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Skagit River Journal

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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
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North Cross-State Highway
(planning name for Hwy 20)
documents from 1948, 1959 and 1967

Glee Davis, 1948 . . . Courier-Times 1959 & 1967

'Let's all keep in mind this cross-state highway'

The plan for Cascade Pass Hwy as announced in the Washingtonian Magazine of January 1929, explained by David G. McIntyre, of Sedro-Woolley, owner of Skagit Steel & Iron Works and the person who got the highway project off the ground.

By Glee Davis, Letter to the editor, undated Bellingham Herald, June 1948
      I should like to give some account of the work done in the past toward the building of a route across the mountains. In 1895 the ladies of Anacortes gave dinners, the proceeds of which went to purchase blasting powder to do the rock work in constructing a horse trail up the north side of Skagit river over what was known as the Goat Trail. This required a rock cut through the "Devil's Corner" and also much blasting to get switchbacks around "Jacob's Ladder."
      During the work at Devil's Corner, a Mr. Jackson was pushed off by loosened rock and into the canyon 200 feet below. This trail work done by the prospectors completed a pretty good trail to Cedar Bar [the Davis family ranch at the turn of the 20th century at what is now Diablo].
      The summer of 1897 the state built about ten miles of wagon road up Cascade river from Marblemount, but parts of it were completely washed out in the flood of November 17, 1897.
      In 1898 a group of mining men from Minneapolis, with Ben Arensen as leader, did a great deal of development on the claims at the mouth of Ruby Creek. They spent a lot of money improving that thirty miles of trail from Marblemount and did a marvelous job.
      Just 50 years ago (June 17, 1898) we went with pack horses to Cedar Bar (later known as Davis Ranch) to open up a stopping place to serve meals and lodging to the prospectors bound for Thunder, Ruby and Slate creeks. This was carried on for over thirty years.
      In 1903 a narrow-gauge wagon road was completed from Robinson creek, on the east side up rover the summit, to Barron on the west side of the mountains [North Cascades]. The North American Mining and Milling Co. then built a wide-gauge road from Barron down Slate and Canyon creeks down to Mill creek.
      Whatcom county in 1904 made improvements along the Goat trail from Newhalem to Cedar Bar. This was done under direction of Gust Linden[in 1889 Linden owned a commissary that made deliveries from Sedro and he also contracted for the construction of the Cokedale spur, the second boulevard out of Sedro). Then, in 1906, the county again spent thousands of dollars, with John McMillan in charge, blasting a trail through the cliff at Long Bridge. This eliminated the bridge that was hung around the cliff on cables and tall posts. They also rebuilt the Skagit river bridge at Ruby Creek.
      In 1908 the state let contract to D.H. Traphagen of Seattle to construct a wagon road up to the "Dutchman's Roost," nine miles above Marblemount. This got its name from a prospector who, in climbing around the ledge, got to where he could go no further nor go back, and had to roost there until some of his party who had missed him came back to get him down.
      The Skagit Power Co., of Denver, in 1910 and 1912 built about a mile of wagon road upriver through the canyon from Newhalem.
      Through all these years there has been a steady desire to get a road completed across the mountains, and if their time was figured in, the prospectors probably spent the big part of what has been done. The surface has been skimmed over, but the bulk of minerals are still waiting for a good road, which is necessary for their development.
      Let's all keep in mind this cross-state highway and try to get representatives that will work for this road and the Northwest.

Glee Davis recalls the trail to their ranch
      Rebuilding our old trail would be an awful nice thing to remember the miners who spent so many years up here working their lives out! But make the new trail the old way we built trails. Not too blooming good! Use split lumber instead of sawed lumber. And no wrought-iron railings. That spoils the beauty of it, to my way of thinking.
      Leave it the natural way that the rocks lay. Just throw out rocks and make a path. It seems to me that would be more appropriate. The trails I've seen lately, they grade them all out smooth so they can run a motorcycle over them. Of course, I wouldn't want to see motorcycles on any of it, myself. The motorcycles just don't belong in the mountains, to my notion. You're out there to hike and to take the things Nature provided, not destroy. The old trails were hard, hard on horses, but I like to be on an old trail if I can.

'Over the Pass in five years' Optimistic theme set at North Cross-State Highway Meeting
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, Aug. 27, 1959
(Devil's Elbow)
Devil's Elbow

      "Over the Pass in five years," was the theme proclaimed Sunday in a widely attended meeting of the North Cross-State Highway supporters at Concrete. it was suggested by Sig Berglund [then owner of the Sedro-Woolley Ford dealership].
      Charles "Chuck" Dwelley, 51, widely known editor and publisher of the Concrete Herald, was elected president for 1959-60 of the highway association, which was started years ago in Sedro-Woolley.
      Approximately 125 interested persons attended the meeting to help draw a resolution to be presented before the State Good Roads Association meeting in October. Jess Sapp of Sedro-Woolley is on the resolutions committee of Washington State Good Roads Association. Sig Berglund of Sedro-Woolley is vice president of the WSGRA. Martin Pressentin of Rockport was elected secretary-treasurer of the association.
      Sundays meeting, which was a giant rib barbecue on the Dwelley farm, was also attended by Sen. Fred martin, Skagit County Commissioners Joy Busha and A.B. "Brown" Wiseman, State representatives Ralph Rickdall and Don Eldridge, John Vanderzicht, director of the State Parks and Recreation Commission, and Walter Rurner, Okanagon County Commission.

