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Skagit River Journal

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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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Albert G. Mosier describes townsite survey

Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, Oct. 20, 1949, City Merger Golden Jubilee edition
(Mosier surveying)
Mosier was still surveying at age 80 and often enjoyed taking a pick in hand and showing the young whippersnappers how to bust up hard ground or concrete.

      In the summer of 1889 the writer, then engaged with an engineering firm in Seattle, was sent to the site of the present town to make the necessary land surveys to enable Norman R. Kelley to plat the Town of Sedro.
      Mr. Kelley, being the right of way agent for the Seattle Lake Shore & Eastern railway, then surveying the Sumas branch, visioned a thriving town on this promising location.
      Arriving with assistants at Mount Vernon, by boat from Seattle, and walking up the dirt road to the home of David and Mrs. Batey [in Sterling] where we were accommodated with lodgings and board for about two months while making the necessary subdivisions and gathering data for the first plat.
      The first line run was from the west corner of Section 26, Township 24 north, Range 5 east. This corner was marked by an iron pipe and cottonwood bearing trees and is still in evidence. Running north one mile the northwest corner of Section 25 was established by witness. A stone monument was marked and placed there. Running east one mile the northeast corner was located and tied in.
      No trace of the quarter corner on this line was found until the next year when clearing the townsite it was discovered and perpetuated by placing a stone with broken glass around it. This stone should be near the north entrance of the high school building unless destroyed during the building of the addition. Its position is 179 feet east of the center of Third Street and 56 1/2 feet south of center of Nelson street whereas it should have been found in the center of Bennett Street.
      I mention this as the corner is very important as governing the Kelley strip north of State Street. There would be no Kelley Strip had the corner been in its correct position. The line from northeast corner south to the quarter corner, on the other hand, was perfect for course and distance to the hundredth of a foot as measured by steel tape and plumb bobs. I dare say it is the only one of its kind in Skagit County.

Albert G. Mosier

      This line was taken as the base line for the first plat and the northeast corner of Section 25 as the initial point. It is at the intersection of Township and Bennett Streets and was also in the exact center of the Fairhaven & Southern Railway tack. Having secured the necessary data the original plat of the Town of Sedro was filed in Mount Vernon Aug. 20, 1889.
      This was followed by the Fairhaven plat of the "Town of Sedro" being south of Alexander Street and based on the center line of the railroad then running south to the river bank. This made a small angle in Township Street at the "forty corner" in Alexander Street. This plat was filed Oct. 17, 1889. Then Kelley filed the "First addition to Town of Sedro," Jan. 11, 1890.

(new Sedro) (old Sedro)
Click on the thumbnail images above for full-size maps. Top: new Sedro, Kelley's plat. Bottom: old Sedro, the Fairhaven plat based on Mortimer Cook's original town of Bug, just to the southeast of new Sedro.

      "Woolley the Hub of Skagit County" was filed June 13, 1890. The triangle formed by the three railroads, the Seattle Lake Shore & Eastern, the Anacortes & Southern [actually the Seattle & Northern] and the tracks radiating therefrom formed the base of the plat according to the wishes of P.A. Woolley, who also insisted there should be no connection with existing plat of Sedro. Thus the jog in our north and south streets originated.
      Central addition to Sedro was platted by John Trowbridge in the spring of 1890. Consisting of two blocks, laying south of Alexander and east of Township streets.
      The first building in Sedro was erected by Mr. Kelley for office and living quarters, with the survey crew furnishing the labor. It was on Seventh near Fidalgo and the lumber was rafted down the river from a small mill near Lyman.
      The first street improvement was the clearing, grubbing and grading of Township Street, making connection with the river bank which sported a dock and regular boat service to Seattle. This was followed by improving Jameson Avenue, clearing, grading and graveling a road way in the center, the first surfaced street in Sedro. The magnificent fir and cedar timber which covered the Kelley plats was felled and burned on the ground.
      This was followed by improving Jameson Avenue, clearing, grading and graveling a road way in the center, the first surfaced street in Sedro. The magnificent fir and cedar timber which covered the Kelley plats was felled and burned on the ground.


Norman R. Kelley
      Kelley was the son of a wealthy Manhattan investor and he joined up with another such scion, Junius B. Alexander to boom the town of Sedro in 1889. Kelley was a draughtsman for the SLS&E syndicate and he also enjoyed climbing mountains on the Olympic Peninsula. He died of complications from alcoholism when he was only 33 in 1894. He died intestate and his father refused to come out to Washington to settle the estate so it stayed in limbo until at least 1906, resulting in the "Kelley Strip." Read about him and the land problems in this Journal feature [Return]

      John F. Trowbridge (or maybe James) and his wife Kate were recorded in the 1900 Federal Census as living in Seattle. According to early articles about Sedro in 1890, he was one of the original landholders in the region. [Return]

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Story posted on May 11, 2009 . . . Please report any broken links so we can update them
This article originally appeared in Issue 48 of our Subscribers-paid Journal online magazine

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