Skagit River General Investigation

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Skagit River General Investigation


Researched, assembled and organized by: Dan Berentson and Larry Kunzler 8/30/04
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12/3/09 B.J.

Reveille Exaggerates High Water

(Dead in flood Skagit waters collect their toll of human life.) The above headlines, printed in red, were the attractive features of the front page of Wednesday morning Reveille, and is perhaps of the most disgraceful lies that that paper ever published. Following those headlines the reporter says that no dead have been reported. He also says that Burlington is buried under from five to ten feet of water. This is also untrue. They also say that Burlington is sadly in need of relief and mercy work. We hope that the Reveille will be generous enough to correct these false statements. In the first place there is no dead in the flood, so far we have not received the report of one dead from any place along the Skagit. Burlington had about one foot of water in some of the streets, and there were many buildings over the town that were not even surrounded by water. Neither the railroad bridge south of town, or the steel bridge at Mt. Vernon is washed away. The amount published in the Reveille on Wednesday was simply a piece of Yellow Journalism.

1909 Flood

Doesnt sound like all of Burlington was covered in flood water in 1909 and the parts that were only had 1 foot of water in streets. Appears 1921 flood was a larger event.

1/4/18 Argus

River Becomes Unmanageable

Dikes Break in a Number of Places and Let Water in Over a Large Area of Low Lands Some Stock Is Lost;

Damage Much Less Than Anticipated;

Water Reaches High Mark at Mount Vernon Wharf Saturday Night at Twenty-three and One-half Feet No Rail Communication With Outside World for Several Days Boat Does Big Business

Four weeks of rains and Chinooks finally resulted in a freshet Saturday night that for a time threatened to inundate the entire valley. The warm winds from the south melted the snows, it is said, up to the 6000-foot level and brought the combined waters of the Upper Skagit, the Sauk, Baker and numerous tributary streams down to the lower valley in greater and more continuous volume than has ever been recorded in the history of the country.

. . .

Loss Not Great As Expected

The heaviest individual losers are those individuals that were in the path of the dike breaks. The break at Sterling Bend and that at Stevens slough immediately north of the Great Northern bridge wrought the greatest damage. At Stevens slough a home belonging to M. Freeman was tilted over into a hole. Dikes, county roads and railroads probably suffered the most from the recent freshet.

. . .

At Avon there was a sudden dramatic moment Sunday morning when a portion of the dike went out carrying into the swirl six men who were at work with dozens of others reinforcing the dike at this point. Hadnt been for an old secondary dike the Skagit would have gone through here and every foot of the flats would have been under water. . . . A break at Magnus Andersons farm let the water in over a section of country about Conway. . . . Burlington and La Conner and Edison reported water in the streets; Sedro-Woolley reported water in the neighborhood of Jamison avenue, which is some distance from the business section. The Nookachamps low lands also were visited by the water. Mount Vernon , on both sides of the river, was dry throughout the freshet. The water from Sterling bend went over the Olympia marsh and the Samish. Edison also reported a couple of feet of water.


This article describes the December 28/29, 1917 flood event.

Four weeks of rains. No wonder flood was flood of long duration. Overbank storage must have been non-existent.

Snow level only went up to 6,000-feet??? Flood definitely would have been caused by rain alone.

Dike Breaks

Sterling, Stevens Slough, Avon, Conway. Burlington, LaConner, and Edison underwater. Mt. Vernon stayed dry.

Was water in Edison from Samish or Skagit??

1/4/18 Argus

Str. Swinomish Sinks in Riverside Bend

The snag boat Swinomish sank in the Skagit river in the bend below the Interurban bridge Friday after grazing the bridge pier. Captain Fred Siegel said that in passing through the draw the boat touched the pier slightly. The men on the main deck reported no damage; but in a few minutes it was noticed that the boat was taking water. The pumps were immediately put to work but to no avail and the boat hit bottom with the upper works well out of water.

Friday would have been December 28, 1917 the day before the river crest. The upper works well out of water. How big was this boat? Could be used to determine how deep river was. Doesnt sound like river was any deeper then than now.

1/4/18 B.J.

mid-winter flood greatest in memory of oldest inhabitant

Valley Dikes Break in Dozen Places Skagit Inundates lowlands No Lives Lost Only Few Head of Stock Drowned Considerable Property Damaged River Channel and Dikes Inadequate to Carry Away Surplus Water Spillways Needed to Relieve River Channel During Flood Periods Railroad and Interurban Communications Restored from North Delayed Mails Received Today

One of the worst and doubtless most destructive floods known in the Skagit delta occurred last Saturday night (December 29, 1917), the river dikes giving way in eight or more places, the overflowing water covering the entire delta from Mt. Vernon to LaConner, and south from Mt. Vernon to Conway. The island delta west of Fir escaping flood waters (Fir Island). The McLean highway district west of Mt. Vernon was not flooded.

The tragical results were caused by the failure of a crude, imperfect, ununiform diking system that never has nor never will retain the torrents of water when a Chinook zephyr loosens the flood gates of the Cascades. From five oclock Saturday night, when the river was bank full, it steadily rose a foot an hour until midnight. The water then had reached the top practically of all the dikes, and a break was inevitable somewhere or the mighty volume of water was certain to pour over the dikes, causing doubtless even greater damage in loss of property and loss of life than resulted through breaks in the dikes. At about midnight the expected break in the dike came. In fact there were at least ten serious washouts. Four occurred in the Riverside bend, three across the river in the Avon district, at North Riverside, one at Freemans old place on the Baker River logging railway right-of-way, southeast of Burlington, one south of Mt. Vernon, and another at the Clear Lake wood yards, north of Mt. Vernon. These artificial spillways naturally afforded an immediate outlet for the surplus water to pour through, and the river immediately began to fall, and all danger from further flood damages was past.

Building a series of ununiform dikes to protect districts here and there through the lowlands utterly fails as a solution, meaning only future disaster when the river runs riot during flood periods. During flood periods when the river reaches the point that dikes are not adequate to control it, it overflows its banks unless other artificial means are provided to carry off the surplus water. Government engineers, who have studied Skagit river flood problems with the view of affording relief to districts subject to overflow, declare that concrete spillways should be built to take care of the surplus water. Improvements of this character should be maintained by the government, state and county.

Because Mt. Vernons big dikes kept it dry, or Burlington is so fortunately situated that it does not require a system of dikes to protect it from floods is mighty poor consolation to the people of the delta districts threatened with overflow and devastation every recurring flood,. . .

December 29, 1917 Flood Event

Fir Island didnt flood in the 1917 flood?

Diking system not uniform.

Ten dike breaks after midnight?

Dikes should be uniform and have spillways built into them. (Overtopping Levees)

doesnt need dikes? Probably because at that time Burlington city limits was at least 1 mile north of Gages Slough. Did Mt. Vernon raise its dikes after 1909 flood?

1/4/18 B.J.

Flood Notes

The Howard Freeman farm at Varney station was quite seriously damaged by the overflow caused by the break in the river dike on the old Freeman farm east of Varney. Mr. Freemans fine new home and barn were damaged in some-extent. The break in the river at the old Freeman farm, which was probably 800 feet in width, caused serious damage to the farms in the path of the overflow. The break occurred when the river was at the highest point, the water stretched over a territory of about 2500 feet in width, carrying away the Great Northern and interurban highways, undermining the dwelling and carrying away the barn on the old Freeman farm, and covering the land with piles of drift wood. The water found an outlet in the bay near Whitney.

During the height of the flood Sunday morning a foot of water from the overflow of the river from the east covered a small portion of the residence and business districts of Burlington, the water flowing out that night when the river fell. On account of poor drainage and inadequate sewerage, there is still some water in the low places in some of the districts, which will soon all pass into the drains.

The loss of property on the Higginbottom farm south of Burlington (the old Freman place) was serious. When the dike broke the house was undermined, the barn and sheds carried away, and the land covered with large-quantities of logs. The owner had only one cow which was saved.

The Mussor, Wakley and Lamphier farms were all in the path of the Higginbottom break and the owners were serious losers.

The Mt. Vernon Herald says the breaking of the dike at Higginbottoms saved Burlington. What an idiotic untruth. Why not Mt. Vernon? Burlington is protected by no diking system. It is so fortunately situated that it does not need dikes to protect it from river overflow. The truth is, and why not be honest, that the diking system maintained on the Skagit river was inadequate to control the Skagit river, a break somewhere was inevitable, and shortly after midnight it came down at a dozen different places. Undoubtedly these breaks saved the dikes from giving away at other places. The water had reached the top of practically every dike in Skagit county when the breaks occurred. Flood damages were generally distributed throughout the lowlands. Unfortunately neither the districts directly to Mt. Vernon, Burlington nor any other Skagit County town escaped inconvenience or losses. Burlington had mail, daily newspapers, telegraph and telephone communications from the north and telephone communications from the south at all times. The editor of the Mt. Vernon Herald should confine himself to fact and truth. Why not give his readers the interesting story of the need of a gasoline engine to pump water out of the basement of the county courthouse. At least this is better than lying about a neighboring town.

Varney Station was located next to Gages Slough on Old 99 (Burlington Blvd.)

Eastern Fairhaven covered with one foot of water. Water gone that night.

Must locate where Higginbottom farm was.

Burlington has no diking system! They must mean Burlington proper. Dike on Fairhaven must have been outside city limits.

Water reached the top of the dikes.

Doesnt look like Burlington Journal editor and Mt. Vernon Herald liked each other.

5/6/20 Argus

will improve river at once

Commercial Club Hears Officially of Governments $30,000 Appropriation for Work

. . . $30,000 was available for the improvement of the lower Skagit river. This appropriation was made by congress last year. According to a letter received by John Kill, chairman of the clubs river committee from Congressmen Lin H. Hadley, the federal engineers have approved the work. . . . The work to be taken up under the appropriation calls for the dredging of the Skagit channel from the mouth up the Skagit channel from the mouth up at least as far as Mount Vernon and the building of retaining walls where needed.

Corps waiting on release from damages from lower valley farmers.

Approved dredging river from mouth to Mt. Vernon. Cost was $45,000 to $60,000.

12/15/21 Argus

Skagit River Floods Valley When Dikes Go--Much Damage To Farms And Some Stock Lost-- Dikes Gave Way Early Tuesday At 24 Ft 10 Inches

Once more after 4 years of somewhat peaceful action the Skagit River late Monday night and early Tuesday morning, broke its bounds and inundated a large part of its fertile valley, with a heavy loss to the farmers, an estimate of which is impossible at this time. No fatalities have been reported but some very narrow escapes from the flood waters occurred. . . . Three days of heavy rains and warm rains beginning their work Friday, melted the snows in the upper Skagit region and as a result, the Skagit River began its rise with startling rapidity, reaching a point Sunday night which caused alarm to be spread over the valley and the residents of the lower lands prepared to move. . . . The river continued to rise until it reached a mark of 24 feet 10 inches, or two inches below that set in 1909. This was late Monday night. Then came reports of a break in the dike in Burlington and soon after the dike at Conway south of here broke. Both these town were flooded. About 4:30 Tuesday morning, the dike near Charles Wiles place, a short distance west from Riverside Bridge and on the south bank of the river went through. Within a few hours the flats between the bridge and Mt. Vernon were covered with several feet of water. Other breaks occurred at intervals south of Mt. Vernon at Pritchards, two below the Sheriffs place and two on the north fork. With the breaking of the dikes the river began to drop slightly. . . . Pioneers recall that only once have the flood waters of the Skagit reached the downtown streets of Mt. Vernon and this was in 1897. Other floods have occurred in 1906, 1909, 1911, and January, 1918.[1]

12/12/21 Flood Event

Three days of heavy rains.

24 ft 10 inches would be approx. 32 ft 10 inches at the current gage. Two inches below 1909 flood. USGS says 141,000 cfs at Mt. Vernon for 1921. No figure for 1909.

Only time downtown Mt. Vernon went underwater was 1897.

12/15/21 Argus

Urges Action to Stop Floods

C.F. Williams of Big Seed Company Calls for Positive Prevention

I think, in fact know, and there are few who do not think as I do, that it is a pitiable shame and an unnecessary condition, for the good people of this section of Washington to be called upon to look forward to flood waters about every so often; a sort of periodical threat to wipe out many homes, destroy farms and livestock.

. . .

From what I can learn, folks who buy here after an investigation of climate, resources and local peculiarities, are not surprised when a flood is predicted; they do not get overly excited when a warning is sent forth that the dike here, or the dike there is in a weakened condition and likely to break. They take it as a matter of course, and even smile while it may mean, and in dozens of cases does mean almost total loss to them of this worlds goods. I admire their spirit and their nerve, but I do not understand or admire their patience.

This periodic inundation of soil and destruction of property, to say nothing about the uneasiness of mind and loss to merchants and others, is unnecessary, and ought not to be tolerated any longer than it is required to find a solution and put it into execution!

Mr. Meehan has his idea of how the water may be controlled. On the map he pointed it out to us. Whether it is feasible, possible or the best thing to do I am not prepared to say but this I do truly believe: If there is no way to control this condition which prevails when a warm wind and much rain hits soft snow in the foothills and lower mountain regions, it will be one of the very few problems the Yankee mind has failed to solve!

Great letter to the editor. Should be reprinted and made required reading for all public officials and citizens.

Meehan was the County Engineer. Although his plan is not identified here it is believed that his plan would have been the Avon Bypass as by this time he would have been talking to Herzog who worked for the GNRR who published his report in 1922.

12/15/21 Argus

Auto Traffic Halted

Burlington cannot be reached by machine at this time, reports state, even the Avon detour being impassable.

Burlington was underwater during the 1921 flood due to levee breaks.

12/16/21 B.J.

big flood inundates skagit valley

The Skagit lowland region is passing through another memorable flood period. In consequence of which thousands of dollars of property have been destroyed in the path of the flood. Six weeks of excessive rains, followed last Sunday night till Monday noon by compelling Chinook breezes at the beginning of which the Skagit River was ban full, opened the flood gates in the foothills, and mountains of water poured out to the sea, inundating the greater portion of the valley of the Skagit. The last crushing flood disaster, which inundated the valley of the Skagit occurred January 1, 1918[2]. The widespread destruction wrought then, if estimated in dollar losses, doubtless greater than that caused by the flood of last Tuesday.

The present diking system, so faultily constructed, useless and inadequate, never has nor could control flood waters when built on the banks of the river. . . . Doubtless a diked in basin a mile wide could function, safeguarding the delta region when flood waters pour to the sea.

Monday night, December 12, the dikes east and southeast of Burlington broke. Tuesday morning at six oclock the flood water covered Fairhaven Avenue, and in part the residence districts of the city. At this time the entire lowlands lying east, west, south and in part northwest of Burlington were inundated. The depth of water is on relative, the lamentable fact being that the area of low lands covered with water was wide-spread. That certain spots escaped water, neither lessons the flood evil nor removes its threatening menace as the destruction wrought during the last three recurring flood periods of 1909, 1917 and 1921 encompass a wide area of lowlands, some districts suffering greater damages than others, the river in its flood course to the sea, evidently changing or seeking an outlet wherever river dikes could first be swept away. . . . While flood damages in Burlington have been large, the flood waters disappeared from the principal business and residence streets within 12 hours following the overflow.

The damage to the Great Northern and interurban right-of-ways was not nearly as great as that caused by the flood of 1918[3], yet the main line of the Great Northern will not be repaired until late next week. The main line of the interurban and the Sedro-Woolley branch are in operation and the Great Northern Sedro-Woolley Rockport branch of the Great Northern will be in operation by Saturday.

12/12/21 Flood Event

Six weeks of excessive rains. Skagit Argus reported 1917 flood was caused by 4 weeks of excessive rains.

Most interesting. 1917 flood caused more damage than 1921 flood. Stewart said 1921 flood was larger. No doubt both flood events impacted by major portions of overbank storage being used up before flood started.

Suggested channel be widened to a mile wide.

According to statement at end of article this must have been the most eastern section of Fairhaven as it states flood waters disappeared from the principal business and residence streets within 12 hours following the overflow.

Further evidence 1921 flood not as bad as 1917 flood.

12/22/21 Argus

Cold Adds to Flood Damage

County Commissioner J.Z. Nelson Says Loss More Than Half Million

Following close on the heels of the high water which last Tuesday flooded a large area of the fertile Skagit Valley, has come a week of extremely cold weather at least for this country.

J.Z. Nelson, member of the board of county commissioners, said yesterday that at first he had placed the amount of damage done to the ranchers, county property, and railroads at about a half million dollars

East Burlington perhaps shows the most damage from the high water where the river overflowed Fairhaven avenue. W.H. Walkers house on the south side of the avenue was overturned and split into two. Mr. Walker was in the house at the time. The force of the concussion turned his bed over, throwing him into about three feet of water. He was rescued in a boat after several hours waiting and calling for help.

Train service over the Great Northern was resumed last night and the mail and freight will be received with somewhat more regularity.

No action has been taken yet by the various diking districts toward repairing the dikes, nor have any meetings been called to discuss future work. Many farmers are talking of calling mass meetings to talk over the question of proper protection from floods and many different theories as to what should be done are being talked about on the street corners. Many favor the building of a spillway from the Avon bend to salt water in Padilla bay, while others say that to straighten the river at the Avon bend by cutting a channel through from south of Burlington to a point at Mount Vernon. Others declare that the Skagit river must be dredged from its mouth up to a point above Burlington, and still others say that the Seattle dam at Ruby creek will offer much protection, although when this project will be completed is doubtful.

Many declare that to secure prompt and efficient action regarding flood protection, all drainage and diking districts should be consolidated into one county-wide district with responsible men at the head of it.

1921 Flood

Last Tuesday would have been December 20, 1921. Flood crested Tuesday, December 13, 1921. Must have meant last Tuesday a week ago.

At this time the levees were 4,000 feet back from their current location. He must have been living near the dike break.

This would be the current BNSF tracks. Means R/R repaired the tracks in just 9 days.

Avon By-Pass, straighten the river build dams and dredging.

Consolidate the dike districts.

1/5/22 Argus

Fire First Gun in Flood Fight

Permanent Organization To Be Formed To Improve Skagit River .

The first gun in the flood fight against flood waters in the Skagit valley was fired Tuesday evening at a mass meeting of Skagit county citizens held in the court house at Mount Vernon. More than 250 gathered within the court room, the doors were locked and as many more were turned away.

. . .

Charles Nelson, pioneer and strong dike worker, was the first to be called on by the chairman for his views on what course should be taken for flood prevention. He states it would be useless to build more dikes but that to build jetties at the mouth of the river, dredge the outlets and straighten the channel would be his solution of the problem.

Peter Samuelson urged the consolidation of the diking districts, stating that to do so would save enough money to buy a dredge for the county and to keep it in use.

John Kill also urged that the diking districts be put under one head for more efficient work and to save the taxpayers more money. It was shown that there are now seventeen such districts in the county. He also said efforts should be made to secure the assistance of the federal government.

That the people of the county should take the burden of providing adequate protection on their own shoulders, was the opinion of H.L. Willis, who cited the accomplishment of the city of Gaveston [Galveston, TX], which built its mammoth sea wall by bonding its own citizens without any outside assistance. He urged the adoption of organized effort as soon as possible and concluded with, Lets do the job ourselves.

Alfred Polson spoke briefly in favor of dredging the channel of the river. He was followed by Captain Siegel who said he had no solution but offered the information that in some twenty odd years the river bed has risen eighteen feet.

A tangible plan was shown by W. H. Franklin, who proposed that the channel should be straightened from Sedro-Woolley to its mouth. He had maps and drawings of this project and figures as to its probable cost. He declared that the Skagit would dredge itself if straightened. His estimated cost of the project was more than three and a half million.

O.J. Whitmarsh voiced his approval of going after federal aid as the Skagit was a navigable stream. Its channel should be straightened, he added.

H.A. McLean was finally prevailed upon to give his opinion and stated at the outset that he was first in favor of securing a practical engineer to handle the proposition.

O. Rudene spoke at some length urging that the county should procure a dredger and clean out the channel. Brian Dillon also spoke in favor of dredging the river and also suggested that the height of the dikes be lowered. He said it was better to get a little water more frequently than a whole lot at one time.

