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(S and N Railroad)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Free Home Page Stories & Photos
The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit

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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Example features from the Journal Subscribers Edition

See samples below from our separate Subscribers Magazine, now in its 9th year
Attention: please consider donating to our research project
      Perhaps we have been too reluctant to state the obvious and stick our hand out in the past. We are always woefully under-funded, but we are facing a crucial balloon payment of a loan due, which we must make to continue these free pages at the level they have reached. If you have already donated or are a subscriber, we thank you and do not expect or ask any more. But if you enjoy these pages and want them to grow dramatically over the next year, please consider donating even a small amount to help us keep the shop open. We have a separate subscribers-paid online Journal magazine, now in its seventh year. If you want to donate or subscribe, just click the "Paypal Donate" button to pay by secure credit card, or mail checks to here. Subscriptions are $20/1 year; $35/2 years, or $100 for a "lifetime" 10-year rate. Or you can read details first about how or why to subscribe or donate, by either check or credit card, and how to share gifts with your friends and family. Thank you for your consideration and support. And see our offer of story/photo CDs from our first five years of the magazine. That way you can share what you read with those who do not have a computer. We are "open source" in the best meaning of the term and we want to share this information with all lovers of our God's country history and genealogy. Thank you.
A menu of historical delicacies:
Features shared with our subscribers:
(Clarendon Hotel, old Sedro, 1890)

Bingham's old-Sedro bank location, 1890
See 15 photos of old- and new-Sedro.
Click on these thumbnail photos for the stories

