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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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The proposed North Cross-State Highway,
before and after McIntyre leadership

(Goat Trail)
Ed. note:
      In 1895, The Washington State Legislature appropriated $5,000 for a Cascade Pass wagon road to connect the areas of Washington state on both sides of the North Cascades mountain range, just south of the Canadian border. A generation later, the road was only partially completed and seemed stalled. The concept required an industrial leader with some moxie to communicate the need to both the public and the politicians.
      As his son, Sydney, took over management of the Skagit Steel & Iron Works in Sedro-Woolley in the mid-1920s, David G. McIntyre took on the highway as a personal project and spent the next 13 years until his death, devoting most of his spare time to the goal. That highway was finally opened in the summer of 1972, 34 years after his death. Below are transcriptions of two stories, one about the Cascade Pass project in the early 1920s before McIntyre became involved, and an editorial following his death.

This photograph of the remnants of a rickety bridge and railing over a stream shows just how perilous the old Goat Trail was for those trying to pack into the North Cascades mines and why a wagon road was needed. The photographer was located a few miles east of the present town of Newhalem, looking west, and the Skagit River is on the left. Photo from JoAnn Roe's book, North Cascades Highway, which is still for sale in a second printing.

Roosevelt Highway may be abandoned by State highway board
Has filed recommendation that highway be stricken from state system — may pave to Anacortes
Concrete Herald, Feb. 10, 1922
            The Roosevelt highway over the Cascades; which was established as a secondary State highway some years ago through the efforts of W.V. Wells [see below], former state senator, is in danger of being abandoned entirely as part of the state highway system.
      The state highway commissioned has filed a recommendation with the legislature that this highway be stricken from the State system, but suggested that an appropriation be made for work on the eastern end of the highway, between Pateros and Twisp. The highway, as established, starts at Pateros and crosses Cascade Pass to Marblemount, then following the present county highway down the Skagit valley to connect with the Pacific highway at Burlington.
      1t is generally believed that the opening of the Roosevelt highway is being opposed by Seattle and Everett interests, as it is feared that it would divert travel from the Snoqualmie Highway, Seattle's pet, which is closed for traffic for more than a third of each year by snow and slides. The highway engineers claim that the Roosevelt Highway could easily be kept open for travel for practically the entire year and it is certain that the greater part of the travel over the mountains would follow the northern route as soon as the road is opened.
      All persona interested in keeping this road should take the matter up with the Skagit County delegation in the legislature and have them work hard to have the road opened as soon as possible. Grant Sisson, one of the representatives from this county, has introduced a bill in the legislature providing for the extension of the Pacific Highway to Anacortes, and appropriating the sum of $160,000 for paying this section of the highway, the appropriation to be available when Skagit county appropriates $80,000 to cover its share of the cost. As the present legislature so far appears to be for retrenchment in state expenditures, it is doubtful whether the bill will carry.

William V. Wells (in the story above)
      [From John F. Conrad's obituary notes at the August 1951 picnic of the Skagit County Historical Association] William V. Wells [died in 1951 at age 85, born in New York] of Anacortes, for years a law partner of the late Judge Joiner, served in the state legislature ten years, the last eight as a senator. He was much in demand in his days as a speaker and a recent 50-year edition of the Concrete Herald [1951] pictures him dedicating the Baker River [Thompson] bridge in 1918. He must have liked the upper valley for he maintained a summer home near Birdsview for many years. He was a great booster of the Cascade pass Highway proposal and for any worthwhile civic project at home. [His son, Jack Wells, lives upriver and has donated many historical materials to the Concrete Heritage Museum.]

Skagit man disappointed in highway effort
Seattle Daily Times, undated 1939 article
(Goat Trail)
Another view of the Goat Trail Miner's Bridge.

