The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Medford Pioneers: Vern Gorst

Vern C. Gorst circa 1935, San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive
Vern C. Gorst, circa 1935

    Sidney (Wash.) Independent: A letter from Vergne Gorst, dated at Dawson City Nov. 28th, states that August Nelson is there and is working for $15 per day. August took up a fractional claim on Last Chance and on the strength of his good luck got on a high old drunk. L. C. Merz is cooking in the Dominion Restaurant. Alex Gooch has a claim on Gold bottom. Mr. Arnold, of Crystal Springs, reached Dawson all right and visited with Vergne for a day or so. Vergne speaks of the shortage, and to be on the safe side, traded a box of candles for two sacks of flour.
Little Falls Herald, Little Falls, Minnesota, January 21, 1898, page 1

GORST-JOHNSON--At No. 16 Eldorado, Yukon Ter., August 6, 1901, Mr. Vergne C. Gorst and Miss Julia Johnson.
    Mr. Gorst is the only son of Mr. and Mrs. John Gorst, formerly of Morrison County, and who have many relatives still living here.
    On the night of the marriage thieves stole $600 from a sluice box on the claim Mr. Gorst had been working, the famous No. 16 Eldorado.
    The Dawson City Daily News says of the marriage:
    Wednesday night 16 Eldorado was stormed and captured by the biggest band ever recorded in the history of the territory. There were violins from 17, violins from the Forks, guitars and mandolins from Gold Hill and a larger number of trumpets varying from fish horn to the bassoon and from every claim within a mile. It was odd music, if music it can be called, which leaves such curious debris after the ball.
    The following morning every oyster can and dish pan and used-up gold pan heretofore lying loose between the Forks and 17 was found lying piled up on 16. Our reporter tried to write in his report the word "charivari" and after spelling it 16 different ways gave up the attempt, so it has to be surmised that the marriage Wednesday at the Forks of Mr. Vergne C. Gorst and Miss Julia Johnson was the cause of it all. What lends color to the supposition is the popularity of the same Mr. Gorst, for years panner on the same 16, which he now works on a lay; also the many charms of the bride, who, as a friend of the Berrys, from California, has become so favorably known in that neighborhood.
    The handsomely arranged cabin on 16 was all alight with the festivities when the invasion occurred. After playing what they declared was "Yankee Doodle," but which sounded like the last trump, the invaders were rendered harmless and jolly by an invitation to partake of good things in sight, which was done and without stint. Pity 'tis the band left so many of their instruments to litter the claim. However, an immense monument can be made of the pans and pots to remind friend Gorst in his married happiness that 'twas not ever thus.
Little Falls Herald, Little Falls, Minnesota, September 13, 1901, page 1

    Port Orchard, Wash. Independent: Vergne Gorst and wife from Dawson arrived in Sidney on Saturday last and will probably spend the summer here. We are pleased to state that Vergne has been quite successful in the far north.

Little Falls Herald,
Little Falls, Minnesota, June 20, 1902, page 8

    The R.R.V.Ry. Co. has competition for the passenger traffic between Medford and Jacksonville. Mr. Gorst runs a Cadillac auto between the two places every ninety minutes.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, May 31, 1911, page 2

Jacksonville Secures More Trains Since Competition.
    JACKSONVILLE, Or., June 26.--(Special.)--Jacksonville, whose growth has been so long retarded because of poor transportation facilities, has at last come into its own. V. C. Gorst, who formerly operated a passenger launch between Port Orchard and Seattle, has established an auto passenger service between Jacksonville and Medford, and it has met with such favor that he will add another machine. He makes a round trip every hour.
    Shortly after the advent of Mr. Gorst the Rogue River Valley Railway increased its service and improved its accommodations, and now runs 18 trains a day.
    A similar auto service between Central Point and Medford, it is said, will soon be established. There is also some talk of a freight truck service between here and Medford.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, June 27, 1911, page 3

Gorst Ticket SOHS1969.9.4 M44FBox3

Medford-Jacksonville Service Is Heavily Patronized.
    MEDFORD, Or., July 1.--(Special.)--An automobile passenger service has been established between here and Jacksonville by V. C. Gorst, who formerly ran a passenger launch between Port Orchard and Seattle. A round trip is made at present every hour, but so well is he patronized that Mr. Gorst says he intends to put on another machine and a truck to haul freight.
    The new passenger and freight service is in direct competition with the Rogue River Valley Railway, which for years has made only three round trips a day between the two cities. Petitions have been circulated and presented to the railway management requesting better service. When no improvement was made Mr. Gorst was invited to put on an automobile service, which he did. Since that the railway company has put on 18 trains a day.
Sunday Oregonian, Portland, July 2, 1911, page D4

    Milan Richardson, the chauffeur, is making regular trips to Jacksonville, assisting V. Gorst to take care of the passenger traffic.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, July 27, 1911, page 2

    V. C. Gorst of the Jacksonville-Medford Auto Transportation Line has leased the brick building belonging to the Bruner estate, corner Oregon and Gold streets, and transformed it into a garage.
"Jacksonville," Medford Mail Tribune, August 6, 1911, page B4

    V. C. Gorst, proprietor of the Medford-Jacksonville stage line, has gone to Seattle to buy another automobile. It will be larger and better than the one now in use.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, September 2, 1911, page 2

    V. C. Gorst, who conducts the Medford-Jacksonville auto stage line, has returned from Portland with a new car for the run and put it in service today.

"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, September 6, 1911, page 2

    There is a merry auto war on for the passenger traffic between Medford and Jacksonville between V. C. Gorst and the Rogue River Valley Railway Company, each of whom has two machines in service. Rates have been cut nearly in two, and the round trip can be made for 50 cents.

"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, October 14, 1911, page 2

Eva Rushford, Aged 14, Suffers Severe Injury--Gladys Hinman Badly Bruised--
Jacksonville Auto Stage Running Without Lights.
    As the result of an automobile accident on West Main Street Sunday night, Eva Rushford, aged 14, lies at her home today with a fractured leg, Gladys J. Hinman, aged 16, is badly bruised and suffering from a serious shock, and Laurin E. Hinman, aged 18, is severely bruised, the carriage in which they were driving is demolished and the horse so badly bruised that it can hardly stand. The young people were struck by a machine driven by chauffeur Pierce and owned by manager Gorst of the Jacksonville stage line. The machine is said to have been running practically without lights, while young Hinman makes the serious charge that Pierce was drunk at the time of the accident.
    Young Hinman and the two girls were driving home on West Main about 9:30 o'clock Sunday evening. They noticed a car coming rapidly down the street, with an intermittent light showing in front. They drove to the curb on their side of the street, but in spite of this the machine struck them and dragged them down the road for nearly 100 feet.
    At this instant one of W. H. Barnum's cars arrived on the scene and conveyed the injured young people to their home, got a doctor and then went to Jacksonville, where Mr. Gorst was called and brought to Medford.
    Constable Singler showed up on the scene early and stated today that the tracks of the automobile were within nine feet of the curb on the wrong side of the street. The car was without lights excepting for a pocket flash which was held by a man riding well forward on the fender.
    No arrests have been made, but they are expected to follow. It is reported that they will be issued this afternoon.

Medford Mail Tribune, November 13, 1911, page 1

Manager Gorst of Auto Stage Line Considering Putting Large Truck
on Run To Handle Generally Freight Business.
    Manager Gorst of the Jacksonville auto stage line is considering the purchase of a modern auto truck for the purpose of entering into a general freighting business between this city and Jacksonville. An auto truck will make 15 miles an hour with a load of several tons of freight, and the venture is bound to pay.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 14, 1911, page 6

Manager Gorst States His Driver Was Not Drunk
But That He Let Him Go Because He Was
Running at Night Without Lights.
    George Pierce, driver of the Gorst car which hit a carriage on West Main Street Sunday night, has been fined and "fired." He was arrested, charged with reckless driving, and Justice of the Peace Taylor fined him $21. Later manager Gorst of the auto line "fired" the young man.
    Gorst says Pierce was sober at the time of the accident, but he was to blame for running without lights. It was for this he let him go. Mr. Gorst regrets the matter very much and assures his patrons that such an accident will not occur again.

Medford Mail Tribune, November 14, 1911, page 6

Drunken Chauffeur Crashes into Buggy;
Two Girls and Man, Badly Injured, Are Saved by Rival.

    MEDFORD, Or., Nov. 15. (Special.)--Alarmed by the frequency of auto accidents in Medford, particularly on the road between Medford and Jacksonville, local authorities have started an active anti-speeding campaign which resulted last night in the conviction of George Pierce, chauffeur on the Gorst Jacksonville line.
    Pierce was speeding into Medford from Jacksonville Sunday night with his lights out and smashed into a carriage driven by Laurin Hinman, with his sister Gladys and Miss Eve Rushford. All the young folks were seriously injured, the carriage was demolished, and the horse crippled.
    At his hearing before Justice Taylor it developed that the chauffeur was under the influence of liquor and he was fined $25 and costs. The authorities believe that the keen auto competition between Gorst and the Barnum Railway is responsible for much of the trouble.
    Gorst, with three autos in the Jacksonville service, threatened to put the Barnum railroad out of business, so Barnum bought three 60-horsepower touring cars, cut the fare in half, and has been exerting every effort to regain supremacy in the last three weeks.
    The rivalry has spread to the two cities, and Jacksonville citizens have organized a boycott against the Barnum auto, so that the railroad owner depends on visitors and Medford citizens for his patronage.
    The accident was particularly galling to the Gorst faction because Barnum, who was putting on all speed to overtake his rival when the accident occurred, had the triumph of transporting the injured folk to the Hinman home.

Morning Oregonian, Portland, November 16, 1911, page 5

    Miles Richardson has resumed his place as chauffeur for V. C. Gorst. Mr. Markham has been filling the position.