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      Among those who attended the meeting were Mr. and Mrs. jess Sapp, Mr. and Mrs. Sig Berglund, Dick Walley, Mr. and Mrs. Chuck Carroll, Lillian Pulsipher, Harlan Martin and Dennis Klinge of Sedro-Woolley.
      Others who attended were Libby Gregory, Mr. and Mrs. Bob Allen, A.B. "Brown" Wiseman, Jack and Jeanne Martin of Mt. Vernon, William N. Cottrell of Omak and Joy Busha of Burlington.
      John A. Vanderzich of Oak harbor, Sig Hjaltalin of Bellingham, Magnus Miller of Concrete, Walter R. Turner of Okanogan, and Fred martin, Margaret Martin, Jack Vaughn and A.R. Missren of LaConner. C.J. Watner of Mount Vernon, Jack Roper and Paul Wilcox of Newhalem, Mr. and Mrs. Erwin Stokes of Methow, Kenneth Ellenburger of Concrete and W.A. Pulsipher of Brewster.
      Others were: Mr. and Mrs. Wade Troutman of Bridgeport, Hu and Mrs. Blonk of the Wenatchee Daily Herald, Mr. and Mrs. lee martin of Concrete, Ray Smith, of Seattle; Glen Allen, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Reinerd, Mr. and Mrs. Harley Sutt, Preston Holton, of Anacortes; Mr. and Mrs. W.E. Andrews of Marblemount, Mr. and Mrs. Ray Smith of Seattle, Mr. and Mrs. Jack pierce and L.A. LaFrenier of Bellingham; Morris A. Bolingher of Methow, Rudy Johnson of Methow, Rudy Johnson and A.H. Boury of Concrete; Gurnie Stafford of Rockport, Jay O. Thompson of Concrete, Fred J. Martin and Mr. and Mrs. E.v. Pressentin of Rockport, Mr. and Mrs. W.S. Van De Grift and Rodney Van De Grift of Burlington; Fred Shular of Concrete, Mel Benton of Rockport, Mimi c. Preston of Seattle, Florence Ford of Bothell, Martin Pressentin of Rockport, Hugh Ritter of Anacortes, and Victor A. Bourasaw of Sedro-Woolley.

New funds for North Cross-State Highway
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, July 6, 1967
      The Bureau of Public Roads has programmed $1.2 million in the fiscal year starting today for a five-mile extension of the North Cross-State Highway, Senator Henry M. Jackson said in Sedro-Woolley Saturday.
      Jackson, speaking at Sedro-Woolley's community Loggerodeo celebration log show told the gathering that the addition will extend the work to a point near Canyon Creek, 32 miles east of Marblemount.
      The Bureau of Public roads is proceeding from west to east in construction of the highway, while the State Highway Department is moving westward from Okanogan and Chelan counties. Some 17 miles of clearing remain, separating the converging crews. Some 21 miles of grading remains and 76 miles of paving — the length of the alpine highway.
      Washington State Highways, Jackson said, has asked the Bureau of Public Roads for $1 million in funds to expedite the program. The Senator said that he, Senator Warren G. Magnuson and Congressmen Lloyd Meeds and Thomas S. Foley had urged approval of the request. He said $14 million are available in federal funds, but applications total more than 470 million.
      Jackson said the North Cross-State Highway, on completion, will be a boon to tourism in the northern section of the state. he said the timber industry also also benefit significantly. The Forest Service has informally indicated that the opening of the highway between Washington Pass and Cutthroat Creek in Okanogan County will make available for cutting from five to ten million board feet of previously inaccessible timer, he said.

Journal editor's memories
By Noel V. Bourasaw, Skagit River Journal
      We included the 1959 story above so that we could give credit to all the people who gave of their time, and sometimes labor, to promote and construct Highway 20, which was projected for many years as the North Cross-State Highway. The gestation period for the highway we now love — without billboards for 90 miles — was a very long one, from 1895 until Hwy 20 was finally opened in the early summer of 1972.
      We usually think of the people who were in the leaders ranks for 50 years: David G. McIntyre, Glee Davis, Fred Martin, Sig Berglund and then Vern Sims, who took his place, but dozens of people were needed to keep the idea alive through the Depression, World War II and other priorities. I recall the picnic that day in 1959. If I had even the slightest interest in local history at that time, at age 14, I would have taken notes or photos. My father took us, acting as a representative of George Baldridge Post 43 of the American Legion post in Sedro-Woolley. He kept supporting the cause until 1972 when he proudly sat on the stage for the festivities.
      This is just one of the stories on the variation stages of the highway; we will add many more transcriptions like this over the next couple of years. We hope that readers will share copies or scans of photos, documents and articles in their own family collections.

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Story posted on Dec. 26, 2011
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This article originally appeared in Issue 58 of our Subscribers-paid Journal online magazine

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