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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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June Burn's 1931 columns about the
1858 Fraser river gold rush and trail

(Living High cover)
The 1992 softback version of Living High, with photo of the car/cabin circa the Burn Ballad Bungalow days of the 1920s

      As soon as the first reports of placer gold discoveries on the American river in California surfaced in 1848-49, argonauts accelerated their search for possible locations all over the West Coast. By the spring of 1858 the easy pickings in California had played out and prospectors realized that they would just be laborers there for large concerns that employed hydraulic mining. Over the preceding nine years, the land on which the present city of Bellingham, Washington, stands was the nucleus for a search for more easy pickings. The main tips in northern Oregon Territory and the crown colony of British Columbia [B.C.] came from Indians who mentioned yellow metal to visiting sailors and traders and trappers.
      As early as 1850, placer gold was discovered on Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands and a brief mining boom occurred at the latter in 1851-1852. About the same time, Indians from up the Skeena River brought pieces of gold to the Hudson's Bay Company's [HBC] fort. In the B.C. interior, gold was found in the Natchez Pass and Similkameen regions as early as 1852, and in 1854 Colville Indians found nuggets in their possession. Hubert Howe Bancroft wrote that HBC Chief Trader Donald McLean procured gold dust from Indians near Kamloops in 1851-53. Between 1855 and 1857, discoveries were made on the Thompson river, on the Fraser, on the Columbia and at Colville, and the news attracted some attention of prospectors who worked the gravel bars of the Fraser and Thompson rivers in 1857. Altogether, Indians sold 800 ounces of gold to various Hudson's Bay forts and prospectors by 1857. Those early reports also inspired the settlers in the new town of Whatcom on Bellingham Bay to start looking for an overland trail to the Fraser, rather than going far out of their way in a semi-circle to the mouth of the Fraser to the northwest.
      Then, in March 1858, some Californians discovered placer dust and nuggets in paying quantity on the Fraser river near Fort Hope. Hill's Bar, a mile and a half south of Fort Yale, was soon named after the first man who found gold there and it became the longest-worked bar on the lower Fraser. When one of the men returned to Puget Sound for supplies, the news got out. Doubters were finally convinced the discovery was real and a new gold rush was on. Bancroft reported this first news article about the discovery from the July 25, 1878, British Columbia Gazette: "The electrifying news was swiftly taken up in the pioneer press, namely the Olympia Pioneer & Democrat of March 5, 1858, and the San Francisco Evening Bulletin of March 19, 1858." From then on, there was a mass rush to the northwest corner of our still new country.
      By that fall, somewhere around 16,000 argonauts traveled by ship to either Whatcom, about 20 miles south of the eventual U.S.-Canada border, or to Victoria at the Vancouver Island crown colony. Anyone who could read a map saw that an overland route by north-northeast would cut almost 100 miles from their journey, but an actual trail did not exist. Governor James Douglas, already involved in a standoff with U.S. Army Col. Isaac N. Ebey and other San Juan Islands settlers about joint occupation of the islands, became alarmed as soon as the first flotilla and ships and small boats arrived within sight of his government offices in Victoria.
      Imagine hundreds of men trying to navigate a river they knew nothing about, braving both the swift current and snags that hid just underwater. To complicate matters even further, the Fraser went on a wild rampage that spring with a "freshet" or flash flood, dooming many and smashing hundreds of canoes, boats and scows. Many had to abandon their boats after a short distance and many others that held together were thwarted by a waterfall and a narrow canyon soon named Hell's Gate In most areas along the riverbanks there were no banks to work from. That is why they sought out a few square yards on the sand and gravel bars. Most of the hardy prospectors who did not give up on the river carried all their supplies and tools in packs and hiked along the top of the canyon walls.
      The reports from the mainland disturbed Douglas both because of the deaths and injuries, and especially because of the sheer number of miners who Within a month, he decreed that any American miners who wished to ascend the Fraser would have to register at Victoria and pay a fee. By early summer, those who had erected log cabins and buildings overnight on the Squalicum flats below the bluff north of Whatcom were tearing the buildings down and transporting the lumber to Victoria. The impetus was even stronger for an overland trail, as you will read in June Burn's columns below. And those with experience as teamsters and storekeepers, such as Whatcom pioneer Henry Roeder and future-Sedro pioneer Mortimer Cook, which you also read about in the columns. By September the placer gold had given out and the boom that started rapidly six months before, faded just as quickly. The sole newspaper that had started in Whatcom stopped publication in September and by October the beaches where hundreds of tents had recently stood looked like the litter-strewn Yasgur's Farm at Woodstock a century later.
      Below you will find several columns written by June Burn in 1931, based on the gold rush of nearly 75 years before. Please note how we present these transcriptions from Burn's "Puget Soundings" columns in the Bellingham Herald. We edited them only very lightly. Brackets [ ] around an item indicates either that we provide more brief background or that the column was blurred or something was cut out and we assumed from the context would have been there. In the first example of a person's name, we added the first name if it was not noted. Underlined links direct you to either endnotes or to an exterior link. You will find capsule biographies of early Whatcom pioneers on the linked pages. More links and background are provided at the bottom of our story. In other stories in this section, which are linked at the end of this story, you will learn more about this exciting period of northwest Washington history and you will read profiles of many of the pioneers involved and Governor Douglas, in addition to links and suggestions for background reading.