Community Meeting

People turned away after 250 flooded courtroom.

No more dikes. Build jetties at mouth, dredge outlets and straighten channel.

Consolidate dike districts and buy a dredge.

Consolidate dike districts, get help from Feds.

Do it ourselves.

Dredge it. River raised 18 feet in 20 years? If that process continued that would put the level of the river about 92 feet above current location.

Straighten river, and it would dredge itself.

Straighten and get Fed help.

Hire an engineer.

Dredging. Overtopping levees.

1/12/22 Argus

Nelson Names the Committee

Seven Men Will Investigate the Problem of Flood Protection In Skagit County

H.L. Willis, Mount Vernon, chairman; John Finstad, Conway; Charles A. Nelson, LaConner; Augustus Brawley, Mount Vernon; Hiram Stump, Edison; Charles Callahan, Burlington, and Will Knutzen, North Avon


1/12/22 Argus

Ruby Creek Dam As Skagit Aid

Seattle Engineer Would Show Pictures Here of Project

County Engineer Frank Gilkey is in receipt of a communication from C. F. Uhden, engineer in charge of the Ruby creek dam feature of the Skagit project now under construction by the city of Seattle, expressing appreciation of the interest being taken by Mount Vernon people in the project as it effects the flood situation of the Skagit river.

Mr. Uhden also expresses a willingness to come here in person and demonstrate the Ruby creek project to Skagit county residents through the medium of a lantern slide lecture and explain in what ways this dam may assist in controlling flood waters of the Skagit.

Ross Dam impacts flood control.

1/12/22 Argus

City Club Into Flood Problem

Commercial Organization Will Confer With Seattle Engineer on Plans

The president appointed Frank Gilkey, county engineer, and Mayor Moody to confer with C.F. Uhden, who is the engineer in charge of the Ruby creek feature of the Skagit project, relative to the effect this dam will have on Skagit river floods. This appointment was made at the suggestion of H.L. Willis, chairman of the committee formed by County Commissioner Nelson to investigate the diking situation.

Chamber of Commerce gets active. Endorsed building of Ross Dam.

1/26/22 Argus

Work For Large Flood District

Committee and Dike and Drainage Commissioners Plan Permanent Body

That an enlarged improvement district must be organized before any definite steps can be taken for protection against the high water of the Skagit river, was the opinion expressed at a meeting held here Thursday of the diking and drainage commissioners and the committee recently named to investigate means to prevent future floods. A vote of all present showed that this opinion was nearly unanimous.

Through discussion it was found that it would be necessary for the community to secure some outside assistance and that before this could be done some sort of permanent organization must be formed. .

Such an improvement district as has been suggested can be formed but it would be allowed only a small levy for its work which was shown would not be enough to do any great amount of flood prevention.

Allen R. Moore, Mr. Willis stated, is to appear before the committee tonight with his theory for the prevention of floods in the Skagit valley.

This was the beginning of the River Improvement Fund. Nearly unanimous.

Get help from Feds.

River Improvement Fund not enough to do it alone.

Still dont know what Moore wanted to do.

9/28/22 Argus

Hadley Working on River Control

Congressman Seeks Federal Aid to Curb Skagit; Asks for Data

I was not quite certain, but thought it might be possible to have the survey provided for in the River and Harbor Bill extended to include an examination and report by the engineers on the question of flood control. I therefore took that question up with General Taylor of the Board of Engineers of Rivers and Harbors who states it is his view that the examination and report as to flood control could not be made without authorization through the Flood Control Committee of the House, as contemplated in the bill which I have introduced and which is now pending before that committee.

My own idea is that a showing should be made by persons personally cognizant of the facts covering the periodical floods, their frequency, the nature and extent of the same, the nature and extent of the damage sustained in floods of recent years, the conditions which make their recurrence probable, the extent of the area and some idea of the population affected by the floods, the measures heretofore taken by local citizens or authorities to afford protection against the floods and generally any facts which will support the necessity and reasonableness of the end sought by the bill.

Very truly yours,

Lin. H. Hadley

Congressman Hadley letter to Mt. Vernon Commercial Club.

Congressmans efforts led to 1925 Corps of Engineers Report. SKAGIT RIVER, WASH., PE by Col. W.J. Barden, Corps of Engineers {published as House Document #125, 69th Congress, 1st Session}

10/12/22 Argus

Promise $35,000 For The Skagit

Government Would Ask Waivers For Any Possible Damages

When the farmers residing south of Mount Vernon all sign a waiver of damages, stating that they will not hold the United States government liable nor responsible for damages which might arise from high water or other unexpected causes, the government officials will agree to the expenditure of $35,000 available for river improvement, was the statement of Colonel Schultz, United States district engineer for the Pacific Coast, who was here on an inspection trip with assistant engineer H.J.E. Baker early this week.

The snagboat, Swinomish, was used for this special inspection tour which included the Great Northern bridge, North Fork dam and Skagit River bar.

The hope was expressed by the party that the matter of river improvement might be settled at once as it has been prolonged over a considerable period of time and is attracting much attention now particularly in view of the river and harbors appropriation bill introduced by Congressman Lin H. Hadley.

No indication what the Corps was going to do. Later articles suggest that they wanted to dredge North and South Forks.

10/19/22 Argus

Will Get Data On Skagit River

U.S. Engineer Asks Senator Poindexter to Secure Information

United States Senator Miles Poindexter has been asked by Col. Edward H. Schulz, United States engineer in charge of river and harbor work in the Northwest, for all available information regarding plans for the improvement of the Skagit river, according to word from Seattle.

When he returns to western Washington next week, Senator Poindexter will assemble data to show the locations to be improved, depths required and other facts and as soon as possible will confer with Skagit county people. On a recent visit to Skagit county Senator Poindexter inquired into the possibilities of flood control and protection of the mouth of the river, stating he believed the federal government should as rapidly as possible control the waters of the Skagit and prevent future damage by floods.

This was the beginning of the Preliminary Examination published by the Corps January 31, 1925. Amazing, back then the Corps could do a prelim study in a little over 2 years. Today we call it a Recon Study and it took the Corps the same amount of time.

11/9/22 Argus

Begin a Survey of Skagit River

Data on Flood Conditions Will Be Gathered Report To Commissioners

Steps are being taken by the Skagit River Committee toward getting a survey made of flood conditions. Yesterday the committee met with the Board of County Commissioners offering a report and suggesting ways and means of securing a survey. . . .

While there they conferred with Mr. Parker, head of the United States Geological Survey for this district. He emphasized the necessity of securing data as to the volume of water coming down the Skagit especially during the flood period.

He also stated that he had a man in his office who is an expert on this kind of work and he offered this mans services to the county. He also could secure the data required, especially the volume of flood water, during last December. Many flood marks have been obliterated but this material should be gathered as soon as possible.

The data on the Skagit river which in past years has been collected by the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railroads, the War Department and Geological Survey will be assembled as the first step in making a survey of the river. H.L. Willis is chairman of the committee.

Report must have been verbal as no hard copy was located in the State Archives of the County Commissioners meeting. The next day the Commissioners passed Resolution #1131 which stated:

WHEREAS, G.L. Parker has been recommended for this survey. NOW THEREFORE, It is hereby ordered that the County Engineer employ G.L. Parker at a salary not to exceed $250.00 per month to make such survey. All work to be done under the supervision of the County Engineer and payment for same made by warrants drawn on the River Improvement Fund.

No mention of hiring USGS, just Parker. Other then this resolution no agreement between USGS and Skagit County was located. Interesting also is that article was published Thursday, November 9, 1922 and resolution was signed Friday, November 10, 1922.

11/23/22 Argus

To Investigate River Control

Large Party Will Go to Tacoma From Here December 1st and 2nd.

A large delegation of Skagit County citizens will go to Tacoma Friday and Saturday, December 1 and 2 to inspect the control work of the Puyallup River there. Mr. [W.J.] Roberts is chief engineer of the project. His letter follows:

Your question, How much of the work on this small stream would be applicable to our very much larger river? My answer would be: All of it. That is, the three features which we most particularly emphasize, river clearing, channel dredging and bank protection, would apply with the same emphasis to the Skagit river as they apply to the White and Puyallup rivers.

We actually had a flood control committee that was involved. See 12/7/22 article on the large delegation that went.

11/30/22 Argus

Are You Going to Make Trip?

H.L. Willis Urges Skagit County to Learn of Flood Control.

We in Skagit county are facing a similar but larger problem. For the past ten days the county has had an engineer from the U.S. Geological Survey at work on the upper Skagit near Concrete assembling data on the volume of last Decembers flood. The object is to determine how much water came down upon us last December. For it is evident that we could make no adequate plans for taking care of any flood unless we knew about how much water was to be taken care of. When this new data of our recent flood is secured, all the other data on the flow and flood of the Skagit River will be assembled from their various sources. The general plan then seems to be to place all this data in the hands of a competent engineer and ask him to submit a comprehensive plan for the control of our river. If it seems necessary, this plan could be submitted to consulting engineers for their approval or rejection. When we get this far it will be up to the people of the county or the flooded area to determine what next shall be done. Then we shall have an authoritative, comprehensive plan under which not only we local people can work but which we can present with effect to the state or the U.S. government when we go to them for help. But let us never forget that we will get no help worth while from any source until we show that we are worthy of some help by beginning to help ourselves.

Every man or woman in Skagit county who is interested in the control of our Skagit river floods is not only invited but urged to go with this Skagit county delegation to Tacoma next Friday, December 1. Let everyone remember that the only credentials he or she needs to become a delegate to this convention is an interest in the control of the Skagit river. Come, and get ready to give the old Skagit a wallop before he wallops us once too many.

H.R. Willis,

Chairman River Committee

Stewarts field notes did not start until November 24, 1922. Skagit County paid Stewart directly, not USGS. According to Commissioners Journal, December 4, 1922 Skagit paid Stewart $91.67 for his salary, and $291.85 for expenses from the River Improvement Fund.

Skagit paid Stewart again on February 5, 1923, $250 for his salary and $$60.03 for expenses. Referred to him as the River Engineer.

On March 5, 1923 Skagit paid Stewart $1.46 for expenses.

Since Skagit County paid Stewart directly and had no formal contract with USGS, and all his work to be done under the supervision of the County Engineer, this technically makes him an employee of Skagit County not USGS. Skagit should own his work product.

12/7/22 Argus

Learn More of Flood Control

Skagit County Delegation Visits Puyallup River Project in Tacoma

On Saturday the party viewed the actual work on the Puyallup river under the direction of Mr. Roberts and Mr. Phillips, the engineers. It was shown that the cost of this project has already reached a million dollars.

23 men went on the trip. Most from Mt. Vernon, 5 from Burlington, 1 from LaConner and one from Allen.

12/7/22 Argus

Litigation Over Drainage Ends

The litigation over the formation of Drainage district No. 19 which has extended over a period of six years has been ended. District No. 19 takes in more than 6500 acres.

6 years to form a Drainage District.

12/14/22 Argus

Hadley Asks For River Data

Committee in Congress Will Hear About Skagit Floods From Statistics

Saturday, W.R. Fowler, president of the commercial club, J.W. Collins, secretary, Freed Ornes and H.L. Willis sent what available data there was ready concerning the amount of damage that that had been done in past years by the high water. These men are now compiling statistics concerning the commercial use of the river from years ago. These are being brought up to date and will be forwarded to Mr. Hadley.

12/21/22 Argus

Send Flood Data to Cong. Hadley

Figures Show Enormous Loss in Damage and Cost of Protection Against the River

J.W. Collins on Saturday mailed to Congressman Lin H. Hadley available data on flood damage from the Skagit river. This data although not as complete as was desired, gives some convincing figures of the amount of water that has come down the Skagit in flood periods. Mr. Collins secured information from J.E. Stewart, an engineer who has been working for the past week or so collecting figures on past floods and their damage. He is working under the direction of the board of county commissioners. . . . Other information was secured from H.A. Herzog, chief engineer of the Great Northern; J.M. Clapp, of general engineering practice; H.L. Willis, chairman of the citizens committees; Capt. F.A. Siegel, of the U.S. snagboat, Swinomish; Frank Gilkey, county engineer; Judge Augustus Brawley, Auditor Walter Barrow and Assessor W.H. Whitney.

The report to Mr. Hadley first gives figures of flood periods as shown by the government station near Sedro-Woolley from 1908 and 1918, exclusive of 1909 and 1917. The station was discontinued in 1918. This shows four freshets came in November, two in June, one in January, one in April.

Mr. Stewart has obtained proof that this valley was visited by a flood in 1861 and there are figures for the fall freshet of 1894, 1896, 1897, 1906 and on up to 1921. The flood of 1909 was the largest flood of recent time.

As to the probable recurrence, the report states, Engineers who are familiar with river control problems state that a history of any stream for a period of eighty to a hundred years will give reasonable data as to the probable events of the succeeding hundred year period.

The report shows that the twenty-one diking districts which take in approximately forty thousand acres of land. There has been, it states, an expenditure up to and including the year 1921, of $1,087,779 by the organized districts for flood control. There has also been expended by individuals and co-operative individuals not regularly incorporated an additional $900,000 bring the total expenditures for the flood protection by the residents of the Skagit Delta to the staggering total of $1,987,799.

The report tells of filling up of the Skagit at the mouth, which it says will force the abandonment of the diking system for protection. It states the South fork channel has filled 16 feet in twenty-nine years.

Would be interesting to secure this report. Appears that Stewart gave him some figures. The fact that He is working under the direction of the board of county commissioners further substantiates that Skagit owns his work product.

This confirms that Skagit County had the Herzog report recommending the Avon By-Pass. Somewhere in the archives there must be a copy of what Willis submitted. We have to obtain this. It will show what Stewart submitted.

Stewart wrote the following in his field notes about the 1861 flood: all these lead to the assumption that the great flood was that of December 4, 1861. The old Indian who told Hart and others at Sedro Woolley in 1879 that the flood was when he was a boy either referred to another flood or they did not understand him. (Source: Transcription of Stewart flood notes on 9/16/22 by USGS 6/30/23 re Reflector Bar near Marblemount) This was the only time the 1861 flood was ever mentioned.

This means Dike Districts spent 2 million in 26 years. Local cost of Avon By-Pass in 1936 was only 1 million.

16 feet in 29 years?? South Fork used to be pretty deep. Wonder where all that sand goes now.

1/11/23 Argus

Flood Control Data Presented

Congressman Hadley Gives Skagit River Figures to Committee

I took the data you enclosed to the office of the Flood Control committee this morning and presented it to the chairman.

Perhaps the Federal Archives will have the Willis report Congressman Hadley received.

1/11/23 Argus

River Hearing In Seattle Jan. 22

War Department Asks for Information on Puget Sound Waterways

Information is especially desired as to the improvements proposed by local interests; the amount of present and prospective commerce; and the draft and tonnage of vessels using these rivers.

Corps wanted more information from locals.

1/11/23 Argus

Steelheads Are Plentiful

Word has been received at the game wardens office that 20,000,000 sockeye eggs have been placed in the streams of Puget Sound. This has been done in recent weeks in an attempt to re-stock local waters with this fish. The regular game fishing season in Skagit waters opens April 15, and closes November 30.

Article didnt say how many were planted in the Skagit. Interesting that Skagit fishing season was only April through November.

1/25/23 Argus

Show Tonnage at River Meet

Skagit Citizens Ready with Figures for U.S. War Department

The problems of the Skagit river were given a hearing Monday afternoon in the Seattle Chamber of Commerce before Col. Edward H. Schultz, representing the War Department of the United States. H.L. Willis presented the report which had been prepared to show the tonnage figures on the Skagit river and also gave other valuable information. He stated that the farm products originating in this county could be estimated annually at 50,000 tons of oats, 30,000 tons of hay, 12,000 tons of potatoes, 18,000 tons of straw, and 10,000 tons of general farm products.

He declared that if the Skagit river was cleared of all obstructions an increased amount of tonnage could be handled each year.

J.W. Collins, secretary of the Mt. Vernon Commercial Club, pointed out various phases in the written report given Colonel Schultz and spoke on the matter of dredging the lower end of the river.

Capt. H.H. McDonald, pioneer of Skagit river navigation, gave some interesting figures relative to the filling up of the channel from the mouth of the river. He stated that he had built several boats during the past years and each one had been constructed with a more shallow draft than the one previous in order that it might get up the river from the Sound. He stated that he had now reached the limit on this form of construction.

Those who attended the hearing from this county included H.L. Willis, J.W. Collins, J.O. Rudene, W.E. Moss, B.D. Moody, J.B. Hayton, George B. Reay, W.H. Franklin, Swan Swanson, Charles Nelson, Charles Elde. C.C. Callahan, of Burlington, also attended the hearing.

Interesting farm history.

Appears that dredging was primary recommendation.

3/29/23 Argus

Flood Control Bill is Drawn

Skagit River Included in Congressional Committees Report

The bill contains an appropriation of $4,000.


Authorizing preliminary examinations and surveys of sundry streams with a view to the control of their floods.

Congressmans efforts led to 1925 Corps of Engineers Report. SKAGIT RIVER, WASH., PE by Col. W.J. Barden, Corps of Engineers {published as House Document #125, 69th Congress, 1st Session} which resulted in a recommendation of national benefits are insufficient to justify the U.S. in undertaking such work (flood improvements) either alone or in conjunction with local interests, but are sufficient to justify cooperation by U.S. to the extent of securing the necessary data (i.e. study it). First study dealing just with floods.

9/27/23 Argus

Discuss River Problems Here

Two Committees Meet With The Board Of County Commissioners

The delegations asked that the board again include in the budget a 1-mil levy for river protection purposes, but were told that it was too late to include this in the budget for 1924.

E. Van Buren, chairman of the board, said that the board had discussed the Skagit River question when the budget was being prepared but as there was still about $20,000 in the fund created, the board decided there was no further action to be taken, as they had received no report of the survey work made by an engineer named Stewart. The commissioners hired Stewart when the fund was created by the 1-mil levy.

HAD NOT RECEIVED REPORT FROM STEWART. No indication from articles or State Archives that they ever received it.

11/22/23 Argus

River Hearing Friday, Nov. 30

War Department Seeks Information on Improvement of Skagit

A public hearing will be held in the Mount Vernon Commercial Club rooms at 11 oclock Friday forenoon, November 30, for the purpose of obtaining the views of interested parties in regard to the preliminary examination of the Skagit river. This announcement was made through the Argus today by the War Department of the United States.

Corps wanted all comments to be submitted in writing.

12/6/23 Argus

Get Figures At River Hearing

Skagit County Men Show Need of Improving the Skagit River

Col. W.J. Barden, of the United States Engineers office in Seattle, was chairman of the hearing. A report prepared by the Skagit County River committee, and signed by H.L. Willis, of the committee,

George B. Reah, county commissioner, emphasized the need for protecting the farmer from high water stating that the last high water had cost the county $100,000. C.C. Nelson also stated that this high water had cost Diking District No. 3, $24,000. Other talks on the need of flood protection were made by J.O. Rudene and W.J. Knutzen.

Mr. Willis declared there were 120,000 tons or 8,000 car loads of farm products shipped by boat from this valley each year and that the dairy products alone were valued at more than two million dollars while the products of the seed growers would reach $200,000. J.M. Humphrey stated the dairymens plants shipped 8600 tons by boat in the first 11 months this year and that the dairy products shipped during 1923 would easily reach two and a half million dollars.

Captain McDonald said he planned to put on a larger boat and give daily service between Skagit points and Seattle. James OHearne, who said no represented the Tom Moore Booming company, gave 96 million feet of logs as the tonnage of his company last year. He urged the clearing of the South Fork of the river at the shingle mills to the south needed an outlet badly.

In closing Col. Barden stated that the proposed dredging at the mouth of the river would be expensive and that this work would have to be kept up from year to year. He stated the high water in the past had been caused by the contraction of the river at the bridges and that the present system of dikes had also caused more contraction of the stream. The colonel also stated that the federal government at present was making no provision for flood control except on the Mississippi and the Sacramento rivers, and that the engineers office was confined entirely to navigation problems and that the hearing here would be considered only from that standpoint. The opinion seemed to prevail that if protection against high water in the Skagit river was to be secured it must come from the county and state and not from the federal government.