"Jacksonville," Medford Mail Tribune, November 25, 1911, page B4

Gorst & King Auto Line token

    C. O. King of Portland has purchased an interest in the Gorst auto line between Medford and Jacksonville. Another large new car has been added to the line and is now in commission, being driven by Mr. King.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, December 26, 1911, page 2

Gorst ad, March 28, 1912 Jacksonville Weekly Independent
March 28, 1912 Jacksonville Weekly Independent

Gorst's New Auto Service
    V. C. Gorst made a business trip to Grants Pass last week in connection with the opening up of his new auto service between that city and Jacksonville. The route will be by way of Ruch to Applegate P.O., Williams Creek, Provolt and Murphy into the Pass. An inspection of the proposed route will be made this week and the new line probably opened up about the first of next month. The residents along the route are anxious to see the early installation of this service, and we are confident Mr. Gorst has struck a popular chord in the contemplated addition to his auto stage system.
Weekly Independent, Jacksonville, March 28, 1912, page 3

To Scoop the Business.
    Poor old Grants Pass. Just listen to the wail of woe from the Observer, all because V. C. Gorst is to establish an auto line into that city. When the citizens of that country town wake up, and do things instead of looking for something to growl at, outsiders that have business heads will not have occasion to pick up business snaps that they now fail to grasp. But here is the story:
    "News comes to this city from a reliable source to the effect that auto men from Medford will in the near future establish a line of auto stages to ply between Medford and Grants Pass, by way of the Applegate, making two trips each day.
    "This move comes directly from the action of the city council in turning down the recent auto ordinance, gotten up by the local auto men in protection of the Grants Pass interests. By its provision the outsider was prevented from coming into the city and running a line of stage without paying a license. As the matter stands now, the Medford people will have opportunity to come to Grants Pass and operate a stage line from here without any license whatever. The auto business from this city to the Applegate and surrounding country promises to be heavy this coming season, and the people from up the line were prompt to act when they found that all obstacles had been removed.
    "The auto men in this city are very indignant concerning the news of the intrusion of the outsiders, and they are in a measure disgusted.
    "In conversation with one owner of a garage in Grants Pass [he] said his firm had invested over $2,000 in auto tires alone, keeps a force of four to five machinists steadily at work, own four first-class machines and had a large stock of supplies aggregating hundreds of dollars. He added that it was not a fair deal for the outsider to have privilege to come here and take way the business that really belonged to the local firms, and that some action should be taken in the matter. If this condition is allowed to continue the local garage man will be compelled to sell off his machines for what he can get and quit business. We will have Medford cars on every corner for rent and the local men will be entirely shut out."
    Ain't it awful, Violet! Sic 'em.
Weekly Independent, Jacksonville, March 28, 1912, page 4

    The Gorst auto stage line to Jacksonville has been abandoned, Messrs. Gorst and King going to Marshfield, where they will put on a similar stage line between Marshfield and North Bend. Whether someone else will put on a car or not is not known.
    The auto stage line was instituted by Gorst over a year ago and has definitely shown what an auto will do to a railroad where they are brought into competition. Gorst instituted the line with one machine, which cost him $700. Later he was forced to increase the number of machines to three, and he forced the railroad to hourly trips at half the old fare.
    When Gorst started the auto stage line the train service on the Barnum line was very unsatisfactory. Very few trips were run, the round trip fare being 50 cents. Later Barnum was forced to put his train on an hourly service and reduced the round trip fare to 25 cents. Barnum attempted at one time to run an auto stage line in competition with Gorst but failed after a month or two at it.
    It will be interesting to note whether Barnum, now that competition has been done away with, will drop back into his old habit of charging 50 cents with a service which runs according to inclination.
    Gorst in stopping says that he has a better route at Marshfield. He wishes to thank the many friends who patronized him during his operation on the local line.

Medford Mail Tribune, May 11, 1912, page 1

    V. C. Gorst and family and Chas. King with Messrs. Fernley, Sinclair and Kirkruff arrived here today after a rather strenuous auto trip from Medford. Mr. Gorst drove a Cadillac and Mr. King a Packard. They came in via Drain to Scottsburg and then to Allegany, from where they brought their autos down by boat.
    They were three days on the road between Drain and Allegany [about 40 miles as the crow flies], being the first machines over it this year. In many places, they had to fill mud holes at over a hundred feet to the stretch with brush and dirt to get their machines through. They wore practically all their chains, and most of their mud-hooks were broken. Otherwise, their machines went through unscathed. It was a remarkable test for the autos. The Cadillac proved the superior and was used as a road breaker and also to pull the Packard out when the latter got stuck. The Packard carried the trunks and baggage.
    Messrs. Gorst and King have been operating an auto line between Medford and Jacksonville and came here with a view of operating a line out of Coos Bay. They say that many are planning to come here from Medford to locate.

The Coos Bay Times,
May 16, 1912, page 2

    Charles Thompson left Friday evening for Marshfield, where he will accept a position with Messrs. Gorst & King, formerly of this city, but who now operate an auto line between Marshfield and North Bend.

"Local News," Jacksonville Post, November 30, 1912, page 3

    Vern C. Gorst and Charles C. King, who formerly conducted an auto stage line between this city and Medford and who now operate a similar line at Marshfield, called on Jacksonville friends Thanksgiving Day. The two gentlemen are making a trip to California points.
"Local News," Jacksonville Post, November 30, 1912, page 3

    After Aeroplane.--V. G. Gorst, of the firm of Gorst & King, who left this week to arrange for two new 20-passenger autos to be used in their excellent North Bend-Marshfield auto service, will also look into the aeroplane proposition and may take up the hydroplane. With the new waterfront road, they are able to make the trip between North Bend and Marshfield in less than seven minutes.
"Local Notes," The Coos Bay Times, November 30, 1912, page 5

December 2, 1912 Coos Bay Times
December 2, 1912 Coos Bay Times

    Gets Hydroplane.--Messrs. Gorst and King returned on the Redondo today from Los Angeles, where they placed the order for a three-passenger hydroplane. They also bought two eight-passenger trailers, to be used with their present cars in the North Bend-Marshfield auto service.

"Local Overflow," The Coos Bay Times, December 13, 1912, page 4

Aviator Christofferson Making Great Hit with San Francisco Flights.
    V. C. Gorst, who with his partner, Mr. King, returned a few days ago from Los Angeles and San Francisco, reports that San Francisco is greatly enthused over the hydroplane exhibitions by Silas Christofferson, the Portland aviator, who made the flights here under the auspices of the Coos Bay Times. The San Francisco papers are printing first-page stories and pictures of the aviator. It was the first hydroplane exhibition given at San Francisco.
    Just before leaving San Francisco, Mr. Gorst says he was on the Redondo eating supper. He heard a whirring and instantly realized it was a flying machine. He hastened to the deck and saw Christofferson flying above him; the aviator, evidently having recognized the vessel, flew near it.
    Mr. Gorst placed an order with Glenn Martin of Los Angeles for a three-passenger hydroplane, which will reach here shortly. He says that in California they charge the passengers from $25 to $100 for much shorter flights than Christofferson gave here for $15. Mr. Gorst while cranking an auto severely injured his knee and had to go on crutches for awhile.
    San Francisco papers report that one day last week Christofferson's engines went back on him and he and a photographer had to wade ashore. However, he is taking up many passengers, many of whom are notables. A San Francisco dispatch concerning one of his flights says:
    "It's the most exhilarating sport in the world," said Senor Carlos Sanjimes, consul general of the republic of Bolivia here, following a trip over San Francisco Bay in a hydroplane with Silas Christofferson, the Portland aviator. "I felt safer in the air than with the average chauffeur in an automobile."
The Coos Bay Times, December 16, 1912, page 4

    A new auto stage line between Medford and Jacksonville with E. Clement of Medford as manager was installed this week. The autos make hourly trips during the day, with less frequent trips in the evening. The institution of this line and the regular train service makes it possible for local people to visit our neighboring city at almost any hour they choose.

"Local News," Jacksonville Post, December 21, 1912, page 3

    Chas. Thompson, who is employed with Gorst & King, who conduct an auto stage line at Marshfield, arrived in Jacksonville Tuesday and will visit relatives in this city for a few days.
    Milas Richardson, who is employed with Gorst & King in the auto stage business at Marshfield, was in Jacksonville this week.
"Local News," Jacksonville Post, February 1, 1913, page 3

    Orders Big Auto.--V. C. Gorst returned today from Seattle, where he was called by the illness of his mother. She is still very sick. While at Portland, Mr. Gorst placed an order for a 24-passenger auto, similar to the Griffith sightseeing auto, for service here. The car is built to order and will reach here in about thirty days. He expects to get another one of them later for the Marshfield-North Bend service.

"Local Notes," The Coos Bay Times, February 6, 1913, page 5

Women of Jacksonville Accuse Councilmen of Bad Faith.
    MEDFORD, Or., Feb. 14.--(Special.)--Jacksonville is up in arms over a recent ruling of the City Council that auto stages running from that city to Medford should pay $20 a month tax.
    First, Mayor T. T. Shaw resigned, and now the women have held an indignation meeting and charge that the Council has been influenced by the Barnum Railroad, which is the only transportation line between the two places, in an effort to kill off competition.
    The owners of the railroad declare they had nothing to do with the Council's action, but that it was a move calculated to protect a Jacksonville corporation against the encroachments of Medford autoists.

Morning Oregonian, Portland, February 15, 1913, page 7

    Fine Hydroplane.--V. C. Gorst is planning to leave on the Redondo for San Diego to try out his new hydroplane. Mr. King may go with him. Edward Steele, who is now there, says the new hydroplane will beat anything ever turned out. Mr. Steele was formerly with Goodrum's garage here and may run the hydroplane for Gorst & King.

"Local Notes," The Coos Bay Times, March 2, 1913, page 3

    The Jacksonville-Medford auto stage line discontinued its service this week. This puts it up to the R.R.V.Ry. to handle the traffic between Medford and this city.
"Local News," Jacksonville Post, March 8, 1913, page 3

Chas. O. King, Formerly of This City, Sued for $10,000.
    Marshfield, Ore., April 23. Mrs. Iva M. Wells, of North Bend, has started suit for $10,000 for breach of promise against Charles O. King. The defendant is a member of the firm of Gorst & King, who conduct an auto line between Marshfield and North Bend. Mr. King came here last year from Medford. Mrs. Wells is a milliner and alleges that King promised to marry her on a certain date, then asked for a postponement. When the next marriage date came King refused to be married at all, and now Mrs. Wells wants damages in the sum named.
    King is well-known in Jacksonville, at one time being interested with V. C. Gorst in an auto stage line between this city and Medford.
Jacksonville Post, April 26, 1913, page 2

    Grover Bell and Ed Steele will fly by hydroplane from Balboa to Long Beach Friday of this week, to land on the sand near the entrance to the Long Beach Inner Harbor. V. C. Gorst, interested with them, made arrangements with the city council last night for landing here. Mr. Gorst informs the Press that he may establish a hydroplane headquarters in this city.--Long Beach Daily Press.
The Coos Bay Times, May 10, 1913, page 6

    Mrs. V. C. Gorst left for her home at Marshfield, after a short visit with friends living at Jacksonville.

