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Links to a
selection of Ray Jordan stories
The late Ray Jordan was arguably the best historian of Sedro-Woolley. His book, Yarns of the Skagit Country
"Ray's Writin's" (Sedro-Woolley:
self-published, 1974), was the most thorough collection of stories about the merged towns and their pioneers and the surrounding area. Ray came to Sedro-Woolley as a child in 1902 with his family. His first years were spent sleeping on a bed laid over boxes of dynamite for clearing stumps on the old Mortimer Cook ranch on the Olympia Marsh. He then spent part of his school years in Belfast while his father, Lafe, logged the area surrounding the old
rail bed for the Fairhaven & Southern Railroad. Over 70 years time he talked with almost every pioneer here and their descendants. In the 1960s and 1970s he wrote a history column for the Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times. Larry Spurling, whose family lived in the Sauk Prairie area and later in Sedro-Woolley, has spent the past few years transcribing many history stories about the area, including more than three dozen chapters from Ray's book. He generously supplied the transcriptions for us.
We have combined those with our own research of Ray and his stories. In addition, Ray gave the late Fred Slipper a handful of his unpublished stories, which Fred then graciously passed on to the Journal, and we are adding those to the mix. Many of the stories we link below are fully annotated so that the modern reader can identify the pioneers he named. We were surprised when we formed this Jordan portal section in July 2008 that the Journal now includes 29 stories from Ray, organized below by area and subject manner. This is by far the largest section, even larger than the von Pressentin family section. Is there a Jordan story you would like us to add? Surviving copies are quite rare and can sometimes be found at used-book stores that specialize in Northwest history, including Easton's Books in Mount Vernon and Michael's Books in Bellingham. We want to flesh out this profile of Ray. Do you have any genealogical information about him, his two wives and his family, or do you have his obituary? Please share copies if you do; we do not need your originals.
UPDATE Feb. 2017
Ray Jordan's book, Yarns of the Skagit Country "Ray's Writin's" long out
of print and rare to find, can now be found and published from Skagit County
Historical Society & Museum of La Conner, WA. The format will be a 6 X 9
inch. softbound, perfect binding book with larger type for an easier read.
We hope you find the selection of stories by Ray below a good primer and
companion to the book. You will find that much of the vernacular of his
writing is no longer found in most books sharing about old logging life or a
farming life. You just might need to check GOOGLE once in a while on
something obscure as... The book was released and
available at the 2016 Skagit County Pioneer Association Annual
Pioneer Picnic and available at the bookstore of the Skagit County Historical Museum,
located at the top of the hill, 501 S. 4th St., La Conner. Click the
photo to take you to the
Publication page and the order form
so you can receive by mail.
Area surrounding Sedro-Woolley in all four directions
Mortimer Cook Ranch, four miles west of Sedro-Woolley, close to where the Cook Road exit of I-5 is today. A Ray Jordan story.
- Bottomless Lake, the almost mystical spot on Duke's Hill, which was once his home and the spot where old-timers learned to swim. In a three-part series about the lake and the Duke. A Ray Jordan story.
- The Legend of Big Rock, and the nearby pioneer who owned Calamity Jane's rifle. A Ray Jordan story.
- Profiles of Lyman Cutler, who killed the Pig that ignited the Pig War of San Juan Island, and the
gun he used.
Big Snow of 1916, the most-sustained blizzard since 1880. A Ray Jordan story.
- Alonzo Low, who opened the first trading post on Swinomish county and future Skagit county. The son of the family that joined the first settlers at Alki Point (West Seattle) in 1851. A Ray Jordan story.
- The Fairhaven & Southern Railroad delivers a Christmas present to Sedro-Woolley in 1889. A Ray Jordan story.
- The Two-Spot: A history of Sedro-Woolley's iron horse, with annotated endnotes about trains and Chinook Jargon and the Journal history of Puget Sound & Baker River Railroad A Ray Jordan story.
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