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Memories of Blanchard and Fravel,
including Florence Smith Lowe and Equality Colony

Dedicated to Florence Smith Lowe, Blanchard-born, 1912
We are sad to tell you that Florence passed away at age 99 in California in May 2011

By Noel V. Bourasaw, Skagit River Journal of History & Folklore ©2005, updated in 2010
(Fravel Dock)
The Fravel Dock sometime before 1900. Postcard courtesy of the Mike Aiken collection

      Hundreds of cars were parked in the open fields along the old McElroy slough in Blanchard on July 23, 2005. That was the assembly point for the shuttle bus tour to Taylor Shellfish Farms for the annual Bivalve bash. One old-timer remarked that he had not seen as many cars since Blanchard's centennial celebration in 1985. Unfortunately most of the visitors did not stop in at the old Great Northern depot that has been lovingly converted into a community hall. If they had, they would have seen dozens of photos of the original town named Fravel, then Blanchard, then Blanchard and Fravel, and finally Blanchard from 1913 on. Taylor's operation at Oyster creek represents the economic center of the area for the past 85 years. The original pioneers in the 19th century came for different reasons.
      Below we share a three-part introduction to memories of the towns of Blanchard and Fravel and an explanation of the two different names for the village. The first is a short memoir by Florence Smith Lowe. Florence, now 93 (2005) and living in California, is the sister of the late Frederick E. Smith, who wrote a manuscript about Equality Colony ten years before his death in 1979. Florence lovingly edited the manuscript, added footnotes and printed it in final manuscript form.
      She compiled the information, organized it and brought the whole project to the attention of the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies in Fairhaven, which is now part of the Northwest Regional State Archives. The resulting book, Equality Colony (1988), has become sort of a bible to students of the colony and it is crammed with hundreds of names and cites to newspaper stories from the period of 1896-1907, along with many photos. We have been corresponding with Florence for some time, having been introduced through the mail by Paula Thomas, who is writing a historical novel about Whatcom pioneer Isaac S. Kalloch.

    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 bedding. See our Journal feature on this local business and learn more details and how to order items at their website.

      In 1988 she remembered the annual August picnic in Blanchard so she traveled north from California and showed her completed project to JoAnne Prentice and other old-timers in town. They were very enthusiastic, as were the librarians in Skagit and Whatcom county whom she contacted. She then brought the whole project to the attention of the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies in Fairhaven, which is now part of the Northwest Regional State Archives. James Scott and his staff took over the printing and distribution and the resulting book, Equality Colony, has become sort of a bible to students of the colony. It is crammed with hundreds of names and citations to newspaper stories from the period of 1896-1910, along with many photos. We have corresponded with Florence for some time, having been introduced through the mail by Paula Thomas, who is writing a historical novel about Whatcom pioneer Isaac S. Kalloch.
      Fred Smith wrote the original manuscript in the late 60's; he never saw the finished book. Nearly 10 years passed before Florence was able to edit the manuscript and add footnotes. She remembered the annual picnic that took place in Blanchard every August. So she went up there, showed the townspeople the book, went to Bellingham and Mount Vernon libraries to see if they wanted a copy, which they did. The Archives printed copies and sold them for $18. A woman in Blanchard named JoAnne Prentice has used excerpts from the book as part of her talks all over Skagit County.
      The second part below is a Burlington Journal newspaper article from 1976. The third part is our Journal research into the town and its pioneers, partly derived from interviewing Frank Pratt, who will be 90 this year and who was a classmate of Florence at the old Blanchard grade school, which opened in 1906 and served the community until 1942.
      This chapter of the story serves as an introduction to a series we first published in issues 29 and 30 of the Subscribers Edition, covering Blanchard, Fravel, the Colony and Edward R. Murrow, the favorite son. The series is the result of a series of interviews with descendants of the pioneers, and a profile of the pioneer Coble family. The living descendants include Frank Pratt, who will be 90 this year. He was a classmate of Florence at the old Blanchard grade school, which opened in 1906 and served the community until 1942, and he added to our research on Blanchard's favorite son, broadcaster Edward R. Murrow.

