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Skagit River Journal

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Pioneers of the North Cascades, A-L, 1 of 2

Robert Byrd
      Byrd's parents homesteaded in the Stehekin Valley and he was raised there, attending a one-room log school, which his father helped construct, through the eighth grade. The family then moved to Wenatchee and he graduated from Wenatchee High School in 1943.
      After logging in Oregon and Washington, Byrd and his wife, Hilda, returned to Lake Chelan and he started commercial rubber raft float trips on the Stehekin River and the first shuttle bus service in the Stehekin Valley, after which he was the concessionaire for the National Park Service from 1972-77. He was a photographer and writer and wrote the "Stehekin Diary" for The Wenatchee World newspaper from 1969 to 1971. For a short time he put out a small paper of his own called "A Voice in the Stehekin Wilderness" and he wrote and published Lake Chelan in the 1890s in 1972. He also became disillusioned with his work for the Parks Service and became a very vocal critic of the regulations and bureaucratic red tape.
      Update 2008: Read our review of Byrd's Lake Chelan in the 1890s book, which was reprinted by his daughters; plus this additional site about him. [Return]

James Cady
Mount Baker Almanac, 1950
      James Cady came into the Slate-Canyon creek area in 1899. He located mining claims on Mill creek and it is reported that the Azurite Gold mine, which was rich in gold, was located on one of Cady's claims. H was vice-president of the Chancellor Gold Mining Co. that built a saw mill and the Chancellor hydroelectric plant at the mouth of Slate creek. His name was permanently recorded in the country where he worked, for: Cady Pass, between Mill and Slate creeks; Cady ridge and Cady point, where a U.S. Forest Service lookout house was built, were all named for him. [Return]

Merritt Field
      Field was one of the two most famed hoteliers of Lake Chelan, along with his downlake neighbor, John Moore. He arrived in 1892 and managed and then soon bought a hotel that he called the Argonaut. Field's hotel venture was eventually so successful and the demand for reservations was so great that he built a large and picturesque structure in 1905 that could accommodate one hundred guests overnight. That new complex became known as the Field Hotel, a first-class hospitality center, and he also engaged in the shingle business and in mining, and served as Stehekin's first postmaster until his land was flooded for a subsequent hydroelectric dam. Read more about him at this site. [Return]

George Holmes
    Any time, any amount, please help build our travel and research fund for what promises to be a very busy 2011, traveling to mine resources from California to Washington and maybe beyond. Depth of research determined by the level of aid from readers. Because of our recent illness, our research fund is completely bare. See many examples of how you can aid our project and help us continue for another ten years. And subscriptions to our optional Subscribers Online Magazine (launched 2000) by donation too. Thank you.

We recently visited our newest sponsor, Plumeria Bay, which is based in Birdsview, just a short walk away from the Royal family's famous Stumpranch, and is your source for the finest down comforters, pillows, featherbeds and duvet covers and bed linens. Order directly from their website and learn more about this intriguing local business.

      George Holmes overcame many odds in his life as a black man who moved to the Cascades and mine and amassed enough to live comfortably alone in the mountains. Read this Journal profile of McMillan. [Return]

Gilbert Landre
      Marblemount pioneer Frank Davis wrote that he first encountered Landre while packing for surveyor J.C. Parsons in 1893, and saw him building his first cabin, which caved in under snowfall the next year. Landre rebuilt the cabin and added a second half-story in time for the 1895 group to store many of their logging and packing tools there while hiking back and forth across the pass. The cabin has been restored several times after severe winters and a complete restoration will continue in 2009. You can learn more about Landre and his landmark cabin at this Journal website, and at this additional site. [Return]
Will Leach
Mount Baker Almanac, 1950
      Will Leach began prospecting in the Skagit valley in 1884, spending his time on Ruby creek and the Cascade river. His cabins on the Cascade were a short distance down the north Fork of the Cascade from the Gilbert Camp [Cabin], which was established by the Frenchman, Gilbert Landre. Gilbert's cabin was [still] standing in 1949.
      The Leach place was made famous in 1897 when Gifford Pinchot, chief forester from the Washington office, and party stopped overnight there while on an inspection trip through the newly formed Forest Reserves. Leach, with a cousin, Frank E. Davis, and Jake Neff had claims on the Eldorado and it is reported they were offered $35,000 for them by one of the Remingtons of the Remington Firearm Co. In 1906 a road was being constructed eastward from Marblemount and the prospects of easy transportation from mines to market resulted in a mining boom in the area. The road project failed and one by one of the miners and prospectors moved out. Will Leach left the valley in 1930.
      Journal Ed. note: As you can read in our Journal transcription of a story written by Marblemount pioneer Frank E. Davis, Leach may have been most important to us historically because he urged his sister, Lucinda J. Davis, to move out to Washington state after her divorce in Colorado. She and her sons, Glee and Frank, established their Cedar Bar ranch in the upper -Skagit river area, which was a vital waystation for travelers and prospectors. Will's brother George originally homesteaded their property and he drowned in the Skagit in May 1890 in a canoe accident with Dick Touey. [Return]

George Logan
Mount Baker Almanac, 1950
      George Logan staked his claims at the headwaters of Thunder creek [east of Diablo] and on Park creek pass. He went in on his first prospecting trip in the summer of 1896. His main cabin stood at timberline at the edge of the meadows, two miles from the [Cascade] pass. He had no stoves in the cabin and all cooking was done at his stone fireplace, built at one end of the cabin. His staple articles of food were bacon, beans and baking powder biscuits.
      The beans were baked in an iron Dutch oven buried in the fireplace and covered with coals. At mealtime he would brush away the ashes and coals, lift the lid of the Dutch oven and dip out the richly browned beans, seasoned with bacon, that were thoroughly enjoyed by the packers that made it a point to arrive at his place, always hungry, at dinner time.
      Logan spent his winters in and near Sedro-Woolley, working for money that would grubstake him for the next summer at his mines. For 21 summers he spent his winter's earnings driving tunnels on his claims where he found some favorable-looking ore but none was ever taken out to repay him for all his labor and the hardships he endured. He usually went to his diggings at the first signs of spring by way of Lake Chelan [from the southeast], and over the Stehekin trail to Park creek pass. He stayed until snow halted his work and he hiked down the Thunder creek trail to the Skagit river and his winter home at Sedro-Woolley. [Return]

Links, background reading and sources

Story posted on Sept. 29, 2004, transferred to this domain June 19, 2009
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This article originally appeared in Issue 23 of our Subscribers-paid Journal online magazine

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(bullet) Our newest sponsor, Plumeria Bay, is based in Birdsview, just a short walk away from the Royal family's famous Stumpranch, and is your source for the finest down comforters, pillows, featherbeds andduvet covers and bed linens. Order directly from their website and learn more about this intriguing local business.
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