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(2 girls and logger)

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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Froggy Orchestra entertained
settlers in old, old Woolley of 1890
the heart of P.A. Woolley's company town

By Noel V. Bourasaw, Skagit River Journal of History & Folklore, ©2007
(Froggy Chorus)
      Imagine that you are a settler who has landed in the company town of Woolley in 1890, the year that Philip A. Woolley platted his new village as the "Hub of Skagit County. Close your eyes and imagine a "froggy chorus" serenading you from the swamp that was located on the east side of Metcalf Street where the ballfield is today, just north of the police and fire departments.
      That area north of the Seattle & Northern railroad tracks, later the Great Northern, became a bit of a joke during the election of 1910 that included an item about locating the planned Union High School. Site One was the swamp in old Woolley town. The flyer opposing that site suggested whimsically: "If you prefer the frog orchestra, vote for Site 1." Site Two was the "dry, centrally located site" in new Sedro, the one actually chosen — the site of the present high school.
      That was two years before Woolley's stroke in Savannah, Georgia, where his logging headquarters had moved in the early years of the 20th century, and his subsequent death back home in Sedro-Woolley on June 17, 1912. For the next eight decades, that area of town went to sleep, commercially. The area to the west of the Northern Pacific Railroad tracks was the industrial heart of town, but east of the tracks, nothing much happened. The swamp was eventually drained and fill dirt and gravel was dumped there so the blocks between Munro and Waldron Streets could become the baseball field and later doubled as the home of the annual carnival in conjunction with the Loggerodeo Festival.
      Over the last five years, however, the blocks on Metcalf Street north of the tracks are experiencing a rebirth. Almost a decade ago, voters approved the purchase of the block between Gibson and Munro, on the south and north, and between Metcalf and Murdock, on the west and east, for the new police and fire departments. You may have also noticed in the spring of 2007 that heavy machinery has been tearing out the concrete of the parking lot on the Metcalf Street, which will be the location of the planned city hall.
      Chris Vollans certainly noticed the potential of the area. After renting premises on Puget Street, where the Catholic and Lutheran churches were originally located, he decided in 2006 to construct his own building at the northeast corner of Gibson Street and Metcalf for his Vollans Automotive. That building opened in the winter of 2006-07 and in the spring he is about to open two more retail locations on the ground floor.
      "We will have a deli in the center," Chris explained, "which will offer lunch items, espresso and snacks, and a hair salon in the north third of the building." Vollans explained that the gamble soon paid off, with a long line of auto customers. In fact, business has been so good that he is looking for more qualified mechanics so that he can expand the business already. [Journal ed. note: His wife, Anne, will have the deli open by July 1, just in time for Loggerodeo.]

(3 Woolley railroads 1899)
      This 1899 photo comes from the tremendous book, Kinsey Photographer by Dave Bohn and Rodolfo Petschek, published in 1982 and now out of print, but it is found in bookstores all over the state. The photographer was Darius Kinsey, who moved here two years before. We are looking south from P.A. Woolley's original mill site, later the nucleus of the company that became Skagit Steel & Iron Works. We see the famous triangle of tracks formed by the three rail lines that crossed here in 1890. That was the reason for Woolley picking this site for his company town. Behind the trains you can see the first main street of old Woolley, Northern Avenue, with the Keystone Hotel and Saloon at the right, beside the tracks, and Schneider's general store at the left. You can see the octagonal town gazebo/bandstand at the center left; it is now located behind a private home. At the far right rear, you can see the two-story Hotel Royal of Charles Villeneuve, the only known photo of it. Behind that is the laundry building. Woolley's mill grounds are in the right foreground. For more information about this triangle and the three rail lines that crossed here, read this webpage.