Stories shared with subscribers first:
  • A profile of William R. Jarman and the legends of Blanket Bill, researched, discussed and debated, Part One
  • Eliza Van Fleet's family history from the 1906 Illustrated History. Extensive annotation.
  • Introduction to Fairhaven-founder Dan Harris and his timeline
  • Read the Journal profile of John Henry Fravel, Whatcom pioneer from the 1858 Fraser river gold rush, lineman for the original Puget sound telegraph line in 1864 and founder of the town of Fravel in 1871.
  • Read the introduction to the town of Blanchard/Fravel, this part written by Florence Smith Lowe, now 93. She published posthumously the book Equality Colony, written by her brother, Frederick Smith, in 1988, and she shares her memoir with us.
  • A review of a wonderful book that illustrates the spirit, perseverance and consternation and challenges of the pioneer woman: Bold Spirit, by Linda Lawrence Hunt. The story of Helga Estby, Norwegian immigrant and mother of nine, who accepted a challenge to walk across America from Spokane in 1896, and collect a wager that would save her family home. This is the newest addition to our updated section about Frontier Women.
  • Bill Newberg, the boy from the Utopia area who graduated in 1929 and went on to help engineer the construction of B-29s in World War II and then ascended to the presidency of Dodge and Chrysler. Interview at age 92.Shared from Subscribers Edition, Issue 11
  • Emil Runck and his bicycle shop, how he introduced the Harley-Davidson motorcycle to Skagit county, plus Ewestern Reno and the history of the bicycle..
  • Frank Wilkeson was a boomer of both Sedro and Hamilton in the 1890s. You can read about him and a list of the Journal transcriptions of his columns in the Journal. Also read about the upcoming Wilkeson book, Old Soldier Goes Fishin by Patricia McAndrew, a fun gift.
  • An 1889 profile of LaConner from one of the earliest Northwest history books.
  • A profile of early Edison by the Territorial Daughters of Washington.
  • Dream Theatre, Abbott Motor Co. & Dad Abbott family
  • Profile of David G. McIntyre, Sedro-Woolley Iron Works and the birth and ascendancy of Skagit Steel. An introductory profile of Skagit Steel. And a 1929 Washingtonian magazine about David G. McIntyre and Skagit Steel & Iron Works, the foremost industry in Sedro-Woolley.
  • Homesteading, preemption, land laws and how you carved out that little piece of heaven along the river, back in the 19th century.
  • Our exclusive profile of 1869 Fir island pioneer Magnus Anderson, his famous cabin and a brief history of the town of Fir and the South fork of the Skagit river. Shared from our separate Subscribers Edition archives.
  • David Decatur arrived in Mount Vernon in December 1887 and quickly became one of the town's leading citizens. His home was replaced by our beloved Lincoln Theater. His descendants have shared some of the earliest photos of the town ever seen. Decatur built a sawmill and soon sold it to young Ed English, the young town co-founder, thus starting the most famous logging company in Skagit and Snohomish counties. This story was updated this week with corrections and new information from the family.
Stories originally shared with subscribers:
  • Our exclusive updated story of James Bard Metcalfe, Washington Territory Attorney General and namesake of Metcalf street in Sedro-Woolley, the man who directed P.A. Woolley to his future company town.
  • More research & photos about Sterling, the founding Jesse Ball family, Joe DeBay, early settlers & schools, 4-part story.
  • 4 Bachelors of Sedro, our original settlers from Britain. Brand new story and photos.
  • A portrait of the Wild and Woolley village that P.A. Woolley built as a company town next to the famous triangle where three railroad lines crossed. We tell you and show you about the St. Clair/Osterman Hotel, the first classy joint in town in 1891. And Wild Bill Murdock, the first mayor of Woolley, who may be the only guy who ever outfoxed old P.A. himself.
  • Stories, facts and photos of the mighty Skagit River, from British Columbia to the San Juan Islands. Read about the Mother of all Floods and see a photo of the 1921 flood in Burlington.
  • Chinese illegals lead to a killing in Woolley in 1891. Shared from Subscribers Edition, Issue 9
  • Comprehensive story of Sauk City, gateway to Monte Cristo and Sauk on the Skagit north shore.
  • Our exclusive profile of Hamilton, "Pittsburgh of the West," and it's founder, the many faceted William Hamilton. Chapters 1 and 2.
  • The Kiens brothers emigrated in 1884 to homestead north of Woolley and produced a gold mine, a distillery and a brickworks, among many other things, but fell through the cracks of local history. Read about how they helped build a railroad with future industrialist Henry Kaiser.
  • The Rockport Hotel Fireof 1952, a profile of its owner Hugo Bauman, and memories of Will D. Jenkins. Shared from Subscribers Edition, Issue 10
  • Profiles and obituaries of the James Bedal family, Sauk river homesteaders, farmers and miners in 1891. In 3 parts, the first comprehensive look at this hardy family, including wife Susie Wahwetkin, daughter of the last Sauk-Suiattle tribal chief, son Harry, a forest ranger, and Edith and Jean, the daughters who led pack teams across some of the most challenging trails and rivers in the North Cascades. Updated with new information, photos and Bedal's connection to Little House on the Prairie, Dec. 24, 2004. Shared from Subscribers Edition, Issue 24
More stories representative of
our ten years of research
  • An introduction to and biographies of June Burn, and her husband, Farrar, including background quotes from June's book, Living High. She was a Pacific Northwest biographer and columnist in the 1920s-'40s, she met and profiled Skagit and Whatcom county pioneers, and she and her husband and family homesteaded a Puget sound island.
  • June Burn's 1931 column series about the 1858 Fraser river gold rush in British Columbia. And her review of the new village of Whatcom where the rush was launched, along with the earliest pioneers there.
  • A 1977 letter from Birdsview pioneer Catherine Savage Pulsipher that reveals her identity as Mountain Katy in June Burn's book, Living High. For more background on these and other upriver families, see Dan Royal's Stump Ranch about upriver history and the Boyd, Savage and Royal families.
  • Part 2, 1870 survey of the Skagit River, North Cascades and lake Chelan by D.C. Linsley, Frank Wilkeson and others for the Northern Pacific Railway.
  • A collection of biographers of pioneer women, including Lewis Kirkby, 1888 Sedro pioneer, and writing by Joanna Stratton, Lavinia Gates Chapman and Lilla Day Monroe.
  • The extended family of the Hammers, Greens and Parkers, whom the new Hammer Heritage Square downtown park in Sedro-Woolley honors. George Green was one of the most famous Indian Scouts of Kansas and founded a town there before his sons-in-law, Emerson Hammer and David J. Parker, made quite an impact on Skagit county in Burlington, Sedro-Woolley, Clear Lake and Skiyou. Grandson George Hammer founded the Oliver-Hammer Clothes Shop and great-grandson Wyman Hammer willed two lots for the Square.
  • After ten years of research, we publish an exclusive full biography of Philip A. Woolley, founder of his company town. Part One includes: Woolley's early life and marriage; his railroad contracts in Ontario, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois; his wife's diary about their move to Sedro in November 1889, and how he bought his future townsite.
  • Introduction to the biography of Birdsey Minkler, namesake of Birdsview and one of the first upriver pioneers.
  • The Big Snow of 1916, when Skagit county was shut off from the outside world for a month and the Skagit river was frozen over. Snow drifted 5 feet high in old Woolley. Including Ray Jordan's memories of the 1916 snow.
  • Julius J. Conner and his family, from the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee to Skagit county, Lyman and Sedro-Woolley. A family from Tarheel who defied the stereotypes. Shared from Subscribers Edition, Issue 24