The committee urged the building of jetties at the mouth of the river and the dredging of the river.

Willis report should be in Corps of Engineer files. If Stewart Report was given to County it would have been submitted. Corps quotes from Stewart in 1925 report.

Farming history.

Logging history.

Dredging mouth of river.

Bridge corridor needed widening.

Levee needed to be setback.

Navigational problems only concern of Corps.

This is what final study in 1925 stated. Think their minds were made up before study was done?

Jetties and dredging.

2/14/24 Argus

Water Reaches Rim of Skagit River

The stream nearly reached the flood stage of 23 feet in 1921. A break in the dike on Fishers slough south of Conway caused the water to back up toward that town and over the Pacific highway. Traffic however, was not impeded. Another break at Dry Slough caused the water to start over Fir Island but not to any depth.

The outer dike near Burlington broke early yesterday morning and would have gone through the secondary dike but for the quick action of the residents in that neighborhood near Dr. Clevelands farm. Reports from Hamilton state that 400 feet of the Sedro-WoolleyRockport highway and the Great Northern railway right-of-way had been carried away into the Skagit river by a landslide west of Sauk.

This is the first time, according to old residents of Mount Vernon that the flood stage has been reached by the Skagit in the month of February.

Amazing. This flood is not on anybodys radar. Not reported by USGS or Corps yet according to this article almost as serious as 1921 at least in Mt. Vernon.

Dikes break in Conway and Burlington. Burlington has secondary dike?

First February flood.

3/20/24 Argus

Writes About Flood Control

John Finstad of Conway Offers Material for Citizens Consideration

In recent years there has been some agitation for the purposes of controlling the floodwaters of the Skagit river, but as time passes on after a disastrous flood, the people of the valley easily forget that they ever had a flood, until another comes along. Then they will have meetings for some time figuring on dredging and straightening the channel, but in the end nothings come out of it.

Not considering the disastrous summer freshet in 1894 we have had six or seven fast winter freshets during the past 30 years. The highest one of these was the one of November 30, 1909, when about eight inches of rain fell in two days at upriver points. This flood measured about 220,000 second feet at Sedro-Woolley. Competent engineers claim that only about 150,000 second feet can pass through at the Riverside Great Northern bridge. Consequently about 70,000 second feet had to seek an outlet somewhere else. The February flood of this year was not considered dangerous but still it destroyed half a dozen homesteads at the Sauk delta and broke dikes at the Skagit delta to the value of at least $20,000, besides destroying several bridges at upriver points.

We have back in the mountains numerous large basins and deep gulches and valleys. Undoubtedly places can be found where a dam can be built equaling for storage purposes at least half a cube mile. The Ruby dam of the Seattle hydroelectric project is to be 480 feet high creating a lake about 25 miles long and five miles wide in most places Back of this dam the Skagit has a shed of about 1200 square miles or a little more than one third of the whole basin of the Skagit and its tributaries. Actual measurements at this dam site by U.S.G.S. shows the minimum flow to be 800 second feet and the maximum 50,000 second feet during 12 years of observation up to 1923. Supposing the upper 20 feet of this dam was reserved for flood control it would take care of the maximum flow of 50,000 for at least twelve days.

Stone & Webster are going to build a dam across the Baker canyon back of Concrete in the near future. Here another lake will be created up to six or seven miles long. If 20 feet was reserved for flood control at this dam, Baker river would be eliminated from any flood danger from that source.

Tremendous letter to newspaper. Should be required reading for entire valley.

Hits nail right on the head.

These are Stewarts figures. Eight inches of rain would not produce 220,000 cfs at Sedro-Woolley.

Flow figures are same as ones used by Corps and FEMA in 1979.

February flood not serious: but yet destroyed bridges and broke dikes. No record of this flood in federal files.

Recognized dam storage at Ross. What USGS measurements at dam site?

Recognized dam storage at Lower Baker. Needed top 20 feet to be used for flood control.

7/31/24 Argus

will get data on skagit river

County To Establish Hydrographic Station at the Dalles Near Concrete

Work was started yesterday on the construction of a hydrographic station at the Dalles of the Skagit River near Concrete. The plans and specifications for the station were prepared by the county engineers office and were approved by the board of county commissioners at the regular meeting on Friday. . . .

The station will provide means of measuring the water of the Skagit river for its volume and velocity and will be of great value in giving records in the future fight to control the floods of the river. During past years there has been no accurate record kept of the river and engineers have no data upon which to base control measures. For this reason the board of County commissioners approved the plans of the county engineer.

The county installed the gage at the Dalles.

Robert E. L. Knapp was the county engineer. He lived at 105 Snoqualmie in Mount Vernon with his wife Irene. Retired by 1948 and died in 1977. He is buried in Grand View Cemetery in Anacortes. The Kerns Funeral home handled matters.

has been no accurate record kept of the river and engineers have no data upon which to base control measures. Either they didnt have Stewart Report or didnt trust it.

10/2/24 Argus

Would Restrain Net Fishermen

State Orders 167 Skagit County People Into Court on October 14

Notice of a restraining order and order to show cause, with summons and complaint are being served this week upon 167 fishermen who have been charged with operating in the protected area at the mouth of the Skagit river. The restraining order was obtained in the superior court here Friday and states that the fishermen were violating Order No. 8 made in June 1924 by the State Board of Fisheries. These fishermen are alleged to have used gill or drift nets.

Were not allowed to fish within a distance of 3 miles from the mouth of river.

11/27/24 Argus

Tell of Skagit Flood Damage

Citizens Appear Before War Department Engineer With Much Data

Citizens of Skagit county appeared before Col. W.J. Bardon, District United States Engineer of the War Department yesterday in the Mount Vernon Commercial club rooms and presented evidence of past damage by Skagit river floods. The hearing was called by the War Department officer in connection with a report on preliminary examination of the river as directed by an act of Congress of May 31, 1924.

The Skagit river improvement committee composed of representative men of this county with H.L. Willis as chairman, prepared data which was presented at the hearing, calling attention to the report filed with the county commissioners by J.E. Stewart in 1922, a copy of which also was filed with the U.S. Biological Survey.

The report states the cost of dikes already constructed together with repairs and enlargements has, to date, exceeded 1 1-4 million dollars.

The era of power development for electrical purposes into which we are now entering seems to give hope along a practical line for flood relief. There is at present one large dam on Baker river in process of construction. Another is projected in the Skagit at Ruby creek. Still another on the Sauk river has been discussed. If arrangements could be made with any or all the builders of these dams to hold always available the upper ten feet of the dam for flood storage the greater part of our flood menace would seem to be gone. Such storage for 48 hours would hold back the crest of the flood and give time for run-off. It is the crest of the flood that breaks the dikes and does the damage.

The reported quoted in detail from the report made two years ago by J.W. Collins, secretary of the Commercial club which stated that the flood of 1894 damaged crops in the valley approximately 1 1-2 million dollars. The flood of 1897 also did great property damage and in 1906 the loss was estimated at $250,000 while that of 1909 was placed at 1 1-2 millions. The flood caused estimated damage at $500,000 in 1917, according to Mr. Collins report.

After the 1921 flood H.L. Devin of Sedro-Woolley prepared a detailed report with the following figures:

Public road and bridges$ 75,000

Buildings......... 30,000

Loss of logs and bolts 105,000

Merchandise and personal property 45,000

Dikes, ditches and drain tile. 100,000

Crops, harvested and unharvested 30,000

Live stock. 55,000

Drainage land and future crops100,000

Loss of wages. 15,000


There are also intangible losses. Among these are many thousands of dollars of trade and merchants either through the sudden cutting off of the transportation or through the crippling of the customers ability to buy.

The total losses from all floods in the past fifty years have been enormous; yet as the valley becomes more highly developed each succeeding flood is likely to be more disastrous than the last. The damage to the present valley of such a flood as that of 1820 which was 40 per cent, greater than that of 1909, can hardly be conceived. While we yet have some property to protect it behooves us to seek out some practical method to curb this flood menace which is already lurking in the mountain ready to burst upon us.

Several citizens gave oral testimony as to the damage caused in past years by the overflowing the Skagit river and Robert E.L. Knapp county engineer appeared before the engineer and gave further technical testimony concerning the floods of the river. He also told of the countys work in establishing a hydrographic station on the upper river by means of which accurate data of the flow of the river and its rise and fall may be kept.

This means that they published Preliminary Report (Recon Report) in just 7 months from the time they got authorization.

Note date of report. 1922. Could be typo or report was actually given to County sometime after September 1923 or was talking about data Stewart gave Willis in 1922 (See 12/21/22 entry). In any event destroys USGS argument that early reports were just drafts.

Lower Baker not completed yet. Recognized impact of dam storage on flood control. Upper ten feet should be used for storage.

We have got to find the Willis report.

Also need to find Collins report.

Flood damages.

Statement had to come from Stewart data but what data? 1922 or much later.

12/18/24 Argus

High Water In Skagit County

Heavy Rains and Warm Winds Again Send Stream to the Flood Stage

Heavy rains and warm winds caused the Skagit to rise rapidly Friday and Saturday, the stream reaching the 20-foot mark at the old gauge across the river from the Mission theatre. With the sudden drop in temperature however, the stream began to go down. Dry Slough southwest of Mount Vernon was unable to hold the flood and the water soon covered the farming district of Fir Island with from one to two feet of water. Water also backed across the pavement between Mount Vernon and Conway and south of Milltown. Traffic, however, was not interrupted.

Flood would have been on December 12th and 13th, 1924. USGS and Corps reported flood carried 92,500 cfs and reached 32.44 feet at Concrete.

Dikes broke at Dry Slough on Fir Island.

5/21/25 Argus

countys big snake officially measured

The mighty Skagit had itself officially measured, Monday, by the county engineers office, at the county gauging and measuring station, at Concrete. The county, the City of Seattle and Stone & Webster all keep a wary eye on the writhing monster, and its changes in mood are reported to Colonel Barden, district engineer of the U.S. War Department and G. H. Parker, district engineer of the U.S.G.S., in the form of cryptic, tabulated statistics. . . .

The most menacing period on record was in 1921, when the snake lashed its tail and ran amuck, and a wide area was flooded. That time 240,000 second feet of water raced by the observation station.

This article strongly suggests that although gage was installed on 7/31/24 it was not operative until sometime in 1925.

This was directly from Stewart. Gage didnt go in until 1924.

9/3/25 Argus

skagit county leads nation in soil test

Seven Year Government Probe Brings District Handsome Tribute

From Gunderson Farm

First Seven and Last Two Out of Twelve Won Locally; Gunderson Farm 100 Per Cent

The United States government has just admitted that Skagit county is the finest farming community in the nation, bar none. In a series of soil tests extending over the past seven years, . . . Skagit county soil won nine out of 12 points. An assay of soil taken from the Gunderson estate, south of Clear Lake, was found to be 100 per cent perfect for general agricultural purposes. It was the only soil given a perfect rating.

This would be Nookachamps soil.

10/29/25 Argus

huge lake is now forming behind dam

Reservoir of Water 250 Feet Deep and Eight Miles Long Is Filling

Power Plant is Ready

Massive Concrete Wall Is Anchored Into Solid Rock of Canyon Above Concrete

Mt. Vernon will have light and power from the new Baker River power plant of the Puget Sound Power & Light Co., for a Christmas present. . . . lake eight miles long and 250 feet deep.

Lower Baker Dam Completed.

Expected to take 6 weeks to fill up.

5/5/27 Argus

skagit valley warned to prepare for flood!

flood danger here seen in big snowfall

Warm Rain Or Chinook Is Feared Late Spring Swells Danger

Bridge Weakens Dike

Great Northern Structure Acts as Partial Dam, Mt. Vernon Engineer Points Out

Judge Crookston urged that the Puget Sound Power & Light Co. be requested to lower the level of the water in Lake Shannon, behind the Baker River dam, so the lake could absorb the surplus which will come down when the warm weather sets in. He said that conditions now are similar to those in the spring of 1894, when the Skagit Valley was flooded. The difference now, he added is that the forests on the hills which formerly retarded the rush of melted snow have been removed; therefore the danger is more acute. . . .

I do not wish to assume the role of a harbinger of disaster, said Mr. Moore today, but those citizens of the Skagit Valley whose homes and live stock are protected from floods by dikes, should understand that the stage is partly set for a more than ordinary flood. The mountainous district to our east has as heavy a snowfall as I have seen in 15 years, with much of it recent or new snow, which is rapidly melted by a warm rain or Chinook wind, and as the spring is far advanced we can expect a sudden change.

Lake Shannon, the result of the dam at Concrete, will be of benefit during a flood, although the Baker river only represents one fifth of the total water in the Skagit river. Such a lake retards the water to some extent, lengthens the time of passing and thereby lowers the peak of the flood.

One of the unfortunate conditions permitted by the government engineers is the diagonal position and oversize substructure with riprap, which carries the Great Northern railroad bridge, north of this city. This substructure obstructs one-sixth of the waterway at or near a sharp bend in the river, which causes repeated failure of the dikes above the aforesaid bridge.

This is only the second mention of the Spring flood of 1894 I have seen. The other was as follows: The Winter floods previous to the Spring flood of 1894 was about 2 feet higher, but they were never as high or no indications of them being so, excepting the one big flood the Indians tell about. The Winter Floods since that time (1894) were always higher. The more they diked the river close to it, the higher the floods have been. (Source: Letter to Stewart from Joe Hart, 6/21/23)

Storage in Lake Shannon.

Logging contributes to flooding.

Most snow since 1912? If correct would tend to support theory 1917 and 1921 floods were caused more by rain then snow.

Value of storage.

Interesting. Very interesting. Not the log jams impeding the flow but the rip rap around the piers. Impedes one sixth of the flow. Now heres an argument that we havent heard before.

5/12/27 Argus

danger of skagit flood believed to be averted

Judge J. M. Shields recalled that Indians used to point to a bald spot on the hills back of Big Lake as a flood barometer, declaring that when it was covered with snow at this time of year, it was time for dwellers of the flats to caulk the seams in their row boats, but that when the snow disappeared, the flood danger would be past. Judge Shields said this morning the snow was almost gone.

It was announced that the Puget Sound Power and Light Co. expects to lower the level of Lake Shannon, behind the Baker River dam, within a few days. With the lake down it will act as a safety valve should sudden hot weather bring down the snow water. However, it is believed that the gradual rise in temperature the pas week has had the effect of melting a considerable amount of loose snow and thus removing some of the danger.

Need to see if this landmark is still there.

Lake Shannon to be lowered in May. Too late but lowered anyway.

3/8/28 Argus

flood control gets attention

Sedro-Woolley Men Propose Federal Aid in Skagit District

Henry M. Eakin of Sedro-Woolley may be called to Washington, D.C. to give his assistance in the solution of flood control problems. . . . The speaker said that since Congress is considering flood control for the Mississippi valley there is no reason why it should not consider like measures for other districts which are subject to floods. He declared that Mr. Eakin was an authority on flood control.

An authority on flood control living in Sedro-Woolley.

10/11/28 Argus

raging skagit rips out boom

Machinery Arrives At Newhalem For Third Unit Of Gorge Power Plant

The Skagit river which has been raising steadily the past week, reached almost flood stage Monday night. During the night the water rose eighteen inches which is almost unprecedented for early fall. The great wall of water at the Diablo dam site washed away three lengths of boom and did damage estimated at several thousand dollars to equipment.

Flood reached 74,300 cfs at Concrete at level 29.94.

7/30/31 Argus

water arrives none too soon

Anacortes Gets First Drink From Skagit When Supply Is Almost Depleted

The 250 horsepower inductive motor in the pump house at Avon began forcing water through the huge main to Anacortes late Friday afternoon at the rate of 2,400 gallons per minute. . . . The city has accepted the water from the river, but has not accepted the new pipe line as yet or made final settlement with the contractors. The water is being treated with chlorine gas as it comes through the intake pipe into the pump, after going through the sand filter. In Anacortes it is variously treated to insure as nearly 100 per cent water as is possible to obtain. . . . New water system cost the City of Anacortes around $700,000

Anacortes Water Treatment Plant goes on line.

1/7/32 Argus

flood control will not be assured until ruby creek dam is finally completed says engineer

Present dams on the upper Skagit River would not provide flood control for the Skagit Valley in the event of a flood like that of 1917 or 1921. . . A big flow of water would fill the Diablo basin in one day, and would continue over the dam with the same disastrous effects as in previous years, said Smith. Existing dams serve a good purpose in holding back sudden small freshets and also tend to maintain a higher water level in the valley during extremely dry years, but no safety from heavy floods can be felt until the completion of the Ruby Creek dam, the final unit of the Seattle project.

The completion of this dam will render impossible even such floods as the one in 1815, which Indian tradition has it, submerged much of the Skagit Valley to a depth of fifteen feet, the engineer believes. It is hoped by the city of Seattle that money can be obtained from the national government to assist with the construction of Ruby Creek dam, which is now being delayed on account of financial crisis. At the present outlook, the dam may not be built for five or even ten years . . . People of Skagit Valley will be appealed to for aid in an effort to get such an appropriation on the grounds of flood control.


Statement attributed to Glen Smith, assistant to J.D. Ross.

Talk about a sense of false security. Seattle City Light must have also had a copy of Stewarts work. Ross dam was completed in 1949.

Skagit County was promised more flood control then they received.

3/3/32 Argus

raging skagit breaks through dikes

Delta Farmers Greatest Sufferers from Freshet

Although Several Breaks Occur, Only Comparatively Small Area Is Inundated Losses of Cattle and Poultry Small Roads Suffer Some

Unable to withstand the pressure of the mighty Skagit, swelled by rains and melting snow, dikes broke at three widely different places during the week-end, allowing flood waters to inundate more than 12,000 acres of farm land in the lower valley, resulting in considerable damage to property. . . .sections where the water had previously been held at the very top of the dike, were perilously near a break this time on account of a weakened condition of the dikes, which have been neglected somewhat because of confidence in present dams to hold back floods, it is said.

The first break occurred about eleven oclock Saturday evening in front of Phil Iversons farm, which is located on Skagit Island, between Fir and Skagit City. . . . This break, together with three others along Dry Slough, which runs across the island completely inundated the large Skagit delta, about 5,000 acres of farm country bordered by the two forks of the river and the bay. Two of the breaks occurred early Sunday morning at the Ed Good and I.R. Hallen farms; the other the same afternoon, at Mrs. Sadie Polstras place. Water has been running out into the bay through the salt water dikes which broke several places near John Wylies farm and were cut elsewhere.

February 27, 1932 Flood Event

USGS and Corps records state this flood crested 2/27/32 at Concrete at 39.99 on the gage with 147,000 cfs. Greater then the 1951 and 1975 floods but less then the 1980 flood at least at Concrete. Both the 51 and 75 floods produced more water at Mt. Vernon then Concrete. 1980 was less water at Mt. Vernon.

Feb 27, 1932. Fir Island was still called Skagit Island.

NOTE: Article was continued on page 4. Need to obtain copy.

3/4/32 B.J.

Burlington Escapes Flood Which Takes Big Toll In Skagit County And State

Break in Railroad Fill Saves Flood In Streets; Efforts of Volunteers Keep Dikes In Town Solid

While many parts of Skagit County and Western Washington suffered heavy damages from flood waters last Saturday, Sunday and Monday[4], Burlington, on three sides, emerged practically untouched and losses in the immediate adjacent country were comparatively light. West Conway, Skagit City and up-river communities suffered most from rising waters of the Skagit River, which flooded an extensive countryside for the first time in ten years. The great power dams in Baker river and the Upper Skagit and rather elaborate diking systems in the lower valley, proved only partial protection from a mighty river filled to overflowing, after two days of warm Chinook winds had melted snow in the mountains. . . . Anxiety was felt for a few hours following the break in the dike south of town Sunday noon, but was dispelled when the Great Northern railway fill gave way, allowing the water to sweep over the fields to the West and Southwest. Strong Chinook winds of Thursday and Friday filled the Skagit to the top of its banks, and Saturday water began overflowing and covering the land up to the dikes. Shortly after midnight Saturday water had risen to a height of less than two feet from the top of the dike east of Burlington.

