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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
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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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Interurban route, schedule and mileposts
Part 4 of 6-part series

(Rocky Point wreck)
This wreck at Rocky Point in 1929 was one more nail in the coffin for the Interurban

Route Interurban 1923
Bellingham to Mount Vernon line, south

(Varney depot)
This depot named Varney stood just south of today's Fred Meyer store. We believe that the old wooden structure stored on blocks on the lots north of the store's parking lot is this very same structure. We hope that a Burlington old-timer can confirm this hunch for us and can also tell us about the Varney family.

Burlington to Sedro-Woolley line, east

Interurban's first day of operation, Aug. 31, 1912
and schedule information
The Electric Railway Era in Northwest Washington, 1890-1930, Daniel E. Turbeville III, 1979
      On August 31, 1912, the new interurban celebrated its formal opening. At 10 a.m. a special train left Bellingham
. . . carrying practically all of the officials of the cities of Mount Vernon, Sedro-Woolley, Burlington and Bellingham, together with the officials of Whatcom and Skagit counties, the members of various commercial organizations, and a large representation from the Stone and Webster Club of Washington.
Each town along the line received the train with festivities, banquets and speeches. Even an unfortunately typical summer rain 'had little effect in dampening the enthusiasm of those participating.
      Pacific Northwest Traction began regular passenger and freight service the following day. Three of the new interurban passenger cars operated on the Bellingham-Mount Vernon line at ninety-minute intervals. The first car left Bellingham [daily on regular schedule] at 5:30 a.m., arrived at Mount Vernon at 6:45 a.m., and started back to Bellingham at 7 a.m. The last round trip car left Bellingham at 11 p.m. and returned at 12:30 a.m., arriving in Bellingham at 1:45 a.m. The fourth interurban passenger car was used on the Burlington-Sedro-Woolley line. From 6:15 a.m. to 12:45 a.m. this car operated every ninety minutes. After the last run of the day, all of the cars returned to the Kentucky street car barns in Bellingham where a night crew performed cleaning and necessary maintenance on them.
      Freight was handled by Pacific Northwest Traction at night after the last passenger cars had returned to Bellingham. The line's freight motor, No. 250, used the twenty flatcars and four boxcars built during the preceding year in the shops of Whatcom County Railway and Light. In keeping with the current notion of electric railways "opening up" new areas and new markets, Stone and Webster planned to handle mostly lumber and shingles until other types of local freight movement (fresh farm produce, milk, etc.) could be developed.
      The opening of interurban service on the Northern Division of Pacific Northwest Traction was coincident with a tremendous upswing in the economy of northwest Washington. Although Whatcom and Skagit counties had caught only the last two years of the nationwide slump of 1908-12 due to a strong oriental lumber market, business in Bellingham and the Nooksack and Skagit valleys was somewhat stagnant until late in the summer of 1912. That the local as well as the national economic picture would soon improve was evidently foreseen by the financiers in Boston or the interurban would probably never have left the drawing board.
      The harvest of 1912 was one of the largest in local history and all through the following winter Bellingham and the towns in the Skagit valley bustled with prosperous farmers. Real estate values began to climb and the number of building permit soared. In anticipation of the opening of the Panama Canal, the Whatcom Creek Waterway was dredged to allow ocean-going vessels to dock in the "heart of the city."

Links, background reading and sources

Story posted on June 12, 2005, moved to this domain Oct. 29, 2011
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This article originally appeared in Issue 28 of our Subscribers-paid Journal online magazine

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