"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, May 23, 1913, page 2

Former Jacksonville Man Now an Aviator.
    V. C. Gorst returned to North Bend last evening on the steamer A. M. Simpson and brought with him his flying machine which has been thoroughly tried out near Los Angeles. The machine will not be operated for two or three weeks yet, as there is some repairing to be done on one of the pontoons, and Ed Steele the aviator remained at Los Angeles to complete his lessons. The aeroplane will be tried out several times before the Fourth of July, and on that day will be used at North Bend for aiding the program.--Marshfield Record.
Jacksonville Post,
May 24, 1913, page 3

Aviator Steele To Take Up Passengers from Marshfield Tomorrow Morning
in Gorst & King Hydroplane.
    Aviator Steele with the Gorst & King aeroplane will give a number of exhibition flights with passengers of Marshfield. A number of Marshfield people have already arranged for flights, but a number of others can be carried through the forenoon. The flights will begin at the Market Street dock at 8 o'clock and will continue for several hours.
    They charge from $10 to $25 for taking up passengers, the rates varying according to the heights and distance and being about $1 per mile. Those who do not wish to go high can be accommodated by flights of from 10 to 25 feet above the water.
    Capt. Edgar Simpson of North Bend has had the highest flight of any passenger taken up yet with the possible exception of Mrs. Paul Schillerstrom of North Bend. Last Tuesday he was taken up to a height of about 2000 feet.
    Among the Marshfield men taken up this week were Claude Tucker, Harry McKeown, George Ferry, Will Goodrum and Jerry Kinney. Andrew McClelland of Pueblo, Colo., who was visiting his sister, Mrs. Alice Doll, here until Tuesday, was taken up and was elated. Mr. McClelland has traveled around the world and has ridden in almost every kind of a device on both land and sea, but he said the hydroplane beats them all.
The Coos Bay Times, July 26, 1913, page 6

August 12, 1913 Coos Bay Times
August 12, 1913 Coos Bay Times

    V. C. Gorst, well known in this city, broke his wrist Friday while cranking an auto at Marshfield.

"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, November 25, 1913, page 2

V. C. Gorst's Machine of Land and Water Comes for Visit of Marshfield.
    Needing only wings to bring her into competition with the animals of the land and water and the birds of the heavens, V. C. Gorst's amphibian came to [pay] Marshfield a visit this morning.
    At an early hour old Sol poked his head above the eastern horizon, and down near the new Southern Pacific bridge he saw the machine scooting up and down the water as if taking a morning bath, but principally scheduled so the picture man could record a glimpse of the strange animal that travels better than 65 miles an hour on land and 15 on the water.
    Even as Neptune, at times, arises from the depths, so the machine tired of the water and whizzed its way onto the land and came buzzing all the way to Marshfield. People left the stores, autos stopped and horses shied to the curbing to let the strange monster pass.
    High above the wheels and framework the aeroplane is mounted, while in the rear the big wheel fans the machine along on its course, leaving a suction behind that draws up a cloud of dust and sends it eddying.
    After scooting about the streets the machine headed again for its haunts in North Bend, and quiet was resumed once more.

The Coos Bay Times, February 10, 1915, page 3

Neither Fish nor Fowl, Names it Amphibian.
    The Marshfield Record gives the following details of the invention recently perfected by V. C. Gorst, a former resident of this city.
    "V. C. Gorst's invention, which he terms an amphibian, is likely to solve a transportation problem that many minds had puzzled over since Coos Bay was settled. The machine is a combination invented by Mr. Gorst and is a peculiar-looking affair. It is built on the frame of a Hupmobile, and the motive power is one of the 80-horsepower aeroplane engines taken from an old aeroplane." The engine is mounted about six or seven feet high, back of the automobile, and the power is generated in the aeroplane propeller, which revolves at a tremendous speed. There are no chain drives, and the machine is sent forward at a terrific speed by the propeller.
    "Mr. Gorst has made two trips from North Bend, going into the water, speeding to Jarvis Landing, thence across the sandspit to the seawall and up the coast to the Umpqua River. There are pontoons on each side of the craft to support the machine while in the water. The trip from Ten Mile Creek to Jarvis Landing, a distance of ten miles, was made in 11 minutes on one of the return trips.
    "There was a big crowd at North Bend to see the initial introduction of the amphibian this week, and although Mr. Gorst went through to Jarvis Landing over the water at a 15-mile rate, he is not satisfied and desires to get more speed for water out of the machine, and will therefore experiment some on improvements.

Jacksonville Post, February 13, 1915, page 1

    Mr. Crommie has discontinued his scheduled trips to Medford on account of the city ordinance requiring autos operating on a regular schedule to pay a license tax. He will operate the auto for hire, however, making trips in different directions at such times as his patrons desire.

"Local News," Jacksonville Post, October 23, 1915, page 3

    Mr. and Mrs. V. C. Gorst and family of Vallejo, Calif. stopped overnight Friday at the Thompson house while en route home from Marshfield. They left for home this morning accompanied by Miss Flora Thompson, who will spend her vacation in California.
"Local News," Jacksonville Post, September 30, 1916, page 3

Fremont Street, North Bend, Oregon:
Vergne Gorst, 43, employee of transportation company, born in Minnesota, father Maine, mother Ohio
Julia Gorst, 44, born in California, father Kentucky, mother Tennessee
Myrtle Gorst, 12, born in Washington
Wilbur Gorst, 10, born in Washington
U.S. Census, enumerated January 16, 1920

Oregon Man Given Contract to Carry Fast Mails Along Pacific Coast
Air Transport Company Is Organized to Begin Operation Next April

    WASHINGTON, Dec. 31.--The Seattle-San Francisco-Los Angeles air mail route was awarded today to Vern C. Gorst of North Bend, Or. Two other bids submitted did not come within the regulations.
    The bids were opened on September 15 last, and that of Gorst had been under consideration since that time. He proposed to carry the mails for 75 percent of the air mail postage.
    The Western Air Express Company, Inc., of Los Angeles, submitted a conditional bid at 80 percent and Wiley R. Crist, San Francisco, also placed a bid at 75 percent, but imposed conditions which caused his bid to be rejected.
    Gorst will be called upon to execute a formal contract within thirty days and begin service as soon thereafter as possible. The schedule calls for departure from Seattle at 9 a.m., with stops at Portland and Medford, Ore. The airplane will leave Medford at midnight, stopping at Fresno and Bakersfield and arriving at Los
Angeles at 5:25 a.m.
    The northbound trip will start from Los Angeles at midnight, the airship arriving in San Francisco at 5:25 a.m. It will leave San Francisco at 6 a.m., stopping at Sacramento, Medford and Portland and arriving at Seattle at 3:10 p.m.
Company Organizing
    SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 31.--The Pacific Air Transport Corporation, a $250,000 company, which will carry United States air mail between Seattle and Los Angeles, beginning in April, was in the process of formation in San Francisco today for a few hours after word was received from Assistant Postmaster General Glover that the government contract for coast-wise air mail service, had been awarded, to Vern C. Gorst of North Bend, Or.
Corona Daily Independent, Corona, California, January 2, 1925, page 8

Vern C. Gorst circa 1925, San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive
Vern C. Gorst circa 1925

    Five contracts were awarded by the post office today for operating air mail lines to act as feeders for the government-operated transcontinental system. The bid of Vern C. Gorst to operate the Seattle to Los Angeles line is still under consideration.
"Contracts Are Awarded for 5 Air Mail Lines," Freeport [Illinois] Journal-Standard, October 7, 1925, page 2

Mr. Gorst, Head of Air Mail Route, Passes Through Medford
    Vern C. Gorst, who has been awarded the air mail contract from Seattle to Los Angeles, via Medford, and associates passed through Medford en route to Portland last night and were met at the station by W. H. Crawford and other friends.
    The company is to be known as the Pacific Air Transport. Mr. Gorst is now making arrangements to meet post office officials in Chicago soon and furnish the necessary requirements to fulfill their contract.
    A number of capitalists and citizens along the route have stock in the company, among them Messrs. Ryan and Maloney, who have operated a successful commercial air route between Los Angeles and San Diego the past year.
    It is hoped to get the route in operation about April 1st.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 7, 1926, page 3

Late Type of Ship Takes Off From Crissy Field for Seattle.
    SAN FRANCISCO. March 16.--Vern C. Gorst, president of the Pacific Air Transport Company; C. N. Comstock, vice president, and R. C. Ryan, builder, took off from Crissy Field today in the latest type of transport monoplane which they are flying from San Diego to Seattle in a time test on the new mail route.
    The voyage is being made also to test a new type plane, ten of which have been purchased by the company for the route, Gorst said. The total flying time from San Diego to Crissy Field was less than four hours, he said, although the plane was detained at Fresno yesterday by damage to a wheel in landing.
    The inspection trip includes another stop either in Medford or Portland, Ore.
Oakland Tribune,
March 16, 1926, page 23

New Record Made on Coast Flight
    SAN DIEGO, March 20.--What is believed to be a record in actual flying time between San Diego and Seattle was established by the new mail plane, in a rehearsal flight this week. The plane reached Seattle from San Diego, after spending only 11 hours and 31 minutes in the air.
    Landings were made at all the cities where mail will be delivered when the air route opens next month.
    Besides the pilot, Claude Ryan, of the Ryan Flying Company, builders of the mail planes, the monoplane carried Vern C. Gorst, mail contractor, and 500 pounds of baggage to duplicate the mail. The average flight speed was 115 miles an hour.
Santa Ana Daily Register, March 20, 1926, page 2

March 28, 1926 Medford Mail Tribune
March 28, 1926 Medford Mail Tribune

Air Mail Plane Visits Medford
    One of the big new monoplanes to be used by the Pacific Air Transport Co., in carrying the mail from Seattle to Los Angeles, landed at Medford recently en route north, blazing the way for the new service to start about May 1st. The plane also landed here Monday on the return trip to San Francisco.
    On the trip north the plane covered the distance from San Francisco to Seattle in 7 hours and 3 minutes, or 23 minutes faster than any other plane has covered the distance, which is about 950 miles by highway.
    The visitors were pleased with the local field and the prospects for the success of the service.
    The plane is of the monoplane type, weighing 1300 pounds. It has a model J4B motor of 1800 revolutions per minute rating and 200 horsepower.
    Mr. Gorst is well known in Medford and has a number of friends who were glad to see his company land the contract.
    Medford is proud of the fact that it will be an important station on this air mail line and is the only landing station in Oregon. Portland is served from the Vancouver, Wash. landing field.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 28, 1926, page B4

    A letter from the Pacific Transport Company assured the Chamber that one of the air mail planes will be called "Medford," carrying the name of this city up and down the entire coast.
"Electric Sign To Be Erected Over Highway," Jackson County News, June 4, 1926, page 1

Air Services in Two Weeks
    PORTLAND, Ore., July 28. (AP)--Air mail service on the Pacific Coast between Seattle and Los Angeles will start within two or three weeks, Vern C. Gorst, president of the Pacific Air Transport, which has the contract for carrying the air mail, announced here today.
    Eight planes and 12 pilots are ready. All that remains is installations of beacons of 7,500,000 candlepower, for guiding night flying. They will be set every 25 miles with smaller light markers between each pair.
    Six pilots will be on active duty and six in reserve. Ryan monoplanes of metal type with Whirlwind motors will be used.
Bakersfield Morning Echo, July 29, 1926, page 1