      In describing the efforts of Dave McIntyre, a Sedro-Woolley man who died in 1938 after fighting for a highway across the North Cascades for over 15 years, it would be appropriate to quote an editorial written shortly after his death, in a Puget Sound newspaper.
      "When the Cascade Pass Highway, launched long ago as the Cascade wagon road, is completed, northern Washingtonians should not fail to give due credit to David G. McIntyre, former mayor and long-time Sedro-Woolley resident, whose death Thursday caused widespread mourning in his home community and throughout Skagit County.
      "Mr. McIntyre was energetic and untiring in his efforts to push the trans-Cascade project to completion during his lifetime. He was one of the main spirits in the annual summer pilgrimages of Eastside and Westside residents over the highway route, promoted as a means of stimulating interest in the development. He did not live to witness the materialization of his ambitious dram, but an important start has been made, and the project now ranks merely as unfinished business.
      For his active leadership in this project, Mr. McIntyre's memory will be cherished by the people of northern Washington. They should falter in the work that he has perforce laid down."
      The promotional efforts of this North Cascades "road booster" is preserved in his personal papers, now kept by his daughter, Mrs. Catherine McClintock of Big Lake.
      A one-time mayor of Sedro-Woolley and president of Sedro-Woolley Iron Works, later known as Skagit Steal and Iron Works, McIntyre devoted almost all his time to pushing for a highway over Cascade Pass when he retired.
      He was one of the organizers of the Cascade Pass Highway Association in 1925, led by the efforts of F.W. Graham. He spent several years including 1928 as president of the highway association.
      The far-sighted McIntyre envisioned the highway as a "a new scenic route unequaled by any in the United States as it will connect the Island (San Juans) and Puget Sound through the fertile Skagit Valley, making accessible Mt. Baker, Baker Lake and Mazama Park and Lake Shannon, made by the construction of the Lower Baker Dam," a handwritten note reads.
      "The opening of this route will be the greatest improvement this country has ever witnessed," McIntyre was quoted as saying in a 1927 Seattle Daily Times article.
      This proposed new arterial highway will have scenic value and will attract thousands of tourists to our community," McIntyre old the Times.
      McIntyre also saw the commercial promise of such a highway. In a handwritten note he noted that "Construction of this 33 miles of wagon road will first open up direct communication between Skagit and Whatcom counties and the Puget Sound seafoods on the west side with Chelan, Okanogan, Douglas, Ferry, Lincoln, Stevens and Spokane counties on the east side of the Cascade Range, as well as furnishing a direct route for tourists through the northern half of the state through the finest lake and mountain scenery in the state."
      His note continued, "Second it will furnish direct access for fire protection through the center of an area of over six hundred square miles of Forest Reserve land, most of which is heavily timbered."
      He concluded the note with a third point, favorite the highway, that it would "enable the development of the known mineral resources in a large area."
      The thoughts McIntyre had about the highway have carried down to today and pushed hundreds and perhaps thousands of men to push for such a highway.
      The Cascade Pass route was given up, with the highway now going further north, up along Diablo and Ross Lake, up Granite Creek, over Rainy Pass and on to Washington Pass, before descending to Winthrop and the Methow Valley.
      Besides carrying on an unusual amount of correspondence with officials and his mutual supporters, McIntyre seemed to spend the majority of his efforts organizing caravans over the mountains.
      The purpose of these horseback and hiking trips to Cascade Pass from both sides of the mountains was to promote interest in the highway and acquaint the residents of each side with those of the other. Newspapers from all over the Puget Sound were contacted by McIntyre for coverage of the event and often a full page was spent on pictures and articles after a "pilgrimage."
      In 1928, a year covered extensively in his private papers. McIntyre handled many of the arrangements for the pilgrimage. About 75 persons were led by McIntyre from the west side to the 5,400-foot pass where they met about 50 eastside road boosters. Allen Wetsel of Twisp headed up the eastern contingent as president of the eastside Cascade Pass Highway Association along with M.E. Field, president of the Four County Council (Chelan, Okanogan, Grant and Douglas).
      The combined party spent the night at the pass and had a big meeting "by the light of a big bonfire," as one article describes it.

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