June 4, 1931
      It is a very nice picture which one writer has drawn of the beginnings of gold rush days. That of a sleepy little sawmill settlement agoin' along at an easy pace, forgot of the world. And of its sudden awakening by that first swarming boatload of people out in the bay early one morning.
      According to that pretty story Captain Henry Roeder might have been going to his mill that morning in early spring. He glanced out to sea and saw that first ship. No ship was due. Mother Eldridge [Theresa, wife of pioneer Edward] put her head out of her boardinghouse window and little Eldridges — two of them were of runabout age in 1858 — ran down to the waterfro
      Millworkers laid themselves off and scuttled to the shore. Coal miners [Sehome mine], getting wind of things about to happen, washed their faces and began to swell the crowds. They cracked jokes there waiting for that first ship to cast anchor, for one writer has it that no man on shore knew what is was all about and not until that first ship lightered ashore its first goldseeker did out men know what glittered on the bars of that great river to the north.
      But that could not have been. As a matter of fact, gold had been known to exist on the Fraser for years and years. The Hudson's Bay Company kept it as quiet as possible for it didn't want swarms of white men in their spoiling trade with the Indians.
      For years, however, that great company had been trading lead to the Indians for gold, ounce for ounce. Where the Indians had got their gold nobody paid much attention. Governor James Douglas, however, knew enough about it that as early as 1856 he began writing back to England asking for authority to forbid the goldseekers to come into the trading territory of the Hudson's Bay Company. He was official of that company as well as governor of Vancouver Island. His authority did not then extend to the mainland of British Columbia, where were only a few tiny scattered trading settlements, except as it affected the interests of his company.
      This far-seeing wily trader knew that if news of the gold got out, his company would forever lose it s monopolistic control of the territory. He wanted to pass laws strict enough to keep out Americans especially, for he had already seen what the Yankees could do to him in our settlement of the Oregon county.
      The famous (infamous to Whatcom) law which he did finally pass without authority from England, requiring all gold-hunters to have a license granted only at Victoria and a permit into British territory granted only at that city was actually passed months before Whatcom ever saw the first gold-seeker.
      That it was put in force at our expense was our grievance against this man to whom the Canadians do much honor, of course. For such reasons do countries make heroes of its men. But a certain wide-awake newspaper editor down in Steilacoom got wind of the finding of quantities of gold in the north country and he it was who started that great ball to rolling.

