Site founded Sept. 1, 2000. We passed 4.5 million page views on Nov. 29, 2010
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.

(Shingle Bolt Sledge)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Subscribers Edition, where 450 of 700 stories originate
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)

The Ruby Creek Gold Rush, 1880
from the Seattle Intelligencer clippings — Part 2 of 2

(1880 Snow Seattle)
    Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard offer this great snow photo and others from Seattle on their webpage and you can click on the photo for a much larger version. As they explain, we are looking north on Front Street (First Avenue) from Cherry Street during the 1880 Big Snow. Photo by Peterson & Bros.
    These excerpts are from the 1880 Seattle Intelligencer newspaper, as provided by Ronald Edge. That newspaper debuted in Seattle on Aug. 5, 1867, as the latest evolution of the Seattle Gazette the city's first newspaper in 1863. It began publishing daily in 1876 and in 1881 it merged with a competitor, the Post. It then published in print as the Post-Intelligencer until 2009.
    The Ruby Creek Gold Rush began in 1878 when some part-time argonauts took their gold samples to an assayer in Seattle and word was passed on to reporters sometime in the next 12 months. On Feb. 1, 1878, this group of very early upriver pioneers — Otto Klement, John Duncan, John Rowley, George Sanger and Robert Sharp hiked to a point fifteen miles from Goodell's landing and "there discovered a curious natural feature, the remains of a natural bridge, indicated by the overhanging rocks of the canyon."
    The rush climaxed in 1880, and although we doubt the estimates of 5,000 or more miners, at least 2,500 men did pack in, as described in these clippings. An actual city formed and the federal enumerator counted the residents for the federal census in June of that year. See the list below of stories and websites that will provide more background for this event, which was the second most important Northwest rush, after the Fraser River rush of 1858.

The Skagit mines
Seattle Weekly Intelligencer, May 9, 1880
      The following are extracts from a letter from Hiram Jacobs, now in the mines, to his father in this place. Goodell's, May 1, 1880. Dear Father:
      I arrived here today after a two days' trip from the mouth of Panther Creek. The trails in many places are fearful and the river, swollen with melted snow and recent rains, is a regular torrent. James Rich, Peter Henry and myself left Stafford's cabin at the mouth of Panther about 4 o'clock and arrived at the mouth of Ruby in a couple of hours, distance from five to seven miles. The trail over Jack's Mountain, which is on the north side of Ruby, is devoid of snow and quite dusty; the bunch grass on the slope of the mountain is about six inches high.
      But most of the way the trail is good, but for about a mile along the creek it is terribly rough. After getting to the mouth of Ruby Creek we crossed it on a sort of ladder bridge, which spans a narrow gorge some fifty feet from the water. We crossed the Skagit about three-fourths of a mile below the mouth of Ruby in a small ferry boat engineered with ropes. The water runs at the rate of about fifteen knots an hour.
      After crossing we started up Sourdough Mountain and sour dough it is. For a distance of four or five miles the climbing was rough and very steep. Descending we arrived at the western base of Sourdough about 10 o'clock a.m. Rested and lunched. From thence we went to Skedaddle Bar where we camped for the night. We were tired, at least I was. We had only traveled about sixteen miles and carried nothing but our blankets and a little grub, but ascending and descending rugged mountains, although it may give muscle and generate lung power, is wearisome after all.
      The next morning we were off at about 4 o'clock with the intention of reaching Goodell's by two or three o'clock that day. The Cedar Mountain trail beats anything I ever heard of or read of. For hundreds of yards we walked along ledges of rock and over chasms bridged from fifty to a thousand feet above the river, which boils and foams below until it seems one mass of spray and foam. It roars and leaps and dashes against and around boulders of immense size which have tumbled from the mountains above. In some places on the trail you crawl through tunnels in the rocks and over bridges of cedar where a person destitute of ordinary courage would have to tie a chunk of lead to his sandals to keep him from ascending in a heavenly direction. But there is nothing like getting used to it.
      Grouse are very plenty everywhere, and Ruby Creek is full of trout. There is a hole of deep water in the creek near the cabin where we are stopping and I can catch enough for breakfast in a few minutes. They are what is called the mountain trout. I almost forgot to say we arrived a Goodell's safe and sound in the afternoon of the second day. Will return tomorrow. — Hiram

Off for the Skagit
Seattle Weekly Intelligencer, May 18, 1880
      Two boats left Seattle for the upper Skagit yesterday afternoon. The first was the Josephine, with about forty-five passengers, at 1 o'clock, and the other was the Chehalis, at 2 o'clock, with about twenty passengers. Both boats will go as far up the river as the stage of water will permit, and neither is expected back before Thursday night or Friday morning. An Intelligencer representative went up on the Josephine. The latter boat had the biggest lot of passengers that ever left Seattle for the Skagit, thirty-six of whom were bound for the mines direct.