Sunday morning, with water backed up from the Burlington dikes to Clear Lake, a distance of between six and seven miles, the situation became dangerous. The dike was becoming soft in many places and the water continued to rise gradually. Old-timers expressed the belief that there was more water back of the dikes than in any previous flood.

A screaming fire siren at 12:10 Sunday noon announced to Burlington that a dike had been broken. Water came crashing through in torrents at the LeMar place, nearly a mile south of Burlington. . . . The flood, temporarily checked by the railroad fill and quickly filling to a depth of three and four feet the fields near the break in the dike, rushed north, emptied into the sloughs, and backed up into Burlington. . . . A few minutes after the river broke through the dike, water began to seep through the base of the G. N. fill a mile south of the depot and by three oclock broke through, lessening the flow into the Burlington sloughs, but sweeping the fields westward. . . . The water level at the dike east of Burlington was down 54 inches Monday morning, and by ten oclock cars were getting through water on the blacktop road to Bay View. Traffic began making use of the highway between Burlington and Mount Vernon by three oclock.

February 27-29, 1932 Flood

First major flood in 10 years.

Dams and dikes proved only partial protection. Two days of warm Chinook winds.

Dike broke south of town. GNRR fill broke allowing water to move south and west.

Water two feet from top of dikes east of Burlington.

Water backed up from Burlington dikes to Clear Lake. More water back of the dikes than in any previous flood.

First flood early warning system? Dike broke one mile south of Burlington and waters rushed north.

So in 24 hours the floodwater was gone?

3/4/32 B.J.

lets keep the dike

We can be glad now that somebody knew enough to say no to the idea advanced a year or so ago, of grading down the dike at the Fairhaven avenue crossing. Burlington would still be drying out, instead of being practically the only town in the valley that did not get its feet wet. Dikes may be eyesores and nuisances to drive over, but they are mighty handy when the water comes a-rolling.

This sounds like Fairhaven used to go over the dike. Today it has been graded down and goes through the old dike.

3/10/32 Argus

men, not steam shovels, ought rebuild levees

Farmers Ask Contractor To Put Aside Machinery As Soon As Possible

Willing To Pay More

Needed Work at Water Plant Up To City of Anacortes Want Additional Dolphins

Local men and teams must be given as much of the dike reconstruction work at the Varney break as is possible, it was the opinion of almost a hundred farmers in diking district No. 12, assembled in a special mass meeting at the Avon school gym Monday evening. . . . Championing the demand that residents of the district, badly in need of employment, be given work on the dikes, Joe Hall urged that every dollar possible be given for the work of men and teams.

The Commissioners were requested to consult the City of Anacortes about urgent repairs to the fill which replaces the dike around the pump house at Avon. Considerable dirt was washed away from the small trees used in constructing the fill.

Claud Davis Construction Company has also been awarded the contract for rebuilding the dike in front of the Iverson place, where there is a break more than 500 feet long and 25 feet deep in places. The cost of this will be approximately $9,600 at 40 cents per cubic yard there being about 24,000 cubic yards of dirt to replace.

Local farmers needed work.

Avon Bend damaged.

Iverson place was located on Skagit Island between Fir and Skagit City.

3/17/32 Argus

skagit might obtain government river dredge

Suction Dredger at Grays Harbor Been Idle for 2 Years, Says Gaches

Would Cost Nothing

Dirt Could Be Used To Widen Dikes, Restore Banks That Have Been Washed Away

It is quite possible that Skagit County can obtain without cost, a government suction dredge for use in the Skagit River channel if the county will make concerted appeal to the proper authorities in Washington; it is the opinion of Charles Gaches, local farmer. . . . The rapid depositing of sediment in recent years has resulted in bringing the river bottom up to a level almost as high as the farming land, especially along the South Fork, and increased the necessity of building higher and higher dikes all along the lower end of the valley. At the same time the river has been cutting away the banks, making it more easy for high water to undermine and come through on the inside of the dike as happened during the recent freshet, it is explained by the local man.


Where in the South Fork is the river as high as the adjacent land?

Cost of dredge was $150 per day but hadnt been used in 2 years.

3/31/32 Argus

Damage claims total $98,825

Farmers and Dike Districts File Claims vs. Seattle For Flood Damage

Claims of Skagit farmers and diking districts against the city of Seattle for flood damages alleged to have been caused by letting water from flood gates in Diablo dam at a crucial time during the recent high water, thereby causing the dikes to break, have mounted to $78,825 during the week. The filing of these claims is merely a preliminary action. It does not constitute a suit, but protects the rights of those claiming damages to sue at a future date. According to law, it is necessary to file claims of damages within thirty days of the time when the damage is done in order to bring suit against a municipality.

Dike districts 2, 18, 12, and 13 filed claims along with several individuals. Need to find out what happened to these claims.

5/3/32 Argus

more dredges needed editorial

Once more the feasibility of a government dredge, available for extensive channel work in Washingtons troublesome rivers, has been demonstrated by a freshet, which stopped just short of inflicting real damage in the Skagit Valley. Dikes have risen even higher, yet each freshet has found them practically at the same relative height. The explanation offered by men long experienced and by engineers has been that the bottom has constantly kept pace with the elevation of the dikes.

If this is true (and we have no reason to doubt our authority) a partial remedy, at least, is likely to be had by the deepening of the channel. To bring this about it would seem wise to ask congress to reinforce the governments present Sound equipment with one of more dredges so that rivers, such as the Skagit, may have a larger measure of flood relief. Another thing we have learned is that the power dams are not the protection engineers promised.

Dredging editorial.

Bottom of river rising as fast as dikes.

Recognizes dams did not stop floods.

See 1/7/32 article.

11/17/32 Argus

flood waters visit skagit

Second Inundation in Nine Months Covers 2,000 Acres In County

Scarcely nine months after one of the most disastrous floods the Skagit Valley has experienced in recent years, rivers and streams of the County, swollen by continual heavy rains, were again on the rampage, breaking dykes and flooding farm lands in several sections.

November 13, 1932 Flood

Mostly flooding was limited to Nookachamps and Dodge Valley . River reached 116,000 cfs at Concrete which was approx. 36 ft on gage.

11/18/32 B.J.

High Waters Appear Again

The big rise in the Skagit took place Saturday night and Sunday morning, when in the space of 15 hours, the water rose 14 feet, some hours gaining more than a foot. Besides rains and a Chinook wind which melted snows, opening of the Baker river dam caused much of the rise, it was understood.

November 12 & 13th 1932 Flood

Blame placed on Baker dam.

11/18/32 B.J.

Flood Control Needed

High waters from the Skagit, Samish and other rivers caused considerable damage this week in Skagit county farms. It would seem that with low prices, a scarcity of markets and money, and poor weather, farmers could well be spared the loss of property and livestock from floods.

Perhaps the cheapest way out of flood dangers is a spillway system of controlling high water, as suggested recently by Jim Squires of Samish. Two floods in a single year should make us think over things like that.

Overtopping levees.

1/25/34 Argus

flood control fate rests on dike election

Consolidation of Districts in Skagit County Is Started

Avon takes the Lead

All Dike Districts Must Unite If Aid From Federal Government Is Sought

May 6 may determine the fate of flood control in the Skagit Valley. On that day the diking districts will hold their annual election; and, if present plans are carried out, consolidation will also be submitted to the voters. Petitions asking for consolidation election are already being circulated. Avon has taken the lead and will hold a mass meeting tomorrow night to consider the proposal. . . . Under the law, the county can get state, federal and county aid for flood control, but consolidation of diking districts will be necessary, Mr. Welts asserted. . . . The program involves building up the bayfront dikes, the Skagit River dikes and the straightening of the Skagit River. Fifty thousand acres of land and 10,000 people are involved. . . . If you dont unite now, just forget ever trying to get help in the future, because you cant get it as individuals, Will Hayton warned.

R. V. Welts was local attorney.

Strengthen sea dikes, strengthen river dikes and straightening of the river. Huge tides motivated this effort.

Article was continued on page 4 which was not copied.

1/26/34 B.J.

Farmers to Vote on Merging All 16 Dike Districts for Dredging

A mass meeting of property owners in Diking District No. 12 will be held this Friday evening in the Avon gymnasium, M.F. Snelson, chairman of the board of diking commissioners announced this week. Action will be taken on the proposal to merge all 16 diking in the county to obtain federal aid in one big flood control project.

Meetings will be called in all diking districts to obtain the sentiment of the people in each toward the general project. If the consensus of opinion is favorable, an election will be held to vote the project through.

Merge the dike districts.

5/17/34 Argus

dredge necessary for flood control, says james squires

. . . But let us not forget that no matter how high our dikes are built, if these two rivers get out of control (Skagit and Samish) like all of us have seen them do in the past, we will have the same old trouble, only worse. In my opinion there are two things to be done, the necessity of which is so self-evident that no proof is required.

Those two things are: dredge and straighten these two rivers properly, and construct adequate spillways.

Letter to the Editor printed on the front page.

Squires was from Bow.

no proof required

Dredge, straighten and overtopping levees.

1/31/35 Argus

car goes off broken dike; 2 drowned

Mrs. Harry Dimmick, Small Son Succumb At Break Near Burlington

Road Not Barricaded

Husband, Exhausted As Efforts Under Water Fail, Narrowly Escapes

Tragedy brought indirectly by the high waters of the Skagit River took the lives of a young mother and her three-year-old son early Tuesday night when the automobile in which they were riding slowly vaulted over the edge of the broken dike-road between Burlington and Sedro-Woolley and buried itself in about fifteen feet of water.

January 25, 1935 Flood Event

Flood crested 1/25/35 at Concrete 131,000 cfs, 37.9 on gage.

Dike break was on Lafayette Road.

1/31/35 Argus

lower valley farmers keep dikes secure

Constant Patrolling Wins Over Turbulent Waters Of Rising Skagit

3 Breaks Reported

Damage is comparatively Small Samish floods Northern Part of County

Combined efforts of more than 1500 lower Skagit valley residents to effect a 60-hour constant patrol of the river dikes during the highest stages of the Skagit proved effective despite the fact that the river rose to the peak obtained during the flood of 1922. Stronger dikes constructed during past year by the dike districts also proved instrumental in checking the turbulent waters that rose to within inches of the dike tops Saturday afternoon. . . .

Two breaks were reported south of Mt. Vernon, one at the freshwater slough and the other between Brown and Dry sloughs. . . .

The County recordings of the river taken each day last week show the unusual speed in which the river rose. On Sunday the reading was 7 feet, Monday and Tuesday 10 feet, Wednesday 16 feet, Thursday morning 17 feet, Friday 23 feet, Saturday 28 feet.

Since there was no flood in 1922 assume they meant 1921. Same level?? Dikes broke south of Mt. Vernon, Freshwater Slough, and between Brown & Dry Slough. Also broke in Burlington on Lafayette Road. (See previous article.) This strongly suggest flood in 1921 not as great as Stewart said it was.

2/1/35 B.J.

A Flood Control Plan

Flood control talk again takes the spotlight, after the highest water seen in Skagit county in years. A year from now, with more melting snow in the hills, well probably still be talking, with nothing more accomplished. A three-point practical control plan that would cost certainly no more than is now being spent, is here presented by The Journal as something to start from: 1. Secure co-operation in some way with the power dams up river to help regulate the volume of water in the river. At periods of low water in winter or spring, water in these reservoirs could be lowered; during periods of heavy thawing there would be room to hold much water while the river was naturally full. 2. With the money being spent this year and next by diking districts, buy or build a Skagit River Dredge that would remain constantly in the Skagit, digging a channel deep enough to carry the water out, straightening out the stream by taking out the bends, and putting the rich silt where it will do the most good. 3. With the foregoing dredge, build strong emergency dikes equal distant from the river banks all the way down. This would eliminate the wide places and bottlenecks in the present dike system, which so often causes breaks and weak spots in the dikes.

3 Point Suggestion to Flood Control

Have dams lower levels (more storage).

Buy a dredge., straighten river.

Build more dikes equal distance from the river edge (setback levees)..

2/7/35 Argus

flood gates at dam aided high water control

Current Belief That Gates Caused Excess Water In River Refuted

Management of the gates in the Puget Sound Power and Light Companys Baker River dam during the recent high water was a matter of much conjecture on the part of the public. Many people had the suspension that the gates were open that critical period and consequently swelled the already threatening stream. Statements by Harley LaPlant, Lyman Lumberman, and Fred Slipper of Hamilton made in Mt. Vernon a few days after the high water were a direct refutation of this suspicion. They told the Argus that the contrary was true and requested that the facts be given to the people in all fairness.

A statement to the press made this week by the Puget Sound Power & Light Co. tells just how the gates were handled. The statement follows:

With Skagit suffering from the effects from the most disastrous flood it has experienced in recent years, . . . More than a week before the flood, according to Mr. Hatcher, the lake level was lowered gradually from an elevation of 435 feet to an elevation of 429 feet, thereby providing storage for part of the tremendous volume of water brought down by the rapidly melting snow. He stated that plant records indicated that 1,247,000,000 gallons of flood water were stored on Thursday, January 24th; 1,247,000,000 gallons on Friday January 25th; and on Saturday January 26th, 1,355,000,000 gallons were stored instead of being allowed to sweep over the dam and through the valley.

All gates on the dam were closed from 5:30 p.m. to 8 oclock p.m. Saturday in order to lessen the flood at high tide, and during this period and additional surplus, estimated at 620,000,000 gallons was stored and held until the receding tide permitted its discharge. At no time, according to Mr. Hatcher, during the entire flood period did the flow of water released at the dam equal the tremendous volume poured into Lake Shannon from above. This clearly demonstrated, he said, the value of the dam and the lake in minimizing property damage as a result of the flood.

Local residents blame Baker Dam for flooding.

How Baker Dam (Lake Shannon) was operated in January 25, 1935 flood event. Lowered lake level 6 feet. Need to break gallons down to cfs. This analogy is bogus. Without dam in place most of that water wouldnt have been there to begin with.

January 26, 1935 is day after flood crested.

Can we use this demonstration now?

2/7/35 Argus

skagit river floods cause 2 million loss

Early Estimates Fail To Cover All Damages Sustained

Federal Aid Probable

Wallgren, Schwellenbach Promise Shrauger That Aid Will Be Given

The survey of the Skagit river flood damages, which has been carried on during the past few weeks under WERA funds, has found an estimated loss of more then 2 million dollars. This amount was given by farmers and others as actually lost to them over a period of years and is some half a million dollars more than the figures turned in to the Federal government some months ago before the survey was made as the Skagit River loss.

2 million since when? Article did not state when survey began.

2/8/35 B.J.

Power Dam Held Up Flood Waters

With Skagit County suffering from the effects of the most disastrous flood in recent years, and with flood control one of the principal topics of discussion throughout the state, as well as locally, the following figures furnished by C.K. Katcher, superintendent at the Baker River plant of the Puget Sound Power and Light Company, are of particular interest.

More than a week before the flood, according to Katcher, the lake level was lowered gradually from an elevation of 435 feet to an elevation of 429 feet, thereby providing storage for part of the tremendous volume of water brought down by the rapidly meting snow.

At no time, according to Mr. Katcher, during the entire flood period, did the flow of water released at the dam equal the tremendous volume poured into Lake Shannon from above. This clearly demonstrated, he said, the value of the dam and the lake in minimizing property damage as the result of the flood.

January 25, 1935 Flood

PSPL lowered Lake Shannon 6 feet more than a week before the flood. This is same data given to Mt. Vernon Argus.

2/8/35 B.J.

Reader Suggests Hydraulic Dredge Instead of Dikes

The Journals discussion of flood control in the Skagit valley, started last week, brought many comments and the first of a series of letters from readers. The letter, written by a Burlington man who for the present desires to remain anonymous, is printed below.

In our cussing and discussions on this problem of river controlthere is one law that may not be violated with impunity; i.e. water in seeking its own level follows the line of least resistance.

Formerly this river shaped its course along the line of the least resistance, occupied that course until by deposition the accumulated particles of mountain that course became untenable, then moved over to a new bed. Hence the fairly level area extending from Blanchard south for miles.

Then comes puny man. Now we have no fault to find with the pioneer who diked his land with a dike a foot high, extending from spruce root to spruce root. As a matter of expediency this was an acceptable plan. However, since the bottom of the river at Conway has now become elevated by deposited silt until it is above the extreme high water mark of forty years ago, having added elevation at an average rate of six inches per year. It seems reasonable to suppose that the present bed will soon become untenable, for the water is now finding its line of least resistance through and not between the dikes, and we have long since reached the limits of that method of flood control as an expedient.

With the increased erosion to be expected with the removal of timber from the upper areas that dike in another forty years will be approximately fifty feet high. Then when she breaks, as she surely will, LOOK OUT BELOW! For every annual six-inch addition to the lower dikes at least an equal amount must be added to the dikes farther up.

Why not put in some good substantial control gates in the river dikes which will permit of an ordered and orderly flow into Varney slough and such other depressions as may serve as setting basins, thus securing for our use this valuable silt deposit, thus raising the level of the land and adding fertility, permitting the excess water to pass out through the saltwater dikes through well constructed automatic flood gates of ample capacity!


A more profound observation has never been observed in Skagit County.

Bottom of river coming up 6 inches per year.

Dikes by 1975 should have been 50 feet high if his theory was correct

Overtopping levees, flood gates and use Varney (Gages) Slough to disperse flood waters. Much more viable than is dredging the river.

2/8/35 B.J.

Why Any River Dikes?

People who really know the Skagit river seem to agree that the whole valley would be much better off if there were no river dikes at all, provided the bed of the stream could be kept deep enough and straight enough. A dredge is needed to do that job.

Not impeded by dikes, ordinary winter high water would help, not hurt, the Skagit valley. Dredging the river and perhaps small dikes would protect the crops from spring freshets that would do harm.

Leave the river alone and it rises at least half a foot a year at the mouth. Under our present system, dikes must be raised, too, every year. The dikes have never yet held the river at flood stage and when they do break, look out below.

The whole argument points to spending dike money on a dredge and getting at the bottom of the thing. What do you think?


Dredging and small dikes.

Look out below!!

5/2/35 Argus

flood control program takes new life here

Ninety Representatives Attend Meeting at CourthouseImmediate Action Is AdvisedInvestigating Engineer Praises Skagit County

B.H. Allen, special investigating engineer from the department of conservation and development . . . told the gathering that he was deeply impressed with what he had seen of Skagit County. I believe this is the most fertile and beautiful farm country I have ever laid eyes on; it is beyond anything I have imagined; it more than lives up to its reputation,

Attorney James G. Smith advised immediate action looking toward the formation of a district, which would include all the dike and drainage districts and eliminate the costly method now employed. . . . Attorney R. V. Welts presided and put the question of organization to speakers from every district represented and received favorable replies from every one. Not one dissenting opinion was expressed.

Consolidation of dike and drainage districts.

6/13/35 Argus

flood control aid sought by commissioners

Two Resolutions Mailed To Olym0pia This WeekSkagit, Samish Named

Receives $2,000,000

District Will Meet In JulyCounty Chamber Discusses Subject

Resolutions were passed this week by County Commissioners which ask the Federal Government for funds with which to finance flood control projects on the Skagit and Samish Rivers. The Commissioners signed the instruments Monday and the Auditor was instructed to forward them to the State Director of Relief at Olympia as soon as possible. . . . The Skagit River project as outlined in the resolution lays the river bank out in sections, giving the engineers estimate of the cost of each. The resolution states that the County agrees to pay 5% of the cost and will furnish all the right-of-way and will assume responsibility for damages and that it will operate and maintain the work after completion. Part of the right-of-way has already been acquired, says the resolution. . . .

The Skagit River project calls for 2,000 feet of 1 foot rock rip-rap to cost $20,000; 12,000 feet in Avon Bend to cost $120,000; the Burlington Bend, 3,400 feet, to cost $34,000. Other stretches of bank, totaling more than 4,000 feet are estimated at $405,250. An appropriation of $2,000,000 for the raising of the flood protection levees on the delta of the Skagit river and its tributaries was included in the $340,000,000 House Bill at Wash. D.C., late last week . . .

A public hearing for the formation of the flood control district will be held in Mt. Vernon, either July 1st or 2nd, it was announced this week by Grant Sission, a member of the state Flood Contorl Commission for Skagit. After the hearing the district will be permanently set up at an election which will be called in this district to vote on the proposal.