Inspection Trip Made Over Coast Air Mail Route
    LOS ANGELES, Aug. 10.--Blazing a trail for the Pacific airmail service, to be inaugurated soon, a new Ryan M-1 monoplane left here at 11:15 a.m. today.
    The fast monoplane, which flew here yesterday from San Diego, will stop in Bakersfield, Fresno, San Francisco, Medford, Portland and Seattle.
    It was piloted by George Allen and carried a United Press representative from San Diego, Max Miller.
    Aim of the preliminary flight is to inspect landing fields and beacon lights between here and Seattle.
    Six of the speedy M-1 ship will be used in the mail service, according to Vern C. Gorst, president of the Pacific Air Transport Company, holding the contract.
    The present schedule calls for daily departure of the mail planes from Los Angeles at 12:45 a.m., reaching Seattle the same evening. The southland-bound schedule will follow the same time.
Santa Ana Daily Register, August 10, 1926, page 2

    At the Kiwanis meeting Monday Seely Hall, who has been one of the principal workers in helping secure the air mail service for Medford, made a splendid talk regarding the air mail service.
    Mr. Hall said in part:
    "Vern C. Gorst came to the Rogue River Valley in the spring of 1910, from Bremerton, Wash. He settled in Jacksonville and started some mining operations back of the Opp mine. One day as he looked out over the valley and saw the Medford-Jacksonville train laboring up the hill to Jacksonville, he thought of a stage line, operating between the two towns. Mr. Gorst went to Portland, where he purchased a 1911 Cadillac and started one of the first stage lines on the Pacific Coast, and the first line in the state of Oregon.
    "In the fall of 1911 Mr. Gorst took in a partner, and formed the company of Gorst and King. They left Medford and started a line between the towns of Marshfield and North Bend. They are now the owners of many of the leading lines on the coast.
    "In the fall of 1925 Mr. Gorst placed a bid on the air mail and was awarded the contract, it being the only air line in the United States which operates independent of the transcontinental. It is over 1000 miles in length.
    "The line is lighted from San Francisco to Los Angeles with 7,500,000-c.p. lights, this being a night flight. Also lighted from Seattle to Portland, night flight.
    "Medford to San Francisco is the longest hop, over the roughest country, one pilot each way a day. They use Pilot Rock, Mt. Shasta, Castle Crags, and the Buttes in Sacramento Valley as landmarks on clear days. When stormy they use compass, maps and watch.
    "'Pat' Patterson and A. D. Starbuck are the boys who will pilot the ships over this hop between San Francisco and Medford. These two boys, if on time, will pass each other just a little south of Mt. Shasta.
    "The line has eight planes, six Ryan M-1 monoplanes, which cost $8400 each, with motors, one Travel Air and one Swallow.
    "A ship will be at Medford at all times, also a mechanic.
    "The time is 14 hours from Seattle to Los Angeles, 3½ hours from San Francisco to Medford; 2½ hours, Medford to Vancouver.
    "Passengers will be carried at 12 cents a mile. Service to start in a very short time."
    Postmaster Wm. Warner, who had talked before the club several times before regarding the air mail, presented a map showing the new route, as well as all the routes in the United States, told of the length of the entire lines, as well as the Seattle to Los Angeles lines, explained the connections, lapsed time between Medford and many cities, gave zone rates and other interesting data.
    Visitors were S. M. Bullis, M. W. Hogan, H. C. Galey, Captain Gay and Phil Lawson of the Salvation Army.
    "Rosy" Rosenbaum received the attendance prize, donated by Paul's Electric Store.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 14, 1926, page 10

Vern Gorst, September 15, 1926 Medford Mail Tribune
September 15, 1926 Medford Mail Tribune

First Planes Arrive This Morning from North and South--
Heavy Incoming and Outgoing Consignment--Portland Mayor Sends Greetings.
    VANCOUVER, Wash., Sept. 15.--(AP)--(Special to Mail Tribune.) Arrived Pearson Field 11:45 a.m. Ship left for Seattle 12:12 p.m. Fine trip but bad weather.
Vernon Bookwalter, Pilot.           
    With businesslike precision the feature, devoid of any particular ceremony, the Pacific Air Mail Transport line commenced operation through Medford this morning. The planes, north- and southbound, arrived and left on schedule with one exception: The plane "Portland," southbound, was 26 minutes late. The air mail from Medford, with motor escort, arrived at the field without ostentation shortly after eight o'clock. It was made up of 10,040 letters, which took post office employees until 1 a.m. today to count and cancel.
    The first plane arrived at 8:38 from Portland, with Vernon Bookwalter piloting. Two minutes later the ship from San Francisco arrived with Art Starbuck as pilot, and shortly after its arrival, Pat Patterson departed with 12 mail pouches from Portland, Seattle and Medford and way points for San Francisco. At 9:20, Bookwalter left on the return trip to Pearson Field, airport for Portland, with ten pouches, two of which were from this city and the remainder from southern points. Four pouches were included from here in the 12 that went south with Patterson.
    This morning's mail brought to the local post office 4000 letters, 2409 from the south and the remainder from the north. A small portion of this mass will only be delivered here, the others going to cities and towns throughout the state and northern California and a large share to eastern stamp collectors.
    Medford's air mail cargo weighed 155¾ pounds, 40 pounds more than Portland's shipment of 115 pounds. The southbound shipment with its four pouches weighed 108 pounds and four ounces and was made up of 7530 letters, while the two northbound pouches weighed 46½ and included 2510 letters.
First Letter Delivered
    A special delivery letter of greeting and congratulation from Mayor George Baker of Portland was received by Mayor O. O. Alenderfer at the air landing field in less than 11 minutes after the first plane landed. The letter, along with the rest of the mail addressed through the local post office, was taken by special cars and motorcycle delivery to the post office building by Postmaster William Warner for registration and then rushed back to the landing field for formal delivery to Mayor Alenderfer, which was made while a moving picture machine and cameras clicked and hundreds of people watched. The greeting was presented by the postmaster to the mayor, who opened it there.
    The letter written by Mayor Baker follows:
My dear Mayor:
    Permit me to extend to you and to the people of Medford the sincere greetings of the city of Portland by way of the first mail delivery over the new air mail route between Portland, Seattle, Medford, San Francisco and Los Angeles and other coast cities.
    It is with a great deal of satisfaction that we note step by step the process of bringing the cities of the Pacific coast closer and closer together. We hope this will bring about a closer social and business relationship and that it will add impetus to the spirit of general coast development which is now taking the place of sectional development.
    We appreciate the opportunity of now having Medford several hours closer to Portland by mail and trust that modern improvements will continue to shorten the distance in the future.
    With the very best wishes of the city of Portland for the continued success of yourself and the city of Medford, I am
    With Sergeant O. Nichols leading the motorcycle air mail delivery machine, in which Postmaster Warner and Ernest L. Scott were rushing the special delivery letter to the city, the trip was made in two and one-half minutes. Delay was experienced on the return when a brake pin became loosened in Scott's machine, causing it to be without any means of slowing down. When a sharp turn was reached at the end of Oakdale Avenue out "Lover's Lane" to the fairgrounds, the route used, he was unable to make the turn and was forced to go straight ahead onto rough ground at a high speed, barely avoiding an accident.
    The trouble was repaired with a nail, and the remainder of the journey to the grounds was made without incident.
    Verne C. Gorst, president of the company, was unable to be present or accompany the northbound ship from San Francisco, where he has been for a short time past. A wire was received this morning by chief mechanic W. E. Rosenbaum of the local airport from Mr. Gorst for Seely Hall, a director of the company and in charge of the port.
    It read as follows: Plane left on time. Too much load for me to come. Awfully sorry.
    The airship, christened "Portland," and in charge of Vern Bookwalter, is considered to be the speediest of the company's fleet. It is capable of making 140 miles per hour and approximately 110 on cruising speed. It is of the biplane type and recently made a transcontinental trip from Los Angeles to New York in 27 hours flying time, with Bookwalter piloting. The round trip to New York by air line was slightly over 2500 miles. The plane, which left for San Francisco with Patterson in charge, is christened "Medford" and is capable of 130 miles maximum speed. It is made by the Ryan company of San Diego, manufacturers of the majority of the company's planes, all of which with the exception of one are monoplanes. It weighs 1800 pounds and is capable of carrying a load of 600 pounds in addition to the pilot.
    The arriving flyers this morning reported adverse weather conditions. Bookwalter of Portland found of the entire stretch from Portland, until he reached the Rogue River Valley and Medford, overhung with threatening rain clouds. He left Pearson Field, Vancouver, Wash., 5:52 this morning and arrived here 2:46 hours later, 20 minutes under schedule time. Starbuck, in the plane from San Francisco, arrived 3:05 hours after he had left the Golden Gate city at 5:35 this morning. He also reported fog and bad weather the entire way until he reached country adjacent to Mt. Shasta in northern California. There he encountered sunshine for a short time, but ran into fog again until he reached the valley.
    The entire system thus far has worked so perfectly that the entire organization of pilots, officers and all connected with the air transport company are highly optimistic over the line's success. The thousand or more spectators of the landings and takeoffs of the planes this morning were deeply impressed with the success thus far encountered and since have been congratulating each other.
    Post office officials this forenoon expressed appreciation to traffic officers who were instrumental in the quick delivery of the first air mail letter to be delivered in Medford, and also to Roy Hill, auto dealer, who donated a car used in transferring mail from the post office to the landing field. While crowds were waiting for the planes to arrive at the air field, music was furnished by a calliope from the carnival appearing on the fairgrounds.
    No letter was missed for first flight delivery, according to post office officials, who state all mail was gathered from street boxes at 6:30 this morning and was accepted for the flight until 7:45 at the post office. Hundreds of the letters were sent expressly for stamp collecting purposes, and already stamps used on this flight are said to have value from a collector's viewpoint.
    The time consumed between the field and fairgrounds in the transfer of the mail was 11 minutes. E. L. Scott and Postmaster Warner making  the trip. The Hill Motor Co. assisted in hauling the mail, which was too large for the mail truck.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 15, 1926, page 1
September 15, 1926 Medford Mail Tribune
September 15, 1926 Medford Mail Tribune

Air Mail Contractor
    President of the Pacific Air Transport, formerly lived in Medford and operated the first stage line between Medford and Jacksonville in 1910. Previous to starting the stage line he operated a mine in the Opp mining district above Jacksonville.
    In 1912 he moved to Marshfield, and in connection with a Mr. King started a stage line from that city to North Bend.
    When the first air mail service was started by the government, Mr. Gorst became deeply interested, and when the government decided to let contracts for air mail he immediately organized a company, went after the contract for the Seattle to Los Angeles route and succeeded. This is the longest air mail line in the United States, over 1000 miles long. The route from Medford to Portland is about 220 miles, and from Medford to San Francisco about 350 miles, the longest hop of the entire route.
    The flying from San Francisco to Los Angeles and Portland to Seattle will be at night, requiring high-powered electric-lighted ways. These are the only privately owned lighted air mail routes in the United States.
    The ships used are Ryan M-1 monoplanes of the latest type, equipped with Wright Whirlwind motors--the last word in air motors. There are nine stops on the route.
    The many friends of Mr. Gorst in Medford and southern Oregon congratulate him on his wonderful success in organizing the company and putting over the work of supplying this route with the latest equipment, and wish him success.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 15, 1926, page B1

Pacific Air Transport Airplane, 1926
A Pacific Air Transport airplane, 1926.