Woolley family arrives December 1889
(Bethel Tabernacle)
This is the Bethel Tabernacle, which was erected in 1928 at the northeast corner of Northern Avenue and Metcalf Street, north of the railroad tracks where Ronk Brothers Heating stands today. Bethel was an outgrowth of evangelicals who held a revival at the old Opera House/Moose Hall on State Street in 1924. The building replaced the old Frye-Bruhn wholesale butchers warehouse that dated from the 1890s. If you look at the far left, you will see the house behind the tabernacle that still stands there today and that dates from circa 1890, possibly the oldest home in town.
      In 1953, a city resident named Mrs. Bob Doxsee showed the Courier-Times publisher Frank Evans a diary kept by Mrs. Catherine Woolley as she and her husband traveled cross-county. These are the only excerpts printed in the Sept. 24, 1953 newspaper that celebrated the centennial of Washington territory. They illustrate that travel here was not a pleasure trip back in those days:
      Nov. 8, 1889, left Chicago for Seattle; traveled Sunday and on Monday noon arrived at Minneapolis; remained there until Tuesday noon.
      Nov. 12, left Minneapolis at 1:30. Had pleasant trip. Nov. 13, arrived at Banff Spring in the morning at five; spent all day [they apparently made connections with the Canadian Pacific Railroad]. Am very tired but spent a delightful day here. Here we are 5,000 feet above the sea and scenery is beyond description. There is nothing so grad as nature.
      Nov. 16, arrived at the Glacier and saw the sun shine on the great mountain of ice. Saw two bears Nov. 18, arrived at Vancouver. Nov. 21, left Vancouver at 2:30 on the boat Fearless. Had a quiet trip. Nov. 22, arrived at Seattle, had delightful visit with Mrs. Wilder and Mrs. Stiles. [Journal Ed. note: we wonder if the latter lady was a relative of Ira Stiles, second postmaster of Sedro-Woolley and the first master of Masonic Lodge #93 in Woolley in 1893. The 1889 Territorial Census lists one person named Stiles in Sedro, born in North Carolina as were the ancestors of the family of Sedro-Woolley attorney William Stiles.]
      Nov. 24, expect to take the boat for Sterling and how I do dread the trip. Nov. 25, still here at Seattle, raining as usual. Nov. 25, on the boat Henry [Bailey] for Sedro. Nov. 26, arrived at Mount Vernon at noon, remain until morning at the Washington hotel. [The Washington was owned by William Murdock, who would soon be the first mayor of the town of Woolley and who bought the land to the east adjoining Woolley's company town.]
      Nov. 27, leave at eight on the stage; my first ride on a stage in my life and I never could imagine such roads; arrived at Sedro at noon. Nov. 28, moving into boarding house, all confusion. Nov. 29, Mr. Woolley has gone to Mount Vernon to get the land for the mill. Won't be home before tomorrow.
      Nov. 30, Mr. Mr. Woolley has returned and is very tired; has bought 40 acres of land, so everyone commences work on Monday morning; will sleep in our house tonight. Dec. 1, here quietly spending the Sabbath and will write to my Katie this afternoon.

