Marsh's Sea Shell - Factory and
Marsh's has a long
history. Wellington Marsh, Sr. came from Yakima, his wife
Harriet was from Cle Elum. The Marsh's farmed rutabagas in North
Dakota where they went broke. In 1921 they moved to Washington
and opened an Ice Cream and Candy Shop. In 1930 Wellington
grabbed an opportunity of a lifetime when the Pacific Steamship
Co. passenger liner Admiral Benson went aground in the fog at
Peacock Spit, near Cope Disappointment. The 30 passengers and 65
crew members were rescued, but Capt. C. G. Graham refused to
leave the ship. For nine days and nights the captain stayed on
the liner. He was determined to keep his command.
During this time
Wellington opened a hamburger stand on the Benson Beach and
served the curiosity seekers that came to see the beached ship.
He had a very good business. In 1933 with prohibition ended he
opened the Crawfish Tavern in Grays River, then moved to Long
Beach in 1935. This was the start of Marsh's Free Museum. Marian
Marsh once said, "A lot of places like this got started in
taverns. People would bring in mementos and swap them for beer.
It was the depression and people didn't have money for beer, but
they had junk in their attics. That's my theory. Kind of makes
The best attraction at Marsh's is Jake the Alligator Man, and
they have lots of stuff to see. Ray Pryor an antique dealer
bought Jake at an auction when Whitney's Museum in San Francisco
closed in 1965. Wellington Marsh Jr. didn't want to pay the $750
dollars for him but his wife Marian talked him into it.
A lot of folks claim Jake was a valet in a New Orleans
whorehouse. Others say that Jake was a sideshow freak who smoked
cigars and could nod yes or no to simple questions when asked.
There have even been people that stopped by to visit Jake that
say they've seen him alive in a Texas carnival. Out of all the
curiosities found in Marsh's Free Museum Jake the Alligator Man
is the most amazing. Jake is the star of Marsh's. He sits in his
case with all the granger of a king looking over the other
oddities of his kingdom.