Site founded Sept. 1, 2000. We passed 2.25 million page views on Feb. 10, 2008
The home pages remain free of any charge. We need donations or subscriptions to continue.
Please pass on this website link to your family, relatives, friends and clients.

(S and N Railroad)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Subscribers Edition
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

(Click to send email)

Burlington coveted Mount Vernon's
courthouse, 1909

(Decatur home and courthouse)
      This photo was taken sometime after 1892, either during the construction of the Skagit county courthouse or shortly thereafter. We look northeast, with the David Decatur mansion and barn in the middle — standing where the Lincoln Theater stands today. The courthouse is at the left of the photo. Photo courtesy of John Pollock, great-grandson of David Decatur. John's grandfather, Elden Pollock, married one of Decatur's daughters and was responsible for construction of the Lincoln and the Cascade Drive-In Theater south of Burlington where the Cascade Mall stands today. See this website for our exclusive Decatur story. We hope that a reader will have documents or photos of the drive-in to copy and share for an upcoming story.

      In 1909, Burlington tried to wrest the original courthouse away from Mount Vernon, but their timing was not very good. The courthouse had been built in 1892-93 on the north end of one of the blocks that Captain David Decatur bought when he moved his family from Boston in December 1887. According to author Tom Robinson, it was located at the southeast corner of Pine at First street at the northernmost point of David Kimble's original 1870 homestead, bordering that of Jasper Gates.
      Just 17 years before the 1909 fight, Anacortes, Sedro and other cities tried to wrest the count seat away from Mount Vernon in the election of November 1892. Anacortes won the election by seven votes, but the rules dictated that such a change had to be approved by two-thirds of the voters.
      Mother Nature helped thwart Burlington's plans. In 1909, the worst flood on the Skagit river in this century left Burlington in the middle of a pond and photographers clicked away. We found this flyer, composed by the anti-Burlington forces, at a garage sale. It appears to be a printer's proof of an advertisement in a newspaper or it was possibly a broadside that was to be handed out on the street. Does anyone have any more information on this? It was not covered in either the Skagit County Historical Society books or the ArgusCentennial editions for Mount Vernon and Burlington. Please email us if you know. The flyer is reproduced with illustrations and photos intact. The flyer is too fragile to reproduce, so we re-set the type to make it more readable and we reproduced the photos as faithfully as possible. These [ ] surround updated information.

The Tax Payers' Reasons

(Courthouse Skagit county 1909)

This cut [above] is made from a photograph of

our present court house

      Area floor space 17,870 square feet. Excellent modern jail which cost $6,500. Splendid heating system, almost new, cost $2,300. Perfect sewers and connections. pavement and concrete walks on three sides. This building we regard as good enough for many years. From 1909 poster
      [Ed. note: Update 2003 — This original courthouse in Mount Vernon was built in 1893 and still stands as the Matheson building. The top story was lopped off and it was remodeled. It is at the southeast corner of Pine and First streets, west of the present courthouse, which was built in 1923. The book, Skagit Settlers, placed it at Third and Montgomery, but that is the old post office. We checked with no less a personage than former judge Walt Deierlein, who knows the Matheson building well.]

(Proposed courthouse in Burlington)
      [left] This is the picture of a building which Burlington advertised in the Burlington Journall of Oct. 16, 1909, and in the Sedro-Woolley Courier of October 17. They proposed to build it and loan it to the county.
      [right] This is the cut of the building they advertised in their circular that they intended to build.

Which will they build?
Will they build two?
Will they build either?

If so, the largest dimensions they suggest
is 12,000 square feet of floor space.

(Burlington flood photos 1909)
[left] Fairhaven Street of Burlington, Wash, November 30, 1909.
      Right: Great Northern track, looking toward Bellingham from outskirts of Bellingham, November 1909.

The above [photographs of Burlington were] published
in the Bellingham Herald, Dec. 4, 1909

We don't want to construct permanent county buildings
at ANY POINT within the flood district.

We can't afford it

      Regardless of our feelings toward either Mt. Vernon or Burlington, we must vote to preserve our own interests, and the interests of our friends. This is a practical question for the taxpayers who can't afford to cut off their noses to spite their faces. We have the kindliest feelings in the world toward Burlington but we can't believe wither her that now is the time to move the county seat, nor that Burlington is the place for it when it is moved.
      As far as Mt. Vernon is concerned we can only say: the county seat is now there. Let it stay there until such times as the population of our county has increased to such proportions that the building of a larger and better court house is a necessity.

Then Let the People, by their vote,
say where it shall be

The flood of 1917 was almost as disastrous as the one of 1909
to Burlington's proposed courthouse location.

(Burlington flood photos 1917)
      A flood filled the Burlington streets with water in this scene. Photo taken December 30, 1917, courtesy of Roger Fox, West Mount Vernon.

Links, background reading and sources

Story posted on April 1, 2001 last updated on Feb. 26, 2004, and on April 24, 2008 with photos
Please report any broken links so we can update them
This article originally appeared in Issue xx of our Subscribers-paid Journal online magazine

Return to the new-domain home page
Links for portals to subjects and towns
Newest photo features
Search entire site
(bullet) See this Journal website for a timeline of local, state, national, international events for years of the pioneer period.
(bullet) Did you enjoy this story? Remember, as with all our features, this story is a draft and will evolve as we discover more information and photos. This process continues until we eventually compile a book about Northwest history. Can you help?
(bullet) Remember; we welcome correction & criticism.
(bullet) Please report any broken links or files that do not open and we will send you the correct link. With more than 550 features, we depend on your report. Thank you.
(bullet) Read about how you can order CDs that include our photo features from the first five years of our Subscribers Edition. Perfect for gifts.

You can click the donation button to contribute to the rising costs of this site. You can also subscribe to our optional Subscribers-Paid Journal magazine online, which has entered its seventh year 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.

You can read the history websites about our prime sponsors
Would you like information about how to join them?

(bullet) Jones and Solveig Atterberry, NorthWest Properties Aiken & Associates: . . . See our website
Please let us show you residential and commercial property in Sedro-Woolley and Skagit County 2204 Riverside Drive, Mount Vernon, Washington . . . 360 708-8935 . . . 360 708-1729
(bullet) Oliver Hammer Clothes Shop at 817 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 86 years.
(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.
(bullet) Are you looking to buy or sell a historic property, business or residence?
We may be able to assist. Email us for details.
(bullet) Peace and quiet at the Alpine RV Park, just north of Marblemount on Hwy 20
Park your RV or pitch a tent by the Skagit River, just a short drive from Winthrop or Sedro-Woolley

Looking for something special on our site? Enter name, town or subject, then press "Find" Search this site powered by FreeFind
    Did you find what you were seeking? We have helped many people find individual names or places, so email if you have any difficulty.
    Tip: Put quotation marks around a specific name or item of two words or more, and then experiment with different combinations of the words without quote marks. We are currently researching some of the names most recently searched for — check the list here. Maybe you have searched for one of them?
Please sign our guestbook so our readers will know where you found out about us, or share something you know about the Skagit River or your memories or those of your family. Share your reactions or suggestions or comment on our Journal. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to visit our site.

View My Guestbook
Sign My Guestbook
Email us at:
(Click to send email)
Mail copies/documents to Street address: Skagit River Journal, 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, WA, 98284.