The uncovered mystery — with thanks to Jack Webb

This 1906 drawing, “The Temptation of St. Anthony,” saw nudity a little differently than those Upper Rogue nudist practitioners of the 1960s.

Ladies and gentlemen, the story you are about to read is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. Dummmm-da-dumm-dum!

This is the city. Shady Cove, Ore. I work here. I'm a history snoop.

If you go

As far as we know, the nudists are gone. But if you'd like to get a peek at the area that attracted all of those sun-loving families of nature, take a short drive north of Trail on Highway 227, in the Rocky Road area. To protect the privacy of current residents who we assume are fully dressed each day, you won't be getting the exact address, but in the words of Peggy Tulip, "It's a perfect place for a nudist camp, because it's about a half-mile off the road, and it's sort of out there all by itself."

It was Friday, Sept. 7, 9:51 a.m., and it was hot. Too hot.

I was working the city watch when a woman suddenly grabbed my arm and stopped me in my tracks.

"Did you see it? Did you read it?" she asked.

"Read what, ma'am?" I asked.

"The obituary in Sunday's Mail Tribune," she said with a snicker. "About the lady who managed a Shady Cove nudist camp back in the '60s. It's unbelievable, and I want to know more. Can you help?"

Nudists in Shady Cove. Now that was different. Really different. A history snoop gets all kinds of requests, but a nudist camp? I told her I'd give it a try and see what I could uncover.

It seems every 24 hours a little bit of everything happens somewhere, and everyone thinks we snoops know just where to look. Well, sometimes they write it down and sometimes they don't. In my business, they usually don't.

I drove downtown to check the microfilm.

It was on the screen at 2:15 that afternoon. The 1959 newspaper from the big city up north said there was going to be a "clothes-doffing convention" at the White Oak Lodge in July, but not in Shady Cove — in Trail. That was all she wrote. Nothing more in the local papers. Not a word. Was this some kind of cover-up? Did we need to go undercover to put some clothes on this story?

The Internet search was just a little too revealing for my taste. It seems like a lot of people, people with families, had traveled to White Oak just to have their pictures taken. Some joker put them up on the World Wide Web. With that much skin on display, the camp's motto, "Summer Red — Winter Blue," was starting to make a whole lot of sense.

Saturday, 11:14 a.m. Began interviewing the reliable informants. First up, Joey "The Teach."

"You were here then, Joey. What do you know?"

"Yeah, I heard about 'em," Joey said. "But I was never there. Never, I tell ya.

"Nobody talked about it too much anyway," he said, "besides, you had to be a member, and very few locals would ever admit that they had a membership."

Joey sent us down the road to see Peggy Tulip. She and her husband still own the property.

"It was a nudist colony before we bought it in 1971," Tulip said, "but they had already closed down by then.

"During that first year, we had a nudist family come up here, and they were terribly disappointed that it was no longer active."

Tulip said that nudist magazines continued to arrive in the mail for a few more months.

"I know that in the 1960s," she confided, "they even had the national nudist convention here."

Now, that's one that makes you think. Where does a nudist pin on a convention badge?

But then again, where would a history snoop put a pad and pencil?

With that kind of thinking, it's obviously time to close this case. Besides, it's starting to get a little chilly around here.

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at

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