Florence Smith Lowe's memoir
Memories of Blanchard 1912-24
By Florence Smith Lowe
      I was fortunate to have been born in 1912 in the town of Blanchard, which was an ideal place for children to grow in. It was surrounded by waterways, farms, lovely hills with deep woods, and Elephant Back Mountain, and best of all, "The Rock," a huge monolith that was the size of two city blocks and 100 feet high. The town was nestled at the foot of two mountains, had numerous creeks and was less than a mile from the bay..
      I used to climb The Rock and pick dogtooth violets and dodge the garter snakes. Conservation was not a subject in those days or I wouldn't have picked so many flowers and I only hope there are still some violets there. Then, at Hoehn's hill, I picked trilliums by the dozen, as well as little yellow violets and blue violets.
      My family used to go up on the hill and pick wild blackberries, which were put in pies in the winter. Nothing more delicious. I often picked morel mushrooms in the acres owned by the Flynns. We never lacked for good food: my mother always had a garden; my father went hunting and brought back pheasants and ducks. Often he would get me up at 3 a.m. to catch the [Pacific Northwest Traction electrified] Interurban to Clayton Bay, where he spread his nets for smelt, always with good luck. I think my father had one of the few telephones in town; anyway, everybody used it. It was on the wall of the confectionery and the operator dialed the number you wanted. Our phone number was 17F21.
      Nearby, there was a creek dashing down the hill and someone had tied a swing to a strong branch of a tree, and we could swing way out over the creek, without a thought of danger. That creek joined with other creeks and formed a slough. My brothers made a raft on which we used to float down the slough to the bay, sliding under the bridge near the lumber mill.
      When I was about six years old, my mother arranged for me to take piano lessons from Mrs. Frank, the butcher's wife, so I walked down the railroad tracks a mile or so, trying my best to keep on a track without slipping. When I started school, Mr. Bentz, our wonderful teacher, asked me to play the organ so that the school could sing songs every morning when school started, including Flow Gently, Sweet Afton, Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms, Juanita, Yankee Doodle, etc.
      We had excellent teachers: Mrs. Dora Frederickson, Miss Gladys Ryan, Miss Kernaghan and, earlier, the Misses Crawshaw and Mr. Bentz was the principal. We had many activities, as well as the regular subjects, programs at the community hall, participation in the county track meets at Burlington, spelling bees with Avon and Bow schools nearby, and picnics at Larrabee and Fairhaven Parks, which meant rides up the scenic Chuckanut Drive.
      When we graduated from grade school, we went to Edison High School [which later burned and has been replaced by the present Edison Elementary], and I should mention that our bus driver was Edward R. Murrow, known then as Egbert Roscoe Murrow. Mrs. Murrow taught me to tat, and I made many edgings for handkerchiefs, thanks to her. She won prizes at the County Fair, but I never did.
      The community spirit kept life together and I can remember no feuds, disagreements or such. The names of families that I can recall are listed below. In 1924 my father lost his store and we moved to Everett. In The Mazda, the Edison High School yearbook calendar, there was an item: "Dec. 11, 1924, Florence Smith, the baby of the school, left to move to Everett. I am so glad it was home to me those early years of 1912-24.
      The names I remember include: the Coble family, Jimmy Whitehill, Pease (railroad master), Alice Coble Lawson (postmistress), Morrison, Hinkston, Orr, Wright, Keithline-Marsh, Hasselberg, Schmitt, [T.V. "Victor"] Pratt [see his son Frank's interview at the separate Old-Timers link], Murrow, Flynn, Holliday, Turnmeyer, Shadle, Hower, Pete Peronteau, Kaufman, Eggleston, Giles, Hoehn, Burke, Lehman, Gross, Cartee, Myers, Thornton, Rose, Larson, Barr, Smith, Frank, Bullow, Bentz, Simmons, Lawson, Beckwith, Dowell, Frederickson, Zavolis, Zarris, Anderson, Mueller, Emis, Bonham, Hopple, Cooper, Kaulk, Leikum, LeDoux, Williams. I should also mention Mr. Fravel and his daughters, Rebecca and Blanche. Walter Friesen, who was born in Anacortes and knows the whole territory very well, lives here, and I will ask him if he has any information he could send you. [Ed. note: the Whitehill name is a nightmare for researchers. During the early years, the name was recorded with both hill and hall. And today the name of the creek that flows through the Hower/Fravel property north of town is spelled Whitehall. A 1909 obituary actually spells the name both ways, in the headline and then in the body of the story. In that story, we learned that one of the Fravel daughters married Capt. D.D. Whitehill, a rancher near Fravel.]
      My brother Frederick was born in Blanchard on Oct. 13, 1914, and died at Seattle on April 17, 1979. He left Blanchard when I did, Dec. 11, 1924. Since I moved to California with my husband in 1964, I have made at least 25 trips to Washington, many along with my daughters, Margaret and Ruth Ann. Ruth Ann attended Mount Holyoke as did members of E.R. Murrow's family, so that is how I have kept in touch with him since we attended Edison High School together.
      Ed. note: see our separate collection of descendant interviews for Florence's memories of when she and Fred grew up in Fravel/Blanchard.