June 7, 1931
      It is said that if there had been a good overland trail from Whatcom in the land of that first gold strike that no British governor could have so easily punctured our balloon. We could have held the traffic and Douglas would have had to scratch his head a long time to have thought up some way of diverting it through Victoria. An easy trail would have made a permanent city of Bellingham a full half century ahead of its time, for the gold seekers poured into and out of the Cariboo country for more than a decade.
      But we never achieved an easy trail though we built two of them. The first, the Whatcom trail, as it was called in those days, followed the Nooksack and headed for the nearest bend of the Fraser. It got as far as Chilliwack lake, called Summit lake then, and turned into the river at a point "now known as Miller's landing," according to the Washington Historical Quarterly. (I can find no authority for it, but I dare to suppose that men and boats found in the river as far up as this were not molested or required to show passes. The law-enforcing boats were stationed at the mouth of the Fraser, at first, anyhow.)
      The first trail was completed, and our first citizen, Captain Roeder, led miners over it as early as April 1858. Mortimer Cook, one of the early settlers of Skagit county and the founder of Sedro-Woolley [actually just Sedro], joined Roeder in that enterprise. They charged 40 cents a pound for miners' outfits and the fact that both Cook and Roeder failed is some indication of what a bad trail it was.

(Mortimer Cook addition from June 10 column)
      Of them all, Mortimer Cook lived most abundantly, if you count experience and adventures as rich living. I have a photograph of this great adventurer sent to Mr. [Dwight] Brosseau by Cook's only surviving daughter and copied by a local photographer. You remember that Mr. Brosseau once worked for Cook long after gold rush days when he was storekeeper and father of [Sedro].
      But the thing that ruined that first trail of ours and made it useless was the annual campaign of old Father Fraser. Nobody had counted on that. In early April he ran down a well behaved great brown, dignified river. By early May the snows were melting up in the mountains and old man river began to get frisky. He overflowed his banks and in one day, calmly erased our trail. He came down out of his roaring canyon like an elephant herd and ruined many a poor miner's hopes. He overturned frail canoes and bateaus and barges and made a fat contribution of his own to Davy Jones's locker.
      However, even if the Fraser hadn't got gay, our first Whatcom trail would have petered out. For the first gold rush also went haywire about that time. You see, they had found their gold on the graveled and sandy bars of the river below the canyon. Thirty thousand miners swarming over those few slim bars like flies at the molasses jug soon "worked" the ground clean of the last bit of shining dust. Then the flooding of the river finished the job and those thousands were drifters again, most of them angry and disgusted in the bargain, shouting to the world that they had been duped.
      So that by the fall of 1858 thousands and thousands of the thirty-odd thousands who had gone in were pouring out again. But thousands more remained and more thousands joined them from the outside and they worked upriver hunting gold which they believed would be found at the head of the rivers. Their theory was proved wrong, but they didn't care, for the gold was actually found in the north country [Cariboo] and this second great strike caused the second gold rush and incidentally caused to be blazed our second famous Whatcom Trail.

June 9, 1931
      Before going on into that tragi-comic attempt at our second trail to the great gold fields of the Fraser, wouldn't this be a good time to stop and meet some of those earliest pioneers who were closely connected with our history, with the gold rush days and with both attempts at a trail?
      There was, of course, the young adventure-loving man of pioneer type whom they called Captain Henry Roeder, of German birth. He was not the first white man to come to Whatcom. William Pattle was that. He did not discover our coal mines, as some believe. Henry Hewitt and William Brown did that. He wasn't even our first settler, for Pattle came over and settled here before him, as I remember. And when he did come here in 1852, he had a partner, Russell V. Peabody]

(Whatcom creek)
This 1890s photo of a Salish Indian camp at Whatcom creek shows the area near the Roeder-Peabody mill