    Wednesday, a speed never before attained in mail service on the coast became established, to continue until man's ingenuity discovers methods of even greater efficiency.
    History in transportation has also been made by Vern Gorst, contractor who operates the air mail line. He came to Jacksonville from Bremerton, Wash. in 1910, and operated a mine. Visualizing a stage line, he went to Portland, bought a 1911 Cadillac and started the first stage line in Oregon.
Owns Many Lines
    In the fall of 1911 he formed the partnership of Gorst & King, left Medford and started a line between the towns of Marshfield and North Bend. They are now the owners of many of the leading lines on the coast, and contractor of the longest air mail line in the world.
"Mail Plane Is Herald of New Travel Epoch," Jackson County News, September 17, 1926, page 1

    In a letter received by the Medford Chamber of Commerce from Vern C. Gorst, president of the Pacific Air Transport Company, holders of the coast air mail route contract, local air mail users are reminded that 10 cents per ounce is sufficient postage to carry a letter to any point on the route within a distance of 1000 miles.
    Mr. Gorst's letter in part is as follows: It has been brought to my attention several times lately that there seems to be a decided misunderstanding on the part of the public as to the postage necessary for air mail letters. A great many people are putting a two-cent postage stamp on letters in addition to the air mail stamp. This is absolutely unnecessary, as 10 cents per ounce or fraction thereof in excess of 1000 miles is all that is necessary. This makes the postage 10 cents per ounce or fraction thereof between any city on the coast, with the exception of Seattle and Los Angeles. Mail going either north or south out of Medford would require only 10 cents per ounce to any point on the coast.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 11, 1926, page 5

Passenger Plane Ordered for Coast
By United Press
    PORTLAND, March 31.--A definite step toward perfection of passenger travel by air was taken here today when Vern C. Gorst, president of the Pacific Air Transport Company, ordered a new air cabin monoplane for use on the coastwise airmail and passenger route.
    The enclosed ship will be started on its way to the coast from the Travel Air factory at Wichita, Kansas, Thursday, if weather conditions are favorable, and should arrive here early next week.
    It is planned to first place the ship in operation between San Francisco and Los Angeles but later it will be used for mail and passenger transportation over the entire coast air route.
    The monoplane will carry either four passengers and a mail cargo, or six passengers without the mail.
Berkeley Daily Gazette, March 11, 1927, page 8

Salt Lake Recognized as Airmail Center

    Salt Lake is already recognized as an air mail center and will be the headquarters for aviation throughout the intermountain country, according to the heads of western air mail lines, who held a conference at the Newhouse Hotel Monday to establish closer cooperation between the various lines and discuss mutual business.
    Vern C. Gorst, president of the Pacific Air Transport Company, which soon will have planes flying between Seattle and Los Angeles which will carry passengers and mail, flew here from Seattle in record-breaking time to be present. E. B. Wadsworth, assistant superintendent of the contract air mail lines, came from Washington, D.C. to attend.
Salt Lake Telegram, Salt Lake City, Utah, March 14, 1927, page B1

    Mr. Gorst, who makes his headquarters in Portland, came to Salt Lake over the Pasco line, flying down from Pasco. Mr. Gorst will leave Wednesday for Los Angeles, flying in a Western Air Express plane. From there he will take one of his own planes to Portland, having flown over five states during his trip.
    Mr. Gorst was highly impressed with the Salt Lake field and the position Salt Lake holds as a western air center. He looked over the field at Airport and said he could not see where a better location could be found.
    The Pacific Air Transport company has been operating six months. It has the longest contract line in the country, 1100 miles, Seattle to Los Angeles. He uses eighteen ships and has been carrying passengers since last fall. He believes the passenger business is to be one of the big features of commercial aviation and is considering equipping his line with four passenger cabin ships. His line is entirely separate from all other lines having no contract with the government transcontinental route, handling coastal business only. Mail from Portland and Seattle reaches Salt Lake by way of Pasco and is consolidated here.
"Air Mail Head Confers Here," Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City, Utah, March 15, 1927, page 11

    GUSTINE, Merced Co., Calif., April 6--Buried deep in a swamp, a veritable sea of mud, the coast mail plane of the Pacific Transport Company, missing since Sunday, was found three miles east of this town this afternoon. Beneath the burned wreckage of the craft were the bodies of Edward A. Neher, pilot of the plane, and Albert Schaller, office manager of the San Francisco office of the company.
    The bodies are said to have been discovered by chance, workmen in the vicinity stumbling across the wreckage of the plane. Authorities today abandoned the belief that the plane had fallen into the waters of San Francisco Bay and took up a search to the south and north of the bay region.
Find Bodies
    Word that the plane had been found sent those searching in the immediate vicinity to the scene of the accident, where the bodies were found.
    Merced County authorities took charge of the bodies pending the holding of an inquest today or tomorrow. It is believed that Neher was forced down with no stable land in which to make a landing. The plane is believed to have hit the mud and turned over, burying the bodies beneath and from which position they had not the slightest chance of extricating themselves if still alive.
    The shift in the scene of the hunt followed positive information that Neher, lost in a fog, had circled over Crissy Field and, unable to locate the landing field, had become lost.
Too Far South
    Vern Gorst, president of the Pacific Transport Company, stated this morning that he believed that the plane had flown too far to the southward and had met with mishap. Gorst's belief turned out to be actual fact.
    Planes were dispatched early this morning to the south of the Peninsula, where they combed the territory with the result that they located the plane wreckage. Virtually every foot of ground from Turlock, where the plane was last definitely sighted, to San Francisco was searched.
    No arrangements as to bringing the bodies to San Francisco had been made late this afternoon, authorities awaiting the findings at the inquest to be held.
Woodland [California] Daily Democrat, April 6, 1927, page 1

Pacific Air Transport

Fatal Air Mail Crash Laid to Pilot Error
In Figuring Altitude in Storm
Bodies of Two Killed at Gustine Brought to Homes in S.F.
Probe Reveals 'Ship' Traveling 88 Miles Hour When Wrecked
    Air mail officials today began the grim task of officially investigating the fatal crash of a northbound plane Sunday morning near Gustine, in which Eddie Neher, pilot, and Alfred Schaller, a passenger, lost their lives.
    After a three-day search by air and lane posses of northern California, the wrecked plane, with the bodies of its two passengers, was found yesterday by a range rider. The plane was overturned in a swamp slough three miles east of Gustine, at a point passed several times by searching plane during the three-day hunt. The badly mangled bodies of the two men were pinned under the wreckage.
    Commercial fliers and air mail men who visited the scene yesterday gave the cause of the crash as an error in judgment of altitude by Neher. He was 12 miles off the regular air mail course, in an attempt, it is believed, to fight his way through a driving rain and a strong wind.

    The theory that Neher was trying to make a forced landing at the time of the crash was discarded by air men as soon as the wreckage was viewed. Instruments showed that he was traveling at a speed of 88 miles an hour, which is regular cruising speed. Also, it was pointed out, his landing flares were unused. These would have been used in any attempt to land in the dark.
    It is the theory of Grover Tyler, superintendent of the Pacific Air Transport Company, operators of the plane, that the lighting system on Neher's plane failed, and in the darkness he was unable to see his altimeter and flew lower than he thought. In an attempt to get a reading by the use of a flashlight, air men believe, Neher lost control of the plane. In an attempt to right the plane, it is believed it dipped too near the ground, catching the left wing in a mud bank and causing the crash. Marks through the marshes indicated that the plane traveled 250 feet before striking the water hole and overturning. Bits of the plane were scattered over a radius of 75 feet by the force of the impact.

    Tyler was among the first to reach the scene of the tragedy. With the first report that the missing plane had been found, he flew from San Francisco and took charge of the investigation, aiding Deputy Coroner F. D. Medlin of Los Banos.
    The bodies of the two men were taken from the wreckage to Los Banos morgue. A brief inquest, presided over by Justice of the Peace D. E. Hales of Gustine, found that the men met "accidental death in an airplane accident."
    Both men died instantly, according to Medlin, Schaller with a basal fracture of the skull and Neher with a crushed chest.
    Today they are being brought to San Francisco, where each man is being mourned by a widow and children. Neher was the father of two girls, one four years of age and the other an infant. Schaller had one daughter 4 years old.
    The widows, Mrs. Martha Schaller, 1629 Waller Street, and Mrs. Edward Neher, 1499 Union Street, prostrated with grief, planned funeral services for tomorrow.
    It is planned to hold joint services, with burial afterward of Schaller in San Francisco and Neher in Pomona, his birthplace.

    In a statement, Vern Gorst, president of the Pacific Air Transport Company, which carries the San Francisco-Los Angeles air mail under contract, attributed the accident to the weather.
    "This is something we can't help," he said. "From all accounts now available, this must be attributed to the weather, but we will, of course, conduct an investigation. We shall spare no expense in the inquiry, for we may learn something which will save other lives in the future.
    "In the meantime, the mail must go on. One accident, or many, cannot stop progress."
    Lou Foote, Jerry Fordyce and Clem Hustock, all of Turlock and all close personal friends of Neher, aided in the investigation at the scene of the wreck yesterday. They are all aviators, and they agreed with Tyler that the crash resulted from an error in judgment, and not while Neher was attempting a forced landing.
    Eleven sacks of mail being carried by Neher were recovered by Tyler, who brought them to San Francisco in his plane last night. Seven of the sacks were sent north to Oregon and Washington this morning, four days late. The plane was wrecked beyond repair and will be burned, but the motor was removed and will be salvaged.
Oakland Tribune, April 7, 1927, page 1

Here's Range Rider's Story of Wreck Find
    GUSTINE, April 7.--Raymond L. Watkins, an employee on the Miller and Lux ranch near here, who found the wrecked airmail plane in a swamp, today told how he happened to make the gruesome discovery.
    "When I started out fence riding Wednesday after doing my bit of chores around the ranch, I didn't expect to find anything more than a few loose strands in the wire fence and maybe a stray cow or two in the marsh," Watkins said.
    "I didn't finish the ride. Don't know when I will. This kind of thing takes hold of a fellow, sort of. Bozo, my dog, was splashing ahead of my horse when he stopped in his tracks. I looked up and saw--the wreck.
    "Hadn't been reading the papers much lately and didn't know about the lost plane. I thought at first it was a wrecked automobile, but when I rode closer I saw the machine, all busted into little pieces, and off to one side, the body of a man.
    "It held me, that sight. They said later it was Schaller, the manager of the flying company. I didn't know. Didn't see the face. The right arm was stretched out, palm up, fingers sort of half closed; a little bit of mud in the palm.
    "I stood and looked. The morning wind blowed up little ripples in the water, and it flowed through the fingers. I don't know how long I stood there.
    "When I come to, I jumped on my horse and rode to Gustine for the judge. I must have rode fast. The horse was sweating. I didn't feel exactly good myself."
Oakland Tribune, April 7, 1927, page 2