      That is sadly the last entry from the diary, leaving out the details of the purchase of the town site and its initial setup. With the help of the late Bob Wilcox, we contacted Mrs. Doxsee's daughter in California in 1993 but she informed us that her mother was suffering from Alzheimer's and they had no knowledge of the diary. It was either sold to an antiques dealer or passed on to some other family. We hope a reader will some day tell us that it has been found. Regardless, we know that Philip, always known as P.A. by that time, immediately set out planning his mill and company town a mile northwest of old Sedro by the river, and Catherine returned to Elgin to finalize the family's move with daughter Kate and sons Bill and Philip "Bert." From the way they were phrased, the entries posed two big questions. 1) Was this Woolley's first trip to the territory? 2) If it was, how did he know where the three railroads would cross and form a natural townsite? We believe that this was indeed P.A.'s first trip here and in answer to number two, Territorial Attorney General James Bard Metcalfe had done a lot of the groundwork by the time that the Woolleys arrived. In gratitude, P.A. named the main north-south street in town, Metcalfe, with the "E." Most of the city newspapers before the turn of the century burned in various fires, but the first time we see the street spelled, Metcalf, is in a February 1901 Skagit County Times. We can only surmise about Woolley's gamble to move out here and make such a commitment, but we do know that at least five factors could have influenced him and Metcalfe. First, the Northern Pacific railroad had completed their tunnel through the Cascades, finally connecting the Great Lakes directly to Seattle. Second, Seattle interests had finalized funding to extend the Seattle Lake Shore & Eastern [SLS&E] West Coast branch through Skagit County a mile west of Sedro. Third, tracks were being laid on a diagonal from Fairhaven on Bellingham Bay to Mortimer Cook's old town of Sedro on the Skagit. The Fairhaven & Southern [F&S] railway was completed on Christmas Eve 1889 after Woolley's arrival. Fourth, the Seattle & Northern line [S&N] was steadily laying tracks east across the county, aiming for a rail bed north of Sedro. And finally, James J. Hill was breathing down everyone's neck, approaching Spokane Falls with tracks for what would become the Great Northern, and hell-bent for reaching the Puget sound and filling his own ships with goods from the Midwest for the Orient.
      We can imagine how P.A. must have licked his chops when he climbed down from the stage and saw firs 200 feet and higher, limbless for the first 100 feet, perfect for both ship's masts and the cross ties that he had been marketing for the past 25 years. He was so excited, he said in his paid biography [1906 Illustrated History of Skagit & Snohomish Counties], that he felled the first tree on the site himself, quite a feat for 58-year-old man, years away from working in the woods. The only real competitor to Woolley was Norman B. Kelley, the son of a rich New York City investor, who teamed up with a timber man named Winfield Scott Jameson; they were teaming up to develop new Sedro, where the high school stands today.
      As soon as Woolley bought the land for the mill and his company town, he sent for some old friends (who could possibly have also been distant relatives), the Munro family of Michigan, to help plan and build a shingle mill to take advantage of the monster Western red cedar and Douglas fir trees that separated his site from what was often called Kelley Town. The Woolley home was right in the heart of the district north of the tracks, on the far eastern end of the block north of Gibson Street. He and his sons built his mill at what is now the southern end of the old Skagit Steel property, with a mill pond just north of the tracks.
      Mortimer Cook, down at the original village of old Sedro on the Skagit River, was busy draining and tiling his new ranch out on Olympia Marsh and selling off lots on his original property. Someone did crash his party, however. The late Albert Bingham told us that his father remembered how the SLS&E site engineers forced him to move his planned mill slightly west because it would lie in the middle of their rail bed. The S&N planners tried to do the same thing and make him move the mill north of their planned rail bed, but he had had enough and refused. Today you can see the slight bend in the tracks north of Vern Sims Ford that show how they caved in.
      Many skirmishes were recorded between the competing railroads' construction teams during those early years. According to a story by Lelah Edson in her fine book, The Fourth Corner, tempers were bound to flare when crews from SLS&E and S&N converged on the junction at the present corner of Eastern and Northern avenues in the winter of 1890. Mrs. Woolley came out of the mill cookhouse to see what the noise and foul language was all about. There she met John J. Cryderman, the former F&S crew chief who was hired for the same position by S&N to lay rails from Anacortes to Hamilton. He assured her that he would maintain the peace. They climbed a stump together to observe the two crews as they neared each other. Suddenly the husky mule skinners and lumberjacks who made up the SLS&E crew drove their peavey track tools into the ground and stood braced behind them like armored medieval knights. At that point Cryderman leapt from the stump and ordered his men to hoist rails in teams and use them as battering rams, scattering the opposing crew like bowling pins in the process. After glowering and exchanging blows for a few minutes, the crews were convinced to let the company lawyers argue the right of way in court. Ultimately S&N laid its rails first and SLS&E afterwards, with a junction that allowed trains to travel both perpendicular ways, and spurs were laid at the northwest and southwest to allow trains to turn north or east onto the respective main routes. All concerned eventually shared the pride felt by residents in the town of Woolley. After completion of the Canadian Pacific connection in 1891, Woolley became the first city outside of California with connecting lines for three transcontinental railroads (including the Canadian Pacific). Up to 11 trains per day crossed in five different directions. [Read more about the triangle of tracks from the three rail lines at this Journal website.

(Metcalf and Gibson streets)
      On that same day, Kinsey swiveled left and looked nearly due east for this photo. On the right you can see a dirt wagon road, originally platted as Southern Avenue, but no longer open as it is here. Today the closest equivalent is the driveway to the old Skagit Steel site. Kinsey was standing at the eastern edge of Philip A. Woolley's mill. The most prominent building in the foreground is the Grays Harbor boarding house, with a fence around it and the barn and other buildings. Or rather that could be the house of the unnamed owner of the boarding house building that is located just to the right and slightly east. Note the many stumps on the lots to the left, where the North Star boarding house would soon rise, the structure that two decades later would become the famous Fern Rooms brothel. That muddy street at the left is Gibson. Across Metcalf Street from the stumps, at the southeast corner of Gibson, is the Gregory Swaim building, with butcher William Doherty's home right behind it. We hope that a reader can identify the other buildings and homes. That prominent two-story white building at the right in the background could be the same building that housed the forestry service in 1950; my late brother Jerry bunked there when he was a volunteer forest-fire fighter. Behind that you can see the bell tower of the old Franklin School. Woolley's home would have been to the left, just out of the photo.