From the Skagit
Seattle Weekly Intelligencer, May 22, 1880
      The following letter from a well known citizen of this city, to Mr. Meydenbauer, will explain itself. It should be born in mind, however, that it was written before active operations were commenced on the trail between Skagit river and Ruby Creek:
Ruby City, May 7, 1880
      Dear sir: After so long a time I have got here and in a shape that I can write. I have been crippled with rheumatism in one knee for six weeks, yet I have looked around a good deal; so much that I am satisfied that this country will pan out well.
      The prospects already made snow that there are rich deposits here that extend over a large area of country, and the indications of good quartz lodes of both gold and silver are very flattering; several lodes have already been located, but the snow is too deep yet for successful prospecting, and the quartz seems to lay in a much higher altitude.
      The pay in the placer mines is nearly all on the bedrock, and the depth varying greatly, many claims are beyond the reach of small capital. This place is nicely located, and I believe will make a good town. I have a choice location in town, also in claims on Canyon, Ruby and Granite Creeks; also, two hill claims. The miners on the creeks are building a trail the length of Ruby Creek to meet Nelson's pack train that is coming from Fort Hope, and I expect a party will go on to the line to meet it. Seattle has played smash in trailbuilding; we would have had a trail in here before now had Seattle made no pretentions.
      The snow is off the creeks about 12 miles from the river, and above that it is going fast. I am making a little money gardening, and the rest of the time working on the building for my bakery. I am also recorder for the Ruby Quartz Mining District.
      P.S. Billy White and Fiddler Jake got here yesterday. People leave here now just about as fast as they come; I never saw a place where people become demoralized as quick as here; get here today; tomorrow, way up hyas tillicum [Chinook Jargon]; next day, under lip hangs down; next day they skedaddle. It is a hard country to get along in on account of parking in grub and tools, and no way to earn a cent. T.H.S

(Ruby Creek)
      This photo shows the junction of Ruby Creek and the Skagit River where Ross Lake is located today. It is from the Tommy Thompson collection, courtesy of Will D. "Bob" Jenkin's definitive book about the mountains, Last Frontier in the North Cascades , which is till for sale at the LaConner Museum. The caption reads: "This picture that also shows [John] McMillan's Roadhouse (the long roof at the right). The Upper Skagit flows beneath the cable suspension bridge in middle foreground while Ruby Creek enters from the high Cascades at lower right. The combined streams rush through the famed gorge of the Skagit. This picture was taken in the 1920s after the City of Seattle began core drilling the foundation bedrock for Ross Dam and built the temporary footbridge in the lower foreground. Ross Lake now covers the area right up to the steep slopes of Pierce Mountain on the left, Jack Mountain on the right, and the Canadian border in the distant north."

Reports from the Skagit mines
Seattle Weekly Intelligencer, May 23, 1880
Horses for the mines
      Certain wideawake individuals are taking time by the forelock and preparing thus early to reap any advantages that may accrue from packing goods into the mines. On Monday last the Chehalis took two Indian ponies to Sauk City with this view, and these will doubtless be followed immediately by others on succeeding steamers. As the trail contractors now have a large force at work opening a road to the mines, it will not be long before the packers commence operations.
Mount Baker
      One of the numerous twists and turns in Skagit river brings the beholder from the deck or saloon of a steamer within a very clear and near view of this perpetually snow-clad mountain; so near, indeed, that it looks as if it could be easily reached between sunrise and sunset of a single day. Mount Baker is not visible in Seattle. This is one of the views that imparts a charm to the many picturesque scenes on Skagit river.
Skagit Hope
      Mr. Davis, the Skagit river hop grower, indulges bright anticipations of a favorable issue of the coming season's hop crop. He had about twenty acres in hops, which are now very forward and give promise of a handsome yield. He expects to realize not less than sixteen hundred pounds to the acre, and thinks the prospect good for obtaining a fair price. We hope he will not be disappointed in either case.
Gold from Ruby
      Every steamer that returns from Skagit rive now brings more or less gold obtained by prospecting. We were shown, the other day, a small parcel of coarse gold in the hands of a miner just from Ruby Creek, who had thus obtained some $50, and who assured us that the miners were in the highest degree hopeful of reaping a golden harvest.

Skagit stopping places
Seattle Weekly Intelligencer, May 23, 1880
    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.

      To give the reader an idea of the character of the towns on the Skagit, the high-sounding titles of some of which are calculated to mislead, a recent visitor has furnished a brief description of each, in the order in which they are reached as the steamers proceed on their trips to the head of this river. The first of these is:
      Which is on the Stillaguamish [now Stillaguamish], five or six miles from the mouth of the Skagit. Being near the mouth of the river and liable to overflow, it is substantially diked. It boasts two stores, two landing places for steamers, nice walks for pedestrians and a fine road of two or three miles for vehicles. A notable feature of Stanwood is the handsome and inviting cottage of Mr. Oliver, one of the most cheerful looking dwellings, with its surroundings, on the shores of the Sound. Judging from the quantity of freight landed there, the stores do considerable business. Next comes:
Skagit City
      On the river of that name. It has a telegraph office, a hotel, one store and three or four very neat dwellings. The most attractive of which is that of Capt. Keene, now in the Alaska waters as master of the propeller Favorite, recently fitted out at Seattle for a trading voyage.
      The captain was fortunate enough to secure 160 acres of the best cottonwood land on the Skagit, and not long since sold $700 worth of this timber to the barrel factory in this city. He has much more to dispose of, and will thus realize a handsome sum while clearing what is destined to prove one of the most valuable farms in the territory. Not far from Skagit City is:

