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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Free Home Page Stories & Photos
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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R.I.P. Herb Larsen, father
of the Concrete Museum

(Herb Larsen)
      Now that the town of Concrete is preparing for an ambitious slate of activities for the local residents and travelers who are interested in the history of the town, we want to pay a tribute to the late Herb Larsen, who was the sparkplug for reviving interest. His Camp Seven Museum, a block south of Main Street was another in the line of town museums in Skagit County that are the result of hundreds of hours by local volunteers, just like the museums in Sedro-Woolley and Clearlake. That early work has evolved into today's Concrete Heritage Museum. Museum volunteer Robin Wood recently hosted a tour for us and descendants of pioneer John J. Russell and we were taken by surprise by how she and the other Concrete volunteers have turned Herb's dream into an organized series of exhibits that will help visitors of any age to understand how Concrete evolved from two competing towns that were based on the cement industry.
      I met Herb 15 years ago when I found him laying out a short line of parallel logs outside the museum building to show how early loggers created their own primitive railroad on which a converted tractor could pull the giant trees through the brush and gullies of the foothills of the North Cascades. Herb often led tours on foot with visitors who wanted to see the original locations of the two Portland Cement companies that started on both sides of the Baker River, the location of the original towns of Cement City, Minnehaha and Baker, the Great Northern Railroad depot and the company town that rose suddenly to accommodate workers at the Superior Portland Cement Company. Those tours eventually led Herb to help start the program of attaching historic plaques to buildings and to provide the Sockeye Express tour bus. A lot of his friends will miss him when they come back to tour Concrete this summer.

Herb Larsen obituary
Skagit Valley Herald, Feb. 26, 2007
      Herbert E. Larsen, 81, a long time Skagit County resident passed away on Friday, February 25, 2005, at Birchview Memory Care in Sedro-Woolley following an extended battle with Parkinson's disease. Herb was born on January 29, 1924, in Everett, Washington, the son of Elmer and Jesse Hawkins Larsen.
      He was raised at Sauk, Washington, just east of Concrete where he attended school. He graduated from Concrete High School in 1942 and shortly after entered the U.S. Navy where he served on the battleship U.S.S. Colorado. At one point during a six month period he had been involved in seven conflicts.
      Following his discharge in 1946 he resided in Forest Grove, Oregon where he attended business college earning a degree in accounting. Herb worked as an accountant for several logging operations over the years, including Summit Timber and Georgia Pacific, and was also a crew supervisor until his retirement in the mid-1980s.
      Herb was active in the Concrete community; he served on the city council, was active in coordinating several community events and was a supporter of community businesses.
      On November 30, 1989, he was united in marriage to Kay Stafford in Mount Vernon and together they made their home in Concrete. They enjoyed traveling, especially to New Zealand, Australia and the Panama Canal, gardening and the joys of their family. Kay preceded him in death on November 20, 2004.
      Herb was a member of the Heskett Arnold Post 132, American Legion, in Concrete. He is survived by his brother, Robert Larsen and his wife Betty; 3 nephews: Steve Larsen and his fiancÚ Carolyn, Gary Larsen and. his wife Rita and Terry Larsen; 2 nieces: Connie and her husband James Eldridge and Joyce and her husband Bascomb Carpenter; 3 great-nephews: Chad, Todd, and Brett Larsen; 4 great-nieces: Erin, Amy, Missy, and Katie Larsen; 4 stepchildren: Merrilyn Williams and her husband Dave, Barbara Wilson and her husband John, Valerie Stafford West and her husband Fred and Robert Stafford and his wife Judy; a sister-in-law, Lena Scales; and numerous step-grand and great-grandchildren. He was also preceded in death by 3 brothers, Roy, Theodore and Charles Scales.
      Memorials are suggested to Birchview Memory Care, Skagit Hospice, the Concrete Museurn or a charity of your choice. Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, March 2, 2005, at 11:00 A.M. at Lemley Chapel in Sedro-Woolley with Pastor Bruce Martin of the Concrete Assembly of God Church officiating. Interment with full military honors will follow at the Sedro-Woolley Union Cemetery.

Herb and Kay Larsen
A community tribute by the eight grade of Concrete Elementary School
      Herbert E. Larsen was born in Everett on January 29, 1924, and raised in Concrete. He was born in Everett because it was the hospital closest to Concrete. Herb grew up here across the river, right around the Sauk store; his family had a homestead over there. Herb was a C.P.A and a logger. He helped put the big black bear [wooden sculpture] in town. Herb was in the Legion club. He also was a judge for Concrete. For much of his life Herb had this idea about Concrete needing its own museum. Herb collected stuff all around Concrete for the Concrete [Camp Seven] museum so people would know how it was back then. As the city changed, he had a passion for preserving the story of Concrete. Herb was also very efficient and loved to work with his hands. He helped to put up most of the signs in town. He was loved and very well known.
      Herb collected a lot of stuff over the years for the museum, like the old logging trolley and other logging stuff. Herb helped helicopter the trolley wheels out of Baker Lake. Most of the stuff Herb collected was from places he had worked. The first museum was where what is now the Assembly of God Church. Herb felt that people needed to know what went on in Concrete in the good old days. Herb also bought the Sockeye Express, an open-air tour bus, and put a roof on it and started taking people on history tours around Concrete. The Sockeye Express is still running today.
      Herb was into fun stuff, like when he thought that local businesses should have a town mascot, so Herb and his friend, Mr. Selin, had a town vote that there should be a bear in the middle of town. The next thing you know, Mr. Selin is carving a bear, and that's how the bear ended up in town.
      Herb was also a judge in town, and that's how he met his wife. A young woman hunted him down at the Legion one evening to pay a traffic fine. Her widowed mother (Kay) was with her, and that is how Kay and Herb met. After Herb and Kay Larsen got married and settled in, Herb went to check the culverts for debris or whatever was there, and Kay was brave enough to go with him. They were gone for at least three hours and Herb showed up at the TP Inn, a local restaurant, covered in mud, and Herb says to Marilyn, "I think you'd better go talk to your Nana. "She's really upset with me." So Marilyn goes out side to talk to her mom and Kay is covered in mud, too. And Kay says, "We got stuck in the mud and I had to push us out because I don't know how to drive a stick." That was the kind of woman Kay was. She was always willing to help. It was Kay that planted flowers all around the museum. Whatever they did, they did it together.

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