Woolley hires Albert G. Mosier to plat his company town
      Once P.A. hired local men to construct the mill and begin sawing lumber for cross ties, he hired Kelley's surveyor/engineer, Albert G. Mosier, to survey Woolley's own town plat just south of where the three rail lines would cross. The rest of the civilized world was fascinated in February of 1890 with the resignation of Otto von Bismarck in Europe, but Woolley and most capitalists in the Northwest focused on only two things: where the next transcontinental railroad terminus would be and helping their own town boom and grow. The first reference to P.A.'s new town was noted in the fine 1906 Illustrated History book:
      But while all these developments were in progress in Sedro, a rival for the trade of the surrounding country had been springing up, one destined to handicap for a time the development of the pioneer town, but later to join with it in the outworking of a nobler destiny than either could hope to have achieved alone. This was Woolley. Probably the first public mention of it was a reference in the Skagit County Logger newspaper of April 24, 1890, in which the paper stated that a new town was starting at the junction of the railroads, which would, presumably, be named Hilltown. However, its founder, Philip A. Woolley, says that his plans had been shaping themselves for months before that. In September 1889, shortly after coming to the sound, Mr. Woolley purchased from Ole [Borseth] and George Nelson a timber claim, which they in turn had purchased from Chris Olson, the tract consisting of forty-four acres. Of a man named Moore, he purchased forty more, all of which he platted June 3, 1890, as the town site of Woolley.
      Contrary to popular opinion, no original trees remain in Sedro-Woolley, except for a handful of cedars in Riverfront Park. Most of the forest that was here when Mortimer Cook arrived was clear-cut by the end of the teen years. Fir trees from this area were prized all over the country, especially as the finest wood for ships' masts, trusses for residential and commercial buildings, and for railroad car and bridge building, exceeding even oak. Albert Mosier described typical 1890s logging methods in a 1950 Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times interview:
      [A company named] Mosher and McDonald were logging an area about at the east city limits [he probably meant Murdock Street], using a horse drawn flat car on iron rails from the woods to the river. There was a beautiful stand of timber, principally fir, which was the only wood considered fit to make lumber. There was no sale for cedar; about two million feet burned to clear town lots on the site of the high school. There were firs over 300 feet tall and 16 and 18 feet in diameter at the butt above the swell.
      If you grew up here, you may be amazed to learn that in the years 1888-1892, the little towns of Sedro and then Woolley were as hot as any town on the western frontier. Financiers from New York and Europe filled the hotels, dancing and prancing girls were on the prowl, and dream merchants and salesmen were at every corner selling their wares. The story that stopped the presses in that period was the arrival of three railroads, the F&S, the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern and the Seattle & Northern, all crossing on a small triangle of tracks just north of the new town of Woolley in a period of less than a year. When we first researched the roots of Sedro back in 1992, the file of documents was slim but over the next few years we discovered more sources in libraries across the state and in family collections after descendants of pioneers read the Journal website or attended our presentations.
      James McDonald, and maybe his brother, William A. McDonald, moved to old Sedro in the summer of 1889 after logging for 25 years in the Minnesota and Michigan woods, which had been clear-cut without replanting. McDonald recalled in the 1906 Illustrated History that the only homes in town when he arrived belonged to Cook and two of the four British bachelors who homesteaded the area of the future town, William Dunlop and William Woods. The homes of David Batey and Joseph Hart, the first two bachelors, were located to the west, outside the village proper. The only other buildings in town when he arrived were Cook's shingle mill and a cluster of shacks. Cook and Woods were the landowners who most profited from the speculation of those heady days. Alfred Mosher was a lumberman from Michigan who bought sizeable timber holdings in various locations around Puget Sound. The partners also owned logging camps between Edmonds and Mukilteo and near Meadowdale. By 1895 the nationwide Depression caught up with them and their company fell into the hands of a receiver, but in 1898 they were back logging in Woolley. We discovered in records that during that decade, William A. McDonald and Alfred Mosher invested in timberland on Duke's Hill.