Mann's Landing
      A town of one store, one hotel and three or four dwellings. It is also diked, occupying lower ground than Skagit City, and would seem to enjoy a larger trade than the last named place. Next in order comes:
Mount Vernon
      This place contains four or five dwellings, one store, two saloons and three hotels, one of which would be a credit to any town of a thousand or more inhabitants. It is a large showy building, two stories in height, and contains nineteen rooms. The town has a newer appearance than those previously mentioned. Next is:

      Which is neither more nor less than a first class logging camp, the property of [Jesse Beriah] Ball. It surpasses any establishment of the kind seen by the writer on the Sound. The place called the:

Coal Mines
      Which comes next, consists of a gloomy-looking building of logs and shakes, with an open shed nearby, evidently not designed as a place of sojourn for travelers. The next and only other place (except farms of settlers, at which stoppages are made to wood up) reached by steamers is the new and promising city of:

Sauk City
      A short distance above the river of that name, of which mention was made the other day. It is about 113 miles from Seattle, and will no doubt enjoy a goodly share of the benefits accruing from the travel to and from the mines. At present it is impossible for steamers to go with safety beyond Sauk City, but it is thought that, on the removal of two or three snags which obstruct the passage of the river, the Josephine and Chehalis can reach Portage City, some fifteen miles further. The new steamer Daisy can probably do so even now, her smaller dimensions being in her favor.

Bodies found
Seattle Weekly Intelligencer, May 13, 1880
      The bodies of four of the men drowned on the upper Skagit a fortnight ago have been recovered. The body of Scanlon, of California, was found near the coal mine; that of Ball, of Sterling, near the place of disaster; that of Murry, of Seattle, half way between the Cascade and Sauk rivers; and that of Goucher, of Oregon, five miles above the Sauk. The latter was buried at the mouth of the Sauk, the body of Murry near the same, and the other two at Mount Vernon. Nothing, to Tuesday morning, had been seen of the bodies of Mr. Dempsey and Capt. Meany.
      May 11: The body found on Friday last was buried here at 10 o'clock Saturday forenoon. The Indians say he was known as "Little Jimmy" both by Indians and the whites at Goodell's. There was a large turnout of people at the funeral, and the ladies covered the grave with beautiful wreaths and crosses of flowers and ferns. Kind, generous, loving woman's hand is ever ready to bring relief to the suffering, and her heart ever remembers the broken links in its own chain of affection, and therefore is ever willing to pay its tribute of love to the memory of the dear departed, either friend or stranger. It is supposed his name was Scanlon.
      Monday afternoon some white men arrived with the body of David Ball; he will be buried tomorrow. His body was found and buried five miles above Sauk. William Goucher's body was found and buried at the mouth of Sauk. But two of that unfortunate party are yet unfound (Meany and Dempsey) but the Indians are on the lookout and in all probability they, too, will be found.
      Mount Vernon has grown in appearance and importance with the last few months; new buildings have been put up, old ones painted nicely, and it now is quite a stirring little town. May success ever bless the efforts of her kind and generous citizens.
      It is reported that there are a number of men at the mouth of the Sauk river, who cannot get transportation from there up to Goodell's. The Chehalis left here Sunday morning with over thirty passengers and 16 tons of freight for the Sauk. The river is falling very fast, and they may not be able to reach that point. Vox

The Upper Skagit
Seattle Weekly Intelligencer, July 2, 1880, page 2
      A Ruby Creek correspondent to the Victoria Colonist, on the 7th of June, wrote as follows:
      Things are at a standstill on account of high water. There are about 150 men here at present. They keep dropping in every day. There are about 600 claims recorded; the 1st of July being representation day, we expect from 500 to 1000 men. Everything depends upon the deep channel of the creek. There are 16 miles of this creek taken up for mining purposes, also several other creeks and gulches.
      I have learned of no good prospects outside of Ruby Creek. George Martin's and another company have obtained some very good prospects lately. You need expect no mining news of importance until about the middle of August. There are immense quantities of snow on the mountains and at the head of Ruby Creek, which is not a creek at present but a river; near the mouth it is 100 feet wide and 6 feet deep.
      At its junction with the Skagit river commences the famous canyon of the Skagit where the river cuts is way through the Cascade range for a distance of 20 miles down to what is called the head of canoe navigation on the Skagit. Woe betide the unlucky raft that is carried into the canyon. Mr. Renniston and Mr. Robinson have built a substantial bridge across the river. It is 80 feet above the water and 60 feet from abutment to abutment. The river is hundreds of feet wide in parts of the canyon, but is here confined to a width of 50 feet and is a sight worth seeing.
      The stream roars and dashes along with the speed of a racehorse, in some places having cut its way into and under the solid rock of the mountain until it nearly disappears altogether. The rock on each side of the water runs in places up as straight as a wall from 50 to 500 feet in height, flanked by mountains 8000 feet high. The whole country is what Mr. Blake once called British Columbia, "a sea of mountains."