This election is of vital importance to everyone in the County, Sisson told members of the Chamber of Commerce at a meeting in Concrete Tuesday evening. He denied that an immediate bond issue would be forced upon the people, stating that in any event County Commissioners may not exceed 2 mils for flood control purposes. . . .

E.F. Banker of Okanogan and George Moore of Seattle also spoke on the subject. Moore spoke on the proposed Ruby dam, which, he stated, would permanently solve the Skagit flood problem. Moore presented figures and data concerning the Skagit that members of the Chamber had never heard before. Banker told that it would cost the County, state or federal govt 14,500,000 dollars to control the Skagit.

E.F. Banker was state director of Conservation and Development, the forerunner of the State Department of Ecology. Must assume Moore was from Seattle City Light. Would like to find what figures he presented. Does Chamber of Commerce keep any archives?

7/25/35 Argus

$850,000 required for skagit work projects

Flood Control Proposals Will Use $578,000Highway, Bridge Construction Will Require RemainderWill Employ Many

Expenditures of more than $850,000 in Skagit County were requested this week by the board of county commissioners when approximately 35 federal emergency relief project applications were announced. . . .$578,000 requested for 25 different river projects. Rip-rapping with rock and brush constituted the improvements for the entire expenditure of $578,000. The largest project is that of a 12,000 foot west bank on the river at the Avon Bend.

A complete flood survey reveals that the following expenditures could be made: Mt. Vernon waterfront, 2000 feet, $20,000; river banks at Riverside bridge, 2,000 feet, $20,000; 3,400 feet southeast of Clear Lake, $34,000; 1,500 feet south side of Burlington Bend, $15,000; 2,600 feet opposite side of Burlington Bend, $26,000; 4,000 feet east of Burlington, $36,000; 3,000 feet northeast of Clear Lake, $30,000; and three projects at Lyman totaling 92,000. Four projects for Hamilton total $88,650,; . . .

Rip-rapping and brush mat placement.

8/22/35 Argus

u.s. engineers recommend new river cut off

Proposal Calls For Canal From Avon Westward To Padilla Bay

Request Reservoir

Dam in Upper Skagit Country Advised By Federal Government for Flood Control

A $4,740,000 canal leading from Avon westward into Padilla Bay, augmented by power reservoirs in the upper Skagit country, has been named as the most feasible method of flood control for the Skagit river and its Tributaries. The recommendation was made by Thomas M. Robins, colonel of the United States Army Corps of Engineers in a news release . . . The construction of the channel westward from Avon was recommended as essential and it would be started at once.

This report finds that the best plan for flood control on the Skagit river is to construct a by-pass, leading from the river near Avon into Padilla Bay, and to provide storage in connection with proposed power developments on the Skagit river system at the Ruby, Cascade, lower Sauk, and Baker lake dam sites. Provision of storage cannot be undertaken at this time because the proposed power developments ar not now warranted, but the by-pass should be built as soon as practicable because this work alone will afford much needed protection.


With the exception of the Herzog report this is the beginning of the Avon By-Pass saga.

Even with By-Pass storage still needed behind dams.

8/29/35 Argus

$13,500,000 project for skagit river

Calling for expenditure of $13,500,000, a construction program for City Lights Skagit project including the Ruby reservoir and dam to be financed through a government loan and sale of utility bonds was disclosed here today following a meeting yesterday in Seattle.

Clearing Ruby basin to elevation 1,600 feet, $1,250,000; constructing the Ruby dam to elevation 1,500 feet, $7,750,000; transmission line from the Gorge plant at the Skagit to the south substation in Seattle, $2,500,000; . . . houses, etc. at Gorge and Diablo, $97,940.

Ross dam constructed with federal loan.

10/3/35 Argus

flood district is approved at public meeting here today

Election Date Will Be Set As Soon As Necessary Field Work Is Completed, E.F. Banker Tells GroupAll Of Skagit Except Islands Included

E.F. Banker, state director of conservation and development, told a gathering of about 150, mostly farmers, that as soon as the date of the election has been fixed all the data relating to Skagit river flood control will be turned over to the county commissioners, who will have complete charge of all future steps. His department will after that have no more authority in the matter. The district will comprise all Skagit County except the islands. All the land within this area, both bottom and high land, would be levied upon to finance such a flood control project, as may be adopted. A.G. Moser of Sedro-Woolley was the only objector. He thought the drainage area in the district should include only the Skagit and Samish rivers that the Nooksack and Stillaguamish, which are separate projects and outside, ought to be eliminated.

Senator W. J. Knutzen . . . suggested Skagit County Flood Control district as the official title, and so it was written in the minutes. . . . E.R. Pierce, representing Blodell-Donovan timber interest, asked permission to enter a protest against the inclusion of certain timber lands in the district. . . . Mr. Banker interposed with the opinion that to exclude any special areas within the district would cause confusion and would complicate the running of the boundary lines. He said the tax would fall lightly on timber and that there was nothing to fear by timber owners.


Why would District include Snohomish and Whatcom county? Nooksack and Stillaguamish dont flow into Skagit.

10/24/35 Argus

flood control district will rest on voters

Special Election Will Be Called December 3 to Determine Issue

Notices Are Posted

Entire Mainland of County Is Included In Proposed District

Proposals for the organization of a flood control area in Skagit County to be known as the Skagit County Flood Control District will be placed before registered voters of the affected localities at a special election which will be held on Tuesday, December 3. . . . The order for the election was made by E. F. Banker, director of Conservation and Development for the state of Washington . . .

District received a lot of hype in local press.

11/15/35 B.J.

flood control election dec. 3 vital to county

The future of flood control in Skagit county will be decided at a special election Tuesday, Dec. 3, when voters of the county will indicate their wishes on the proposal of forming a giant, county-wide flood control district as provided by the 1935 legislature.

Voters will mark their ballots For the proposition or Against the proposition, indicating whether or not they wish the special district formed.

Territory included in the proposed flood control district, and in which people will vote at this election, is all of Skagit county mainland, Fidalgo Island excepted.

The district, if approved by the voters, will not take over the present diking or drainage districts and will not support them, Kloke said. The law does state that if the big district should want the use if present ditches or dikes, paying maintenance costs, etc.

The board of county commissioners will become directors of the new district, with the auditor as ex-office clerk. The only money-spending power they would have, would be a maximum levy of two mills on assessed valuation of property within the district. A maximum levy of five mills could be made, but only by majority vote by the people at a special election. No levy would be made, of course, until some flood control plan had been worked out with army engineers, etc., Kloke said.

Future of flood control at stake.

All of Skagit County in District.

District would not take over dike or drainage districts but also would not support them.

Unfortunate the newspaper did not finish the sentence

11/21/35 Argus

flood control plans presented to voters by planning council

Attorney R. V. Welts Outlines Proposition In Detail For Skagit Residents Study Before Special Election Which Will Be Held Tuesday, Dec. 3

The Planning Council believes the formation of our Flood Control District is the most important thing this county has attempted to do. The Skagit and Samish Rivers have always presented a serious problem. Through the years, instead of growing better, the dangers have constantly increased.

The land in this valley has been reclaimed from overflow by rivers and salt water at a tremendous cost. Fifty years ago the individual tried to dike and drain his land. In a few years he learned that he could not succeed alone. His neighbors joined with him and formed dike and drainage districts designed to protect and reclaim small isolated units. Neighboring farmers formed similar districts; each trying to protect its property, regardless of what happened to the adjoining district. We now have 27 independent diking and drainage units. Through the years they have spent over $1,000,000 of the taxpayers money for protection. . . . We have recently realized, through the flood of two years ago, when over 20,000 acres was under salt water, and through the fact that each winter we now have floods from the Skagit and Samish rivers, that we must have help. As we have been building our dikes, the timber has been logged from our hills. They are now bare. They no longer hold back the rainfall and melting snow. This water comes into the rivers more rapidly than before.

(NOTE: Article was continued on Page 3 and was not copied. Must obtain.)

11/22/35 B.J.

Taxpayers to Discuss Flood Control Vote

Tax payers of Skagit County will convene in a special meeting of the Skagit County Taxpayers association next Tuesday night, Nov. 26, in the Burlington city hall, D. W. Barclay, president announced yesterday.

The coming flood control election Dec. 3, and reports from the state taxpayers association meeting this Friday and Saturday at the Washington hotel in Seattle, will be discussed.

The regular meeting night of the association is next Thursday, and the date is advanced to Tuesday because of Thanksgiving.

11/28/35 Argus

voters to consider flood control

Federal Funds Available For Flood Expenditures

The dikes cannot hold back the flood waters. Each year this condition is growing worse. The problem is not that of the farme5r who owns land, but the problem of every business and every man who has investment in Skagit County because the life and continued existence of the entire community is dependent upon its solution.

This article reprinted portions of the 11/21/35 article.

11/29/35 B.J.

flood control election dec. 3 vital to county; skagit voters have first chance to begin permanent river control plan; will save millions

Most far-reaching, most important of all action ever taken toward permanent flood control in the Skagit and Samish valleys is next Tuesdays special election at which Skagit county will decide whether or not it wishes to join hands in one organization that will be able to obtain sensible, permanent control of flood waters in the future.

Voters will vote for or against the formation of a Flood Control District comprising all of Skagit County except the islands, as specified in flood control laws passed by the last legislature. This district would be able to talk business for state and federal aid, where small districts and communities are not recognized.

Advocates of the measure point to the following reasons:

1. This is the first opportunity Skagit County has had to start a comprehensive flood control plan that will eliminate the hit and miss expensive methods now being employed by individuals and small groups.

2. Other counties of the state have already adopted such measures overwhelmingly and Skagit County with the worst flood problem of all should do something likewise.

3. While a new organization is set up, no new officials or overhead is allowed under this plan. The county commissioners will become directors of the flood control district, at no extra pay.

4. Only money-spending powers of the flood district will be in the district, which could amount to only $30,000 in the whole district if a plan is found which such money could be used.

5. Local dike districts have had to dig up far more than $30,000 to pay for damages from one flood, and then had nothing but repaired dikes for their money.

6. Lower district assessments will result as soon as the rivers are put under permanent control as local districts would have no more expenses.

7. If nothing is done to control the Skagit, that stream will change its course and destroy millions of dollars in property in cities and farms.


Most far-reaching action ever taken.

Formation of Flood Control District.

First opportunity for Comprehensive Flood Control Plan. In 2004 we now have a draft of a Comprehensive F/C Plan.

County Commissioners to control District.

12/5/35 Argus

court action halts flood control work

Timber Companies Restrain Election Board From Certifying Returns to State

Voters Want District

Flood Control Plans Carry, 1891 to 767 at Tuesdays Election

Final organization of the flood control district was abruptly stopped Wednesday morning shortly after announcements had been made of the district victory when the Sound Timber company and the Weyerhaeuser Timber company took legal action in the superior court here. . . . The complaint holds the election null and void on the alleged grounds that E. F. Banker, director of state conservation and development, had acted in excess of his authority in recommending that a district be created. The two companies further claim that the district is not economically feasible since the federal PWA refused to make any contribution for flood control work and that no such funds will be available.

The cost of the improvement is estimated at $2,426,852, of which $508,000 may be raised by assessment, complainants say. The remainder would have to come from state and federal sources. The complaint also asserts that the district gives the commissioners power to subject the property of the two companies to double taxation in contravention to the fourteenth amendment to the U.S. constitution

No article at least through 1937 was identified which reported the outcome of this legal dispute; however, since the District was never formed and it was never mentioned again in any article, it must be assumed that the timber companies prevailed.

12/6/35 B.J.

Flood Control Wins, Then Blocked by Injunction

Timber Companies Allege Plan Would Tax Unfairly

By a vote of nearly three to one, Skagit County voters said yes to the proposition of forming a giant flood control district for permanent work on rivers and salt water problems in Skagit county. County totals were 1,901 approving and 767 against the district, giving a margin of 1,134 votes.

Even while ballots were being counted, however, flood control organization struck a legal snag. Early Wednesday morning two timber companies obtained a temporary restraining order against county and state officials completing the organization.

Judge Geo. A. Joiner granted the injunction until Dec. 28, when County Auditor C. P. Kloke, Prosecutor Richard Welts, Commissioner Hugo Bauman and E. F. Banker, state director of conservation and development, must appear to show cause why the injunction should not be made permanent.

The timber companies maintain that the proposed flood control district is discriminatory against them, because of their large holdings on the hills in the upper valley, where flood control could not possibly benefit them, directly or indirectly. The complaint said the district would result in unfair taxation.


Only 2,500 people voted but approval rating was 3 to 1.


Judge Joiner was a Skagit County Superior Court Judge.

Flood Control would not benefit timber companies.

12/6/35 B.J.

Up to Commissioners Now

Voters of Skagit County acted wisely in their behalf in Tuesdays flood control election. Now, if the law and election are upheld in court, the machinery has been set up whereby Skagit County can take advantage of any opportunity for permanent constructive flood control.

The county commissioners will do well by themselves and the public by not abusing the confidence placed in them as directors of the flood control district. The law says taxes up to two mills MAY (not must) be levied. The commissioners should not grasp this merely as another way to raise money, but instead make no flood control levy until there is a prospect of a definite flood plan where Skagits money will do the most good.

As an election sidelight, Burlington voters showed they know which side of their bread is buttered. The Skagit River is Burlingtons most serious problem of the future. One guess is as good as another as to what would happen if the river is not controlled.

Flood Control District voted on and approved by voters.

1/9/36 Argus

work starts on $216,000 flood control system

Dangerous Skagit Bend At Sterling Receives First Strengthening

Ten Projects Planned

Entire Work Will Be Done Between Burlington and Hamilton

. . . Engineer Iver Nelson is now at work on a WPA project for which $216,000 has been appropriated for revetment work on dangerous portions of the river bank lying from Burlington to a point east of Hamilton. . . . Actual work has started at the C. Brider place at the Sterling bend near Burlington. The banks are being sloped for placing the brush mats and revetment. . . . Some ten projects have been mapped out along the river between Burlington and Lyman, as the most dangerous places. . . . . . Both Burlington and Sedro-Woolley have been threatened by possibility of the river breaking through into slough channels, and either running through the towns or causing huge damages.

Brush mats and willow planting.

Gages and Barney Sloughs. (NOTE: Article was continued on page 8 and was not copied.)

1/10/36 B.J.

River Control; Wallgren Secures Appropriations; Work Being Done At Sterling Bend

As part of Congressman Mon Wallgrens proposed $2,000,000 flood control project on the Skagit river, Engineer Iver Nelson is now at work on a WPA project for which $216,000 has been appropriated for revetment work on dangerous portions of the river bank lying from Burlington to a point east of Hamilton. Nelson hopes to have 120 men working before long and now has approximately 50 men on the job. This is just the start of the flood control and erosion relief program which Congressman Wallgren plans for the Skagit River, to extend from far up the river to its mouth.

Actual work has started at the C. Brider place at the Sterling bend near Burlington. The banks are being sloped for placing the brush mats and revetment. A trestle is being built across the slough to reach the big growth of willows in the old Sterling bend channel. Tool houses and other portable buildings are being constructed.

Concrete blocks will also be made, to be placed on top of the brush mats, all of which will be fastened by cables, with mats and fascines extending well underwater to prevent erosion. Engineer Nelson estimates that the work as outlined will take about a year with a full crew of 122 men.

WPA Work

There is a great picture in the Corps files which shows log rafts floating down the river which destroyed all this work being done.

6/4/36 Argus

skagit must furnish $1,000,000 for spillway

Congress Approves Expenditure of $2,982,000 For Avon To Padilla Bay Channel For Skagit River Flood Control

Although congress yesterday approved the expenditure . . . there appeared little likelihood this morning that the project would materialize. Skagit County will be required to expend more than one million dollars for the purchase of right-of-way, and damage to oyster lands, an expenditure which the county commissioners say is far out of reach of the countys present financial ability.


County cant afford it.

6/12/36 B.J.

Wallgren Happy over Flood Bill

A bill that provided $5,386,000 for second congressional district flood control projects when it passed the House, came back from the Senate with the allotment reduced the $3,411,000 for two projects instead of five million for five projects, according to Congressman Mon Wallgren in a communication to The Journal this week.

Despite the reduction, the measure represents a real advance for our district as it is the first direct recognition by law of a flood control project in the district, the Congressman wrote. I had hoped for definite projects on four rivers but, for this session at least, will have to be content with the two on the Skagit and Stillaguamish rivers.

No indication as to what projects the money was to be spent on.

11/5/36 Argus

chamber hears discussion on flood control

Army Engineers Present Proposed Plans For Consideration

The Skagit River has been studied from many different angles, stated Major Baker. The estimated cost of this project (Bypass) is $4,982,000 of which the local sponsor would have to allocate $1,832,000. . . . The building of power dams on the Ruby, at Diablo, on the Baker and Cascade rivers will all tend to help the flood control situation and although the channel itself is not capable of handling flood waters to such extremes s has been mentioned, with the aid of these other factors, it should be adequate. . . . Dredging at the mouth of the river met opposition from the speaker. Dredging will have no effect on high tides, he stated. And high tides are always higher during flood periods. It is the high tide that will tend to hold your river up, he added. (Major Baker)


Heres an understatement if there ever was one.

Dams alone wont stop it from flooding.

Dredging mouth wont stop high tides.

2/18/37 Argus

flood control hearing will be held here

U.S. War Dept. Announces Public Meeting for March 2 At City Hall

Information Desired

Oral Evidence Will Be Heard; Arguments Asked To Be Submitted In Writing For Records

Congress has directed a preliminary examination of the Skagit river and its tributaries, with the view to control of their floods. . . . Six copies of all letters, papers, maps and photographs submitted are desired

Another study.

5/13/37 Argus

skagit dredge given special CONSIDERATION

Army Head Approves Bill For Special Survey Of North, South Forks

Indications that Skagit countys proposed river dredge for Puget Sound rivers willl receive favorable consideration from the federal government were apparent this week . . . Senate bills authorizing the war department to make a survey of the Skagit have been introduced by Senator Schwellenbach, it was reported. . . . General Pillsbury, who is familiar with the Skagit problem, expressed the opinion that this project as outlined was feasible. The result of this conference with the War Department was the introduction of a bill for an immediate survey of the North and South fork of the Skagit river for the purpose of determining the cost in order to present a bill to dredge.

Dredging project for North and South Forks proposed.

5/20/37 Argus

ruby dam will aid in skagit flood control

Statewide Tax for Control Is Advocated At Meeting

Leaders Gather Here

Interesting Facts On Skagit River Told By City Light Engineer

Construction of Ruby dam as a vital factor in bringing about an effective flood control for the Skagit river was strongly recommended by Glen H. Smith, outside construction engineer for City Light, at the annual conference of the Puget Sound Flood Control Council which is in session in Mt. Vernon today. Smith spoke briefly shortly before noon today, outlining the history of the Skagit river floods and emphasizing the assistance already realized through the Baker river and the Diablo dams. The Ruby dam with the assistance of the proposed Avon cut-off will eliminate flood danger for the Skagit Valley, he concluded.

The Skagit problem was then presented by Mr. Smith. This rich fertile valley is in danger of a flood such as the white man has never seen, he reported. A survey made by James L. Stewart in 1923 revealed that the flood of 1815 swept down on the Indians without warning, covering the lower Skagit flats to a depth of 10 to 15 feet. Evidence of the flood has been found in cedar trees in the lower flats, where river silt has been found in some 15 feet above the ground. In Diablo and Ruby canyons the water marks show levels more than 100 feet above the normal stage. Geological surveys in the upper canyons have revealed that the Skagit in times past has gone on dozens of such rampages and that such is possible today. (NOTE: Article was continued on page 4 and was not copied.)


Committee was critical that California got $486,000,000 for flood control and Oregon got $102,000,000 but that Washington only got $52,000,000.

Ruby dam and By-Pass will stop it from flooding.

Seattle City Light has Stewart Report by this date.

100 feet?? Where did he get this data? Not in Stewart report.

6/3/37 Argus

war department kills bill for skagit survey

Existing Flood Control Act Covers Local River, Secretary of War Rules

Senator Homer T. Bone Advises That Delegate Be Sent To Portland To Present Local Cause

Failure to receive the approval of the Secretary of War, the Washington delegations senate bill authorizing a preliminary examination and survey of the North and South forks of the Skagit has been recommended to be killed.