Woolley, the Hub of Skagit County
(P.A. Woolley)
P.A. Woolley, circa: 1880s. Photo courtesy of Joe McGuire
      As we look at that original plat, we can almost imagine a flourish of trumpets as we read its title, Woolley, the Hub of Skagit County. The city fathers of Mount Vernon might have blanched at that effrontery, but the truth was that Woolley was indeed the hub at that point in time, with its three dueling railroads and its embarrassment of riches all around. That would all change with the Depression that would set in just three years later, but for the time being, the competing towns of Sedro and Woolley roared just as the mountain lions did every night in the woods all around. But this was truly a company town, in the classic sense of the word, and remained so until businesses began relocating there during the Depression of the mid-90s to cluster around the Union depot in the triangle between the three rail lines. For the meantime, business houses remained on four blocks of Third Street in new Sedro, Kelley's town, and the first grand hotel of the area — the Hotel Sedro, opened down there on Nov. 15, 1890, where the high school gymnasium stands in 2007. The original hotel owners were apparently overextended since they went bankrupt within months of opening, but they rebuilt and struggled along even after major fires. Eventually, the hotels in Woolley became dominant as the country pulled out of the Depression of the '90s.
      Some of the very earliest businessmen to build crude buildings in early Woolley town included the brothers-in-law — Frank A. Douglass, the druggist, and Norris Ormsby, the dray or freight man, who arrived in Woolley town in September 1890, and the Fritsch brothers, who opened their hardware store not long afterwards after initially settling at old Sauk City. The first business building constructed after those of Woolley's was the ubiquitous saloon, this one opened by J.W. Peake in May 1890 in the Keystone Hotel, on Northern Avenue, just southeast from where two of the rail lines crossed. Others were William Doherty's Woolley Meat Market and the Keystone Hotel, managed by Eddie Carr, both located on Northern avenue, south of the S&N tracks and across from the depot. The first S&N train chugged into Woolley in April of 1890 and the first SLS&E train arrived at its depot in Sedro, west of the hotel, on November 25, on its way to a grand celebration that evening in Anacortes, which was also booming at a fever pitch. Both trains had spurs leading to Woolley's mill. By that time, the mill had a capacity of 60,000 feet of finished lumber per day, and P.A. Woolley & Sons contracted to supply 11 million feet of lumber to various projects for Great Northern, mostly for cross ties. The shingle mill turned out 300,000 per day, running night and day.
      Woolley town was originally platted three blocks wide and six and two-thirds block long; we will explain the fraction block below. The western border was Rita Street, named for P.A.'s first granddaughter, Rita Pinhey, who was born in Canada on May 1888. The northern border was Moore Street, named for pioneer David Moore, mentioned in the excerpt above. The next street south was named for C.W. Waldron, a banker from St. Clair, Michigan, who was the largest landholder in the booming new town of Fairhaven, 25 miles to the Northwest. We have discovered in the old register of the Vendome Hotel in Fairhaven that P.A. stayed there while conducting business on Bellingham bay. In 1891, Waldron would build Woolley's first hotel, the St. Clair, on the site of the present Gateway Hotel. The next street to the south in the Woolley plat was Munro, named for J.C. Munro, Woolley's friend and/or relative. The next street south was named Gibson. J.C. LaPlant is often the quoted source for street names since he lived in the area from the late 1880s, but his description notes only that Gibson was a family friend of the Woolleys. That is one of the last streets whose namesake we have been unable to identify, so we hope that a reader can help. We have never found that name in the slim file of family records. Gibson also marked the north end of Woolley's mill, which he named the Skagit River Lumber & Shingle Mill.

(Woolley's mill)
      P.A. Woolley's Skagit River Lumber & Shingle Mill, circa 1900, which stood at the southern end of the later Skagit Steel & Iron Works property. The photographer was looking northwest when this photo was taken not long after 1890. The diagonal tracks on the right are those for the Northern Pacific, which are still used today.