Up the Skagit
Seattle Weekly Intelligencer, June 1, 1880
Sauk City, May 22, 1880
      Editor: Here we are at the supposed head of steamer navigation on the Skagit, Sauk City, situated about a mile above the mouth of the Sauk river and on the opposite side. The city consists at present of a beautiful location, one large cedar house and five tents. There are at present about twenty men here besides Mr. Bush's family of five. The location is splendid, but it is needless for me to give your readers a description of it since one of the Intelligencer staff has paid this place a visit. Right back of the townsite Annie's Castle towers heavenward like a might fortress whose turrets are tipped with everlasting snow, and away to the north and east and south great peaks rise out of the roll of foothills like monster billows out of the riffles on the bosom of the ocean. Four of us clambered to the summit of the hill nearest the top of Annie's Castle, and obtained a most delightful view for our trouble.
      We could see the snowy range all around us; great lofty peaks which seemed the very props of heaven; the long black line of foothills, the bleak, bare hills, the beautiful valley of the Sauk which must be at least ten or twelve miles square; splendid level land nestling below the mountains; and then nearer and almost beneath us, the Skagit, winding like some huge serpent for miles down between the hills until lost to our view. Indeed it is a beautiful sight; in fact all natural sights are grand, far surpassing the works of man.
      As we rested upon the snow and noted the objects in this grand panorama, one of our party said: "How I would like to have a true picture of this now, and another in a hundred years from now." There is room for 1500 families on the Skagit and Sauk up to this place, and for as many more between here and the Portage.
      Twenty-seven men left here two days ago for Goodell's, in six canoes. Among the number was Al Smith, of Seattle. The river has been very high but is now falling, as last night was cold and rainy. Yesterday Will Knox, Druit, Baily [sic] and I made another trip up the mountain. We went up great snowslides, over peaks and across deep gulches, but the greatest trouble we had was we went without dinner.
      We climbed and waded through snow and then we would slide down bumpity-bump through the bushes and tree tops and finally disappear in a hole in the snow. Fun!. Well, I should say so. How the boys wallowed and capsized around in the snow! And then we had quite a snow-storm while we were on the mountain. We were right in the clouds and could see the sun shining brightly in the valley below us. In our descent we followed down a great icy snowslide which we called the Georgia Glacier. A large stream rushed from beneath it, forming a mammoth cave in the ice, into which we went for a long distance until it became quite dark.
      Leaving the glacier we started for camp. On our route we crossed many slides of earth, rock and snow. We gathered a bouquet of wild flowers and lilies as we stood on the snow and picked them off the side of the gulches. How often we wished that some more of our scenery-loving friends were with us to enjoy the sights, for any description we may give would not give the faintest idea of the real beauties around us.
      The Indians who took the 27 men to Goodell's are expected back today. Three parties of white men are here with bateaus ready to carry passengers up the river. The fare is five dollars in either canoe or bateau from here to Goodell's. If steamers reach the Portage, (and I think they can now, as the water is much higher, the fare should not be over ten dollars from Seattle to Goodell's.
      When a boat is put on the river that will make a trip a week to the Portage it will open up one of the greatest bodies of river bottom land in the Territory, and then there will be about eighty miles of steamer navigation. There is a great amount of quartz in these mountains, and in all probability five years will not roll away before several quartz mills will be thundering away at the money rock, giving employment to thousands of men and millions of dollars to the wealth of our Territory. Seattle has a great deal to gain or lose.
      Nothing but energy and perseverance, and a little more faith, will win for her the position she rightfully deserves in importance, our metropolis. Which shall it be? Will she reap the golden harvest almost forced upon her, or will she by neglecting it reap the golden harvest almost forced upon her, or will she by neglecting it compel trade to see another outlet?
      The Indians have returned and are gloriously drunk; they only went to the Portage as the water was so high and dangerous. They say the white men will wait until the river falls. Some one is doing a great trade in the whisky business with the Indiana above here, as every returning canoe show the signs. Probably a whole canoe of whites and Indians will be drowned on the swift water before measures are taken to stop it.
      The authorities of Whatcom county should look after this as these Indians are bad when they are drunk, and there are many families up here now. It they do any damage it will be useless for the Government to organize Howard's prayer-meetings for poor Lo, as the miners are here now, and they usually have their own way about Indian troubles. Vox

Upper Skagit government
Seattle Weekly Intelligencer, June 1, 1880
      In the proceedings of the May term of the Commissioners of Whatcom County, as published in the [LaConner Puget Sound] Mail, we find the following concerning matters up the Skagit river:
      It was ordered that a new precinct be laid off from that of Ruby Creek, to be known as Goodell precinct, to comprise all west of Skeattle moutains extending to the boundary of Upper Skagit precinct.
      Ordered that Nathan E. Goodell be appointed justice of the peace and Harvey English constable of Goodell precinct. It was also ordered that F.H. Estringham [?? first letter illegible] be appointed justice of the peace of Ruby Creek precinct. The report of viewers on the Skagit river road was laid over until next term for the reason that said viewers did not recommend the same. It was ordered that John Wilson be granted a liquor license for Portage City, on his filing the usual bond and payment of $150 per annum. A ferry license was granted to Ross Arnold and [blank] Gilgerson for Cedar Bar, Skagit River, on their filing bond of $200 and paying $5 yearly license. A ferry license was also granted Charles Taylor for Taylor's Bar on the same conditions.