      Nevertheless, Captain Roeder is called the father of Whatcom and deserves to be so called. He and Mr. Peabody built the first sawmill here and ran it for years. And it was he who went back down to San Francisco for mill material and brought back our second great pioneer and our first resident white woman, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Eldridge]. (By the way, it was Roeder's sweetheart, Elizabeth Austin, who later came overland from Ohio to be married in Olympia, of whom Mrs. Phoebe Goodell Judson speaks in her book. Roeders, Austins and Judsons and Goodells all came from Vermilion, Ohio.)
      hat a novel could be written about this young adventurer, Henry Roeder. No stayer at home, he. No traveler in ruts. No follower along blazed trails. He was a steamboat sailor on Lake Erie even in his teens. Then when the great trek to California began, he joined that. Who could have kept him back. But he didn't strike it rich there panning gold. Instead, finding gold mining too much panned already, he took to fishing and made a lot of money. It was while he was on a sort of prospecting trip for fish, odd as that sounds, that the first great fire burned up San Francisco and building materials began to soar skywards [on the market].
      Quick to see opportunity, young Roeder turned from fishing to lumbering overnight and came northwards to hunt a site for a mill, set up the mill after great trouble, only to find that the San Francisco market was no longer such a grand one. He didn't make much money after all at lumbering. But he was stuck here and saved logs until the next opportunity should turn up. It turned up in 1858 and Roeder was ready for it. I can imagine that he had a hard time staying put for five long years. But perhaps Indian disturbances, shoving the forests back from the waterfront, trying to market his lumber, getting married in 1855, going to Victoria and to Port Townsend and building its own home managed to keep him busy enough to forget the call of adventure for a little while.
      Then, when the gold rush began, there was platting and selling city lots. There was buying horses and mules for his trail caravan. There were the trips up and back along that difficult first Whatcom trail to the Fraser. And finally there was the going into the Cariboo country itself to establish a post there. Mrs. Lottie Roeder Roth has lent me his diary of those days and I have been up that trail and have seen the places where he stopped to camp. I have seen the place where his wayside hotel stood. Of it all, more later.

June 10, 1931
      Bellingham's second great pioneer, as everyone knows, was Edward Eldridge. That wise, kind Scotsman with the merry-eyed Irish wife. That unschooled, but scholarly legislator. As I read, Roeder, from all accounts, he loved adventure for itself and if he made a fortune also, so much the better. Eldridge, n the other hand, seems from the first to have been in search of home. He wanted where to hang his hat, spiritually and physically. He steamboated on Lake Erie, too. The young men knew each other back in those days and lost track of each other. Eldridge joined the gold rush to California, too. And again, like Roeder, he found little gold. Then he and his Irish lass were just going to Australia to seek their fortunes when Roeder accidentally fell in with them on his trip down from Puget sound after machinery for his new mill.
      It couldn't have been very hard to persuade the Eldridges to give up Australia for Puget sound. They came back with Roeder in 1853 and Mrs. Eldridge became the mother of Whatcom just as Roeder was father to the little settlement. By 1858 these two had come to be influential in the little settlement. From the first gold rush excitement, Eldridge was a leader in promoting the trail. But he did not uproot himself again to go to the Cariboo country as he would certainly have done if he had been a lover of adventure for itself. Or, who knows, perhaps Teresa didn't like her man to go gallivanting off to the gold fields and leave her alone on their 320-acre estate whereas maybe Elizabeth rather liked the peace of home without its restless head. I doubt whether even the living children of these two ever heard their mothers discuss their reactions to the behavior of their menfolks, for they were too young to enjoy the confidences of their mothers, then.
      However that may be, Edward Eldridge had a hand in shaping Whatcom and if he stayed at home in 1859, he lost nothing by it, but rather gained inasmuch as he could direct, plan, promote, buy and sell and legislate to say nothing of the reading he so loved to do. Sometimes I think I'd rather have been Roeder and sometimes it seems as if Eldridge chose the better part. Wouldn't it be nice to have been both of them? Edmund C. Fitzhugh; W.W. DeLacy, the engineer of the second trail; William Bausman], editor of the Northern Light [newspaper in Whatcom]; William Munks, later pioneer of Fidalgo island; Charles Beal]; George E. Pickett], later of San Juan [and Civil War-Gettysburg] fame; Russell V. Peabody, Henry C. Paige [actually Page]; William Utter and others, promoters of the first wharf on E street; Dale and Smith of the trail committee; Mortimer Cook, later of Sedro-Woolley and many another were closely associated with the gold rush days and the trail building. [Remainder of the column above in June 7 column]

