grisdale is welcome to visit the Mason County Museum at 427 Railroad Ave. and read the many reminiscences included in the Camp Grisdale file.

Jan Parker can be reached at

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