For the mines
Seattle Weekly Intelligencer, June 1, 1880
      About twenty-five miners let on the Josephine yesterday for the Skagit mines. One of the party took three pack horses along with which he will carry provisions from Sauk City to Portage City, until the trail is completed into the mines, when he will put on more animals and run a regular pack train from the head of steamboat navigation into the heart of the gold-bearing section.

Notes from a wanderer

Ads in June 2 Intelligencer
(Advertisement 1)

(Advertisement 2)

(Advertisement 3)

(Advertisement 4)

Quilicine Bay, Washington Territory, May 20, 1880
Seattle Weekly Intelligencer, June 2, 1880
      During March and April last the writer was up to the Skagit mines gathering an account of its prospects, a history of the prospecting there, &c.. He intended to furnish some items for your paper not heretofore in print in relation to the mines, but had no time to write them up before starting on this trip up Hood's Canal and the waters connected with this arm of the sea.
      After spending a day at the Point No Point light with Dr. J.S. Maggs and his agreeable family, the writer came to Port Gamble, visited Hugh Ross and family and other friends there, and at five o'clock last Sunday afternoon bade them goodbye and started up the Canal with a fair wind and tide, intending to stop at a farmer's house three or four miles farther up the Canal. The farmer was away from home, with no intention of returning soon, and the Chinaman in charge was too repulsive to think of staying there. He said another farmer lived two or three miles further on, and as it was then only about dusk, the writer started for the next clearing.
      After sailing several hours and seeing no house, he drew his boat up on a sandspit, built a huge fire, wrapped himself in the boat sail and laid down to rest. When daylight came he found himself less than a quarter of a mile from a logging camp, where he would have been welcomed. From there on to Seabeck were houses every little way. Instead of going only three or four miles, he had traveled eleven or twelve. The next day he visited Seabeck, saw the mill, the two vessels under way there in process of construction, and met many old friends whom he had not seen for years. Among the items gathered there was this one: that on starting this mill, in the summer of 1857, the first boom of logs bought and sawed was one hauled by O.S. Young, now of Snohomish river.
      Among old friends who were in Seabeck, and whom the writer had not seen for several years, was H.C. Cottell, well known on the Sound as perhaps the most extensive dealer in ship knees in this section of the country. For years he has furnished the knees used at Mare Island Navy yard. This gentleman was very anxious to have the writer go home with him to his place at the head of Quilicine Bay [now Quilcene], about 14 miles north of Seabeck. As he wished to visit that section, and it mattered not whether he visited Quilicine first or went to the head of the Canal, he accepted the invitation.
      Never having been there, he had to wait until his guides were ready to start. Soon after sundown old Uncle Joe White and Mr. Cottel started in one boat (a heavy keel boat) while the writer accompanied them in a light skiff. They were taking home a heavy load of grain and other supplies, which loaded their boat very heavily, and a portion of the load was transferred to the skiff. A head wind sprang up and they were nearly all night on the way.
      Daylight was shining in the east when we reached Cottel's, and soon after we were snugly in bed, ready to welcome the coming of the drowsy god, when, of all the noises ever made by beings infernal to drive away balmy sleep, those that then broke open our ears were perhaps the worst. The snarl and prolonged cat-a-waul [now caterwaul] rose and fell upon the palpitating air in a manner never before equaled.
      It seemed to be without end, one continuous succession of infernal sounds, that reverberated as if they came from some hidden dungeon. At first we were amused, then indignant, then determined to get up and drive off the disturbers of our morning's repose. It is said that any loud noise, if it is only regular and continuous enough, will finally cause sleep. It must have been an illustration of this principle that finally put us to sleep in the midst of this noise.
      When we awoke, Mr. C's nephew, Samuel, started out to investigate the cause of the disturbance above alluded to. He found a couple of tubs bottom upward on the wooden walk or porch in front of the kitchen door. From under one of those came a deep and fearful sound. Our prospector raised one edge cautiously, when — Mercy! — how the fur flew. Like a flash of light the two victims fled from their late place of confinement.
      Sam had just time to perceive that one of them was tailless, while all around was scattered hair and such like gore. It seems that the lady of the house had washed on the day before, and had set the tubs out to drain and dry, turning them bottom up with one edge resting against the side of the house.
      A cat had got under one of the tubs and another undertook to rush violently after it, when the jar brought the tub down and made them both prisoners. But as both of these noisy felines bore the sex of Thomas, it was somewhat difficult to tell upon what principle the concert was kept up so long.
      Quilicine Bay is noted for its oysters, herring and salmon as well as rock cod fishing grounds. Around its head are some very fertile farms and excellent people. A school is now running there, and it is expected to continue for six months. A trail 13 miles long goes through to Discovery Bay. There is room here for more settlers. the mills and logging camps make an excellent market for the farmer. E.M.