    FRESNO, Cal., Aug. 6.--(AP)--An air mail plane of the Pacific Air Transport, piloted by John Gughelmetti, made a forced landing near Madera Thursday afternoon when en route from San Francisco to Fresno, according to word here. The landing gear was slightly damaged. Gughelmetti and his passenger, reported to have been the 15-year-old son of Vern Gorst, president of the transport company, were uninjured. A clogged gasoline line was given as the cause of the forced landing.
Oakland Tribune, August 6, 1927, page 13

    PORTLAND, Ore., Jan. 14.--(AP)--Purchase of the Pacific Air Transport Company, first contract holder for air mail on the Pacific Coast, by the Boeing Transport Company of Seattle, was reported today by the Portland Telegram.
    The Pacific Air Transport Company was formed by Vern C. Gorst, Portland and obtained a government contract handling air mail between Seattle and Los Angeles. It recently completed a profitable year of service.
    The Boeing Transport Company is a subsidiary of the Boeing aircraft manufacturing firm of Seattle.
    The Telegram says official report of the sale is expected to be made Monday when the Gorst organization holds its annual meeting. Amount of money involved in the deal was not reported today.
    SEATTLE, Jan. 14.--(AP)--Officials of the Boeing Transport Company announced here this afternoon at the firm had acquired a "substantial interest" in the Pacific Air Transport Company, first contract holder for air mail on the Pacific Coast.
    Immediate construction of new planes to be used on the Seattle-Los Angeles air mail line will be started by the Boeing airplane company here.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 14, 1928, page 1

Seattle Man Chosen New President: Californian Is Manager.
    PORTLAND, Ore., Jan. 17--(AP)--Reorganization of Pacific Air Transport, air mail carriers on the Pacific Coast, was effected here today at a meeting of stockholders.
    P. J. Johnson of Seattle was elected president to succeed Vern C. Gorst, one of the organizers of the concern, who was named vice president. Johnson is vice president and general manager of the Boeing Transport Company of Seattle, which has purchased a large interest in Pacific Air Transport
Oakland Tribune, January 17, 1928, page 16

Boeing Airplane Buys Interest in Coast Firm
    Acquisition of a substantial interest in the Pacific Air Transport, operating the airmail service between Seattle and San Francisco, was announced Friday by vice president Edward Hubbard of the Boeing Air Transport, upon his return from San Francisco.
    Since the Boeing Air Transport already operates the airmail service between Chicago and San Francisco, the addition gives it a share in the complete and partial operation of 3100 miles of air transport. The Chicago-Salt Lake-San Fr
ancisco route is the longest in the country and the Seattle-Los Angeles route second longest. Under the new arrangement Philip G. Johnson, president of the Boeing Airplane Company of Seattle and the Boeing Air Transport, becomes president of the Pacific Air Transport; A. K. Humphries, vice president and general manager, and Vern C. Gorst, former president and manager, becomes a vice president. According to Mr. Hubbard, the Pacific Air Transport will re-equip its line with planes from the Boeing plant in Seattle, the latest type being specified in an order placed this week. The Pacific Coast service is operated with eight planes, he said.
Salt Lake Telegram, Salt Lake City, Utah, January 21, 1928, page 5

A. K. Humphries Gets Important Air Post
    SEATTLE, Feb. 5.--Assistant to the president, in charge of transportation, at Seattle, is the post assigned to A. K. Humphries, former vice president and general manager of Pacific Air Transport, by P. G. Johnson, president of Boeing Air Transport and Pacific Air Transport. The announcement was made at executive offices here today.
    Humphries enlisted at the first call for volunteers in the World War, and went overseas with the Third Foreign Detachment of American Aviators. He served as a first lieutenant in Italy and France, completing a course of aerial combat at Issoudun, and received various special commissions. After the Armistice, he served on the American Peace Commission (War Reparations Committee to Italy), and in 1919 was detailed to the Balkan States and Hungary with the American Relief Commission.
    Upon his return to the United States, he joined a Seattle mercantile company, where he remained several years. When Vern C. Gorst was awarded the Seattle-Los Angeles air mail contract in 1926, Humphries became vice president and general manager.
Berkeley Daily Gazette, February 5, 1929, page 3

Pacific Air Transport plane, 1928
Pacific Air Transport plane, 1928

Alaska Aircraft Arrives Seattle
    SEATTLE, June 4.--The Gorst airplane Alaska arrived here from Cordova via Ketchikan. The passengers included Harry Seidenverg of Anchorage, who is hurrying to the bedside of his sick daughter in Portland, Charles  M. Daniels of New York and Mrs. C. M. Taylor of Ketchikan, a sister of Vern Gorst.
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, June 5, 1929, page 1

Aero Digest Tells About Vern Gorst Former Resident, Aviation Pioneer.
    The last issue of the Aero Digest contained the following article concerning Vern C. Gorst, a former well-known resident of this city. It tells of his rise in the aviation world, and is as follows:
    I asked Vern C. Gorst for a few words about himself, and all he wrote about was his airline--and not a word about himself. So I simply chucked his letter in the wastebasket, along with one from a girl who said she'd be willing to love me like anything if I'd teach her to fly for nothing, since she wanted to be the first woman to cross the Pacific--and what a credit that would be to me, she said! Yes, wouldn't it!  Well, I never would have got that biography of Vern Gorst, only he happened to get married some years ago, and now has a very charming young daughter with the pleasing name of Myrtis, who is a co-ed at the University of Oregon. Myrtis saw my letter to Dad and sat right down and wrote his biography in a very dignified and scholarly manner which does credit to her expensive education. And I'd print it just as she wrote it, only it would be above the heads of you six roughnecks and much too good for you. Besides, I don't want you to read good literature or you'd get dissatisfied with the pidgin English I purvey each month--and then where would I get the money I put into the North German Lloyd common [stock] at 69, so I would have the exquisite agony of watching it flop gently to 57 as soon as I got aboard? (And it still hurts a little, doctor.)
    Vern C. Gorst is president of Seattle Flying Service, vice president of Pacific Air Transport, and president of Barnes and Gorst Airlines, which are operating the air mail line between Seattle and Victoria, B.C. And now he heads Gorst Air Transport, which will open a passenger route between Seattle and Juneau, Alaska, with a fleet of ten plane amphibians.
    And how did he get that way when he started for Alaska at the age of 18 with a capital of 25 cents? Well, he had been clever enough to learn, at the age of 12, that nobody gets far by working himself to death; and that while there may be a certain amount of dignity to labor, the returns (outside of a tired feeling) are slight, almost negligible. The way he made this valuable discovery was as follows: His father told him to row across Port Orchard Bay to deliver loads of poultry and other farm produce. Vern obediently started to row, row, row--and collected the usual crop of water blisters. If he hadn't been bright, he would have kept on rowing until he raised callouses on his hands and his pants. But, realizing that a labor-dodger is the only fellow who gets far in this world, he rigged up a sail and let the wind blow him across, while he sat there figuring out what other work he could avoid.
    He went to Alaska and did mining for a time, but it was too hard work, so he returned to the States and started a transportation business at Wonder, Nev. Since there was little at Wonder, Gorst transported water in five-gallon cans from a valley several miles away. That is to say, a flock of burros transported the water while Vern saw to it that they transported it.  He didn't carry a single gallon himself.
    Still, he had to do some walking, which tired him, so he returned to boating at Port Orchard and simply sat in the boat while an engine did the work. The engines worked so hard that Vern soon had seven boats, which he sold at a profit, investing the money in an auto stage line between Medford and Jacksonville, Ore., in 1911. That was the first auto stage line in Oregon. With Charles O. King, another man who evidently objected to walking or rowing. Gorst organized several stage lines--the Vallejo Bus Company, the Coast Auto Lines, and the Motor Coach Company.
    This was all right, but still too hard work--changing tires, collecting fares, etc. In 1913 Vern noticed what an easy time pilots seem to have of it--standing about fields, talking, and every now and then flying for a few minutes. (That's what it used to be in 1913, anyhow.) So Vern got him a Martin pusher biplane--one of those early peculiarities that had the propeller behind, thrashing away amid a flock of tail-booms. Vern sat boldly out in front of this collection and forged through the air. There was hardly any work to it at all, only a lot of worry. He liked it so well that he kept right on flying and resting until 1926, when he organized Pacific Air Transport and hired a lot of people who hadn't learned to sit still and do nothing. These good fellows flew madly up and down the coast between Los Angeles and Seattle, while Vern watched them interestedly. When Mr. Boeing bought out the line, Vern didn't even have to tire himself out watching it, though he still does, just for interest and dividends. He also watches Barnes and Gorst Airlines, Inc., plying busily between Seattle and Victoria, and does just enough flying to keep in practice. He finds it very restful to fly, and then come down and sit around and consider how nice it is that he really doesn't have to fly unless he wants to.
    As I said, I got all this from his daughter, Myrtis, who tells me that she is going to take flying instruction herself as soon as she can get permission from Mother.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 14, 1929, page B5

10,000 Employ Air Ferry in 11 Weeks
    SEATTLE, Nov. 6.--More than 10,000 trip tickets have been sold over the Seattle-Bremerton air ferry established here this spring.
    Capacity loads have been carried by the two planes on the services since its inauguration 11 weeks ago. Expansion providing for more planes for the present route and similar service to the various Puget Sound island cities from Seattle, to begin next summer, has been announced by Vern Gorst, head of the Gorst Air Transport which operates the system.
Bakersfield Californian, November 6, 1929, page 13

Proposed Air Route to Cut Vallejo-S.F. Running Time
    VALLEJO, Oct. 31.--The Gorst Air Transport "Alaskan" arrived in Vallejo harbor at noon on Wednesday from San Francisco. The big plane was piloted here by Clayton Scott, and Vern C. Gorst. president of the company, was with him to pick out the landing near Virginia Street wharf. Gorst is a former Vallejoan, and left here about ten years ago to engage in the aeroplane passenger business.
    Those in the cabin on the flight here yesterday were J. J. Tynan Jr., attorney Courtney Moore and Ted Higgins of San Francisco.
    The trip was made in eighteen minutes against the northeast wind. The plane at that [time] skirted over Richmond harbor before heading for Vallejo. The trip can be made from San Francisco to Vallejo in from 11 to 15 minutes under favorable conditions. Gorst came ashore in a rowboat and was introduced to a number of Vallejoans by former Assemblyman Robert B. McPherson. Gorst spent several minutes inspecting the south end of the wharf, where he and his associates want to install a float and "take off" similar to the one in use at Seattle for the Seattle-Bremerton route.
    Gorst left one of the pictures of the Seattle terminal with McPherson for use in preparing the plans for the local terminal. McPherson state that the plans and specifications will be ready to be submitted to the city council this week. He filled a written application for a permit with the Commissioners last week, and he informed Gorst yesterday that the Vallejo terminal looks to be one of the best that the company will have in the north bay district.
Oakland Tribune, October 31, 1929, page 17

