Skagit River Journal
of History & Folklore
(bullet) Covering from British Columbia to Puget Sound. Washington counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, Snohomish, focusing on Sedro-Woolley and Skagit Valley.

(bullet) An evolving history dedicated to committing random acts of historical kindness (bullet) The home pages remain free of any charge. Subscriber archives available through Issue #60 free, with a two-part story Noel left us for Issue #61.


Skagit County Historical Society

These days, Skagit City School and a road of the same name are all that remain of  "Skagit's Lost Communities", Skagit City. (link to Skagit Valley Herald article)  Find out "Where was Skagit City?"


(Click to the Skagit County website for Skagit County Historical Society)

link to museum webpage


Skagit River Journal  is published and directed by Skagit County Historical Society and its Publication Committee. Publication Chair: John Kamb Jr., Editor & Webmaster: Dan Royal, Publication Committee Members: Karen Talbert, Chris Loving, Cookson Beecher.
Contributions and submissions of your pioneer and early individuals, families, towns, obituaries, stories and photos of Skagit County related items can be sent  by email
or to the address listed here:

Skagit River Journal c/o  Skagit County Historical Society
PO Box 818, 501 S. 4th St., La Conner, WA 98257 360-466-3365

Hours: Tuesday thru Sunday 11 AM to 5 PM

The Museum is located  at the top of the hill in La Conner.

(bullet) Site founded Sept. 1, 2000. Passed 7.5 million page views, November 2014; passed 800 stories in 2013 —  (bullet) Noel V. Bourasaw, 1944-2015, Founder (bullet) Sedro-Woolley, Washington,— where Mortimer Cook started a town & named it Bug

 Skagit River Journal & Noel V. Bourasaw were honored with 2014 Heritage Award from Skagit County Historical Society

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We're back, June 2016
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Calendar of Events
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Pioneer Biographies
Portals, subjects & areas to explore: Below
Northwest history

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(Ray Writins Book Reprint 2016)


"The late Ray Jordan was arguably the best historian of Sedro-Woolley. His book, Yarns of the Skagit Country "Ray's Writin's"  (Sedro-Woolley: self-published, 1974), was the most thorough collection of stories about the merged towns and their pioneers and the surrounding area." 
Noel V. Bourasaw

The long awaited reprint of Ray Jordan's "Yarns of the Skagit Country, Ray's Writin's" is now available and for sale  since August 4, 2016 at this year's Skagit County Pioneer Picnic in La Conner's Pioneer Park and Museum bookstore. Link to Ray Jordan web page for an introduction.


R.I.P. Noel V. Bourasaw 1944-2015

Founder and Editor, Noel V. Bourasaw of the website you are currently enjoying, Skagit River Journal, succumbed to his long fight with  cancer on October 27, 2015. Look for Noel's obituary from November 12, 2015 in the Skagit Valley Herald and Bellingham Herald, click the link to go straight there or search . A 'Celebration of Life' was  held Sunday, November 15 at Sedro-Woolley Senior Center at 2:00 PM. Stay tuned for more info here on Noel and the future of Skagit River Journal. Follow this link to the Skagit Valley Herald for a recent article on his death titled,  'Sedro-Woolley's Historian.' 
Friends of Noel and Skagit River Journal

Calendar of Events

For the rest of 2016 this site is dedicated to Noel V. Bourasaw

Calendar of Events webpage

The Skagit County Historical Museum will be closed the month of January 2017

Through the end of December  to see the wonderful “Mas Voces del Valle” exhibit!  The exhibit closes at 5 PM on Saturday.  You really don’t want to miss it.

The Museum will be closed for the month of January, re-opening at 6 PM on February 9th with the reception for ‘Washington Remembers World War II – The Skagit Home Front’.  This exhibit – on loan from the Secretary of State’s office – shares photographs and personal stories from the war years.



The Museum is located at 501 S. 4th Street, at the top of the hill in La Conner. Admission: Adults $5, Seniors $4, Families $10. For more information call 360.466.3365 or visit



Please send us calendar items for any history-related or community events in your area scheduled for the rest of 2016.

