Thursday, July 25, 2013

Which creek contains Kurt Cobain's ashes? (Certainly wasn't Mima Creek)



Update:

Well, based on a comment from Edward Echtle (@Tenalquot) earlier this morning, it turns out it is McClane Creek. Couldn't be anywhere else. The reason is Courtney Love still owns a place out on Delphi Road that contains a significant portion of the creek.

And, from the history of the property on Redfin, the house has been for sale in the recent past. It was listed three times since 2010 and had a pending sale in 2012. But, that apparently never came through and the property was delisted again earlier this year.


Original Post:

A few weeks ago when I went down to our own little ghost town of Bordeaux, I remembered in the back of my head something about Kurt Cobain's mom's house being somewhere in the neighborhood. It turns out Wendy O'Connor (Cobain's mom) lived just across the road from what remains of the old town site for years. In fact, she lived in the house of the town founder:
The Bordeaux House is one of the few extant buildings of the town of Bordeaux which was headquarters to the Mumby Shingle and Lumber Company, one of the most important lumbering operations in Thurston County. The firm opened up the harvesting of timber in the Black Hills while pioneering new methods of logging and manufacturing. After cutting and processing billions of board feet of lumber from 1902 to 1941, the operation closed and the town was abandoned. Only this house, home of Thomas Bordeaux, the firm’s founder, featuring fine uses of wood from the mill and two other structures and a safe from the former hotel remain from the town which has excellent integrity are a small mobile logger’s residence and a deteriorated school.
It also turns out that in the years following Cobain's suicide, that the house was the site of his last memorial service:
One unique feature: The house is one of about a dozen of Cobain's final resting places.

On Memorial Day 1999, O'Connor organized a ceremony during which Cobain and Love's then 6-year-old daughter, Frances Bean, tossed some of his ashes into McLane Creek, which runs behind the house.

The ceremony was recounted in "Heavier Than Heaven," a biography of Cobain written by Charles Cross.
The problem in that passage (and in the similar passage towards the end of Cross's book) name a curious local stream for the receiving Cobain's ashes. McLane Creek is a creek on the western edge of Thurston County, but it is miles from the house on Bordeaux Road. McLane and Mima (the creek closest to the Bordeaux hosue) creeks don't connect and flow in opposite directions.

According to Thurston County records, the Bordeaux house was owned by Courtney Love for almost ten years.

There also isn't a creek that runs behind the house at all. There are two intermittent streams that run near the house, but nothing that I'd call "near." The only actual creek -- Mima Creek -- near the house is through some woods and across a road. Hardly an easy thing to include into a memorial service.

It is possible that the memorial service wasn't in fact held at the Bordeaux house, but rather at a nearby house that fronted the actual McLane Creek. Or, the ash scattering during the ceremony didn't happen. Or it did, the ceremony was a the Bordeaux house and they just hiked a bit.

In one symbolic way, it does matter whether his family scattered Cobain's ashes in McLane or Mima Creek.

McLane Creek and Mima are parts of different watersheds and flow in different directions. Literally in geography and figuratively in time.

McLane Creek, according to Cross:
In many ways, this too was a fitting resting place. Kurt had found his true artistic muse in Olympia, and less than five miles away he sat in a shitty little apartment that smelled of rabbit pee and wrote songs all day. Those songs would outlive Kurt and even his darkest demons.
 McLane Creek also flows north into Puget Sound, where the water meets Olympia and later Seattle. This is towards the future of Kurt Cobain, his adult life and eventually his tragic death.

Mima Creek, on the other hand, flows south into the Black River and then west into the Chehalis. It leads backwards into Kurt Cobain's life back to the Harbor and where he was born.

One creek flows towards artistic creation and death, the other backwards toward tortured youth and birth.

11 comments:

Tenalquot said...


Hi Emmett,

Based solely on hearsay, this is my understanding of the situation: Cobain's mother lived on Delphi Road, about a mile south of its intersection with Mud Bay Rd, along McLane Creek, and that's where the memorial took place. However, there is a connection with the Bordeaux House. I heard that the estate bought the house and allowed members of Kurt's family to live there until there was a falling out and Love ceased paying the mortgage. I have corroborated none of this with research however.

It's also worth noting that the surviving schoolhouse disappeared [fire?] during their tenancy.