Blanchard shifts from logging to oysters
Undated 1976 article from the Skagit Valley Herald
      In 1885, George Blanchard started a logging operation at what is now Blanchard, Washington. The men employed brought their families and started building homes. The first post office was established July 20, 1886, with George Blanchard named as postmaster. The office was discontinued in 1891 but reestablished Sept. 9, 1903, under the name of Fravel.
      Mr. [John] Fravel, an explorer, settled near the bay. The Fravel property was divided when the railroad was built [1901-03]. Other early families living on farms in the immediate vicinity were the Morrisons, Burns and Wrights. Other logging interests moved in when the post office was restored. The Hazel Mill Co. bought property and a large logging and lumber industry began. In addition to the mill, there were two logging camps on the hill [Blanchard Mountain]. Many families lived at the camp near the lakes on the hilltop. About 600 men were employed in this operation and there was a large boarding and rooming house to accommodate the workers. The railroad depot was called Blanchard and the post office Fravel. In 1915 a vote was taken and the majority ruled to have the post office changed to Blanchard.
      The town of Blanchard was originally laid out with two plats. One was filed by Terry Coble and the other by Wendell Morrison. Until 1942, Blanchard had its own grade school. Three teachers were employed and the school had modern rooms and a large gymnasium. In 1942 the school districts were consolidated and the children attend elementary school in Edison and high school in Burlington. In 1951 the people banded together and raised the money to buy the old Great Northern depot building, which they remodeled into a modern Community Club hall. With much hard labor and many donations, this hall became the center of activities and also used by surrounding areas as well. The Blanchard post office and store closed in October 1975. Since the logging industry waned the principal industry has been oyster raising and marketing, with Rock Point the largest grower and shipper in the area.
      Tillie Coble is the unofficial historian of Blanchard. She keeps old newspaper clips and photographs of the area tucked away in her closet. The schoolhouse bell from the Equality socialist colony sits atop her garage. And anecdotes about the old days are stored in her head.
      Mrs. Coble was born in 1897, the same year that Ed Pelton, the leader of colony came to Blanchard to build the ideal community to change the state of Washington into a giant cooperative. She was born near Burlington and later moved with her family to a farm near Allen. She did not start school until she was eight but she kept going until she had completed the normal school [now Western Washington University] in Bellingham, and was prepared to teach school herself.
      At 19 years, she was hired as the teacher at the one-room Bow Hill school. She taught for one year and then married George Coble in 1918. They moved into the same house on Chuckanut drive they live in today. There they raised three children. Mr. Coble farmed and worked for Rock Point Oyster Co. and Mrs. Coble worked for 22 year in the post office.
      Although she was only a young girl, Mrs. Coble remembers Equality and its members. She was about ten years old when she saw the big ovens where the bread was baked. She remembers being told that when clothes were washed you did not always get the same ones back [that] you put in the dirty laundry.
      She remembers how the colony people worked at the mill in Blanchard after the colony closed. Her uncle rented the colony land after it closed. "It just didn't work out," she said about the colony. "It was human nature."

