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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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Morris Ormsby elected first mayor
of new consolidated City

(Woolley post office)
      After Sedro and Woolley merged in 1898, mail was consolidated at this post office in what had been downtown Woolley, at the southeast corner of Metcalf and Woodworth streets.

Skagit County Times (Sedro-Woolley), Dec. 24, 1903
      [In Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, Oct. 20, 1949, City Merger Golden Jubilee edition] An interesting account of the early history of the towns of Sedro and Woolley and the founding of the city with the hyphenated name, fifty years ago is published in the Christmas edition of the Skagit County Times of Dec. 24, 1903. The article is as follows:]
      Sedro-Woolley, the metropolis of the Skagit Valley, is the outgrowth of two towns, Sedro and Woolley. Sedro was founded by Mortimer Coo,, who in 1885 purchased a tract of land on the Skagit River from [Winfield] Scott Jameson who had scripped it about 1878. In 1886 a post office was established and Mr. Cook was appointed the first postmaster. The name Sedro was selected because of the immense tracts of cedar timber adjacent to the settlement and the further fact that it was located near Cedar Point at the foot of Cedar Mountain.
      In 1886 the thrifty community showed such marked progress that Mr. Cook started a shingle mill at Sedro, which is credited with being the fist mill of its kind built and conducted north of Seattle. From this mill was shipped the first carload of red cedar shingles shipped east. From this time the town began to grow and settlers branched out into the forest in all directions.
      About 1888 surveys were made for several railroads and when it was determined that the railroad crossing was to be made just north of Sedro, Ole J. Borseth and another party proved up on the land, but before the roads were built P.A. Woolley bought 40 acres of land at that point
      In the winter of 1889-90 the Fairhaven and Southern Railroad (now owned by the Great Northern Railway) was built through and touched the Skagit River at Sedro. About the same time the Seattle & Northern (now 1903 owned by the Great Northern) was built from Anacortes to Hamilton, and the Seattle Lake Shore & Eastern, (later the Seattle & International and now 1903 operated by the Northern Pacific) was completed.
      In 1889 Sedro was laid out and platted by both Norman R. Kelley and the Fairhaven Land Company, and immediately afterward in the same year a town was laid out on the north adjoining it by P.A. Woolley. At once began a period of rivalry and an enterprising communities' battle for commercial supremacy. P.A. Woolley established a store in the new town and in 1890 secured a post office, which he named Woolley, of which his son Philip L. Woolley was appointed the first postmaster
      In 1889 George W. Hopp established the Sedro Press, which continued until 1895 when it was burned out. In 1891 A.B. Ernst established the Skagit County Times.
      Both towns grew rapidly and in 1890 both were incorporated after an unavailing effort had been made towards consolidation. The question of the consolidation was an issue that wouldn't down, but the question of a name seemed to be the stumbling block. In 1892 an election was held to decide upon a name in the event of consolidation. Sedro and Denver were the names chosen and at this election Sedro won by a large majority.
      The Woolleyites refused to accept this name, however, although they were satisfied with Denver and the two towns continued to struggle along separately until in [1898], largely through efforts of the "Twin Cities Business League" when another election was held to choose a name and again Sedro won. As before the friends of Woolley refused to abide by the decision and in order to effect a consolidation the citizens of Sedro agreed to a compromise and the name of Sedro-Woolley was agreed upon.
      Considerable difficulty was encountered in inducing the post office department to accept the hyphenated appellation but, in the interest of harmony it was finally allowed to stand, and the town of Sedro-Woolley became an established fact, and Morris Ormsby was elected at the first mayor. Since the consolidation, Sedro-Woolley has grown rapidly from a struggling village to where it has become a city of the fourth class with over 2000 people.
      The city is supplied with a water system which also furnishes fire protection and a volunteer fire department with Jasper Holman as chief and consisting of two hose companies and a ladder truck, have on several occasions, proven their ability to successfully cope with the fire fiend.
      Sedro-Woolley also possesses one of the best electric lighting systems to be found anywhere. The light and water systems are owned by the Skagit Improvement Company, which, during the past year, has expended over $40,000 in those two enterprises.
      During the past year the city government has been instrumental in grading, graveling and parking miles of the of the resident streets, in which laudable effort they have been aided materially by private enterprise. Many other public improvements have been undertaken, yet notwithstanding, Sedro-Woolley today levies not one cent of municipal tax and owes no man or corporation a dollar. Since the consolidation the city has always been more than self-supporting and there is, at the present time, a comfortable balance in the treasury.

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Story posted on May 13, 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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