(F&S railroad, old Sedro, 1889)

Fairhaven & Southern, 1st day, 1889. Part One of our totally updated story of the Fairhaven & Southern Railway, which chugged into old Sedro on Christmas eve, 1889, as the first standard-gauge railroad in the state, north of Seattle. Includes profiles of F&S pioneers Nelson Bennett and John J. Donovan and the birth of the two Sedro towns. Shared from our optional Subscribers Edition where you will find Part Two with even more photos and details, including the first day's run.

Train stories originally shared with subscribers:
  • Our popular Trains section with dozens of links, stories and photos. Did you know that 11 trains a day crossed on three tracks in old Woolley in the 1890s? Two special stories coming soon:

Links, stories & photos
  • Read an excerpt from Noel V. Bourasaw's book in progress: From Bug to the Bughouse, the First 50 Years of Sedro-Woolley and the Skagit River.
  • Our upriver section with profiles of towns and pioneers of the upper Skagit River from Sterling on east through the Cascades and the Sauk River area.
  • Attention: Thanks to all the history lovers who attended our Burlington Library shows. So many people wrote in about conflicts about this date that we have scheduled a follow-up show on Saturday afternoon, June 27, 2009, from 2-5 p.m., in the same room. This one is about Blanket Bill Jarman, the first permanent white settler in the Northwest, and his newly discovered English relatives have flown over to join us and bring new material. We also hope to present three or four future shows in various locations over the next year. Read more details here and please email us if you are interested in attending or have suggestions for the show.
  • Dan Royal's Stumpranch Online with profiles of his Boyd, Savage and Royal families among many stories.
  • Library Portal, our suggested reading, including books, magazines and newspapers we love to research for the book and website. Updated with many new books and excerpts from Skagit county newspapers from the 1870s-1900s.
  • Profiles of Sedro and Woolley founders: Mortimer Cook and P.A. Woolley and their towns of Sedro and Woolley.
  • Our new section with Biographies and Obituaries of our pioneers is launched. We start with obituaries, will add many more, and next week we will provide links to all our exclusive biographies and those by other writers.
  • A profile of the Skagit Valley Genealogical Society, possibly the best such society in the state. Their publications and their section at the Burlington Public Library are very valuable tools for the researcher.
  • Charles X. Larrabee, the Montana copper magnate, who financed the Fairhaven & Southern Railroad and bought the Cokedale coal mines.
  • Josie Bradley, Skagit County's Superintendent of Schools, 1884

(Burlington Flood 1921)
Burlington Flood Aftermath, 1921, click for story
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Story posted on June 1, 2001, last updated July 4, 2009
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You can read the history websites about our prime sponsors
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(bullet) Oliver-Hammer Clothes Shop at 817 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 88 years.
(bullet) Peace and quiet at the Alpine RV Park, just north of Marblemount on Hwy 20, day, week or month, perfect for hunting or fishing
Park your RV or pitch a tent by the Skagit River, just a short drive from Winthrop or Sedro-Woolley
(bullet) Joy's Sedro-Woolley Bakery-Cafe at 823 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley.
(bullet) Check out Sedro-Woolley First section for links to all stories and reasons to shop here first
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