Discouraging news from Ruby Creek
Seattle Weekly Intelligencer, June 4, 1880
      The present outlook in the mines is very discouraging. There is no trail built yet and the water in creeks is very high. There are between three and four hundred men in the mines and the majority of them are busted, having spent everything in getting here and for grub. Without a mule trail in here it will be impossible to open these mines, for men cannot pack all their provisions and tools 20 miles over these mountains in the summer time and do any work on their claims.
      [James] Cochrane and [Michael?] Day have commenced work with a few men on the trail at the Portage, ten miles below Goodell's Landing, but the way they have gone to work the miners have no confidence in them and do not think they will get the trail built this summer, and they are looking toward the For Hope route as their only hope.
      The hardest working man I have met in the mines is William Nelson, the express man. He makes regular trips once a week between Goodell's and Ruby City, carrying letters, packages, etc., to the miners cabins. He has the confidence of the miners and is very obliging. Anything they send for by him they are pretty sure of getting in a short time. The Nip and Tuck claim claim is open and they are at work sluicing the side hill, others are at work rocking in spots and making two and three dollars a day. Most of the men have got discouraged, rocking, and are going out to return when the trail is finished. C.H.

A gold miner's diary
Seattle Weekly Intelligencer, June 4, 1880
Ruby City, May 29
      This town is located on Canyon Creek, at the mouth of Granite. its buildings include nine dwelling houses. Capt. W.W. Williams, the Recorder, has a fine house on Fifth Avenue. I have purchased a lot on the same Avenue, upon which I will build in a few weeks.
      The weather is very warm here. The show is all gone as far up the creek as Mill Creek, and on the mountain sides is melting rapidly. All the wingdams on Ruby Creek are washed out, and all but two on Canyon Creek. On account of high water, mining up here is suspended.
      The miners here are very tired waiting for the trail. They have lost all hope of getting supplies in from Seattle. they held a meeting here, and sent a party of men is Fort Hope, to see if they can't get a pack train in from there. The miners offer to cut the trail to the boundary line if the British Columbians will meet them there.
      Today I start for Seattle, and as I go along i will take items which may be of interest to some.
      At the mouth of Ruby Creek are four or five cabins, George Watkins & Howston have a toll bridge across the roaring Skagit at the mouth of Ruby Creek. This bridge has a span of 65 feet from rock to rock, and is 95 feet above the water. Across the bridge is a natural curiosity.
      It is a bath tub in the solid rock. It is 6 feet long, 2 1/2 feet wide and oval on the bottom. In every respect it is a perfect bath tub. The miners beat small rocks, with which they warm the water in the tub, and then they go in for a good comfortable wash, which some of them need, I can assure you.
      The next thing of interest is a bridge across a deep ravine on Randolph trail, which is on the side of a perpendicular cliff of rock one hundred feet above the river. On my way from the mouth of Ruby Creek to Goodell's Landing. I passed 75 men going into the mines with packs on their backs of from 60 to 85 pounds each. The trail is worse to travel now than it was when I went over it last January.
      On the top of Sour-dough are thousands of fine looking wild strawberry plants, in full bloom, promising a magnificent yield of fruit a few weeks hence. Other berries are also in the vicinity.
      May 31 — Today I crossed the river at Goodell's and went down to the Portage. I met the trail men, 10 in number. In two more days they will have the trail completed from Portage City to Goodell's, a distance of 11 miles. While at the Portage I witnessed a frightful sight. Two Indians started out with their canoe. Before they had gone fifty feet, the canoe filled with water, and then turned bottom up, throwing the Indians out into the rearing torrent. They climbed on top, but had gone a little way only when they saw another terrible fall ahead, going over which would be certain destruction.
      Their only chance for life was to jump from the canoe and swim to shore, which they did gallantly and successfully. Had they gone ten feet further down the steam certain death would have been their fate.
      The next things of interest were two ladies, bound for the mines. They looked like the last rose of summer , summer before last.
      June 1st — This morning we started by canoe for Sauk City, where we arrived an hour and three-quarters later. Sauk is a live town. It has its hotel and store, one beer hall and one Doctor. A company of men are cutting a trail from this town to Portage City, 16 miles distant. They have six miles done, and they think they will be through in two more weeks. By the time it is finished, they will have a train of pack animals ready to put upon it.
      June 3 — We arrived at Seattle at half-past 3 this morning, on the steamer Josephine. From Sauk City we came in 15 hours, which was the fastest time on record. R.M. Creswell.

Back from Skagit
Seattle Weekly Intelligencer, June 4, 1880
      The Josephine got in last evening from the Skagit river, where she picked up a large number of returning Skagit miners. Her passenger list was as follows: Charles Cooper, Thomas Fonin, E. Johnson, Warren Taylor, Orrin Kincaid, A. Lunn, W.S. Wansley, W. Poole, L. Merriott. D.H. Hawley, B. Gates, Frank Peamister. H.H. Pillasky, M. Campbell, Hiram Jacobs, Charles Jackson, Joel Miller, F. Gis, Jones Mr. Lynch and wife, O. Maltren, G. Hilson, J.H. Irvine, Charles Villeneuve, W. Louden, Dr. John Roads, Sister Benedict, Miss M. Kellie, Jon Hewn, J. Brown, Samuel Wiss and four Indians.