June 11, 1931
      The second Whatcom trail was a much more ambitious one than the first. The cavortings of the Fraser in spring proved to us that we had to have an overland trail which would lead our miners on beyond the canyon of the Fraser clean up to the far gold fields which were being discovered all the time.
      Captain W.W. DeLacy, a government engineer, was selected by our local trail committee to find out such a trail, and a right smart job he found it. The plan was to hitch on to the old trail just before it bogged down in to the overflowed lands adjacent to the Fraser. Eventually it did lead off from the first trail at what was then called Summit Lake, now known as Chilliwack Lake.
      A supposedly authentic article in the Washington Historical Quarterly for 1927 written by a Mr. Reid gives the route of that trail as follows: (the distances are from Whatcom) To Peterson's Prairie, grass, 6 miles; Blumenthal and Philips' ranch, 12 miles; Lummi river, grass scarce, 16 miles; Stott's ranch, grass and barley, 26 miles; Hatch's ranch, grass, 29 miles; Daniel's ranch, grass two miles off trail, 44 miles; Chilliwack river, grass, 59 miles; Summit lake opposite bank, 98 miles; first wet prairie, grass, 104 miles; to Summit, recruiting place, 111 miles; second wet prairie, grass, 131 miles; divide of mountain, grass, 153 miles; Brigade trail, 173 miles; 11 miles from the intersection of Brigade trail, with plenty of water and grass through to Fort Thompson, 100 miles. Total distance to Port Thompson, 273 miles. General course of trail: North and Southeast from Whatcom.
      There is a very old and rare map called Anderson's map on which this trail is roughly shown. Mr. Shiels has secured a copy of this map, only one original copy of which is said to be in existence. I wish my column had room for it. Nothing could so quickly discover to you the almost insuperable difficulties which DeLacy overcame.
      And that map, compared with a modern automobile road map, would also show that they way wasn't much longer, as DeLacy found it out, than it is today. It isn't much short of two hundred miles to Lytton [near the confluence of the Fraser and Thompson rivers in British Columbia] and 258 miles to Kamloops, which was then called Fort Thompson.
      But that trail sounds like a thousand miles the way it wound round and round. And it was so difficult that the only party which ever went over it to the gold fields were eight weeks getting there. And it was so hard to blaze that DeLacy and his men nearly starved to death doing it and it was so long in the building that all our miners had slipped away by the time it was finished so that nobody was here to use it and it was so expensive to build that I dare say some folks still owe for their share of it.
      Just the same, the building of that trail joined the residents of young Whatcom in a common interest. And the fame of the trail spread far and was the first community enterprise to put on the map. It opened up our back country, to some extent, and showed our people what of beauty and fertility lay beyond tidewater. And it was such a big undertaking, so romantic withal, that few can hear it mentioned without being thrilled. DeLacy heirs, if any, must certainly be proud of the ancestor who plodded determinedly on until he did what he set out to do though nearly everybody had given up hopes for it.

June [undated probably 12), 1931
      If ever a man was given a difficult task to carry out it was DeLacy. It was no short cut across country, such as the completed trail to the Fraser below Fort Hope. He must first find a route through the Cascades and then through the unknown wilderness to the Hudson's Bay Company's trails in the north. Time and again he made sure he had a practicable route, and time and again he was disappointed. Never discouraged, he kept at his task till at last he broke through the last chain of mountains and saw the open country and the smoke of campfires on the Brigade Trail to the North.
      "He was at his work by the early part of June. He had to pierce the rugged masses of mountains north and east of Mount Baker and find a way over the divide down [up?] the Skagit river. Following this stream up northerly, he encountered many difficulties, but at last turning up the Sumallo, he reached the destination at which he aimed — the Brigade Trail of the Hudson's Bay Company from Hope to Kamloops." (From the Washington Historical Quarterly.)
      By June 11, 1858, DeLacy was on the Chilliwack river looking over the ground. On the 14th of June he wrote to Whatcom: "don't send anybody out on the trail until I report it through. I have made two unsuccessful attempts to get through but the snow prevents. What I supposed was Summit lake is not within forty miles of the summit. I have been supplied according to agreement. I shall make another effort." (From the Puget Sound Herald in Steilacoom.)

This postcard photo, taken in 1889, shows Sehome, looking east from the armory building still stands on the hall, with the photographer looking east. at the winding cowpath that is now State street, originally named Elk. Postcard courtesy of the Harry Osborne collection, loaned by Cecil and Betty Osborne Hittson.