-Ed

Emmett said...

Holy cats Ed, you're right!

Here's the spot: http://bit.ly/145RaGn

Courtney Love still owns the place at 1905 Delphi, which based on the description in Cross' book, it most certainly where the memorial service happened. Well, there you go.

Tenalquot said...

I visited the Bordeaux site once while Love owned it. There was a 4x8 piece of plywood nailed to a tree along the drive to the house that read, in day-glow orange spray paint, "TRESPASSERS WILL BE SHOT."

Didn't know the Bordeaux schoolhouse was gone until Google posted a high resolution image of the site. The workers cabin is gone now, too.

Cobain Lies said...

Well in the creek wow that must have been a place for them to be real be human.... Much Love Cobain Lies - The Fall Of Rome

Anonymous said...

When I lived about 3 blocks south, we called the stream behind the Priory, Courtney's place now, "Scatter Creek" and I believe it's still listed that way. It IS a tributary of McLane Creek, however, meeting up with that raging torrent a little south of the bridge west of the intersection of Delphi and McKenzie Roads. My best friend was "scattered" in Scatter Creek a couple of miles upstream, as well. Courtney's house there used to be a show place, a catholic nun's priory, prior to all the owners up to her. Just getting technical, sure it doesn't matter to Kurt, out there in the Mud Bay tideflats...

Amy Lee said...

It would be quite difficult for Kurt's ashes to be anywhere considering he is very much alive and well. Why do you think the woman who goes by the stage name Courtney Love claimed to believe in Buddhism...or rebirth?

I should know. Kurt showed up at my front door on May 16, 1983 in Trussville, AL and the day after the Def Leppard concert at Boutwell. Kurt was working on the road crew. It was after this he chose the bday of Leeds, AL native Charles Barkley during the time Barkley was about to go pro. If you will look at my blog (michaelhutchenceandme.wordpress.com), you will see the connections Kurt and Courtney made to my life as well as the Jan. 1985 obit which Kurt chose the name Courtney Love for the woman who agreed to play his wife in public. Oh! Trussville, AL is at the bottom of what is known as the Appalachian and why Kurt chose songs such as "In the Pines" and "Where did you sleep last night".

I wrote Heart Shaped Box which was from box which Blanche Dubois in A Street Car Named Desire carried. In the play Blanche is "raped" by her brother-in-law...and if you will remember the Nirvana song "rape me".

jack said...

Amy you need to see a doctor 88% of your stories do not add up.

Amy said...

Jack,

You might want to take a look at my blog were I have posted the obituary for the real Courtney Love dated January 14, 1985, and where Kurt came up with the actress/singers stage name. January 14 also happens to be the date the former drummer of Nirvana who goes by the stage name Dave Eric Grohl uses as his public birthday. I know Kurt quite well...better than the woman he named Courtney Love.

Anonymous said...

Not sure it matters. Courtney bought the home at 1905 Delphi Road in January of 1995. She still owns it today but it's been on the market for years. The creek behind that home is called "Swift Creek" and joins "McClane Creek" on the other side of the road where it then flows into Mud Bay. It's my belief however that some of Kurt's ashes were scattered into the pond at the McClane Nature Trails a short distance south of the house at 1905 Delphi. Swift Creek is a small seasonal creek but...only a few truly know.

Summerp711 said...

Courtney Love still owns this property, I just confirmed through the county assessors office. Maybe someday I'll buy it...

loriann lester said...

Hello all. I recenty watched a documentary about Kurt and until then I had no idea some of his ashes were scattered there. I DID know about Courtney's house. You see, my grt grandma is Margaret McLane (later became Margaret Ramsauer) and my aunts STILL own their parents' (my maternal grand parents) house at the intersection of Delphi and McKenzie Rd. That house use to be the original McLane school, then after the bigger school at the top of Delphi Rd was built and the old building/property were passed down, my grandpa (with the help of others, including a little from my dad), tore down the structure, leaving the original foundation, and built the (his/our) family home.
It's really cool to go into the basement and ponder all the history that cement has known.
So, it's kind of "my claim to fame" and I'm very proud of that.
That is all I wanted to share. Well there's tons more I'd like to share but it would take WAY to long.
Thanks for reading.
Sincerely,
LoriAnn Margaret Coleman-Lester.