Earl Whitner, chuckled under his breath when passing Frog Pond Road on a visit a few years back as he thought of the sight of naked people amid the thick trees above Yukon Harbor. Whitner grew up in Colby prior to World War II, living in several of the houses that stand along the waterfront today. He had come to see his old haunts and share his memories with the YHHS group, and the drive was intended to fill in some of the gaps.
“The kids would tell their mothers they were going frog-hunting, but they were actually curious about the nudists. I heard that really wasn’t that much to see except old people….” Whitner denies ever taking a peek himself, insisting he “only heard stories about it.”
In the 30’s and into 40’s, there were all sorts of business ventures that took root in the region of Yukon Harbor. There was a failed mini-salmon farm in Manchester — why someone would want a smaller fish is a wonder — and several fruit canneries, including the White Family’s business in South Colby. Perhaps the two that offered the most adventure and excitement to young boys and girls of that era were the frog farm and the adjoining nudist colony just off of Garfield Avenue, about a quarter of a mile South of the school there.
According to Whitner, the frog farm was a thriving business, ostensibly breeding and raising frogs for upscale restaurant fare. “I remember Frog Pond Road, Whitner recalls. “The Shellabachers moved from their trailer home down by the old Colby store to that area and raised frogs, of all things. Guess that’s where the road got its name. Seems to me they dammed up a small creek and created a frog farm. That would have been in the early 40’s.” To this day, descendants of those amphibians can be heard croaking in the thick underbrush along Frog Pond Road.
In the adjoining lot was an enterprise known as “Forest Murmurs,” which was a nudist colony. That organization has since evolved into a clubhouse-less association of nudists based in Sylvana. The members were “naturalists” and did what people of that mindset typically do: sunbathe, swim, play volleyball, and enjoy good food, all sans clothing.
“Forest Murmurs evolved from the Cobblestone nudist club, which was formed in the 1930s and located on land near Yelm,” says one current member. “In the 1940’s or early 1950’s the group changed their name to ‘Forest Murmurs’ and moved to private land near Colby.” The club moved several times, eventually landing in Poulsbo in the late 60’s.
“In the mid-90s, the owner of that land sold and retired to Southern California,” the current representative continues. “The new owners continued the club for five years and then terminated the use agreement. At that time, the club was moved to Lacey, operating as a non-landed, traveling nudist club. About five years ago with declining membership in South Sound, Forest Murmurs club management was moved to Sylvana, Washington, to be closer to members living Everett and North.”
The Colby lot was surrounded by a tall fence and trees, and featured an above-ground pool and clubhouse. The pad for the pool and the basic clubhouse structure can still be seen today. Curious Peeping Toms would climb a tree so they could see the naked people. With the frequent cold and wet weather typical of the area, one can’t help but think that the colony had limited appeal to the locals.
The exact dates of operation of these businesses is not known, but we’re betting there are locals who can fill us in on the details. –RN
Since we posted this, we’ve noticed that the number of visits to our historical-themed website from people searching terms like “nudists” or “nude children” has increased dramatically. We have posted this information because it is both historical and novel, and none of this is intended to appeal to prurient interests. If you want blatant nudity or any form of pornography, look elsewhere.