      When DeLacy sent back word he hadn't yet found the trail, real estate in Whatcom and Sehome fell in price, Reid says. How our poor grandfathers must have fairly stood on pins trying to push the trail through with one hand while they held the miners here waiting with the other. It must have been as tantalizing as watching the stock market nowadays. Every once in a while some editor or other would spout off dismally: "Whatcom is doomed. Sehome has exploded. Bellingham City has flashed in the pan. The trail, the long talked of, long looked for, long, long never-ending trail, is emphatically gone in. A general stampede will take place from Bellingham Bay."
      Then DeLacy himself would write to cheer them up: " . . . I have been to the summit of the highest mountain peak in this range and I can see the open country right at my feet and where the Brigade Trail is; but the difficulty is to pass the range. I am going to try the head of the large river (Skagit, the Historical Quarterly suggests he means) and if I don't succeed there I will go to Fort Hope, come out on the Brigade Trail beyond Mount Manson and strike this way. Don't despair. I don't; and if perseverance will find the road, it shall be done.
      "I procured a copy of Anderson's map out here, which was the first time that I had any reliable information relative to the Brigade trail (Anderson explored all that country and made his map of Hudson's Bay Company trails in 1846. Evidently the DeLacy trail was marked on much later) and from the mountain I have been enabled to trace out the streams.
      "I am covered with bruises and sores and have cramps in my limbs from so much climbing and I shall need a long spell of rest when I come in; but never say die. DeLacy." Then on July 24 he wrote that he had found a practicable pass by the head of the Sumallo river through the mountains to the open country.

June 13, 1931
      On Aug. 10, 1858, word came that the trail was completed. The Northern Light [newspaper in old Whatcom] published an extra containing a letter from DeLacy: "Will you please announce in your paper that the Trail from Whatcom to Thompson's rive is now finished. It strikes the Fort Hope trail in what is called on Anderson's map 'Blackeye's Portage.' I will be in town tomorrow and will then be able to give you the particulars. Col. Shaw, who went wit me to the Brigade trail, can tell you more about it."
      We celebrated that night. Can't you hear the guns on Sehome hill booming out the good news? Don't you remember that banquet when they toasted DeLacy and the trail? "The fame of the former shall be echoed over the Cascades to the Rocky mountains and from the Rocky mountains to the farthest seas; while the latter shall stand as a monument to his triumph so long as there are gold regions to explore or immigrants to be enriched by the success of his labors."
      How worn and weary DeLacy looked that night and how glad he was to get to bed after the banquet. But how he must have glowed, too, at such praise for he hadn't a doubt but that his trail would be used. Then what an anticlimax it must have been when the Northern Light came out with the notice that another thousand dollars would clear up the first thirty-five miles of trail so that it could be used. By the time DeLacy had pushed his trail to the Thompson the first part of it, built way back in the dark ages of April, had grown up again, perhaps. Or maybe it always did need another thousand dollars worth of work on it?
      Anyhow, the thousand was subscribed in three days but so far the work hasn't been done. For "Whatcom faded away about that time, the Northern Light suspending publication shortly after the middle of September." (from Historical Quarterly)
      Oh dear. It is impossible to realize the fever excitement of that short lived first boom of Bellingham. Rumors of gold. The wild Fraser and the wider Douglas and his law that we should all pass through Victoria. That first trail of ours back in April before the ships began to arrive from San Francisco. The flooding of the Fraser and abandonment of the first trail. Miners waiting here for first trail. Miners waiting here for the trail which we kept promising them day after tomorrow. The town a seething, boiling city, poor Mother Eldridge nearly worked to death with all her new boarders. (I have no authority for it that she ever took any of the miners as boarders, but assume it from the fact that she had the only boarding house when the rush first began and she had plenty of practical business sense.) Her husband was already well to do and by 1858 she could have retired from her pioneer job of feeding the menfolks of early Whatcom, but she didn't. Instead, she expanded to become a hotel and kept it for years.
      Then, almost as quickly as it all began, emptiness again. Empty town. Deserted houses. Gone tents. Gone gamblers and drinkers. The big noises gone. The "light women" gone. No more goose to lay her golden egg. No more fat prices for city lots. No more anything save what had been here before with a dozen or so new settlers to show for all the racket. The new wharf, the two-story brick building, the lumber in the abandoned shacks for whoever needed it. And new hopes in the hearts of the permanent settlers. For they could never again be quite the same or ever believe but that another boom was just around the corner. In fact, that sort of expectancy hasn't worn off yet.