We're back! June 2016
  • (links)Please let us know of any broken links you find on this website and where you found them, which is just as important to know.  Updating and fixing links will be an ongoing process but will be helpful to all  you researchers out there making use of this website. Email us here or below.

  • We will always welcome your suggestions on making Skagit River Journal a better website, especially making it more navigable. The fastest way to find your subject of interest  will be to use the Search Engine at the bottom of the page.

  • If a subject or a person is not found on this website, let us know. It is possible we have something on file or we can direct you to a person or an institution in the county who may have the answer for you.

Pioneer Biographies:

(Silas Butler)

      Silas Moore Butler




In The News Locally


Recent and archival sites posted
(Twisted tree trunk)
One of a couple dozen spectacular views of Gilbert Landre's cabin/hotel site.

(bullet) The obituary and the life story of Norm Lisherness, Sedro-Woolley's beloved police chief, during Loggerodeo of 1967.
(bullet) If you have any photos, articles or documents about Northern State's long history, please email Judy Torfin, who has begun a museum on the NSH premises to honor the history of the institution and its employees.
(bullet) See this photo feature with nearly two dozen photos of Gilbert Landre's cabin/hotel, built in the 1892 era, which still stands near Cascade Pass.
(bullet) Read the story behind the Plumeria Bay bedding company in Birdsview, our latest sponsor
(bullet) The two most humorous stories of our 800. Otto Klement's tale of his Lyman trading post, in 1881, and the mixture of liquor and the good ole boys and the pig. And Frank Wilkeson's 1890 New York Times column about the two rapscallion hobos of old Sedro, who took the Swedes for a ride.

(bullet) And see our special new portal section of links about Mortimer Cook's original towns of Bug and Sedro and the very early days of the little village that was located where Riverfront Park stands today.
    (bullet) Important: This is our Free Home Page. If you are currently subscribed and looking for the full Contents Links for our Subscribers Magazine, check the current-issue link in your email or email us for it. Also note: some stories still have a stumpranchonline prefix because we originally partnered with Dan Royal's family website and we have not finished moving them.
(bullet) How to Navigate the Journal. Or use one or all of these routes below:

Follow these links below to portal sections
of the areas and subjects that interest you:

Here is the first page that started it all, 'From Bug to the Bughouse' for the Journal in 2000, page one, updated, an introduction to the upper valley history, from Sterling to the Cascades. Click on the underscored Sedro-Woolley link above for an interactive map showing the location of Skagit County at the far northwest corner of Washington and the United States.
(Dance on stump)
(bullet) Check out Sedro-Woolley First
(bullet) Bug through Sedro-Woolley (bullet) Reader questions answered
(bullet) Early timeline (bullet) Founders Mortimer CookP.A. Woolley4 British bachelors.

Areas surrounding Sedro-Woolley in all 4 directions
(bullet) includes: Prairies, Duke's Hill, Northern State Hospital, Sterling, Skiyou, South of Skagit; Clearlake, Biglake, McMurray
Upper Skagit River: Utopia to Cascades
(bullet) includes: north of Skagit from Utopia to the dams and Cascades, Sauk River-Illabot Creek area, and the creeks of Skagit's south shore
West Skagit County: Hwy 99 to Sound
(bullet) includes: Mount Vernon to Belfast, west to Fidalgo, south to LaConner/Fir Island/Conway, north to Burlington, Blanchard, Edison, Alger & Samish
(Steam donkey in woods)
Logging Section
(bullet) includes: mills, donkey engines, equipment and logging railroads
(bullet) Washington & other counties
Whatcom, the mother county 'til 1883
County, home of early Skagit pioneers
The trains of the Northwest
(bullet) includes: Fairhaven & Southern; Seattle & Northern; Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern
(bullet) Northern Pacific, Great Northern, Puget Sound & Baker River, and more . . . Interurban

