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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore

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, founder & editor (bullet) , Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Alger, village with a past
Portal section

From Skagit Settlers, 1975, page 47
(Alger Cabin)
Several folks have loaned us copies of this photo of an early cabin near Lookout/Alger. This is the best scan. Does anyone know whose cabin it was? This vision must still be a dream for many.

      Until the 1880s the area around Alger, then known as Lookout, was a wilderness of splendid virgin timber, reached only by trails, and with few settlers. In 1889 the rails of the Fairhaven & Southern Railway, engineered by J.J. Donovan, opened up the region. In 1891, School District No. 48 was organized with Fred G. Abbey, G.N. Hancock and A. Little as directors, who employed Emma Herren as the first teacher, with 11 pupils, at a salary of $45 a month. The school continued under the name Lookout until 1914.
      It is not clear just when the name Alger began to be used but the expanding Bloedel-Donovan empire — the Lake Whatcom Logging Company, bought out the Alger Logging Company of Russell A. Alger and Revaux K. Hawley in 1901 and later added the timber holdings of E.L. Gaudette and of the Belfast Manufacturing Company. Logging operations continued at high speed through the First World War — soldiers of the "Spruce Division" were assigned to get out timber faster for the wood and canvas airplanes which fought in France. Hundreds of men worked in the woods, on the log trains and in the mills. The Kachinko Tavern and the Bliss Dance Hall gave them their diversion.
      When the virgin timber was gone in the 1920s the railways abandoned their lines and Alger relaxed into a quiet country village. Some of the logged off land made good farms and the rest is now covered with second growth timber. Route 99, the Pacific Highway, passed through Alger, but Interstate 5 passes to the side without touching it.
      [Ed. note: another source [website: http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/wa/blanchard.html] spells Hawley's first name as Ravand. We have found Hawley on the Internet and know that he had logging interests back east, first apparently in Pennsylvania and then in Michigan, where Russell A. Alger was governor and owned timber companies. We do not know when Hawley first invested here but it was apparently in the mid- to late-1880s. Besides the Alger operation, he financed George Blanchard's logging business over near the bay on the southern flank of Chuckanut Mountain. When Hawley died at the turn of the century, his heirs sold off his interests, which led to Blanchard closing down and the sale at Alger, as outlined below.

(Alger Tavern)
      This photo shows the old Kachinko Tavern, which became a restaurant during Prohibition, the probable time of this photo. Photo courtesy of Mike Aiken, a descendant of the upriver Minkler family.

Alger statistics 1914
From Skagit Memories, 1979, page 161, quoting Concrete Enterprise newspaper, March 7, 1914
      Population (local estimate) 400. A logging and dairy center located on the Pacific highway and a branch of Great Northern railway, about 13 miles south of Bellingham. It has one church, school facilities and electric lights.

Links, background reading and sources

Story posted on March 1, 2004, moved to this domain Oct. 31, 2011, updated May 2018
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