(Samish Bay Mill)
      This is a photo of the Samish Bay Logging Co. mill at Blanchard at the mouth of the slough. We are looking north and the photo was taken sometime after 1912. You can see another copy of this photo in Dennis Blake Thompson's book, Logging Railroads of Skagit County He noted that his photo was from Ina Burkhart, whose husband, Lewis Clifford "Cliff" Burkhart, was the superintendent of the Lizard Lake logging camp and incline on Blanchard Mountain.

Journal research on Blanchard/Fravel
      In this introduction to our research we want to briefly answer the question that many readers email us about: why was the town named both Blanchard and Fravel? We hope that descendants of the original pioneers will read this article and help us fill in the gaps. And we plan to interview the last descendant of John H. Fravel, who lives within a mile of his ancestor's home.
      Both town names derive from early pioneers. Back in the 1860s the area was a sleepy little cove where Indians of the Samish tribe fished and camped as their ancestors had for eons. Their serenity was altered in 1864-65 when the Western Union Company and the California State Telegraph Company began erecting an overland telegraph line up the West Coast. Their plan was to continue building the line through British Columbia and Alaska, lay a cable under the narrow Bering Strait and then continue the land line across Russia to Europe. In the mid-1860s Cyrus W. Field's trans-Atlantic cable project was thwarted by breaks in that undersea cable. When the telegraph project reached the Puget Sound, the supervisors hired John H. Fravel to head the construction crew. Fravel had lived here in the Northwest since 1858 when he came here with the rush of miners who sought placer gold at the Fraser river in British Columbia.
      When Fravel strung wire through the Samish river flats and the area around present-day Blanchard, he hired another pioneer, William "Blanket Bill" to transport wire, insulators and supplies in his sloop, Alice, on Samish Bay and Chuckanut Bay. The wires reached Whatcom county on March 16, 1865, and the first message on the completed telegraph line was the assassination of Abraham Lincoln on April 14 that year. Fravel continued building the line north through Birch Bay, Semiahmoo and up to New Westminster, but the project failed when the Atlantic cable proved durable after all.
      JoAnn Roe notes in her 1995 book, Ghost Camps & Boom Towns, that the first permanent settlers on what is now known as Blanchard slough were Wesley Whitener and John Gray, who operated a logging camp. A handful of loggers and farmers moved nearby over the next decade. Roe also discovered that Fravel returned to the area in 1871 and took up land, apparently on a pre-emption claim that allowed him to stake out acreage in advance of an actual survey. He laid out a village that went by the name of Fravel but he did not plat a town. Details are sketchy about how long he stayed and if he lived here permanently but, as Florence Smith Lowe recalls, at least two of Fravel's daughters lived in the area as late as the Teen years of the early 1900s. From other research we know that another early settler was Cutler (sometimes spelled Cutlar), who shot a pig on San Juan Island in 1859 and almost caused a mini-war between Britain and the U.S. The first school in the Samish Bay area was conducted in Cutler's log cabin in 1873 with seven pupils from the Stevens and Wood families, who were taught by the oldest Stevens girl. Most early settlement and development centered on Samish island and Edison to the southwest.
      The booklet that was published for the centennial in 1985 included names of other early settlers, including John Gray, who began logging in 1867; James Hutchins, who logged in 1869 on what later became known as the Whitehill [actually Whitehall] place; Ben Samson, who was a key pioneer of nearby Edison; Watson Hodge, John Straighthoof, Joseph Hall, John Cornwell, "Cat" John Wafner, Joe Larry [this could have been Joe Leary for whom the slough near Bayview is named); William J. Brown, who settled the nearby town of Bow; and Thomas Hayes, who was also a pioneer of Swinomish and Edison.
      In 1885 George B. Blanchard homesteaded in the future-Blanchard area. By the early years of that decade, the dense forests on Blanchard Mountain and Chuckanut Mountain, north and northwest of the present town, attracted many loggers who branched out from the forests along the river waterways of Skagit county. The slough at what is now Blanchard was then called McElroy slough after James H. McElroy. There was no access by road to the slough at that time. Visitors arrived either by foot over old Indian trails or by the steamboat called the Salt Chuck. McElroy constructed a crude horse-drawn tram railroad at his logging site near Samish Bay in the mid-1880s but he was undercapitalized and George and his brother Dudley Blanchard took over his operation in 1886 after a forest fire raged through the area. The little village on the slough took on the name of Blanchard when the federal government granted a post office but the village was still not platted.
      The Blanchard family built up their logging camp rapidly and they joined local merchants and settlers who erected a long floating wharf out over Samish bay in 1888. The Dec. 10, 1888, Skagit News newspaper, reported that their right of way was in place and they had erected a "substantial logging railroad," which replaced McElroy's horsepower tram with a standard-gauge road, on 40-pound steel rails, that was five miles long. In his 1989: book, Logging Railroads in Skagit County, Dennis Blake Thompson described what must have been the most thrilling day in the village in August 1888 when the new, small, 2-6-0 locomotive from the Baldwin Locomotive Works, arrived on a barge and was unloaded on the new wharf. Ninety men logged in the nearby woods that winter, drawing a payroll of $180 per day. Ships had to anchor considerably offshore because of the very shallow water on the tidal flats. Those flats were home to oysters, shellfish and fish, including smelt, and in that same year, Dennis Storrs of Mount Vernon began cultivating oysters nearby.
      Blanchard soon obtained financing from eastern investors, General Russell A. Alger of Detroit and Ravaud K. Hawley of Cleveland. Starting in 1885, George Blanchard signed contracts with the easterners whereby they financed purchase of timberland on Blanchard and Chuckanut mountains and gave the Blanchards an option to buy up to 25 percent of the property when they could afford to. An article in the April 28, 1890, Puget Sound Mail newspaper of LaConner reported that Blanchard & Sons was by far the largest such company in the north Puget sound area. The company announced plans to log and mill 20 million board feet of timber, with the help of 100 men and 20 oxen on two miles of skid road, all of which was backed by Alger & Co. of Michigan. According to the centennial pamphlet, sometime in that period, Wendell T. Morrison amassed a 640-acre farm at the south end of what is now Blanchard.