Seattle Weekly Intelligencer, July 1880
      At the regular meeting of the City Council, last Friday evening, Mr. Fred A. Minick tendered his resignation as City Assessor in the following happy style:
      "Gentlemen, in view of emigrating to the Eldorado on Ruby, and consequently absenting myself from your city, I hereby tender my resignation as assessor and collector for the city of Seattle in favor of the previous incumbent, Frank Seidel. Permit me here to state that I am not actuated by a desire to make bread on Sour Dough Mountain, or to take the rounds out of Jacob's Ladder, nor for the purpose of jumping the Lost Judge, but solely to locate there permanently, and assist in the development of our mineral resources, and, above all, to once more enjoy the respectable appellation of "Honest Miner." Thanking you, gentlemen, for the honor conferred upon me in selecting me to fill the office, I remain, truly yours. Fred A. Minick" [Seattle Marshall 1873-74; Police Chief 1873-74]

Fine specimen and big fire
Seattle Weekly Intelligencer, Nov. 7, 1880
      Two weeks ago yesterday Mr. C.P. Farrar found a piece of gold in his Skagit claim, weighting $12. It is a very handsome nugget and will be converted into a pin.
      News reached this city last evening that a destructive fire had taken place at Sauk City, on the Skagit river, on Oct. 31. It seems that during the evening of the day in question the store of D.A. Jennings, at that place, took fire from a defective flue and resulted in the total loss of building and stock. The building was uninsured but the stock, valued at $1800 was covered by a $1200 policy in a company represented by Mr. McLure. The loss will be paid in a few weeks by the agent here.

The Skagit mines;
(How the rush was born in 1878)
Seattle Weekly Intelligencer, Nov. 14, 1880
      A few small-potato journals in our own Territory are making an effort to thrust odium upon Seattle, her merchants and her newspapers, for the getting-up of the Skagit mining boom of last winter.. This effort is childishly malicious and will bear no good fruit to its authors. Our people are not gold miners, and they know nothing of the upper Skagit country.
      Four men spent the summer, fall and winter of 1878 searching for gold in that region. They found it and found it as they thought — rich. Their provisions ran out, and it was late in the season, and cold, when they made their discovery, and they were compelled to come down to the settlements for the remainder of the winter. Those men brought the reports that started the Skagit mining boom. In bringing them, and spreading them broadcast, they were actuated by honest and consciencious [sic] convictions. This has since been made evident in many ways. One of them, at least, was a 49er of California, and the others had had more or less experience in mining camps. So firm were they in their convictions that the upper Skagit was a gold country, that they have since devoted all their time and money to its development.
      The April (1879) following their discovery, a party of about twenty went up the Skagit and into the diggings, and later on in the year, no far from three hundred more. The returning men brought back small amounts of gold and the best of reports. If any men spoke falsely concerning the mines it was the men who had been in them. Their reports were almost invariably of the most glowing character. They sought the newspaper offices, never hesitating to allow the use of their names in that connection.
      Most of the men made a second trip to the diggings, and many of them a third, a fourth and a fifth. Their acts proved conclusively that they believed what they said and hoped. So generally was this the case that the confidence of our own people was gained. A company built a steamboat here expressly for that trade. Stocks of goods were sent up and stores established. Our men of enterprise took two thousand dollars out of their pockets and gave it for the opening of a trail. Others bought making claims and invested hundreds of dollars in their opening.
      Many of our best citizens made the trip to the mines, and the reports they brought back were on more enthusiastic, nor so much so, as those of the miners themselves. The same feeling prevailed among our cousins north of the boundary line. The Provincial Government and mercantile classes gave money to investigate the truth of the stories, and followed it up by opening a trail to Ruby Creek, putting on a pack train, and sending into the diggings all the men and goods they were able to.
      This has certainly not been a money-making enterprise to anybody. Everybody, throughout, has acted in an apparently consciencious manner. Gold is there unquestionably, for it has been seen and got, but it has so far not been obtained in quantity sufficient to pay. Many who have been in there repeatedly, and who assert that they believe what they say, still declare their faith in the richness of the mines, and in not a few instances announce their determination to make another good trial in 1881.
      Under such circumstances the course of the Seattle newspapers was in no respect remarkable or improper. Especially is this true of the Intelligencer, which from the first pursued a course thoroughly conservative. Our patrons are well aware of the truth of what we say, and to them this lengthy explanation will be quite unnecessary. In fact, the writer of this article has long hesitated over the giving of any notice whatever to the slurs referred to in the opening sentence, deeming them worthy only of silent contempt.

Skagit Mines
Seattle Weekly Intelligencer, Dec. 4, 1880 [From the LaConner Puget Sound Mail newspaper]
      Mr. Gibbons arrived here from the Skagit mines last Wednesday. He reports having left about thirty miners at the diggings, many of whom will probably pass the winter up there. Some are making as high as $6 a day, but this will hardly pay during the winter owing to the expense and trouble of maintaining themselves in necessary supplies. He says the most indispensable article at the diggings are bacon and tobacco, though he jocularly adds they might do without the bacon if they could be assured of an abundant supply of tobacco.