6/10/37 Argus

skagit river survey okayed at washington

Engineers Approve Plan; Dredging Action on Results of Survey; Local Boosters Are Pleased

Plans for a complete survey of the north and south forks of the Skagit river from the bay to Mt. Vernon received the official approval of U.S. Army engineers in Washington, D.C., . . . This means that we are one step nearer in our campaign to have the lower Skagit dredged for the benefit of flood control, drainage and navigation, Shrauger told a press representative. . . . Congressman Wallgren has filed a bill calling for the dredging of the north and south forks of the Skagit. The future of the bill depends on the findings of the U.S. engineers in their survey, it has been pointed out.


12/23/37 Argus

river, slough projects await federal action

$100,000 Earmarked For Swinomish Channel Protection Dike

Report River Findings

Earmarking of $100,000 for the construction of a dike to protect the recently constructed Swinomish slough channel against the Skagit river silt, insuring an early start on this work, was announced in Washington, D.C., this morning by Congressman Mon C. Wallgren . . . A second project dealing with the completion of a survey of the Skagit river and a report of findings to the board of engineers for rivers and harbors before its January meeting, is also well underway, Wallgren announces.

$100,000 for dike construction to protect Swinomish slough from Skagit River silt. (Hole in the wall?)

12/16/38 B.J.

Damaged River Banks

Farmers east of Sedro-Woolley are busy in a campaign to stop destruction of river revetments by log booms. According to reports, tug boats, pulling logs have become snagged in the revetments, pulling out at least 500 feet near Utopia. More damage has been done at Sterling. As a government project a year or two ago, this work cost much money, and so far has apparently been useful. But as the new revetments are ruined, great chunks of farmers land are dropping into the river again. Losses already are estimated at $10,000. . . . Sedro-Woolley farmers have gone to bat on the proposition, with the aid of business and civic leaders. Burlington had better get busy too, for if log booms have caused such trouble up river, the same thing can and probably will happen along the river banks just east of Burlington. Local leaders, in a spirit of self-preservation, should join hands with the up-river boys both to stop the cause of the trouble, and to see that damage already done is repaired.

Log Booms Destroy River Banks

See 1/10/36 article.

2/2/39 Argus

Flood Control Meeting Will Be Held Feb. 4

Mass Meeting of Farmers Will Be Held At Sedro-Woolley To Discuss River Bank Maintenance

A mass meeting of Skagit County farmers will be held this Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Sedro-Woolley city hall auditorium to discuss plans with state and federal officials for forming a river bank maintenance district. The river is at present threatening destruction of hundreds of acres of valuable farmlands and the authorized expenditure of $420,000 for further river bank revetments is delayed until maintenance can be financed. . . .

Fink and Lars Langlow, engineer in charge of the flood control of the state, told the committee that the lower Skagit farm land will be threatened since the river is at a higher level than the surrounding land, because of the hundreds of acres of farmlands being washed down each year and deposited in the lower river. These officials said that the entire county was threatened with flood and destruction unless immediate action is taken to complete the revetment work as authorized by the WPA, and to provide funds for maintenance. They recommended that all farmers throughout the county should be included in a maintenance district.


Meeting to discuss formation of River Bank Maintenance District.

State officials warned river at higher levels then surrounding land. Query: Is this erosion taking place today? If not why did it stop? How much was contributed to log rafts towed down the Skagit?

All farmers in county to be included in district.

2/3/39 B.J.

Farmers Will Discuss RiverMass Meeting Saturday at Sedro-Woolley for Forming New District

Burlington farmers are especially invited to attend a mass meeting of Skagit county farmers this Saturday at two p.m. in the Sedro-Woolley city hall auditorium to discuss plans with state and federal officials for forming a river bank maintenance district. The river is at present threatening destruction of hundreds of acres of valuable farmlands and the authorized expenditure of $420,000 for further river bank revetments is delayed until maintenance can be financed. . . . These officials said that the entire county was threatened, with flood and destruction unless immediate action is taken to complete the revetment work as authorized by the WPA, and to provide funds for maintenance. They recommended that all farmers throughout the county should be included in a maintenance district.

New Flood Control District Proposed

2/23/39 Argus

Seek To Form River DistricT

Petitions Sent to Olympia For Final Approval Before Calling Election

Petitions for the formation of a Skagit river bank revetment maintenance district were circulated this week and sent to state authorities at Olympia for final approval before calling for an election to vote on the matter. . . .

It is estimated that the average farm will be taxed less than 10 cents per acre. As petitioned for, the proposed district has as its east boundary the east city limits of Hamilton, and extends west through Burlington to the Pacific Highway. The Skagit River is the south boundary and the north line extends along the foot of the hills on the north side of the Skagit River . Burlington, Sedro-Woolley, Lyman and Hamilton are included in the proposed district. . . .

Meanwhile, Skagit county commissioners will be asked on Monday to keep their word in regard to the purchase of the new dragline as required by U.S. Engineers in charge of the revetment project. If this is done, work will proceed to protect remaining danger spots along the river.

Petition prepared by local attorney A.H. Ward who later became a judge and settled in the Nookachamps.

Taxed 10 cents per acre.

District was never formed.

2/20/41 Argus

argus of 1897 Tells of high water in skagit

River Misbehaves

After being on good behavior for nearly a year the Skagit river got on an obstreperous streak last Friday night and came up ten feet to let the people know it had not forgotten its old job. After causing many prophesies it tumbled back into its old ruts and now there is scarcely enough water to allow a Missouri river sucker to come up stream without the aid of propellers. The Skagit is all rightno moss on its back or banks either. This item was written too early. She is boiling again.

1897 Flood

River came up ten feet.

2/20/41 Argus

early pioneers settled in mount vernon before 1870; incorporated 1890

Early History of Mount Vernon is Recalled; Local Community was first Permanent Inland Town Started in County.

as early as 1870 two pioneer families had settled near the big log jam in the Skagit river to lay the foundation of the present Mount Vernon . Jasper Gates was the first to settle here, preceding Joseph F Dwelley by a few months. . . .

Two Log Jams

Two huge log jams in the Skagit, one centuries old, proved major obstacles in the communitys development but the hearty pioneers with brain, brawn and perseverance, finally were victorious and following the opening of the river, the community grew rapidly. The largest of the log jams was located about a mile above the present city while the second was a half-mile below. So dense and solid were the jams that even large trees grew on top of the debris. . . . By 1874 Mt. Vernon and the upper valley had enough settlers to seriously consider means to break the log jams Indians reported had been always existent..

First Farmers

Samuel Calhoun and Michael J. Sullivan were the first of a group of foresighted farmers who set foot on Skagit mainland soil, seeking to reclaim it and convert it into farmland.

Two Log Jams

Indians said log jams always existent.

First Farmers.

3/27/41 Argus

flood control project fails to get approval

$3,150,000 Expenditure on Skagit River Is Frowned Upon2 Other Projects OutArmy Engineer Makes Report Before House Committee in National Capital

Three Skagit county projects, calling for an estimated expenditure of $3,274,000, may be stricken from the 1941-42 program of the U.S. government; it was revealed in Wash. D.C., late yesterday afternoon when Manor General Julian L. Schley, chief of the army engineers, made a report to the house appropriations committee during hearings on the war department civil functions bills.

Could not be determined from article what the $3,150,000 project was.

7/29/43 Argus

Danger Point Flood Works Suggested

Preventive flood control works at danger points rather than a complete upstream-to-lowland revetment program appears advisable on the upper Skagit river, County Engineer H.O. Walberg said Wednesday night following an inspection trip by Parker tugboat to Lyman ferry crossing. He said federal soil conservation service officials who accompanied him on the trip were inclined to similar opinions. Possibility was seen that plans for comprehensive studies of the exact needs for flood control along the river could be undertaken soon as far as the vital points of the stream were concerned. Damage from the recent high water, while it was serious in the case of individual farmers, notably in the Utopia district, was not appreciable from the over-all standpoint, Walberg said. The big danger, of real, wide-spread damage, is that of a change in the course of the river, the engineer declared.

Needed more studies of the river.

Damage referenced would have been from December 2, 1941 flood, 30.17 in Concrete, 25.99 in Mt. Vernon.

Concerned about channel changes.

10/7/43 Argus

Upper River Erosion Work Hoped For Yet This Fall

Final soundings were taken yesterday afternoon preparatory to the proposed driving of piling dolphins on the upper Skagit river in an effort to slow down flood currents and curtail erosion, County Engineer H.O. Walberg reported. The engineer hopes to set rows of dolphins extending outward from the river banks at erosion points before the late fall and early winter high water season sets in. . . .

The new approach to the erosion project fits in with future plans for river bank protection, Walberg said. Use of dolphins to catch debris and bring about deposit of silt was first tried in the Avon diking district nearly 34 years ago. Today, he said, the river has completely filled in a bad wash that occurred in 1909.

New approach to flood control. Use of dolphins to catch flood debris and deposit silt.

Dolphins first used in Avon after 1909 flood.

3/30/44 Argus

Seattle Angler Vote Defeats Skagit Plea

State Council Declines to Back Reopening of River in April-May Period

Opposition of Seattle anglers swung the Washington Sports Council against supporting the newly-formed Skagit Sportsmens association demand for keeping the Skagit River open to fishing during the next two months, Acting President Floyd McKeon reported following his return from the Councils weekend session at Yakima.

Fish Issue

12 members of the council were from Seattle and 1 was from Everett.

3/30/44 Argus

Editorial Closing Skagit Not Enough

The commissions closure order may have been ill-advised, or at least unnecessary in itself; certainly, the manner of its making was ill-advised and most unfair. . . . And little was said or heard of the decision to close the river for two months until the commission issued its 1944 season regulations in printed form a short time ago. Skagit County fishermen feel they should have had something to say about what was done to their river fishing grounds. They feel, too, that, granted the rivers fish population does need some attention; there are factors other than the take of the anglers that may be diminishing the steelhead runs. Why doesnt the game commission do something about the seal herds that are reported to be invading the delta in increasing numberstheyre voracious when it comes to fishand why doesnt the commission take some steps toward wiping out some of the birds that continually prey on small fish up and down the river? Not to mention a stronger fish hatching and planting program? These are some of the questions Skagit fishermen are asking. . . . The game department should have to answer more fully than just to say, We have set a precedent for closing streams that have flipper or cut-throat runs at this time of year.

Fish Issue

Steelhead runs diminishing. Is this the beginning of the impacts of the dams?

Editor blames seals and birds.

Game Dept. allegedly was protecting cut-throat runs.

2/23/45 B.J.

Skagit Flood Warning System Arranged By Weather Bureau

Creation of flood warning system for the entire Skagit valley with emergency service to spread the alarm in event of dangerous conditions was announced today to Attorney A. H. Ward of Sedro-Woolley, chairman of the water resources committee of the Skagit county planning commission. The warning system will be sponsored jointly by the United States weather bureau and Skagit county commissioners with various county officials, public and private agencies and individuals cooperating. It involves daily rainfall, snow and river level reports from various cooperators located at 10 strategic points throughout the Skagit basin. . . . As the project develops and forecasts are based on information obtainable in the upper reaches of the Skagit, it will be possible to utilize power dams to aid in controlling the river. Weather bureau officials pointed out that by holding the crest of an upper Skagit flood at Ross dam for only three hours might permit a Sauk river crest to pass harmlessly whereas the combined crest of both streams might result in great losses to farmers and other residents of the valley.

Flood Early Warning System

Value in storage behind dams.

10/12/45 B.J.

Must Control Skagit River Says McLean

Stressing the fact that Skagit river is this countys most valuable resource as well as most serious danger, W. A. McLean, chairman of the county planning commission, spoke before the Monday evening meeting of the Burlington Parent-Teaches association. . . . the Skagit river as the countys principal resource providing irrigation, electrical energy, transportation, as well as commercial and sport fishing, deserved the attention of the county planning bodies. With the gradual closing of the south fork opens the possibility of a breakup in the north which would completely flood the valley if the river is not controlled systematically, warned McLean. Now under consideration by the county commission is an emergency flood gate in the Allen-Fredonia district and a main flood control project between Concrete and Sauk.

Skagit poses serious danger.

Planning Commission considering main flood control project between Concrete and Sauk.

11/22/45 Argus

Flood Warning System Set Up; Forecasts Planned

Creation of a flood warning system for the entire Skagit Valley with emergency service to spread the alarm in event of dangerous conditions was announced Wednesday by A.H. Ward of Sedro Woolley, chairman of the Water Resources committee of the Skagit County Planning commission. The warning system will be sponsored jointly by the U.S. Weather Bureau and Skagit County Commissioners, with various county officials, public and private agencies and individuals cooperating. It involves daily rainfall, snow and river level reports from various cooperators located at ten strategic points throughout the Skagit basin. These reports will be telephoned or telegraphed at 8 oclock each morning to the Seattle office of the weather bureau and the information coordinated there. Experienced personnel will then be able to compute river levels for several hours in advance after having studied the previous action of the river from accumulated data. . . . Whether flood warnings can be issued accurately this winter is problematical since it has not yet been agreed at what river stage a warning should be necessary. . . . Flood warnings, when issued, probably will be of two types. One would be to advise that conditions were such that a flood might be expected. The other warning would be that a flood of a certain crest was on its way. As the project develops and forecasts are based on information obtainable in the upper reaches of the Skagit, it will be possible to utilize power dams to aid in controlling the river. Weather bureau officials pointed out that the holding of the crest of an upper Skagit flood at Ross dam for only three hours might permit a Sauk river crest to pass harmlessly whereas the combined crest of both streams would result in great losses to farmers and other residents of the valley.


Utilized telephones, telegraphs, sheriff deputies, firefighters, and milk truck drivers to spread the word.

. . . it will be possible to utilize power dams to aid in controlling the river. Holding crest behind Ross for 3 hours might permit Sauk River crest to pass harmlessly.

8/2/46 B.J.

Skagit River Washing Away Lytles Burlington Farm

Dropping off with loud splashes as the swirling waters dig deeper and deeper into the lower sand pocket is the land on the Austin Lytle farm about one and one half miles east of Burlington in Skagit county. Since last falls heavy rains and the winters heavy snow fall, the Skagit river has washed out more than 15 of his original 45 acres of fertile top soil, and Lytle, estimating conservatively said last week that at the same rate his house, now about 200 feet from the river, would be gone by Christmas. . . . The rivers near its low depth for the year, Farmer Lytle said as he watched salmon jump in the stream as it swirled past at a 6 mile per hour rate. Just then several large bits of dirt and sand broke away and washed down the river. . . . However on river control work, the county is putting in rock revetments at Utopia, some distance east, and has indicated it might start work on the Sterling bend about one half mile east, this year, but that isnt saving us, the farmer dishearteningly acknowledged. He indicated County Engineer Haljmar Walber and several of the county commissioners had evinced great interest in river control work, but lack of funds was holding up any work. Army and navy engineers, called in last fall for consultation said that the river would be hard to stop if it washed away the last 1,000 feet to the Dike road. After crossing the Dike road, it would be in an old slough which runs through Burlington and out to the city hospital and Darigold plant they said. The soft sand pocket runs west to the Dike road, the hungry river needing only time before it swallows up hundreds of acres of land. Harold Halvorson, owning the next farm east of Lytles has sand silt where he used to graze cattle, the river ruining the ground when it ate away and covered the land.

Erosion in Sterling Bend on Earl Jones place.

Rock revetments went in Utopia.

Gages Slough

Soft sand pocket.

Leonard Halversons dad.

11/14/46 Argus

Silvers Heavy Sockeyes are Normal At Dam

Over 7,000 silver salmon and 4,900 sockeye salmon have been placed over Baker River dam so far this season, according to Milo Moore, Director of Fisheries. . . . The Dept. of Fisheries and the power company are now studying ways and means of improving the traps and hoisting cars to eliminate injuries and to permit the rehabilitation of steelhead trout and Chinook salmon runs, now almost completely destroyed. . . . Studies being conducted by Dept. of Fisheries to be completed during coming winter.

Fish Issue

Sockeye run normal but silver run is almost twice the size of any previous cyclic run since the construction of the Baker River Dam.

Steelhead and Chinook almost completely destroyed. NOTE: Need to obtain studies from Fisheries.

5/29/47 Argus

EditorialIt Could Happen

This weeks high stage of the Skagit river ought to remind us that rivers long kept in their places have a way of springing surprises. Its been so long since the Skagit went on any serious rampage, near Mount Vernon , that its all too easy for the city to remain complacent about its defenses. Its all too easy to ignore the widening gaps in the old piling bulwarks to the dike, to forget those feverish days and nights of other flood seasons when townsmen and countrymen fought the river as a real and threatening adversary, with shovel and sandbag. Much more of the Skagit5 basins timber went to the mills during the war years, and its still going. Which means that rains and melting snows reach the stream more rapidly than ever before. Isnt it about time to look over our river defenses once more and plug the little gaps before they become destructive torrents?

This flood event is undocumented in Corps and USGS records.

6/12/47 Argus

Skagit River Course May be changed, hughes

Chairman Lowell Hughes of the Skagit County Commissioners announced this week that a $100,000 project to send the Skagit river over a new course east of Burlington and eliminate the dangerous oxbow bend that has been eroding farmlands there might be undertaken this summer. . . . The proposal most likely to be adopted, Hughes indicated, is to open a new watercourse from the upper end of the Burlington bend to the lower end, where Nookachamps creek enters the main stream. This would be accomplished by digging a shallow course with heavy equipment and letting action of the river deepen and widen the new channel. Heavy erosion was observed during the May freshets in the Burlington Bend area. The eating away of the farmlands in the bend is still going on and may grow worse . . . Last year several farm buildings were lost to the river. Hughes said owners of property that would be affected by the new channel project are being contacted. . . . Only alternative to digging a new channel is a heavy revetment program around the bend, which would be much more costly.

Cut a new channel through the Nookachamps.

Would have eliminated Strawberry Bar.

6/12/47 Argus

EditorialCourage To Do

The members of the board of Skagit County commissioners are well aware of the consequences of tinkering with the Skagit rivers course when they propose to do something about the streams steady encroachment on valuable farm lands east of Burlington and its threat to that city itself. That was made plain as day Tueday night when Chairman Lowell Hughes told a chamber of commerce industrial development audience here of the commissioners plans. Hughes frankness was refreshing, as he emphasized that we are sticking our necks way out on this project. So little had been said recently of the proposal to start the river on a new course designed to eliminate the rivers oxbow bend at Burlington and stop its present heavy erosion (erosion that has been moving ahead ominously during recent weeks high water) that Hughes comments took many by surprise. The spirit of courage, in undertaking a project of such magnitude with its many uncertainties, is commendable on the part of the commissioners. Eliminating the Burlington Bend of the Skagit probably will be only the beginning. The Skagit is a constantly shifting type of stream. One remedy may merely breed a new erosion problem at another point. Of this the county commissioners are well aware. But they are willing, backed by the best engineering advice they can obtain, to take the chances involved and to go ahead and try to do something about the river problem; that is much better than sitting back doing nothing for fear something might happen. Were the commissioners to take the latter course, there is danger that the whole lower Skagit valley might undergo drastic change. The flood control engineers agree that the river threatens to cut into Gages slough, on the south-eastern edge of Burlington and make a new channel through Whitney, or within eight or nine years to take out the Burlington-Sedro Woolley highway, the Great Northern right of way and work a new course running into the Samish river. Far-fetched? The engineers dont believe so.

Eliminating the Burlington Bend.

One mans flood control is another mans flood problem concept.

Worried about river changing course into Gages Slough.

7/24/47 Argus

River Channel to be Changed With State Aid

Nookachamps to Be Dredged and New Road Opened

County officials this week received assurances that the State Department of Conservation and Development would grant substantial financial aid in carrying out three major projects, the by-passing of the Burlington Bend in the Skagit river, the restoration of Nookachamps Creek to its old bed and the development of the Cascade mine-to-market road. . . . A state fund of $100,000 is expected to be made available (for Bend project). The commissioners are planning to get the river project underway soon and hope to see it completed before the late fall high water period. They propose to send the river through a new channel, on a straight line from the upper end of the Burlington ox-bow to the lower end, where Nookachamps creek enters. The state, the county and the drainage district involved are to pay a third each or about $6,000 apiece, to dredge out the old channel from which the Nookachamps creek moved last winter, and to clean out numerous log jams along the channel. The creek has spread across country for a mile, Hughes said.