The town stalled at the turn of the 20th century
      Then the nationwide Depression set in from 1893-97 and local logging limped along, only profitable when the market for timber provided prices that exceeded the costs for labor and transportation. Even after the local economy recovered, both the railroad and logging operations slowed to a halt by 1899-1900 because of the age and health of the eastern financial backers. Hawley died in 1900 and Alger retired from business after a disastrous stint as Secretary of War for President William McKinley. Alger died on Jan. 24, 1907. Blanchard's early logging equipment and contracts were initially taken over by the Lake Whatcom Logging Co., the Bloedel-Donovan and Larson interests from Whatcom county. During that same time, the Equality Colony, a socialist cooperative operated from 1897-1907 southeast of town on what is now known as Colony hill and road. A temporary boost to the local economy, it crashed and burned after only ten years but left its name on hills, roads and waterways in the area. We profile the colony in Journal links you will find below.
      Starting in 1901, the Great Northern Railroad began laying out a new route to Bellingham from the town of Belleville on the Olympia Marsh, southeast of Fravel. The former GN tracks followed the route around Lake Samish that was laid by the original Fairhaven & Southern Railway in 1889. The new route, which became known as the Chuckanut Cut-Off, ran on a diagonal northwest from Belleville, then angled through the new town of Bow and bisected the original village of Fravel/Blanchard before curving west around Blanchard and Chuckanut mountains and hugging the shoreline north to Fairhaven. The new route opened in January 1903 and brought a temporary upswing in the economy with the delivery of mail and freight by rail. At that point, rail transport overtook the old commerce on the wharf, which was eventually torn down. But for some reason, the new depot was named Blanchard while the reopened post office was named Fravel. Why? We hope that a reader will have a newspaper article or other documents or family memories from 1903 that will explain the seeming paradox of the names.
      The Hazel Mill Co. opened in 1906 over the inlet between the slough and Blanchard mountain. Just three years before, Great Northern opened their new rail route through the village, as we explain in detail blow. This marks the beginning of the second period of economic growth in the area after both the Blanchard family and John H. Fravel had departed. Fravel died in 1905 in Bellingham. We have not determined where the Blanchard brothers went and none of the old-timers have any memory of their activities after the 1890s. We hope that a reader can fill in that gap. George A. Cooper, F.D. Alpine and D.A. McMartin opened the Hazel mill with capitalization of $75,000 and within six years the company proved to be undercapitalized. Thompson found a May 1914 issue of The Timberman magazine in which Cooper explained, after the mill re-opened following a seven-month shutdown, that it is: "just about as well to go busted running as to go busted closed." (See the 2010 main Blanchard story for our updates that fill in the gaps about the Blanchard family.)