    Vern C. Gorst, Portland pioneer in automobile bus transportation of Oregon and air mail operation of the Pacific Coast, is to serve as director and actively participate in operating management of Air Ferries, Ltd., at San Francisco, according to word received here.
    The air ferry firm is to operate a flying boat service for San Francisco Bay and Sacramento River points similar to that carried on by Gorst Air Transport, Inc., between Seattle and Bremerton.
    Gorst has made several recent trips to San Francisco to inspect terminals and fly over the route of the projected service.--Portland Journal.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 26, 1929, page 5

Gorst Air Makes Dividend Payments
    SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 16.--Inauguration of dividends on both preferred and common stock within the first year of operation by the Gorst Air Transport, operating a fleet of amphibian planes between Seattle and Bremerton, is announced by Vern C. Gorst, president. The dividend paid was $2.50 on both securities. Gorst expressed the belief that this is the first time an air transport company without an air mail contract has paid dividends within its first year of operations.
Oakland Tribune, January 16, 1930, page 32

    Up at Seattle recently Vern C. Gorst, pioneer in the Oregon and Pacific Coast flying transportation area, took a flying examination, as a result of which he has been granted a Department of Commerce transport license. At the same time his son Wilbur, 21, won his private pilot's papers. Now Mr. Gorst's daughter, Myrtis, has also become imbued with the flying urge and has begun taking flying instruction from him, with a view to obtaining official license wings like her father and brother.
    Medford and Jackson County take an unusual interest in Mr. Gorst, as years ago he operated a taxi service between Medford and Jacksonville. He began flying long ago, first obtaining his private pilot's and limited commercial flying licenses, and he was the original founder of the Pacific Air Transport company which later was acquired by the Boeing system.
    Although he makes his home at Portland, Mr. Gorst operates the Gorst Air Transport Company between Bremerton and Seattle, and he is a director of the Air Ferries, Ltd., operating between San Francisco and other bay cities.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 7, 1930, page 3

    Wedding bells sounded, and Seely Hall sold the Jenny to pursue various activities until 1925, when he became interested in Vern C. Gorst's plan to start a Pacific Coast airmail line. Selling stock and helping to lay out the route, he became associated with this project.
United Air Lines News, quoted in the Medford Mail Tribune, January 25, 1934, page 2

    NORTH BEND, Ore.--Vern C. Gorst was puzzled at the death of two large blue cranes he found in his back yard, but a post mortem solved the mystery.
    The cranes, abnormally overweight and their stomachs bulging, had devoured nearly 5,000 small trout from Gorst's fish pond.
Altoona Mirror, Altoona, Pennsylvania, July 20, 1942, page 3

Transportation Pioneer of Bay, Vern C. Gorst, Dies in Portland
    Vern C. Gorst, the Coos Bay area's "Mr. Transportation," died Sunday at Providence Hospital, Portland, where he had been a patient the past six weeks.
    Gorst, 77, died as a result of Hodgkin's disease, a lymph gland ailment.
    The death of Gorst takes from the Bay Area one of its most colorful residents, a man known far and wide in the aviation fraternity, an active private pilot, former commercial pilot, bus line operator, miner, fish hatchery operator, and explorer.
    Gorst held United States private pilot's license No. 2260, but even that low number does not correctly show his real pioneering in aviation. He taught himself to fly with an old Martin hydroplane in the waters of Coos Bay off North Bend in 1913.
    His first solo air trip came after he spent several early morning sessions taxiing the craft on the water, then easing it into little hops. His first turn was made at about the present location of McCullough Bridge.
    Gorst & King Bus Company, formed in 1912 by Gorst and C. O. King, bought the airplane, which had one pontoon and two wing floats. The company sent a mechanic to the Martin factory to learn to fly, but while he was gone Gorst decided to fly the machine himself. The plane was used later by the firm, with Gorst piloting, for barnstorming and passenger rides.
    This interest in aviation was continued by Gorst until his death.
    He continued to fly throughout his life. His last cross-country trip was made last July, when he was 76. He flew to Port Orchard, Wash., to visit two sisters, accompanied by a grandson, Gary Gorst of Barview. Gorst was a partner with three other local fliers in ownership of an Aircoupe, kept at the North Bend Airport.
    In 1926 Gorst launched Pacific Air Transport Company, flying the U.S. mail and passengers between Los Angeles and Seattle. The company used Ryan planes. This firm was sold later by Gorst to United Airlines, one of four pioneer air companies that formed the nucleus of that major airline.
    Before the Pacific Air Transport venture, Gorst operated Gorst Air Transport, an air ferry between Seattle and Bremerton, plus an Alaska charter service. It was while running this company that Gorst saw much of Alaska from the air and accumulated many adventure tales with which he enthralled his grandchildren and their friends in recent years.
    Gorst was born in Bell Prairie, Minn., in 1876, and the fact that his birth was 100 years after the birth of the United States is shown by his name, Vern Centennial Gorst.
    While a student at Washington State College, Gorst began his life of adventure. With another student, he took leave of his classes to head for Alaska in the 1896 gold rush. The two hit a good claim on Cook's Inlet and came out with $21,000 apiece.
    After another session at college, Gorst and others went back to Alaska and made a trip on the Yukon River in homemade boats to Dawson in the Klondike region. It was at Dawson that Gorst met and married his wife.
    The couple moved to Port Orchard, Wash., shortly before the turn of the century, where Gorst started his first ferry boat line between Port Orchard and Bremerton. He also operated a tug service. Shortly afterwards he launched a bus line between Bremerton and Charleston, Wash.
    Selling these businesses, Mr. and Mrs. Gorst turned south, first to Sacramento, Calif., then heading into the dry gold mining area of Nevada in 1905.
    From Nevada, the Gorsts moved to Oregon where in 1911 Gorst set up the first bus line in the state, connecting Jacksonville and Medford. He came to North Bend and on April 12, 1912, the Gorst & King Bus Company was started. This firm continues to give bus service in the Coos Bay area.
    A few years ago King sold his interest to Pete Wold and moved to Long Beach, Calif. Gorst's son, Wilbur, and daughter, Mrs. Myrtis Copestick, also acquired interests in the business in recent years.
    North Bend was Gorst's base of operations for his air transport ventures. He maintained his connections but took leave of absence to operate the flying businesses.
    Gorst continued his interest in mining, also, with a hobby approach to the Coos County black sands. He and William King had an amphibious jeep outfitted with mining and dredging equipment and spent many hours prospecting and working in the Whiskey Run area in recent years.
    Another hobby venture was the raising of fish. Gorst set up a hatchery, fed by streams from springs, at his home on the waterfront highway and supplied local restaurants with trout.
    Upon being informed of his father's death, Wilbur Gorst of Barview left Sunday afternoon for Portland. He said the plan is to have the body lie in state one day at the Holman Colonial Mortuary, Portland, then be sent to Sacramento, where Gorst will be buried alongside his wife.
    The survivors include the two children, Mrs. Harry Copestick, Mill Valley, Calif., and Wilbur Gorst, Barview; a foster daughter, Mrs. Joyce Vining, Portland; and four sisters, Mrs. Effie Wheeler, Los Angeles, Calif.; Mrs. Rena Signer and Mrs. Lulu Taylor, both of Port Orchard, and Mrs. Minnie Ainsworth, Portland.
    The services at Sacramento, probably on Thursday, will be arranged by the George L. Klumpp Mortuary. Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Gorst and children, Gary, Wayne and Leann, will go to Sacramento for the funeral.
Coos Bay Times, October 19, 1953, page 1

Airmail Flight Observance Set
    Forty years ago tomorrow the first direct commercial airline service landed in Medford. Ceremonies recognizing that flight, which put Medford on the air map of the world, will be held at the Medford-Jackson County Airport at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
    Three of the men who put the U.S. mail bags from the Medford Post Office on that initial flight will participate in the observance, D. L. Ferguson, airport manager, announced today.
    They are former postmaster William Warner; Seely Hall, retired United Air Lines executive, who was then with Pacific Air Transport, United's predecessor; and William (Bill) Rosenbaum Sr., who serviced the planes.
    The service, pioneered by Pacific Air Transport, linked Medford with six other cities on the Pacific coast from Seattle to Los Angeles.
    The historic flight was flown by former pilot Vern Bookwalter in an open-cockpit, single-engined 90-mile-an-hour Ryan plane. A large crowd of local citizens gathered at the old fairgrounds for dedication ceremonies. The pouch containing the first airmail from Medford weighed 155¾ pounds.
    The public is invited to the ceremonies to be held tomorrow, Ferguson reported.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 14, 1966, page 1

