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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
600 of 700 total Free Home Page Stories & Photos
(Also see our Subscribers Magazine Sample)
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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Centennials and anniversaries in Sedro-Woolley for 2011

    Any time, any amount, please help build our travel and research fund for what promises to be a very busy 2011, traveling to mine resources from California to Washington and maybe beyond. Depth of research determined by the level of aid from readers. Because of our recent illness, our research fund is completely bare. See many examples of how you can aid our project and help us continue for another ten years. And subscriptions to our optional Subscribers Online Magazine (launched 2000) by donation too. Thank you.

We recently visited our newest sponsor, Plumeria Bay, which is based in Birdsview, just a short walk away from the Royal family's famous Stumpranch, and is your source for the finest down comforters, pillows, featherbeds & duvet covers and bed linens. Order directly from their website and learn more about this intriguing local business.

      This is quite a year for significant anniversaries in Sedro-Woolley, according to Noel V. Bourasaw, publisher of the Skagit River Journal online magazine. The most significant one is the centennial of the Great Fire of Downtown Woolley on July 24, 1911, which destroyed many of the woodframe buildings of Philip A. Woolley's original company town.
      Other centennials this year include the sale of the first Ford Model-Ts, which were delivered by the train-carload on the old Northern Pacific Railroad, beginning in February 1911. Graduates of Sedro-Woolley High School may also be interested in the centennial for the opening of the original High School building, which was the kernel of the present building. Two local institutions also celebrate their 90th year in 2011. Oliver-Hammer Clothes Shop still reigns as the granddaddy of such stores in Skagit County, opening in 1921 at a location four doors to the north. And the present fire department began in 1921 as a volunteer crew out of the old city hall, which was located just east of the present U.S. Post Office (opened in 1939). You can read about all the anniversaries online at
      "We met with Mayor Mike Anderson and reviewed all these anniversaries with him," explained Bourasaw. "We are now preparing a proposal to the Museum, the Loggerodeo Committee and the Fire Department in hopes that any combination of these special dates can be incorporated in the Loggerodeo itself and other special events this year."
      "Although the 1911 fire was deadly serious, it also had its humorous aspects," he noted. "The fire hall, with a horse-pulled cart and a hand-pumped hose apparatus, was located almost exactly across the street from the origin of the fire, in a storage shed behind the original Fritsch Bros. Hardware store, on Woodworth Street.
      "All went well at first, as volunteers strung dozens of yards of cloth hose along the north side of the street, in hopes of arresting the growth of the flames, which were whipped up by the prevailing southwesterly wind. But it soon became a Keystone Kops affair as the firemen failed to notice that cinders fell from the burning Fritsch building and burned holes in the hose in several places. Pretty soon the pressure was down to zero."
      The Gateway Hotel was one year old at the time, having opened as the Wixson Hotel in 1910. It was saved from the fire, as was the brick Arthur C. Seidell building across Metcalf street, because the wind direction changed slightly and blew the flames to the east, destroying Frank Hoehn's livery stable and Ratchford's Blacksmith shop, which stood on the still-empty lots across the street to the south from the Gateway.
      Sedro-Woolley's identity as an all-brick downtown originated in the months after the fire. Insurance companies refused to insure the new buildings to full replacement value, unless they were faced with brick. That was the last serious, multi-building fire in the history of downtown.
      This is a significant year for the Journal too. The Journal history research site celebrated its tenth birthday online last August and on or about Memorial Day they will mark five million page views, making it the second-most-read history site in the state of Washington.
      Bourasaw is also in the midst of finishing his collaboration in a book about Frank Wilkeson, the West Coast columnist for the New York Times who was based in Hamilton in the 1890s. The book will be called The Old Soldier Goes Fishing because Wilkeson was one of the most noted fishermen in the country at the time and claimed to have fished many of the major tributaries of the Skagit River in the late 1800s. Bourasaw is also finishing his book, Humbug, on Mortimer Cook, the founder of old Sedro in 1885. The final research will be completed this fall in Santa Barbara, California, where Cook was mayor for two terms in the mid-1870s. That was just one of the cities all across the country and in British Columbia where Cook left quite a mark. The Sedro-Woolley Museum has a special room devoted to memorabilia from the Cook family descendants, who visited here for the parade on the first Founders Days, in 1994.
      We hope readers will share with us copies or scans of any photos that might help illustrate stories on all these events, or copies of articles about the events. We never ask for your originals.

Links, background reading and sources

Story posted on April 24, 2011 . . . Please report any broken links so we can update them

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You can click the donation button to contribute to the rising costs of this site. See many examples of how you can aid our project and help us continue for another ten years. You can also subscribe to our optional Subscribers-Paid Journal magazine online, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in September 2010, with exclusive stories, in-depth research and photos that are shared with our subscribers first. You can go here to read the preview edition to see examples of our in-depth research or read how and why to subscribe.

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(bullet) Our newest sponsor, Plumeria Bay, is based in Birdsview, just a short walk away from the Royal family's famous Stumpranch, and is your source for the finest down comforters, pillows, featherbeds & duvet covers and bed linens. Order directly from their website and learn more about this intriguing local business.
(bullet) Oliver-Hammer Clothes Shop at 817 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 90 years continually in business.
(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 — doubling in size for RVs and camping in 2011.
(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
or make this your destination on your visit or vacation.
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