Four growth spurts and then decline
      The local economy experienced four spurts of growth in that period. In 1912, one of the best years for county businesses, the Interurban line ran from Bellingham to Mount Vernon, hugging the shoreline below Chuckanut Mountain and continuing directly south through the western edge of Blanchard, where a mini-depot was constructed. Also in that year, well capitalized eastern interests once again came along to provide more sure-footing for local logging. C.B. Howard and Co. of Emporium, Pennsylvania, formed the Samish Bay Logging Co. in 1912, in league with their other operation, Parker-Bell Lumber Co. of Pilchuck. Local business boomed again when construction of Chuckanut drive proceeded north along the shoreline, climaxed in 1915 by the opening of one of the most beautiful scenic highways in the world. A special convict camp was erected on Oyster creek to house inmate teams who dug into the shale cliffs with picks and hammers.
      The Hazel Mill continued in fits and starts over the next few years and most people still refer to the local operation as the Hazel, but Samish Bay Logging Co. took over the logging contracts on Blanchard Mountain and operated the inclines on the steep hillsides, as well as the logging camps on Lizard Lake and Lost Lake. The Hazel Mill owners apparently sold out all their interests to Samish Bay sometime after a bad rail accident in 1917. In that same year, bandits boarded the northbound GN train near Blanchard and killed three passengers while robbing the others. They escaped and were never caught, presumably whisked away on a mysterious launched that was seen out on the bay. There was a second brief uptick in the local economy after the U.S. declared war against Germany in April. Lumber prices increased dramatically in just a few days, rising from $16 to $116 per 1,000 board feet, and spruce was at a premium for aircraft manufacturing, but the mill owners did not hike wages accordingly. Forest fires shut down logging operations periodically, the most serious one occurring in 1925, when women and children were nearly trapped at their camp at the top of the incline. The inclines operated through 1926, when a profitable tract called the Saling Timber was logged for a third profitable spurt, but by 1927, most of the Blanchard Mountain tracts were logged off. At that time, the SBLC principals shifted their attention to a new operation in Panama and the mill in Blanchard closed in 1928.
      From a peak area population of 1,000 just after the turn of the century, the town faded each decade after the mill closed, and less than 100 people live there now. In the Teen years, oyster propagation and culture became a major business after Japanese immigrants planted seed that they had brought over the ocean. After anti-alien laws were passed in 1919, U.S. citizens took over ownership of the company and the Steele family's Rock Point Oyster Co. thrived from 1923 on, as did the nearby Blau family's oyster business on Samish island. That activity just north of Blanchard on Oyster creek marked the third period of local history and we will feature that in an upcoming issue. The Rock Point group sold out to Taylor United Inc. of Shelton, Washington, in 1991. The Taylor operation hosted the Bivalve Bash on July 23, the same day as the Blanchard open house.