      The next street to the south is Northern Avenue, which runs north of the S&N tracks to Metcalf Street, and then runs south of the tracks over to Rita. The block of Northern just west of the tracks was the first site of hotels, saloons and businesses, and then they slowly spread down Metcalf. The tracks also mark the southern end of the mill site, which was still just a boggy swamp that was dammed up to create a mill pond for the raw logs. Much land on those blocks north of the tracks were still dense forest by the time of the plat. During that time he also platted the town of Woolley. Mosier recalled in a 1950 interview that "running east from P.A. Woolley's mill, for more than a mile, stood the finest stand of pile and tie timber that I have ever seen or heard of. In running subdivision lines we had to use candles for setting points and getting backsites, since so little light filtered down through the tall thick trees." The first street east of Rita was just west of the SLS&E tracks and was named for the town that the Woolleys left. They never seemed to look back, however, leaving the site of the Maud sadness far behind. Metcalf Street ran east of the tracks forming wide blocks at the south and a small wedge at the north because the SLS&E rails ran at a slight angle to the northeast. All records of those days disappeared in various fires but we hope to determine some day if the rail bed was elevated from the beginning to form an overpass over Moore Street such as the one that exists today.
      Murdock Street formed the eastern boundary of Woolley town. Apparently there was no rivalry between Messrs. Woolley and Murdock. We note in a separate Murdock biography [see Journal website:] that Murdock tended bar at his Washington hotel up until his move here in 1891. That was the watering hole in the early day for area politicians so he could have overheard Woolley's plans in November 1889 when P.A. was buying his initial land, and then skedaddled quickly over to the courthouse to check the records for available land to the east of Woolley's. The first street south of the S&N tracks was Ferry Street, named for his daughter Kate's middle name, which could have also been a related family's name. Wags in the early days often made jokes that a ferry was required during the rainy months because the swamp from Reed Street to Ball Street often became a lake that was impassable either on foot or by wagon. The next street south was Woodworth. In late 2006 we finally discovered the namesake for that street, Charles Woodworth. You can read about him in Issue 38 of our Subscribers-paid Journal magazine online.
      Finally, to round out this story, we present an article from an 1890 issue of Graphic magazine. We have a faded copy of a copy and we know little about the magazine, other than it appeared to cover frontier towns all over the West Coast. We hope that a reader will know more about it and will share information about the magazine itself, its publishing lifespan and its editors and reporters.

(Davison-Caskey logging)
      The Davison-Millett-Caskey logging operation and mill. Owners Ad Davison and John Millett logged on the Woolley property and the homesteads of the Kiens brothers during this period.
— Photo by Darius Kinsey