DCD was forerunner of State Dept of Ecology.

Nookachamps creek moved in 1946?? There was a flood event on 10/25/46, 31.14 at Concrete, 27.8 at Mt. Vernon.

8/7/47 Argus

Plans For River switching get setback, Hughes

Rock Revetment to Be Used in Bend Above Burlington

. . . revision of engineering plans at Burlington Bend, switching back to the original bank revetment program. . . . Plans were submitted last week to the Army Engineers for final approval, said Hughes, but requirements placed upon the job by Colonel Hewitts office makes it impossible for Skagit County to carry out the plan as originally proposed. The stipulation which has brought about the change in Burlington Bend erosion control plan is the requirement by the federal government that Skagit County either dredge the entire channel which the river will require, that is a stream bed approximately 400 feet wide, or that funds be put in escrow by the County for the future dredging down stream of the material removed by the river establishing its normal channel width. Mr. Hughes pointed out that Skagit County is expending every effort to correct the present Burlington Bend, that funds are not sufficient to put money in escrow for such an unknown contingency, therefore, the Commissioners had only one choice to make, that of spending what money was available in rock reveting the worst sections, of the curve.

Corps of Engineers kills plan. Wanted 400 ft wide channel or funds put into escrow for future dredging down stream.

8/7/47 Argus

Guest EditorialPuget Sound MailMore Fish Troubles

For months now the Puget Sound Mail has been trying to point out the danger of the dam building movement to the commercial fishing industry and trying to arouse LaConner fisherman to an organized effort to present the fishing industrys story. Now it appears that the men who make their living by catching and processing fish have still another fight on their hands, that of over-zealous and short-sighted sportsmen who desire to eliminate most types of commercial fishing. It would appear to the Puget Sound Mail that the sports fishermen should get together to fight for a greater fish propagation, to carry the battle to those who would place dams where spawning grounds are endangered, rather than squabble among themselves.

Fish Issue

Paper was against building dams because of their impact to the fishing industry.

10/16/47 Argus

Dike Commissioners Protest Location of Disposal Plant

Fearful that the dike would be weakened by construction of the new sewage disposal plant now being erected, dike commissioners Pete Lee, Magnus Johnson and Dan Sundquist met with the city council last night to enter complaint. . . . commissioners felt that the dike at that point was a danger spot and asked if bond had been secured in case of damage due to flood. Johnson suggested that the dike might have been weakened by silt and sand drawn through the pumping system set up to keep out seepage. Lee drew attention to past floods, and suggested that the plant should have been outside the dike. The council assured the commissioners that they were also deeply concerned with safety against floods and expressed their confidence in the engineers in charge. City manager Bruce Nelson was of the opinion that the structure would strengthen the dike rather than weaken it although he admitted that temporarily there might be danger. He stated that records of high water had been studied and the engineers picked the present season as safest.

Mt. Vernon Sewage Treatment Plant

Dike District Commissioner wanted plant outside dike.

11/20/47 Argus

County Ready For River Bank Work; Now up to State

Need Critical, Says Walberg as County, City Unite on Job

With both jobs classed as emergencies, estimates and plans for rock fills at two points on the river front have been submitted to the Flood control Engineer at Olympia, according to H.O. Walberg, county engineer. We consider these problems critical, said Walberg, so critical that we have started the powder work at the quarry. The two projects nkown at Unit Seven and Unit Four extend from the bridge south for several blocks and along the river bank near the Darigold plant. . . . Basalt rock will be quarried on the 10 acre plot north of Sterling bend. . . . The rock and equipment is to be furnished by the county by the agreement.

Soundings were made early this week and it was found that the river is 33 feet deep just south of the bridge and the wall approximately on a one to one slope. . . . With a 33 foot depth, it is 61 feet from the street elevation to the lowest point.

River 33 feet deep??

4/30/48 B.J.

Emergency Funds To Flood Control

The army engineers notified Representative Henry M. Jackson Tuesday, according to word received here, that $50,000 has been allocated from emergency funds for flood control work on the Burlington bend of the Skagit river. The state will contribute $100,000 to the project while the county will take care of the balance. Work is expected to be started under the direction of army engineers within the next month.

Burlington Bend Emergency Work to begin.

5/13/48 Argus

Flood Control At Burlington Bend Assured

Emergency Food control work seems assured for the Burlington Bend, according to a telegram received from Congressman Henry M. Jackson yesterday. Jackson advised that the office of Chief of Engineers has approved a grant of $50,000 for the project. The state has already agreed to furnish up to $88,000. So far, the county has not set any figure for its share of the expense.

Burlington Bend Project

6/10/48 Argus

EditorialSkagit Flood Protection

Do the two Seattle City Light dams on the Skagit river assure us that days of Skagit Valley floods are at an end? That is a question of vital interest to all residents of the valley. It can be answered conditionally, especially since the recent freshets that sent the river to within two feet of the level of grave danger.

The provisional answer is that the dams can be, as they have been in the last two weeks, used to hold down flood crests. There is as yet no assurance that they will prove adequate to prevent serous flood rise in all cases, particularly in November or December. . . . But the City Light dams definitely have forestalled serous flood conditions in the current freshet period. At its crest last week, the Skagit reached 21 feet at Mt. Vernon, two feet below the point at which danger of dikes being overflowed or washed out would become serious, Walberg reports. Ross dam was used to hold back water for ten days, Walberg told the Argus Wednesday. It helped keep the river level down by possibly several feet. As the Seattle Times reported Sunday from an interview with City Light officials, if the 567,000 acre feet (of freshet waters purposely held behind Ross dam) had been added to the water flowing down the lower Skagit river, after its junction with the Sauk near Rockport, the lower valley probably would be having its flood problem right now, The lower valley needs to continue to maintain its dikes, and to watch them carefully at freshet time, but at least it has some protection that it once did not have.

The flood event referenced in this editorial is not recorded by the Corps or USGS.

Dikes would break when river reached 23 feet at Mt. Vernon?? Important to remember is that was 23 feet at the downtown Mt. Vernon gage at the Moose Hall. Would be approximately 31 feet at current location. 31 ft carries approximately 90,000 cfs.

567,000 acre feet held for ten days.

9/23/48 Argus

EditorialA Bridge for the Upper Skagit

The voters of Skagit County will have an important issue to decide for themselves at the November 2 electionwhether or not to authorize a $700,000 bond issue for the construction of a bridge across the upper Skagit River in the vicinity of Concrete and of the necessary connecting roads on the south bank. . . . Three principal claims are made for this bridge. From the standpoint of the taxpayers pocketbook, it would eliminate the present costly operation of two or three county-owned ferries. These ferries are not only an expense but also a worry to county officials because of the danger of an accident, especially during the high water periods. A second claim for benefits from this bridge is that it would open to logging timer areas . . . A third claim is that the lands south of the river may be suitable for further settling.

The Dalles Bridge

Area would have been timbered anyway however, logs would have been sent to Snohomish County mills instead of Skagits.

10/7/48 Argus

Army Engineers to Resurvey Skagit River Basin

Valley Considered For Flood Control Aid, Cain Reports

Skagit River Valleys flood dangers and current problems are going to be resurveyed immediately by the U.S. Army Engineers, Sen. Harry P. Cain disclosed here Tuesday afternoon in an Argus interview. . . . The committee adopted the necessary resolution a week ago Friday (Sept. 24), Sen. Cain told the Argus. This was done with a view to translating the recommendations from the engineers into necessary authorizations. In the recent past the U.S. Engineers have largely kept hands off the Skagit basin because they had been told that the state was going to pay for whatever work was needed.

Another study.

State was going to pay for whatever work was needed???

10/8/48 B.J.

Bridge Issue Before County At Election

Official election notice for a $700,000 bond issue for the purpose of building a bridge and access roads across the Skagit river in the vicinity of Concrete has been published by Skagit county commissioners with a special vote to be held at the November 2 general election. . . . The bridge will open up a loop highway from the eastern end of Skagit county to Darrington and the Snohomish valley, in addition to providing an outlet for the largest single stand of virgin timber in the nation, soon to be placed on sale by the U. S. Forestry service. The huge timber stand is located on the slopes of Finney creek. . . . The upper Skagit bridge proposition has been a problem of the county for the past 15 years. In January of this year a committee of leaders from every town in the county got together to prepare a county-wide road and bridge program for presentation the legislative Interim Committee. In doing so they designated the Skagit river bridge at Concrete as the second most needed project of the county. The number one project was, of course, the Cascade highway.

Dalles Bridge

Bridge allowed largest stand of virgin timber in the nation to be harvested.

Bridge project was #2 on County list. #1 was the Cascade Highway.

3/17/49 Argus

Public Hearing on River Work Set April 12

U.S. Engineers Seek Local Opinion On Projects

Navigation Main Topic

The hearing it is understood, is called primarily to poll local opinion as to the projects the engineers propose, principally dealing with improving navigation on the lower Skagit River.

Project Described

The existing project provides for channel stabilization through the delta by means of a dike at the mouth of the South fork; regulating dikes and a mattress sill near the head of North fork; and closing subsidiary channels at the delta; and for increasing the available depth at Skagit City bar by dredging and by training walls. The length of the section included in the project is 9 miles. The mattress sill, closing dikes, and 10,450 feet of training dike at dike at the mouth of the South fork are completed. The training dike was completed to a length 5,550 feet less than project length. The work at Skagit City bar awaits the local cooperation required by the act of 2 March 1919.

Corps Project

Documents obtained from Corps files show that the dredging at Skagit City bar did not happen as they never got local cooperation from the farmers.

5/5/49 Argus

Skagits Runoff To be Heavy, Say City Light Aides

Snow 16 Per Cent Heavier On Upper River Than in 1948 Record Fall

An all-time record spring runoff is expected from the upper Skagit river for the April-August period, I.L. Cottom, Assistant superintendent of Seattles City Light, announced here this week. Snow surveys indicate 16 per cent more snow, on a water content basis, than last spring when a 40-year runoff record was broken. A prepared statement from City Light promised as much control of spring and high water as possible from its Diablo and Ross dams, but advised construction of and a high degree of maintenance of diking facilities on the lower river. . . . During the period May 24 to June 12, 1948, the natural flow of the Skagit river at Diablo dam maintained daily flows ranging from 16,000 cfs to 32,000 cfs which is the highest spring runoff of record at that point on the river. Due to the large storage capacity of the Ross Reservoir, the City of /Seattle was able to store the greatest amount of the runoff and the flows actually released at Diablo dam during this period ranged between 2,500 and 8,000 cfs. Actually 78 percent of the total runoff at Diablo was impounded in the Citys reservoirs during this period, which reduced the average flow in the lower reaches of the river by 18,000 cfs.

Between June 9 and June 12 the Skagit river was at or near the 20-foot stage at the county gage at Mt. Vernon, and reached an observed peak stage of 20.3 feet at 7:15 p.m. on June 10. The operations of the Citys dams at this time resulted in a net reduction of 211,800 cfs in the natural flow of the river. Assuming that one-third of this flow, had there been no regulation, would have been absorbed in valley and channel storage such as the Nookachamps basin, there would still have been 14,000 cfs greater flow in the Skagit at Mt. Vernon, which would have resulted in a river stage of 22.3 feet instead of the 20.3 feet which actually occurred. . . . The city of Seattle in describing the effect of the operation of its reservoirs on the flows in the lower river does not wish to convey a false feeling of security against floods in the lower Skagit valley. The most damaging floods have practically always occurred during the winter period from the middle of October to the middle of March. It is desired to emphasize the fact that during winter floods, such as occurred in February 1932 and December 1921, the contribution of the upper Skagit river to this type of flood ranges between 15 and 18 percent. Therefore, even complete regulation of flow in the upper Skagit could only effect peak flows in the lower river by 15 to 18 percent. Until such time as large storage facilities are available on the lower tributaries of the river, such as the Cascade, Sauk and Baker rivers, the possibility of damaging floods in the lower Skagit valley will continue to exist. . . . This statement by the city of Seattle, department of lighting, has been issued in order to inform the residents of the Skagit river valley of the flood control service that has been and will continue to be rendered by the city in the operation of its hydro-electric projects and reservoirs located on the upper reaches of the Skagit River.


The entire statement was printed in the article. Looks like they were using Diablo for flood control in 1949. Why cant they do it now?

78% of total runoff at Diablo was impounded!!

6/9/49 Argus

editorialSkagit Power Development

Seattle City Light plans to more than double its electric power production from its dams on the upper Skagit river within the next four years. . . . Razing the huge Ross dam to its third level, 540 feet high, or 1615 feet above sea level, was virtually complete at the years end. . . . From the standpoint of water storage, a factor in Skagit flood control, the third level will boost the Ross basins capacity from 675,000 to 1,400,000 acre feet.


12/1/49 Argus

County Keeps Weather Eye on Hills As Skagit Flood Cleanup Progresses

Fresh Rise In River Not Held Cause For Fear

An anxious Skagit county kept its eye on the Skagit river late Thursday as word came from the state highway department of new snow and winds in the Baker area. But although the river had climbed to 19.6 feet early Friday the weather bureaus flood warning office told the county engineers office there appeared no cause for alarm. The river started falling at Concrete at midnight. Snow was falling high in the mountains. Engineer Hjalmar Walberg said a 20.8 foot peak was expected about 2 p.m. Friday, a level that ordinarily causes no trouble.

November 28, 1949 Flood Event

USGS records show 40.8 ft at Concrete and 34.21 feet at Mt. Vernon.

NOTE: This article was cut-off during copying. Need to obtain full article.

12/1/49 B.J.

Burlington Escapes Serious Damage During Devastating Skagit Flood

Burlington, due to a number of reasons, was one of the few towns in the Skagit Valley suffering only minor damage last Sunday night and Monday during one of the worst floods in over 25 years. Lyman, Hamilton, Mount Vernon, Conway, and Stanwood communities suffered the worst. The factors that saved both Burlington and Sedro-Woolley, five miles to the east from the fate of other towns were first, that the Seattle City Light retained hundreds of tons of water behind their dams up-river, second, dikes breaking near Conway relieved the pressure here, . . . The high stage came about 4:30 Monday morning with a crest at near the 26 foot mark. . . .

November 28, 1949 Flood

Worst flood in 25 years.

Ross and Diablo used as flood control.

26 ft at Moose Lodge gage in Mt. Vernon. USGS reports 34.2 ft at current gage. 114,000 cfs.[5] 8 ft drop in elevation btwn gages.

12/1/49 B.J.

Ross Dam Plays Large Part in Preventing Flood

Seattle City Lights Ross Dam on the upper Skagit played a large part in keeping the serious flood from being even worse, E. R. Hoffman, Lighting Superintendent, said today. The valves in the big dam were closed Wednesday, November 23, and no water from the entire upper river was allowed to pass. From Thursday midnight until Sunday midnight enough water was held behind the dam to cover 116,000 acres of land to a depth of one foot. At the crest of the flood approximately 42,600 cubic feet of water were impounded every second. Elevation of Ross Lake, nearly 20 miles long, came up ten feet, and is now forty feet higher than anticipated for this time of year. On November 28 there was still enough storage space to impound another 200,000 acre feet of water behind Ross Dam. The valves were still closed and no water was getting past the dam. The flood crest at Concrete, first large town below Ross Dam, reached 149,000 cubic feet per second on Sunday, November 27. This would have been disastrously worse except for the water held behind Ross Dam. The crest passed Mt. Vernon early Monday morning, November 28, and the entire river was reported to be receding. Ross Dam does a great deal to keep floods on the Skagit from being much worse, Hoffman said. However, it cannot be expected that a dam so far up the river will prevent floods altogether. Only about one-fourth of the river lies above Ross Dam, and the tributary streams feeding the upper fourth are a good deal smaller than the streams below the dam.


November 28, 1949 Flood

No water allowed out of entire upper river from Thursday midnight (November 24th) until Sunday midnight (November 27th).

Ross Lake came up ten feet and is now forty feet higher than anticipated for this time of year. 40 feet??? Another 200,000 acre foot still available.

One fourth of river above Ross.

12/15/49 Argus

Dike Leaders Rep. Jackson to meet here

Want Action on Cleaning Out Lower River

The group, formally organized Wednesday as Skagit River Control association, will confer with the congressman at 9 a.m. at the city hall as to immediate steps that may be taken to prevent a recurrence of the recent near-disastrous flooding along the river. County and diking commissioners agreed that the lower river bed has silted in until it takes much less water in the stream than it did in former years to cause dike breaks and overflows. . . . It appeared possible that Rep. Jackson might be questioned also about withdrawal of army engineers from dike repair work in recent days. One break in the dike along the North Fork was repaired but other work was called off although there were at least two breaks across the river.

New Flood Association Formed

Recent near disastrous flooding?? This would be the November 28, 1949 flood event which USGS says only had 114,000 cfs at Mt. Vernon.

Three levee breaks.

12/15/49 Argus

city to repair broken sewer outside dike

Immediate emergency steps to plug the damaged sewer line that let Skagit flood waters back up into southwest Mt. Vernon streets and yards are being taken. Investigations this week showed that three sections of 30-inch tile between the citys old sewerage pump station and the accompanying deep well had collapsed. During the flood the break was covered by flood waters some 19 feet deep.

See 10/16/47 article about dike commissioners concerns.

12/22/49 Argus

Dike Leaders Push For Early River Clearing

Insist North Fork Cutoff, Dredging Are Flood Aids

Efforts to get the government to clear the channel of the lower north fork of the Skagit river are going to be continued even though hope for quick action was discouraged by officials who conferred in Mt. Vernon Tuesday with the new Skagit River Control association. . . . Hughes declared a dredge could cut a proposed shortcut channel for the mouth of the North Fork at not too great expense. The new channel, across the point toward Craft island would shorten the river by about two miles getting flood waters out into the Sound just that much quicker, Hughes explained. . . . Here for Tuesdays discussions, Col. Itschner said he believed the North Fork cutoff was of such a size that it would have to be put through as a new, rather than an emergency project and that would take time. It would also require jetties at the mouth and regular maintenance work, he said. Col. Itschner and Rep. Jackson said $60,000 was being requested for emergency dike raising at Milltown and dike and road raising in the Dodge Valley vicinity.

The Corps of Engineers is all about time.

Levees to be raised.

2/15/51 Argus

Losses Low In Record Flood

Conway, Hiway 99 Still Underwater

Bailing out after a record high water, Skagit county was finding late this week that its losses were not as great as the first frantic press and radio reports indicated. . . . Hamilton residents wee swamping out their homes and stores today in the first-flooded community but in the second, Conway, it was to be a matter of days before there could be hope of relief from overflow waters. The flood-breeding combination of a Chinook wind and heavy, warm rains last Thursday night set the Skagit river off on its 1951 rampage. By Sunday morning it had risen to what the county engineers office said was an all-time high of 28.2 feet in Mt. Vernon, as against the previous, November 1949, record of 26.05.

Worse At Conway In 21Conway residents declared the 1951 flood was two feet, ten inches below the 1921 inundation in their community, due probably to the fact that this time the Fishers slough dikes broke southward before the South Fork river dikes gave way.

Close Call In CityIn Mt. Vernon Saturday night Main street was sandbagged when the water crept to with six inches of spilling over into the business district, 7000 sandbags were piled on the dikes and bottoms around the sewage disposal plant, and overflowing waters were dammed off with sacks o the West Side.

15,000 Acres CoveredA total of 10,000 acres south of Mt. Vernon and 500 in the Nookachamps and upriver were inundated, Harold Strombom flood-fighting coordinator for the county estimated. Fir Island between the South Fork and Dry Slough, however, escaped serous flooding, but waters from the Conway breaks flowed eastward to the foothills and northward to within two miles of Mt. Vernon.

Water Systems HitThe PUD resorted to pumping and filtering river water when flood waters barred its 14-inch high pressure mountain water main on the Dollar road between Sedro Woolley and Burlington Sunday. The line burst, speeding the washout of one road lane for a distance of 1000 feet..

