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Dick B
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Dick B
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PostTue Jan 30, 2024 11:18 am 
In a recent post to the Stevens Pass historical thread, Schroder mentioned 2 old sawmill towns that once existed along the Stevens Pass Highway. I thought it might be interesting to get some feedback about other towns that have met a similar fate over the years. I will mention a few that I know of down here in Oregon. Valsetz was a fairly large sawmill town located in the coast range west Salem. The mill closed and was removed, along with the town, in 1984. The town had a population of about 300 and averaged nearly 130 inches of rain a year. Kinzua was another sawmill town outside of Fossil Oregon. It once had 125 homes and the mill operated until 1978. All that remains today is a 6 hole golf course that was built in a pasture by the residents. The town of Bates was located on the upper reaches of the Middle Fork of the John Day River. The town at one time had up to 400 residents and closed in 1975. Houses were sold to residents for a dollar apiece. Some were moved and some were salvaged for materials. I'm not familiar what Washingtons lumbering history has been. I visited friends in Grisdale back in the '50s. It was a logging town with a reload and was located west of Shelton. As far as I know, nothing remains of any of these sites. Many sawmills have closed over the years, but the towns where they were located still remain.

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JonnyQuest
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PostTue Jan 30, 2024 11:27 am 
Dick B wrote:
I visited friends in Grisdale back in the '50s. It was a logging town with a reload and was located west of Shelton.
https://www.ghosttowns.com/states/wa/grisdale.html

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Schroder
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PostTue Jan 30, 2024 12:29 pm 
I think every western Washington town was a sawmill town. Among those that disappeared the first one that comes to mind is Lester.

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Pyrites
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PostTue Jan 30, 2024 1:16 pm 
Yeah, you used to smell the beehive burners before you got to a town.

Keep Calm and Carry On? Heck No. Stay Excited and Get Outside!

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Schroder
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PostTue Jan 30, 2024 2:10 pm 
A friend of mine wrote a novel based on logging towns in the Skykomish Valley around 1937 & the conflicts with the unions. I enjoyed it and I think it paints a pretty accurate picture of life in the woods back then. https://a.co/d/5ghrP9A

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Jake
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PostThu Feb 01, 2024 5:54 am 
I don't know where you separate logging towns from logging camps. Some of those camps were quite big and lasted for some years. There was one on the east side of Kellogg Lake below the Sultan Basin.

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Dick B
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PostThu Feb 01, 2024 8:07 am 
Jake wrote:
I don't know where you separate logging towns from logging camps. Some of those camps were quite big and lasted for some years. There was one on the east side of Kellogg Lake below the Sultan Basin.
Good question. I guess I would consider Camp Grisdale as the closest to being a logging town. It had a school, a lot of single family homes, company store, dormitory, and a movie theater. It remained as such for nearly 40 years. I believe the town was there because the Simpson Company had entered into a "100 year sustained yield" program with the Forest Service, and I think it was meant to be a permeant facility. When that contract was nullified, the need for the town went away and it was demolished. During my forestry schooling in the '50s, I stayed briefly in two, what I consider, logging camps. The first was located on the North Fork of the John Day River on Highway 395 here in Oregon. It had several single-family homes, a cook house and a bunkhouse for single guys. I don't remember any other amenities. Kids went to school in Ukiah, and shopping was done in Pilot Rock or Pendleton. The camp was there to supply logs to the mill in Pilot Rock. I assume the camp went away because the timber ran out. The other camp was located outside of Glenwood WA. The workers supplied logs to the mill in Klickitat. I was there as a student for my last 5 weeks at the U of W. They put us up in old WW2 wall tents, and we ate at the cook house along with the single loggers. I don't think there is a mill any longer at Klickitat. I'm sure the camp is gone. But Glenwood is still there. Back in the early days of railroad logging here in Central Oregon, there were logging camps that moved around by rail. There were small family units provided as well as a school. After an area was logged out, the whole camp was moved by rail to a new location. The old sites can still be found by the huge can dumps that were left behind.

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mike
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PostThu Feb 01, 2024 9:48 am 
Camp dump during construction at Grand Coulee Dam
Camp dump during construction at Grand Coulee Dam

Jimbo
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mike
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PostThu Feb 01, 2024 10:32 am 
English Lumber Co later Puget Sound Pulp & Timber which was in turn bought by Georgia Pacific. I worked for GP to pay for college and had access to all of the old data. EL had a series of numbered camps starting around Stanwood. see Kinsey for photos. I think my Dad worked in one as a kid. Up near Finn Settlement. Don't remember what #.