Behind the two names for the town
(Downtown Blanchard)
Downtown Blanchard sometime post-1915. In this postcard from the Mike Aiken collection, we think we are looking south down what was then Virginia street and what is now Legg road. The five mill houses on the left were just north of the business district. At the left, the road curves as Legg road does now, becoming Blanchard road, which curves north past the Hower/Fravel property and then climbs up the hill to meet Chuckanut drive.

      So, why did the town sport both names over the years? As Mrs. Coble noted, the first post office was established July 20, 1886, with George Blanchard named as postmaster, hence the name Blanchard. Problem number one: we know that the post office was discontinued in 1891 but no one gives any details of why, other than that was the year that George Blanchard closed it and moved down to Tacoma. That was more than a year before the nationwide financial panic shut down both investment and financial institutions, but perhaps the logging business was one of the first hit. Problem number two: we know that the post office reestablished on Sept. 9, 1903, under the name of Fravel, but again we do not know the details of why the name Fravel was chosen. As you can see in our biography of Fravel, he moved his family to Whatcom in 1889 and he died there in 1905. A couple of sources attribute the change to a conflict with other offices named Blanchard, but that seems odd. If that were the case, why was the name Blanchard allowed in the first place, just five years before?
      The only clue is JoAnn Roe's brief comment that John Fravel settled near the slough again in about 1901. We have no other verification for that move; indeed, we know that he built a grand new house in the consolidated town of Bellingham in 1903. We hope that readers will have documents and photos about the Blanchard and Fravel eras.
      We do know that, starting in 1903, the town had a strange situation where the post office was named Fravel but the railroad depot was named Blanchard. Whatever the reason, the double names continued until at leastb1913. Sometime in that year the residents of the town held a referendum and decided that both the depot and post office should be named Blanchard. The only detail we have found is that the U.S. Postal Service designated Blanchard as the post office name that year. To complicate matters even further, two sources time that referendum in 1915. We still have some interviews to conduct, so we hope to find the answers to these questions, or maybe a reader can help?
      As we close this brief summary of the knowns and unknowns of Blanchard, we should note that the most famous early resident was Edward R. Murrow, who became famous as a World War II correspondent for CBS and a commentator for the network after that. Egbert Roscoe Murrow was born on April 25, 1908, in Polecat Creek, North Carolina. When he was about five years old, his parents, Roscoe and Ethel Murrow, moved the family to Blanchard in hopes of obtaining a job in the lumber business. You can read much more about him and memories of his family in our story with interviews of descendants of Blanchard pioneers in Issue 29 of the optional Subscribers Edition.

Left: This is the community hall in Blanchard, the former Great Northern Railway depot, which was moved from its original nearby location.. Right: Click on this thumbnail photo to see the full aerial photo looking north that shows Blanchard Mountain and Chuckanut Mountain in relation to the town of Blanchard. Photo courtesy of this website that discusses a very contentious controversy at Blanchard now about logging on Blanchard Mountain. Photo by Dennis Allen..
(Community Hall)
(Aerial photo of Blanchard)

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(bullet) Our newest sponsor: Cygnus Gallery, 109 Commercial St., half-block uphill from Main Street, LaConner. Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 5 p.m., featuring new monthly shows with many artists, many local. Across the street from Maple Hall, 1886 Bank Building and Marcus Anderson's 1969 historic cabin. Their website will be up in early 2010.
(bullet) Oliver-Hammer Clothes Shop at 817 Metcalf Street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 89 years.
(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
(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.

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