The town of Woolley from Graphic magazine, 1890
      On the whole Coast there is not a town that, age and size considered, has more push and enterprise resting upon a solid basis than Woolley. It is fortunately located just about the geographical center of Skagit County, one of the richest in timber, mining possibilities and agricultural resources in the state, and it is very probably the county seat will be removed here soon.
      Next to substantial resources the most important factor in the development of a city is its transportation facilities. In this particular, Woolley has been from its inception preeminently favored, the Skagit River furnishing excellent navigation for vessels to and from Puget sound, of which it is the largest tributary stream, while the Great Northern, the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern, the Seattle & Northern and the Fairhaven & Southern railroads connect here. The railroads of Woolley lead out in five different directions and there are eleven incoming and outgoing trains daily, besides the logging trains, which are very numerous.
      This gives Woolley the benefit of not only the liveliest competition between important lines of railroads, but also the added advantage of water competition on all goods destined for shipment by vessel at the Sound. A handsome and commodious union depot will be erected here during this fall.
      One year ago the total value of taxable property within the present limits of Woolley was $100; today it is $433,000. That is very well for a yearling. The taxable property of the entire county in 1889 was $1,833,030.; in 1890 it had increased to $5,936,340, or a gain of $4.1 million in one year. Woolley was incorporated as a city April 9, 1890, and now has a good school system under its direct control. Its handsome new school house would do credit to a city many times its size.
      Its chief industry is the lumber and shingles mills owned and operated by Col. P.A. Woolley and his sons. This mill, the largest and best equipped in the Skagit valley, can cut 30,000 shingles per hour and 100,000 [blurred] feet of finished lumber can be turned out each day. Shingles are shipped to Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and other Eastern states, and to home and foreign ports of the Pacific by vessel. Eastern agencies have been established with the S.K. Martin Lumber Co. of Chicago, and Wood, Jenks & Co. of Cleveland. They are of the very best grade manufactured and command the highest market price everywhere. There is enough refuse fuel wasted at the Woolley mills to run a score or more of small factories, all of which would be given free to such establishments.
      The fir timber of this section is superior to oak, and is consequently in strong demand for [railroad] car and bridge building, and much is prepared by the mills for that purpose. The supply of fir and cedar along the Skagit and all the lines of railroad is practically unlimited. One man sold the timber from seven acres of land in the vicinity of Woolley for over $28,000.
      The price of timberland, however, is not regulated on the basis of this phenomenal yield. Quarter sections of good timberland can be bought, on an average, for $3,000. There is an abundance of fine finishing and hardwoods — maple, ash, oak, alder, cherry and laurel. The cottonwood trees are very large and abundant, and furnish the most superior material for the manufacture of excelsior. A factory for that purpose will soon be located here. Another industry greatly needed and which has been started, is a sash, door and blind factory. Its success is assured because of the cheapness of the raw material and the active demand for the finished product.
      The rich agricultural bottoms surrounding Woolley extend twelve miles westward, twelve miles eastward, eight miles to the south and four miles to the north. Individual holdings of this land can be bought at from $100 to 150 and sometimes even as low as $50 per acre. If this looks to our Eastern readers like a large price, let them remember that thousands of acres of this land yield and average of 120 bushels of oats per acre. Timothy and clover yield three and one-half to four tons per acre and bring from $16 to $20 per ton.
      The school lands situated about five miles from Woolley were appraised at $80 per acre, but brought $156 at public sale. Business property in Woolley sells at from $8 to $30 [corrected in pen from $3 to $5] per front foot; residence property at $3 to $5 [corrected in pen from $1 to $3].
      The mining interests of Woolley's territory are large and varied. Asbestos and coal deposits, of high grade, have been found within three and one-half and five miles respectively from the city, and a company will be formed to operate them. The coal mines of the Skagit Coal and Transportation Company are also about five miles from Woolley and are now in active and successful operation [the Bennett mines, which would soon be named Cokedale]. Other good coal deposits have been found across the Skagit on the north branch of the Nookachamps and further up the Skagit are immense deposits of iron, while at the mouth in the Cascades, at the eastern boundary of the county, is the great Monte Christo [Cristo] silver district.
      The iron deposits which line the Skagit River for miles, in the vicinity of Woolley, are pronounced, by experts, to be of a very superior [copy covered]from 55 to 71 percent of pure metallic ore, very strong and of a [copy covered] adapted to the manufacture of steel. The ore is said to be very easily reducible. Another resource at present entirely undeveloped, but which may, in time, prove far more valuable than is now suspected, is a large formation of excellent onyx, a few miles out of the city.
      Men of moderate means can find at Woolley, a sure and profitable opening in either fruit culture, dairying, or poultry-raising. The soil produces peaches, pears, apples, plums, prunes, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, gooseberries and currants luxuriantly, with small expense for cultivation, while potatoes, onions, celery, cauliflower, beets, cabbages and almost all varieties of garden vegetables are remarkably prolific.
      With its rich and varied lumbering, agricultural and mining resources, its splendid transportation facilities and the broad and enterprising character of the citizens at the head of whom is Hon. William Murdock, Mayor, who these interests in hand, Woolley cannot fail of a large and rapid growth and a prosperous future.
      The facilities of Woolley for handling the products of its mills, farms and mines are most excellent. The local roads are well equipped and reach the best sections of the Skagit valley, while the number of outlets reaching different territory open to the enterprise of its citizens almost boundless scope for operation. Their advantages are such that they touch the east and west alike, and their resources are varied enough to enable them to offer to each community some important and valuable article of necessity. Already prominent in the manufacture of lumber, there are few fields of industrial enterprise in which Woolley may not aspire to excel, an few that possess the elements of prominence in so convenient and accessible form, and the rapid development of those interests is assured.

Check out Sedro-Woolley First for links to all stories and reasons to shop here first or make this your destination on your visit or vacation. And read here about how downtown Sedro-Woolley looked in 1911-12, rebuilding in brick after the disastrous July 1911 downtown fire.

Story posted on July 1, 2007 . . . Please report any broken links so we can update them

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