Return to Part One, January through May 1880


Stafford's cabin
      Read about Hank and Alex Stafford [Return]

David Ball, of Sterling
      David Ball lost his life in the accident. He was the son of Jesse Beriah Ball, the logger who opened Ball's Landing in 1878, which evolved into the village of Sterling. [Return]

William Meydenbauer
      William Meydenbauer (1832-1906) was one of the first homesteaders in the Bellevue area along with Aaron Mercer; they both arrived in 1869. Meydenbauer sold his cabin in 1879 and he and his family moved on, as did Mercer. Meydenbauer was a Seattle baker who settled alongside the sheltered bay on the west side of the island which now bears his name. [Return]

Mr. Davis
      That is Rev. B.N.L. Davis, the most important preacher from the early days of Skagit Valley. He was the first to import purebred cattle and he made a small fortune off his hop fields before dying young in 1891. [Return]

Mann's Landing
      Later known as Fir, this town formed as a stopover for sternwheeler steamboats on the Skagit River. Read Mamie Johnson Moen's memoir about growing up in that area. Charles H. Mann homesteaded there in 1876 and built a store. [Return]

Mount Vernon
      Harrison Clothier and Ed English opened a store and small hotel here in 1877, naming the village for George Washington's Virginia estate. After a hole was carved through the nearby log jams in 1878, the town became the valley's crossroad for commerce and it also wrested the county seat away from LaConner. [Return]

      Born as Ball's Landing, named for logger Jesse Beriah Ball, this was the first town and store upriver from Mount Vernon in the early days of settlement. Ball and his family established a large logging camp, trading post and bunkhouses alongside a riffle in the river that was the head of navigation during the months of least water flow. [Return]

Coal mines
      That location was south across the Skagit river from where William Hamilton would soon establish his namesake town. The described lone building was likely on the south bank of the river, at the foot of Coal Mountain. [Return]

Sauk City
      Sauk City was actually located closer to the mouth of the Sauk River and on the south bank. This described location is nearer to what would become the later town of Sauk, near the town of Rockport on the north bank. Sauk City was a very important town during the days when canoes and sternwheelers transported passengers and freight upriver. But a fire nearly burned the entire town in 1889 and an 1897 flood washed the rest away. Sauk then rose on the north bank, centered on the Hegg and Hammer sawmill. And when the Seattle & Northern extended its terminus in 1900, Rockport became the principal upriver town until Concrete ascended a decade later. Our portal section on Sauk City [Return]

The Portage or Portage City
      We have never found a good history of this river-stop that was so important to miners during the gold rush. Roughly halfway between the present towns of Marblemount and Newhalem, on the Skagit River, this was the farthest point up the river where sternwheelers could reach in the deepest possible water. [Return]

Annie's Castle towers
      After considerable research, we have not found any information about this most interesting discovery about Sauk City. We hope a reader will have such information or family memories. [Return]

Skeattle Moutains
      We have not found any mountain in the Cascades by this name. We hope a reader will have more information. [Return]

      Etcetera, Etcetera, the King of Siam was fond of saying. As you will notice, this spelling, &c. is occasionally used in place of etc. During this time period the latter, more modern abbreviation was gaining acceptance. [Return]

Ship knees
      Ship's Knees were used in the construction of wooden vessels to fasten and strengthen the intersections of the timbers and to connect deck beams to the frames of wooden ships. [Return]

Nip and Tuck claim
      In 1879 Albert Bacon, a homesteader near today's Marblemount, staked a claim that he later named Nip and Tuck and soon took $1,500 in gold dust to the assayer. A nearby hill is named for him. [Return]

Orrin Kincaid
      Kincaid was one of the first permanent Skagit River Valley settlers, preempting a claim on the South Fork in the early 1870s. He briefly moved to California but he soon returned and represented the valley in the territorial legislature, where he led the successful move to split off the southern half of Whatcom County and form Skagit County. [Return]

Charles Villeneuve
      Villeneuve moved his family from Quebec to the South Fork of the Skagit River in 1872 and they originally lived on a small island in the main river channel. Later he rented a hotel in Fir and still later he moved his family to old Woolley, where he built the Hotel Royal, later called the Vendome, and his son, Charles Villeneuve Jr., became marshal. [Return]

Frank Seidel
      We believe, after all our research that this is the same Frank Seidell who was a brother of Arthur C. Seidell, a Civil War Veteran who built an early grainary in old Woolley. [Return]

Gold discovery, 1877-79
      For more information about the original discovery of gold in 1877-79, read this excerpt from the 1906 Illustrated History of Skagit & Snohomish Counties, or read Otto Klement's biography or Minnie von Pressentin's obituary with her description. [Return]

Links, background reading and sources

Story posted on June 7, 2009. . . Please report any broken links so we can update them
This article originally appeared in Issue 50 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) 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.
(bullet) Oliver-Hammer Clothes Shop at 817 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 90 years continually in business.
(bullet) Peace and quiet at the Alpine RV Park, just north of Marblemount on Hwy 20, day, week or month, perfect for hunting or fishing
Park your RV or pitch a tent by the Skagit River, just a short drive from Winthrop or Sedro-Woolley — doubling in size for RVs and camping in 2011.
(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.

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.