Vern Centennial Gorst, United Airlines Granddad

Staff Writer
    To people who knew him, Vern C. Gorst was the granddad of United Airlines, one of the world's great airlines. On United's 25th anniversary, a Portland newspaper put it this way:
    "The cocoon from which United Airlines emerged as one of the world's great air transports was started a quarter of a century ago by a man who didn't mind challenging the unknown. Some of the pioneers had substantial financial resources; others, such as Vern C. Gorst of Coos Bay, Oregon, had more enthusiasm than cash, enthusiasm that resulted in the birth of Pacific Air Transport, which 25 years ago this September 15 made its first scheduled flight. . . ."
    It takes a long time and much must happen before a person becomes a granddad. Gorst was a gold miner, bus line operator and pioneer aviator who brought here the first airplane most Coos Bay people had ever seen.
Appropriate Name
    He was born in Minnesota on the 100th anniversary of the nation, so his parents named him Vern Centennial Gorst. Because of Indian troubles, his father and uncle's family moved to Port Orchard, Wash., when Vern was 12 years old. He grew up there where his father had a lumber mill and in 1896 went to Alaska to prospect for gold.
    Gorst and another young man had a claim in the Cook Inlet area they sold for $21,000. He returned to Seattle with the money and a pocket of gold nuggets when he was just 21 to attend the University of Washington, where he studied business, mining engineering and surveying.
    The gold rush attracted him back to Alaska in 1898 where he exhibited for the first time his talents in the field of transportation. He carried provisions on his back over the Chilkoot Pass for a dollar a pound.
    The last stretch at the top of the pass was the most difficult part of the route, so Gorst and several young men got together and installed a pulley at the top of the pass, ran a long rope through it and attached sleds to each end of the rope. Provisions were loaded on the sled at the bottom and men on the other end of the rope at the top would ride down to pull up the other sled.
On the Yukon
    Gorst and his partners hand-sawed lumber to make boats to go down the Yukon River. He finally settled at Sixteen Eldorado, where he was employed to mine gold and where he later had a mine of his own.
    In the Klondike, Gorst met and married his wife Julie Aug. 7, 1901. She was from Sacramento, Calif., and had gone to Alaska during the gold rush with the family of her girlfriend. They left Alaska in 1903 and went to Port Orchard, where he ran a boat launch business until 1910.
    During this time they went down to the dry diggings at Tonopah, Nev., where their first son, Everett, died when he was 21 months old. A daughter, Murtis, was born in 1907 and a son, Wilbur, was born in 1909. As early as 1903 Gorst had become interested in what the Wright brothers were doing, so named his son after Wilbur Wright.
    In 1910 Gorst sold his boat business and moved with his family to Jacksonville. At Jacksonville there wasn't as much gold as he expected, so in the winter of 1910-11 he started the first auto stage in Oregon.
Early in 1900s
    He came to Coos Bay in 1912, began counting the number of people riding boats and people walking between North Bend and Marshfield, so decided to start an auto stage. His partner was Charles King, who had become his business associate in the Jacksonville stage line.
    Gorst and King had a prosperous year in 1912-13, so Gorst talked Charlie King into buying an airplane. The plane was built by Glenn L. Martin and was delivered to Gorst in Balboa, Calif. It was a hydroplane with a main pontoon and two wing pontoons and was powered by a Curtiss OX-2 engine, the predecessor of the famous OX-5 that powered many planes that World War I pilots flew.
    In those early days of flying there was no such thing as trainer planes with dual controls. but Gorst had some flying instruction from Silas Christofferson, who made aviation history by flying his "bamboo birdcage" off the roof of the Multnomah Hotel in Portland with some eight pounds of mail and landing in Vancouver, Wash., to make the first air mail delivery between two states.
Men Drop Cards
    Frank Champion, who was Gorst's pilot, and Gorst planned to take up passengers for several days before taking the plane to North Bend, so dropped cards from the plane telling adventurous people of plane rides from Long Beach. On landing with the first passenger, waves damaged the wings which had to be repaired at the Martin factory. The plane was dismantled and shipped to North Bend.
    The plane hangar was at the foot of Washington Street in North Bend where the old milk dock used to be and was made of shiplap used as siding. A pilot was needed, so Ed Steele, a mechanic for Gorst and King, was given $600 and sent to California to learn to fly.
    Wilbur Gorst likes to tell what happened next. "Dad saw that brand-new plane sitting there and just had to try it out. So he would get up at five o'clock in the morning and go up and down the bay in it.
    "The engine just had short exhaust stacks so it made an awful lot of racket and a lot of people kicked about it, but that didn't make any difference.
Zigzagged Over the Bay
    "He zigzagged up and down the bay and took short hops and on the third day he made his first turn in the air about where McCullough Bridge is now--a 180-degree turn. Lyle Chappell, who was later mayor of North Bend, says he flew with dad before Ed Steele got back from California.
    "When Ed Steele got back he said, "Who has been flying the airplane?" Percy Phillips said, "Vern has." Ed had a bit of temper, so he picked up a wrench and threw it through the side of the hangar. Dad used to lift me up to show the hole to me.
    "He used to take people up and they had a contest on to see who could get up the highest. L. J. Simpson had the record because he had the most money for the trip and could stay up the longest and of course, the highest."
    They had a contract to do exhibition flying during a celebration in 1913 in Toledo. On the second day of flying, Steele struck a log boom piling and damaged the right wing, so they sold the plane there just as it was. King and Mrs. Gorst persuaded Gorst to give up flying, which he did for 11½ years.
Start Bus Line
    It was during these years that Gorst and King started a bus line up the beach to the Umpqua using Model T Fords. Gorst also took the engine out of an old Hupmobile, installed a floor, pontoons and an OX-2 engine with the propeller in the back. The vehicle, a sort of amphibious sand buggy, could cross the bay and do 70 miles an hour on the beach. They called it the Fast Freight to Florence.
    There were about seven bus lines Gorst started during this time. There was the Gorst Auto Lines that was the first bus line to carry passengers to Coquille. The Coast Auto Lines that ran to Port Orford, Roseburg and Marshfield was later sold to Greyhound.
    There was a feeder line by way of Golden and Silver Falls to Scottsburg and a line from Florence to Mapleton. In 1915 he started a bus line from San Francisco to Vallejo and in 1923 he started Motor Coach, Inc., which ran from Santa Monica to Los Angeles.
United Is Born
    The birthplace of United Airlines was the Coos Bay Hotel at the corner of Sherman and Virginia avenues in North Bend--a building still in use. Late in 1925 Gorst told a group of Pacific Northwest stage line operators meeting at the hotel of his vision that planes would soon be hauling passengers and mail. He proposed the operators go into the air transport business
    The operators contributed $1,000 for Gorst to make a survey of a route from San Francisco to Vancouver. V. C. Gorst and "Pat" Patterson, a stunt flier, used a Waco 9 to survey the route between Nov. 21 and Dec. 10, 1925. His report to the stage operators was that an air mail route was feasible, so they subscribed $14,000 worth of stock in the proposed $500,000 Pacific Transport Company.
    The stock was sold for $100 a share and most sales were for one to 10 shares, but Julius Meier. the Portland department store owner, bought $25,000 worth. Gorst raised $175,000, including $40,000 of his own money which he obtained from sale of all his bus lines except the Marshfield-North Bend line.
Gorst Only Bids
    When the government asked for bids on a Seattle to Los Angeles air mail route; Gorst was the only bidder because transport operators then felt the Siskiyou Mountains were almost impossible to fly over much of the year.
    Gorst exchanged his air mail contract for 250 shares of voting stock in Pacific Air Transport (PAT) to add to the 134 shares he already owned to give him control of the company which had only 500 shares of voting stock.
    PAT began operations Sept. 15, 1926 with 10 pilots, a Swallow, a Waco and two Travelaire planes. After a demonstration ride from San Diego to Seattle in a plane designed by Claude Ryan, who had a small plane factory in San Diego, Gorst ordered 10 planes for approximately $3,700 each.
    The planes were the Ryan M-1 monoplane, one later to become famous as the "Spirit of St. Louis"--the plane that Charles W. Lindberg flew from New York to Paris. In telling about the planes, Wilbur Gorst said, "The reason Lindbergh got a Ryan for his trip was because of what Dad had done with them. Everybody thought you couldn't fly across the Siskiyous on a scheduled run."
Has Contract
    Gorst had a contract for the first 10 planes built--but did not have the Wright Whirlwind engines, costing $5,000 each. Varney Airlines of Pasco, Wash., had contracts for the engines, but not for the planes, which were needed for its line to Elko, Nev. Varney Airlines was one of the four airlines that eventually merged to form United Airlines.
    So Gorst swapped plane contracts for engine contracts with Gorst, getting planes Serial Nos. 1, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, with the first delivery to PAT in March 1926 and the last three planes in July. Lindbergh's plane was a brougham, which was a plane with a cabin instead of the open cockpit that mail planes had, and was No. 28 or 29, Wilbur Gorst believes, although other sources give the number as Serial No. 16.
    In addition to Ryan and Lindbergh, Gorst also knew two other men important in the history of aviation, William E. Boeing and William A. Patterson.
    Boeing was from a wealthy Seattle family that had made money from the Northwest lumber industry. He bought his first flying boat in 1915 and learned to fly from Glenn Martin.
Boeing Forms Firm
    When Boeing cracked up the plane near Seattle and found it would take at least six months to get another plane from the Martin factory, he decided to build his own planes. Using planes built in his own factory, he formed the Boeing Air Transport (BAT) on July 1, 1927, which flew the route from San Francisco to Chicago.
    William A. Patterson was a young bank officer in the Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco who made Gorst a $5,000 loan and became interested in aviation. The bank president told Patterson he didn't think the flying machine business would ever amount to much and that Patterson had better stay close to the flying machine men until the bank got its money back.
    Patterson began to spend most of his spare time at Crissey Field and became a volunteer advisor to Gorst on business. In 1934 he became president of United Airlines and held that post into the age of jet transports.
Headquarters in SF
    While Gorst's headquarters were at Crissey Field in San Francisco, he kept his home and family in Marshfield. Wilbur Gorst said, "He would circle our house and I'd get in the Model T Ford and go down there and run up and down the field to mash down the grass and weeds so he could see where the runway was and he would land. We kept the plane where the Thunderbird Motel is now."
    He said the runway began near the hangar and ran in a northerly direction to about where the skating rink is now. A small drainage ditch crossed the runway, so some 60 feet of wooden planking had to be built for the portion of the runway over the ditch. At that time a two-lane road and walkway was on a causeway about where U.S. Highway 101 is now. The area has since been filled.
    Losses for the new airline were great, and three of the original 10 pilots were killed before the winter storms were over. Pilots for PAT got $400 a month, with a good deal of that amount being in stock they considered almost worthless. PAT President Gorst received the same salary as his pilots.
    During the summer of 1927 business was good but therewere other pressing problems. PAT was losing money, competition was developing and planes were beginning to carry passengers. The Ryan mail planes were not designed to carry passengers, although two could sometimes be carried sitting on the sacks of air mail.
    The new Boeing B-40 Gorst needed carried a price tag of $25,000 each and he was unable to raise the money. Patterson suggested that Boeing buy PAT and Boeing offered $200 a share. Gorst accepted the offer when Boeing agreed to keep all PAT employees and to buy all the stock held by other shareholders at the same $200 or better price.
    Later four airlines united to form United Airlines: Gorst's Pacific Air Transport with a route from Los Angeles to Vancouver, B.C.; Varney Air Lines of Pasco, Wash., with a route to Boise, Idaho and Elko, Nev.; Boeing Air Transport with the San Francisco to Chicago route, and National Air Transport with a route from Dallas, Tex., to Chicago and Chicago to New York.
Continues Interest
    Gorst continued his interest in air transport, forming Barnes and Gorst, which flew mail contracts from Seattle to Victoria, B.C.; the Gorst Air Transport that had a Seattle to Bremerton air freight service and the Seattle Flying Service and School. Gorst Air Transport flew charter planes from Seattle to Alaska but he never was able to get an air mail contract for this route.
    He sold out in 1936 and went to live in Port Orchard for a few years, then returned to operate the old Gorst and King bus line from North Bend to Coos Bay. Mrs. Gorst died in 1940.
    Wilbur Gorst, who worked in the Boeing plant until after the war, returned to Coos Bay and assisted in operating the line. He now lives in Barview. The bus line was operated until automobiles became available after the end of the war and people no longer needed the bus service, so Gorst retired.
    [Vern Gorst] never lost his interest in flying and kept up his pilot's license, the last one dated 1952. He raised trout in 11 fish ponds at his home and would fly the fish to Portland in his Aerocoupe plane to pay for his hobbies of flying and fish farming. His last trip was with his grandson to Port Orchard on July 4, 1953.
    When he died in August 1953, United Airlines dispatched a plane to carry his body to Sacramento, where he is buried in East Lawn Cemetery. It was a fitting honor and tribute to its granddad.
The World, Coos Bay, September 21, 1974, page B22

Last revised April 15, 2023