Major Breaks ListedMajor dike breaks were, in approximate order of happening: Fishers slough, flooding Milltown, Friday night; North Fork, above bridge, pouring into area between Browns and Dry slough; others on Browns slough in Beesner district, sea dike near Von Moos farm and Browns slough near Charles E Olson lands; two at and below Conway Sunday morning. One sea dike at least was dynamited to relieve part of the island area. Reports of other flooding ranged from small isolated incidents to the fantastic, such as the inundation of part of Burlington and the Riverside Bend area. Actually there was only one break in the Burlington bend, that quickly plugged, and none of consequence between Mt. Vernon and Burlington. Avon was bothered only by seepage.

Fir Island Proper EscapesFir Island between the South Fork and Dry slough escaped any serous flooding and access to the area remained open via the river road from Mt. Vernon.

February 11, 1951 Flood Event

Record Flood?? USGS published figures for this flood is 139,000 cfs at Concrete and 144,000 cfs at Mt. Vernon 36.85 feet.

County engineers say all time high. 28.2 feet in downtown Mt. Vernon.

Conway residents were right.

7,000 sandbags. How does that compare to what was used in 1990 or 1995?

500 acres in Nookachamps is wrong. There are 8,000 acres in Nookachamps and Sterling and in talking with residents who were there in this flood every acre was covered.

Most levee breaks on Fir Island and Conway.

Burlington levee break plugged.

2/15/51 Argus

Strombom Gives Flood Report, Day-By-Day

Flood Coordinator Harold Strombom of the County Engineers office yesterday made public the entire operations of engineer units during last weekends flood. In daily reports, here is what happened:

Friday8 a.m. Skagit at 19 feet, rose to 20 feet by 12 a.m. Hamilton flooded by evening.

SaturdaySteady rise all day with 38.35 feet reported at Concrete and 25.1 in Mt. Vernon. Engineer H.O. Walberg appointed coordinators at 12 a.m. . . .first dike break at Fir island west of the bridge on the North Fork, covering about 1000 acres the Samish flooded roads were closed at Conway, Clear Lake and up rivervolunteers were called in the evening to strengthen dikes.

SundayContinued dike breaks near Conway flooded Fir Island and later Conway about 6:30 a.m. volunteers worked throughout the night evacuating families and placing sandbags on weakened dikes. Flood crest was 28.2 feet.

TuesdayRiver down to 18 feet.

WednesdayRiver at 15 feet, all schools open except Conway.

Would be approx. 28 feet at current gage.

Approx. 33 feet at current gage.

36.85 feet at current gage.

2/15/51 Argus

Riverside Flood of 1921 Was Worse: Argus

As flood waters receded through-out the county this week many long-time county residents began comparing the incident with the one taking place in December of 1921. Old issues of the Argus give quite a few details about the matter and make it easier for those who did not witness both floods to compare the two. The flood began late Monday night, Dec. 12 when the dikes began breaking after three days of heavy rains and warm winds. The river soon reached a level of twenty-four feet in Mt. Vernon and both Burlington and Conway were completely flooded as dikes broke here. Early Tuesday morning the dikes burst near Riverside and the entire area was covered with several feet of water. One home in the area split in half by the water and the family hung on the roof as the better share of their dwelling was swept away. Over 2000 feet of railroad tracks were washed away near Riverside and no autos or trains reached Mt. Vernon from the south for several days. Several stores along the river front in Mt. Vernon had portions disappear when the raging waters tore away their pilings. Two days after the record water level the county had several days in which the temperature did not exceed twenty degrees. This froze all of the standing water to a depth of several inches and did much damage to livestock in the valley.

1921 Flood Event

See 12/15 and 12/22/21 articles.

Approx. 32 feet at current gage.

2/15/51 Argus

Wylie Recalls Sea Flood

What will the Skagit flood waters do to the farms? Not as much as many fear, says one pioneer of the flats beyond Fir Island. Recalling the 1921 flood that was followed by a freeze, pioneer John Wylie, PUD commissioner, said his lands were isolated, under sea water for 51 days. First year afterwards he got no crop, second year, 10 bushels to the acre. Then the lands began coming back. Brief immersion in sea water will not be seriously harmful, Wylie declared. Lands flooded and silted, rather than covered with sand or debris, will benefit. Wylie cited a number of farmers who, he said, were made by silt from floodsthe resulting bumper crops.

Brief immersion in sea water not harmful. Lands flooded and silted will benefit resulting in bumper crops.

2/16/51 B.J.

Water Recedes In Skagit River Flood

Waters of the Skagit River are slowly returning to normal following one of the most critical floods in years. Although some damage was reported in the upper reaches of the river, it was the Conway and Stanwood areas that suffered the greatest. Early last Saturday morning it was apparent that the river would be nearing the top of the dikes by nightfall and emergency crews began functioning. . . . In this area the only breakthrough of any consequence was near the former Doctor Cleveland home where the water spread over the Dollar road between Burlington and Sedro-Woolley for quite some distance doing considerable damage. The Sedro-WoolleyClear Lake road was also covered with water resulting in some damage.


Conway and Stanwood hardest hit. Saturday was February 10th. River nearing top of dikes by nightfall. Breakthrough near Dr. Cleveland home, water over Highway 20.

USGS reports flood level was 36.85 at new gage.

2/22/51 Argus

Editorial Comments

The severe damage caused by the flood last weekend again calls attention to the need for doing something about the Skagit riverthe run-off of the Skagit watershed will continue to be a problem to contend with.Puget Sound Mail

It was an experience we have no desire to repeatIt is a problem that the lower valley must prepare to meet. We hope they can find a solution and be spared future disasters.Concrete Herald

lessons that may be learned about constructing homes well above flood water levels, building and maintaining stronger dikes, and buildings that provide better protection from endangered livestock. If these lessons are heeded the people who live in lowland areas will be better prepared for the next lood that comes along. And another flood will come make no mistake about it.Twin City News

Editor comments on 1951 flood event.

2/22/51 Argus

Engineers Work Overtime Fixing Dikes and Roads

. . . Army Engineers A Gullidge and an assistant, with Lars Langloe of the state department of conservation and development, made surveys on Monday and Tuesday, and met with the county commissioners and diking district members in the court house. Langloe assured a perturbed group that the state would pay for all saltwater dike breaks, as well as temporary dikes. Diking districts would have to take care of all easements and right-of-way, and might be asked to pay for 25% of the expenses. US Soil Conservation Dept. Officials are completing their extensive survey of flood damage this week. They claim that about 28,000 acres of county land were flooded, including 8,320 acres around the Samish river. About 4300 linear feet of dikes were washed out in the flood, 200 feet along the Samish.

Compare this article to 2/15/21. 28,000 acres underwater.

3/2/51 B.J.

Speaker Doubts Flood Money To Be Available

Doubt that federal aid would be forthcoming for flood control in the Skagit valley was expressed by Byron Clarke, of the Seattle office of the United States army engineer corp. . . . The question of the often discussed Avon bypass was put and Mr. Clarke contended that at present construction costs it would amount to about nine million dollars. The other alternative, repair, and improvement of the present dike and jetty system would cost in the neighborhood of five million dollars. Although the army engineer survey of the situation is not quite complete at his time Mr. Clarke stated that it was his belief that there would be no recommendation to the federal government for aid in any of these projects suggested. The speaker left the impression that if anything was done to improve the situation in the county it would be up to the home folks. He did say he believed the most economical plan was to repair, widen and raise the existing dikes, both the bypass and dredging at the mouth of the river being impractical from the financial viewpoint.

No Federal Money For Flood Control

Avon By-Pass cost 9 million.

Levee improvements 5 million.

Flood Control up to local folks.

By-Pass and dredging impractical from financial viewpoint.

3/8/51 Argus

Commissioners Defend Flood Coordination

Blackstone Says No Coordination During Flood

There was no coordination to speak of, at the county level. This was through no fault of the hastily appointed coordinator (Engineer Harold Strombom) but due to the failure of one non-technical individual being given the authority and responsibility, a reasonable length of time before a coordinating set-up was needed. (Signed Fred Blackstone Jr.) . . . No One ResponsibleConsensus of opinion around the court house was that no one individual or office was entirely responsible for flood control or coordination, but that the dike districts are supposed to take care of all dikes, including strengthening during high waters.

No coordination during flood event alleged.

3/8/51 Argus

New Dike Levy Bill Awaits Signature

The bill empowering diking districts to levy assessments on the basis of regular property valuations awaits signature of the governor at Olympia. The measure passed the senate this week by a 37-2 vote. . . . diking districts at present were meeting expenses under an 1895 law assessing property on an acreage instead of a valuation basis. The result has been that valuable buildings, occupying small land areas, had been paying much less than farms embracing many acres.

Changed assessment from acreage to buildings for Dike Districts.

5/3/51 Argus

County Dikes Completed, $62,000 Spent by State and County

State Provides $52,000; Diking Districts WorkMilltown Dike Fixed by U.S. Engineers

Skagit river dike repairs by the county engineers office have cost $62,000, with the state furnishing $52,000, according to the latest figures, released by Assistant Engineer Harold O. Strombom, who was in charge of much of the dike work. U.S. Army Engineers are rebuilding river dikes below Conway for District No. 3 with 100 per cent federal funds. News was received yesterday from an army engineer that work is now completed on the dike at Milltown, , south of Conway near the county line. Sea-Water Dikes FinishedSalt-water dikes were finished in March, according to Strombom, with the state furnishing all funds. Local diking districts are still working on these river dikes: No. 1 along Harmony school district from the county farm on down; No 13, extending the county dike at George Moore place to connect with Brown slough; and No. 15, from Brown slough west.

Dike Work

12/13/51 B.J.

Diking District Expansion Sought for Southeast Area

Eighteen businessmen, farmers and representatives of the city of Burlington and the dike commission visited the area south east of Burlington Friday afternoon to inspect the site of the proposed new dike which would add about 1000 acres of farm and residential land to that now protected from flood waters by the existing dike. . . . Object of the get-together was to get some of the preliminary work done so dike work could get underway this summer if the annexation of the new acreage is approved by the commission. Dike work will be at the discretion of the diking commission. . . . Possibility of development of residential area within the acreage was discussed and according to the diking commission the proposed new dike could be relied upon to give good protection to the area east of Burlington.

Dike 12 New Dike

1,000 acres to receive flood protection.

Possibility of new development in acreage to be protected by new dike.

1/3/52 B.J.

Council Discusses Diking Situation Wednesday Night

The only matter to bring any amount of discussion at the monthly meeting of the Burlington city council Wednesday evening was the current and timely subject of the dike problem. An ordinance was submitted to the council to give city officials the power to sign a petition to have city property taken into diking district No. 12. . . . During the discussion it was suggested by some members of the council that the City of Burlington form their own diking district and in that way have some control over what local citizens might be taxed and what work might be done on the dike. . . . It was also pointed out that there is still some controversy as to just where the diking district lines are and what personal property are in the district. The result of the discussion was that Mayor Swanland referred the ordinance and petition to the council dike committee of Smith and Buterfield for further study and information.

Dike 12 Expansion

City discussed forming own dike district.

4/10/52 B.J.

Dike Situation Needs Attention

Norm Wallace, chairman of the flood control committee, told the Journal this week that plans for repairing the dike in the vicinity of Burlington and north and east has come to a serious impasse. He stated that the dike commissioners of district number 12 informed him that they cannot legally spend any money on dike repairs upriver from Rio Vista in Burlington. They have discovered that as far as records go few if any persons in this area have ever or at least in the last few years paid any taxes into the dike district. Therefore this section of the county is not considered in any dike district.

Dike upriver of Rio Vista not in Dike District 12. Dike was in County, not City of Burlington.

4/17/52 B.J.

A Solution to Both Highway & Dike Problem

In as much as it looks like a four lane highway through Burlington will not be visualized, people who have the interest of Burlington at heart as well as those residing in the nearby communities are busy trying to find a suitable place for a four lane highway north and south of Burlington. . . . A solution to this bad solution could be made by routing the highway east of Burlington. If the highway started at the Conway hill and followed the hill to Mount Vernon city limits then directly north to Hoag hill following the dike road north, it would intercept highway 99 just two miles from the fish hatchery. This could make the highway run just one fourth mile east of Skagit street on the dike. It would reduce the cost of maintaining the dikes approximately three-fourths if the state did use the dikes as the highway.

New Road Proposed

This proposal is almost the same as was originally proposed by the WSDOT for the freeway.

Good example of a missed opportunity. Old Burlington dike was on Skagit Street.

8/7/52 B.J.

Cascade Days Will Dedicate New Bridge

Cascade days at Concrete, will be held this week-end, August 8 and 9 sponsored by the American Legion Post No. 132 of Concrete. This years celebration will be high-lighted by the dedication and opening of the new Dalles bridge across the Skagit river.

Dalles Bridge Opens

11/11/54 B.J.

Dike District Information Given

On behalf of the City of Burlington and those interested, you have asked when the new dike which is to be built under the plans of Dike District No. 12, east and northeast of Burlington, will be built. Our present difficulty arises from the fact that we have some trouble acquiring a small portion of the right-of-way but we expect this will be ironed out shortly. As soon as right-of-way is fully acquired, and weather conditions permit, we expect to proceed immediately. It would be costly to the taxpayers and foolish to attempt piece-meal construction. We have received and hope to continue to receive the support of the majority of interested parties.

Letter to Burlington from Dike 12 re status of new dike.

6/9/55 B.J.

Information On Dike Problems

I am writing to you in behalf of the Sterling Dike Association, a group which we recently formed to explore the possibilities of obtaining adequate dike protection for our area. As you will note from the enclosed map, we have a small area of about 600 acres representing homes and farms of over 40 families and individuals. This is excellent agricultural land and portions of it now are opening up as subdivision property. As the situation now stands, Dike District No. 12 has recently included additional lands within their district, and including the city of Burlington. Other areas to the south of this are included along the Skagit River, but Sterling district has been dike out. . . . We feel that by being on the outside of the dike we will be subjected to increased flood damage since about 600 acres down the river from us will be included in the new dike, thus tending to confine the flow of the river and force it back into unprotected area. Those who have built new homes in the vicinity are very concerned that the land which has not previously flooded will be subject to overflow as a result of the new protected dike and it is obvious that a dike at our backs would lessen the value of our property.

This was a letter to State Senator Paul Luvera from B.J. Bourns, Secretary of the Sterling Dike Association

Recognized water would back up on their property from Dike 12 new dike.

6/23/55 Argus

Fill Materials To Be Dredged From Skagit

Highway To Use Half Million Cubic Yards

Dredging operations for fill material for the stretch of highway construction between the overpass of the Great Northern and the new bridge now in construction at Riverside probably will not get under way Monday as first planned, but will soon thereafter. . . . About a half million yards of material is to be taken from the Skagit River in the vicinity of Youngs bar by Osberg and Manson to be used on the PJ Anderson contract job. The State Highway Dept had purchased land north of Fir street in the vicinity of the cemetery for borrow materials for fill but the contractor is said to have figured costs on dredging cheaper for these materials. . . . Some concern has been expressed as to weakening the east bank of the river but one authority said yesterday that a deepened channel might ease the wear on that bank. On the other hand it is believed that all sand and silt removed will soon be replaced by the erosive action of the river. Youngs bar has extended its reaches gradually for many years gently swinging the river eastward.

Dredging by Youngs Bar

6/30/55 Argus

Fear Damage To Pipeline Across River

Commissioners Object to Dredging Near Pipeline

Fearful of possible damage to the river pipe line across the Skagit At Riverside through dredging operations the Commissioners of PUD 1 yesterday instructed Attorney Warren J Gilbert to take all necessary steps to protect the line. . . . meeting has been held with contractors who plan to get highway building materials through dredging between the two bridges at RiversideCommissioners took a positive stand in that no excavation or dredging at all was to be done close to the 12 inch water line under the Skagit. They pointed out that water through that line is furnished to about 10,000 persons and considerable industrial work in Burlington and Sedro-Woolley and that a cutoff of the line would necessitate at least three of four days to get more line through order and about the same time to install it..

Dredging at Youngs Bar

6/30/55 Argus

River Channel Work Started, Limited Scale

Further Work Recommended by Engineer Study

The US army engineers snag boat Preston was set to work this week to lower the bar at the mouth of the Skagit river north fork by six inches as emergency relief to freight boat and log rafting operations. . . . Westlands research assistant Jack Anderson told the Argus from Everett today that the six-inch figure was correct. He explained that the engineers funds for such work was limited. The river users said, however, according to Anderson, that the six-inch lowering of the bar would be a big help for high tide crossings.

Dredging in Mouth of River

Corps records indicate the following amounts of cubic yards moved.

38,788 N. FORK

79,603 S. FORK

38,325 UPSTREAM M.V.

8/18/55 Argus

Puget Seeks License For Expansion

Upper Baker To Provide 85,000 KWs Added Power

Puget Sound Power & Light Company expects to apply by early September for a federal power commission license to develop its Upper Baker river hydroelectric site . . . Hoped for completion date of the Upper Baker development is 1959.

No mention in article of providing flood control.

8/25/55 B.J.

Dike Job Is Completed

Construction of the new Dike District 12 dike East of Burlington is about one-quarter completed, according to the job foreman for P.J. Anderson and Sons, contractors. Of an estimated 160,000 yards of dirt required for building the two-mile dike, about 40,000 yards had been hauled by Tuesday. If favorable weather holds the dike could be completed in about another month. The soft and spongy nature of the river silt being used as fill has slowed down the Anderson equipment.

Dike 12 Project

soft and spongy nature of the river silt being used as fill

10/20/55 B.J.

River and Harbor Board Unfavorable Toward Flood Control Program

The Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors at its meeting on September 20, 1955, held in Washington, D.C., concurred in general in the unfavorable recommendations of the District Engineer, Seattle District, Seattle, Washington, and the Division Engineer, North Pacific Division, Portland, Oregon, regarding the advisability of Federal improvement of the Skagit River and Tributaries, Washington, in the interest of flood control. The Board is of the opinion that the benefits to be derived by provision of local flood protection works are insufficient to justify construction of such works by the Federal Government at this time. Storage possibilities for flood control alone and in combination with hydroelectric power generation were also considered but none was found to be feasible for development by the Federal Government at this time. The Board further finds that the degree of protection that would be provided by the Avon bypass authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1936 could be secured at less cost by improving the existing levee system but that such improvement cannot be justified at this time. No action has been taken to provide the required local cooperation for the authorized project and no work has been done. The Board, therefore, recommends that the existing project for flood control of Skagit River be abandoned.

Corps of Engineers turns down Skagit County for flood control. No action has been taken to provide the required local cooperation for the authorized project and no work has been done.

10/20/55 B.J.

PSP&L Applies For License To Construct $27 Million Plant

Application to the Federal Power Commission for a license to build an 85,000-kilowatt hydro-electric on the Upper Baker River at an estimated cost of more than $27 million was announced today by Frank McLaughlin, president of Puget Sound Power & Light Company. The proposed dam, some 300 feet high, would be located about eight miles above the Companys present Baker River project and would impound about 238,000 acre-feet of water in a reservoir nine miles, thus providing greater control of the Baker River flow. This will permit another 55,000 kilowatts of added capacity to be installed at the present Lower Baker plant. The two projects will total 140,000 kilowatts of new generation, at an estimated cost of $35 million.


No mention of flood control.

10/27/55 Argus

Flood Breaks Dike2000 Acres Underwater

Dike Breaks to Flood Fir Island

Considerable loss of crops, some damage to property but no loss of lives and questionable loss of live stock seems to sum up the high water and flood situation this morning. Break At LundeensA break in the dike on Freshwater slough near the Lundeen farm southwest of the Fir-Conway bridge plunged about 2,000 acres of farm land under water Wednesday afternoon. Although the dike was being patrolled at the time, the break came suddenly and the dike seemed to fall in all at once over a 75-foot width. . . . The dike caved in a little after noon with the water still two or three feet below dike level. River Going DownLocal river reading reached 23.7 and top reading at Concrete was 35.17. The crest was reached at 7 a.m. Wednesday and held fairly steady for several hours. Some Damagehigh waters in the Nookachamps area had been anticipated and there seems to be little damage there. . . . