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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
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Covers from British Columbia to Puget Sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, Snohomish & BC. An evolving history dedicated to committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Skiyou Gothic: dahlias, corn,
a temperance hotel and a body that turned to stone

Skiyou Gothic
(Cookie and Dean)
Cookson Beecher and Dean Harrington with proof that corn does indeed rise as high as an elephant's eye, as that wonderful tune from Oklahoma goes. They are famous for their dahlias, which they sell to the owners of smart homes and living rooms throughout the Skagit Valley. But they are most famous for just being so darned cute as they work daily to protect their vast garden safe from wabbits, weeds and moles. If only Grant Wood were around to paint this scene. Photograph courtesy of Greg Platt, the bicycle doctor of Sedro-Woolley, the fine associate of Oliver-Hammer Clothes Shop and the inventor of the world-famous Hashbrowner. Click on photo for an even larger format version

By Noel V. Bourasaw, Skagit River Journal ©2011
      It is not often that we get the opportunity to feature our best friends and cute couples on the site, but one arose this week. Cookson "Cookie" Beecher and Dean Harrington live near a historical oddity that we discovered many years ago and have never had the right place to feature it. Their dahlia gardens are planted next to the Hess location. You may remember Cookie's name from the time that she edited the Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, arguably the best editor in its history. And Dean is the fix-it man that many call when haying season is current. The historical importance of such may be found by reading this brief article from 1885:
A temperance inn for Skagit river travelers
      At the mouth of Skiyou slough, C.F. Hess has made a clearing and built a comfortable hotel. The still stretch of river, the forest stretching up the side of Little mountain, and the higher ranges in the distance, make a beautiful view. It is just the place for a week's fishing or a summer's rest from overwork. There are no liquors sold and nothing to annoy the most delicate nerves. Those going up the river will do well to stop here. Crossing the slough at his ferry will save two good miles.
(American Gothic)
American Gothic by Grant Wood

      That is the first time that anyone in modern days learned about this hotel, which must not have lasted long. It was indeed in the path of the great 1897 flood on the Skagit river that wiped out old Sauk City and the parts of Hamilton and Sedro that were right on the river shore.
      The Skiyou slough is an ox-bow bend about three miles east of Sedro, which curves north from the river channel and the mouth was directly across from Gilligan creek, which empties into the Skagit on the south shore. We had not found this ferry listed, but Clear Lake historian Deanna Ammons notes that the ferry landed on the Ringhouse property on the south shore. But the oddity of the story was revealed in a memoir of Archie Boyd, son of upriver teacher L.A. Boyd:

      Now, regarding Hess. He had two daughters, one of them about 13 years old. He moved his family onto his ranch, near the mouth of Skiyou slough, above Charlie Wicker's place. The older girl, Flora, died and was buried on the farm in a homemade cedar coffin, as was the custom in the early days. A few years late he sold the farm and dug her body up to take it with them. When they got it to to the surface it was petrified, turned to solid stone.


(Driveway Skiyou)
Harrington and Beecher live in this farm house above, which was probably built before 1920. It was long known as the Claus house, for the family that lived there and raised their children there for several decades. The Sapp family lived right around the corner of the Hoehn road, the Skiyou school still stands a little further up, and Hoehn crosses Fender Creek (named for the maiden name of a maternal Claus ancestor). Your editor attended many 4-H meetings there in his youth and he picked strawberries in the field across the lane that belonged to the Metcalf family. To the left you can see Cookie and Dean's driveway, which leads to a magical stand of trees, a barn that is trying to fall down but has not yet succeeded, and Dean's inexhaustible collection of automobiles, including a convertible Pontiac that we long to ride in. Hess' hotel was located across the slough a couple of miles to the southeast, but his daughter's bones were found very close to the present house and barn.

Story posted Sept. 25, 2011
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