June 16, 1931
      Everybody wants his history to be authentic, accurate to a nicety. Nobody ever forgives the historian for wrong information, no matter how trifling. I, too, want my history to be dependable. But of equal importance to me is its interestingness. I wouldn't read some historians if I never learned history. And I wouldn't miss Bancroft if all he said were inaccuracies. [Hubert Howe Bancroft (1832-1918]
      Bancroft is the historian superb. He is witty, forceful, sarcastic, as mean as he can be sometimes, and right all the time. He dares to be impartial, too, which is a rarer quality than you might think. Mr. Shiels say that governments were always glad to permit Bancroft to delve into their archives, but that they learned to set guards over him while he was about it; he would take what he wanted and forget to return it. My plea for him would be that he had so long written about governmental and universal perfidy that he had forgotten that to steal was wrong, just as so many soldiers forgot that killing isn't done in the best of families, except when there is a war.
      Take this paragraph, about the gold excitement of 1858, from chapter Twenty of [Bancroft's] History of British Columbia:

      High above all principalities and powers, above religious fanaticism or love of empire, above patriotism, philanthropy, family affection, honor, virtue or things supernal or internal, there now arises in this Northwest wilderness an influence which overshadows every other influence, which shrivels into insignificance for companies. Increases to trade, pounds per acre, settlement, skins of wild beasts or lives of wild men, missionaries, governors, parliaments, houses of assembly and even rum. Here history begins anew. It is as though nothing had been; as though all was present and to come.
      Bancroft's History of British Columbia is as interesting as a novel. His chapter on the gold rush is short and salient. For goodness' sake read it. From "Sixty Years of Progress in British Columbia" this paragraph sums up a few of the changes which the gold rush caused in B.C.:
      Taking all things into consideration much was accomplished in that memorable year of 1858. No colony, perhaps, ever came into being in such peculiar circumstances as the Colony of British Columbia, for it is indeed extraordinary that a government should have been established in the wilderness so suddenly and so firmly. In 1857 there was no thought of British Columbia; British Columbia was a fact in 1858. In 1857 that territory was still an appanage [old word for a perquisite or revenue collected to maintain a member of a ruling family] of the Hudson's' Bay Company; in 1858 the grant of 1838 was revoked and the rule of the fur trader ceased once and forever.
      In 1857, besides the Hudson's Bay Company's employees, there were no white men resident on the mainland; In 1858 no less than 30,000 men entered the territory, of whom in spite of the exodus at the end of the year, several thousand remained to become permanent residents of this country.
      [Hole in copy] . . . you see while early America was heavily peopled with the English and English dominion was largely peopled with Americans; America was with English ancestors; Canada was with American ancestors; I never thought about that before. From un-governed, un-tracked wilderness in 1857, British Columbia very soon became a comparatively well-governed province with a long hew highway, the famous Barnard's Express (BX) going forth and back over it, miners and pack trains using it and towns growing up beside it. By 1864 the road had been completed clean up to the famous Barkerville [in the Cariboo BC interior] and the longest stage route in North America was inaugurated.

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(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.

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(bullet) Jones and Solveig Atterberry, NorthWest Properties Aiken & Associates: . . . See our website
Please let us show you residential and commercial property in Sedro-Woolley and Skagit County 2204 Riverside Drive, Mount Vernon, Washington . . . 360 708-8935 . . . 360 708-1729
(bullet) Oliver Hammer Clothes Shop at 817 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 86 years.
(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.
(bullet) Peace and quiet at the Alpine RV Park, just north of Marblemount on Hwy 20
Park your RV or pitch a tent by the Skagit River, just a short drive from Winthrop or Sedro-Woolley

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