(Railroad trestle)
Skagit County stories that are countywide, that involve more than one town or more than one family and town or that do not fit in any other county portal . . . Transcribed County Histories . . . Stories about the Skagit River     Floods history
(Von Pressentin home)
Bios, Memoirs and obituaries of men, women, family pioneers and descendants . . . Obituaries and memories  of Skagitonians, pioneer descendants and otherwise...Ray Jordan Yarns stories . . . 
(Covered wagon women)
Frontier Women
(bullet) includes: Territorial Daughters, and biographies of and by pioneer women
Food & Wine . . . Prohibition, liquor . . . Very short stories in Odds and Ends Portal
(Whidbey Museum)
Suggested reading and museums
(bullet) Library: Recommended reading, bibliography
(bullet) Transcriptions old newspapers
(bullet) Regional Museums

Issue 60 posted

Noel's last subscriber edition posted free

There will no longer be a subscriber area. New stories will be added to an ever on-growing list.

Stay Tuned.

(bullet) A peek at our book in progress: the biography of Mortimer Cook and the founding of Sedro-Woolley. An invitation for you to be a critic and help us polish part of the book.
    Draft Introduction to new book, Humbug! said Mortimer Cook
    Draft Chapter 1 Dramatized story of Cook arriving at future town site in June 1884
(bullet) A transcription of a 1931 article from the "Builder's Edition" of the Mount Vernon Daily Herald. It is a comprehensive history of Skagit Valley and the county, and includes dozens of names for genealogists and researchers, as well as new historical facts we discovered for the first time.
(bullet) Selucius Garfield — 4-part series on the most colorful politician of Washington Territory, the two-time Territorial delegate to Congress, and an overview of early Territorial elections
    Part 1 Youth, Kentucky, California, Washington Territory, ally of Gov. Stevens
    Part 2 1857, 1859, 1861 Delegate elections, Masonic Lodge, Garfield in Canada during civil war
    Part 3 Wins 1869 and 1870 Delegate elections, loses 1872, personal downfall and death in 1883
    Appendix: Documents about Garfield, elections, humorous incidents, obituaries
(bullet) Expanded section on Mount Vernon-area log jams on the Skagit river
    1946 article provides new information about log jams and Mame Hammack shares information about her father, Magnus Anderson
    Introduction to log jams section and articles and photos about how jams were formed and removed.
(bullet) 1882 Skagit river expedition led by Lt. Henry H. Pierce — drawings by Alfred Downing (bullet) Updated and expanded section on C.X. Larrabee, the 1890s financier behind Fairhaven, the Fairhaven & Southern Railway and the Sedro coal mines that became that became the village of Cokedale.
    Part 1: Youth, Kentucky, California, Washington Territory, ally of Gov. Stevens
    Part 2 1857, 1859, 1861 Delegate elections, Masonic Lodge, Garfield in Canada during civil war
    Documents and obituaries that supplement the Larrabee section

Getting lost trying to navigate or find stories on our site?
Read how to sort through our 800-plus stories.
Return to the new-domain home page
Links for portals to subjects and towns
Newest photo features
Search entire site
Looking for something special on our site? Enter name, town or subject, then press "Find" Search this site powered by FreeFind

    Did you find what you were seeking? We have helped many people find individual names or places, email if you have any difficulty.

    Tip: Put quotation marks around a specific name or item of two words or more, and then experiment with different combinations of the words without quote marks. We are currently researching some of the names most recently searched for — check the list here. Maybe you have searched for one of them?


(bullet) See this Journal Timeline website of local, state, national, international events for years of the pioneer period.
(bullet) Did you enjoy these stories and histories? The process continues as we compile and collaborate on research about Northwest history. Can you help? Remember; we welcome correction, criticism and additions to the record.
(bullet) Please report any broken links or files that do not open and we will send you the correct link. With more than 800 features, we depend on your report. Thank you.

If you would like to make a donation to contribute to the works of this website or any of the works of Skagit County Historical Society and Museum. We thank you up front. While in your PayPal account, consider specifying if you would like your donation restricted to a specific area of interest: General Funds, Skagit River Journal, Skagit City School, Facilities, Publication Committee, any upcoming Exhibit. Just add those instructions in the box provided by PayPal.

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