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Schroder
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PostThu Feb 01, 2024 12:20 pm 
Here are some sawills that were on Highway 2 between Monroe and Stevens Pass: Monroe The Wagner and Wilson mill was just north of town on Wagner Lake and operated from 1900 to 1936. At it's peak it cut 65,000 board feet per day and employed 125.
Wagner and Wilson mill ca. 1900; photographer unknown
Wagner and Wilson mill ca. 1900; photographer unknown
Location of Wagner & Wilson mill
Location of Wagner & Wilson mill
Startup The Wallace Lumber mill was at the east end of town on the northeast corner of the intersection with Kellogg Lake Road. I believe it held the record in Washington for cutting the largest diameter log. The mill was still standing up to the 1970's.
Wallace Lumber 1911; Lee Pickett
Wallace Lumber 1911; Lee Pickett
Wallace Lumber 1911; Lee Pickett
Wallace Lumber 1911; Lee Pickett
Wallace Lumber 1925; Lee Pickett
Wallace Lumber 1925; Lee Pickett
Wallace Lumber 1925; Lee Pickett
Wallace Lumber 1925; Lee Pickett
Location of Wallace Lumber
Location of Wallace Lumber
Gold Bar The Gold Bar Lumber Company mill was near the fish hatchery at the west end of town and was pretty large, employing about 300. I can't find any information on when it shut down.
Gold Bar Lumber 1910; Lee Pickett
Gold Bar Lumber 1910; Lee Pickett
Gold Bar Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Gold Bar Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Location of Gold Bar Lumber
Location of Gold Bar Lumber
Index Index-Galena Mill was on the south side of the bridge into town where the trailhead for Heybrook Ridge is now. This was a sizable mill that operated from about 1910 to its shutdown in 1929. A lot of remnants are still at the site.
Index-Galena Lumber 1910; Lee Pickett
Index-Galena Lumber 1910; Lee Pickett
Index-Galena Lumber 1910; Lee Pickett
Index-Galena Lumber 1910; Lee Pickett
Index-Galena Lumber 1910; Lee Pickett
Index-Galena Lumber 1910; Lee Pickett
Index-Galena Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Index-Galena Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Index-Galena Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Index-Galena Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Index-Galena Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Index-Galena Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Index-Galena Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Index-Galena Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Index-Galena Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Index-Galena Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Location of Index-Galena Lumber
Location of Index-Galena Lumber
Heybrook The Heybrook Mill was a couple of miles up the highway from Index - where the coffee stand is now. It operated from 1903 to about 1927 and cut over 60,000 board feet a day. The "Heybrook Village" had a population over 250 in 1916.
Heybrook Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Heybrook Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Heybrook Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Heybrook Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Heybrook Lumber 1912; Lee Pickett
Heybrook Lumber 1912; Lee Pickett
Heybrook Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Heybrook Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Heybrook Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Heybrook Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Location of Heybrook Lumber
Location of Heybrook Lumber
Baring There was a shingle mill in Baring but I can't find it's exact location.
Baring shingle mill 1912; Lee Pickett
Baring shingle mill 1912; Lee Pickett
Baring shingle mill 1912; Lee Pickett
Baring shingle mill 1912; Lee Pickett
Grotto There was a sawmill in Grotto, perhaps where the cement plant was later built
Grotto sawmill 1911; Lee Pickett
Grotto sawmill 1911; Lee Pickett
Skykomish The Bloedel-Donovan mill was about a mile west of Skykomish on the old highway toward Miller River where there's a small community today known as Milltown. It operated from 1910 until 1958. A friend of mine owned the millsite since it shut down and just sold it a couple of weeks ago.
Bloedel Donovan Mill 1923; Lee Pickett
Bloedel Donovan Mill 1923; Lee Pickett
Bloedel Donovan Mill 1913; Lee Pickett
Bloedel Donovan Mill 1913; Lee Pickett
Location of Bloedel Donovan mill
Location of Bloedel Donovan mill
Alpine The town of Alpine (or Nippon earlier) was on the hillside along the railroad tracks just south of Alpine Falls. The mill operated from 1910 to 1928. HistoryLink has a very interesting article on its President, Carl Lane Clemens.
Nippon Lumber 1912; Lee Pickett
Nippon Lumber 1912; Lee Pickett
Nippon Lumber 1912; Lee Pickett
Nippon Lumber 1912; Lee Pickett
Nippon Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Nippon Lumber 1913; Lee Pickett
Alpine 1918 ; Lee Pickett
Alpine 1918 ; Lee Pickett
Alpine 1925 ; Lee Pickett
Alpine 1925 ; Lee Pickett
Alpine 1925 ; Lee Pickett
Alpine 1925 ; Lee Pickett
Alpine 1925 ; Skykomish Historical Society
Alpine 1925 ; Skykomish Historical Society
Location of Alpine mill
Location of Alpine mill
There were many other small sawmills along the Skykomish River but I think I've covered the major ones. Most of them shut down during the crash of the 20's and only the Skykomish mill was restarted.

Jimbo, day_hike_mike, seawallrunner, RichP, Ski, Lightning_bug
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Ski
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PostFri Feb 02, 2024 3:31 am 
Frances and Lebam were both "mill towns" - now hardly wide spots in the road. They milled cedar shingles from what is now the Capitol State Forest. My late step-father worked at Grisdale.

"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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Schroder
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PostSat Feb 03, 2024 11:16 am 
I've added some more photos and maps to my post above.

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Dick B
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Dick B
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PostSat Feb 03, 2024 4:30 pm 
Schroder wrote:
I've added some more photos and maps to my post above.
Thanks for the additional pictures. I didn't realize there were that many mills operating along the Stevens Pass highway over the years. I assume the early ones were powered by steam. Also, I wonder what they did with the debris; slabs, sawdust, bark etc? I only saw a burner at the Index Galena mill and little smoke from any. Might have fed boilers for steam? South Whidbey had several small portable mills when I was growing up. My Dad was a sawyer at one down near Glendale. It was run by steam. I got to go with him once and watch him fire it up. We used to get slab wood for firewood from there. The GN RR had to have loved the mills as they produced a lot of freight. Considering the time period, a lot of the product had to have gone to building Seattle, and to Frisco after the '06 earthquake. They must have had some good sized head rigs to handle those large logs. I would grade some of them as #1 peelers if they were going into a plywood mill.

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Schroder
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PostSun Feb 04, 2024 7:49 am 
There was a town called National, just west of Ashford on the Nisqually River, that had the Pacific National Lumber Company mill from 1905 to 1942. Clark Kinsey (Darius' brother) took quite a few photos of it. In the collection at the University of Washington it describes the town: "A post office was established December 3, 1910. The sawmill and a large part of the town burned May 13, 1912, but was rebuilt. In 1940, a writer for the WPA described National as a town of small, red, boxlike cottages crowded onto crooked, planked streets and dominated by the large red sawmill."
Location of Pacific National Lumber
Location of Pacific National Lumber
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Pacific National Lumber; Clark Kinsey
Nearby in Mineral, there was another sawmill that went through a few owners - L.T. Murray started Mineral Lake Lumber Company in 1910, West Fork Logging Companybought it in 1927 and then St Regis Paper Company in 1943. It all burned in 1964.
Location of Mineral mill
Location of Mineral mill
West Fork Timber ; Clark Kinsey
West Fork Timber ; Clark Kinsey
West Fork Timber ; Clark Kinsey
West Fork Timber ; Clark Kinsey
West Fork Timber ; Clark Kinsey
West Fork Timber ; Clark Kinsey
There are some great photos and a description of Mineral's history on the Mineral Lake Lodge website.

day_hike_mike
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Schroder
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PostSun Feb 04, 2024 1:30 pm 
Dick B wrote:
South Whidbey had several small portable mills when I was growing up. My Dad was a sawyer at one down near Glendale. It was run by steam. I got to go with him once and watch him fire it up. We used to get slab wood for firewood from there.
Glendale in 1923. Nothing there now - the hotel building and the dock were removed just a few years ago.
Glendal 1923 ; South Whidbey Historical Society
Glendal 1923 ; South Whidbey Historical Society
From the South Whidbey Historical Society: "On March 26, 1910, the Puget Sound Land and Timber Company, the Bank of Stanwood, H.C. Anderson, H.W. White & Improvement Company, J.W. McFadden & Donald McFadden, and the Eastern Logging Company combined forces with the Glendale Improvement Company. Glendale has the distinction of having the only railroad which operated on Whidbey Island. The Baker Bros. Logging Company started the railroad whose headquarters was at what is now the intersection of Glendale and Jewitt Road. The tracks ran inland from Glendale through to the Cultus Bay area, up toward what is now Log Cabin Road, and then to the area known as Ken’s Korner. Although the main purpose was to haul logs to the Glendale waterfront, it also brought in mail, produce, and other necessities to logging camps and families."

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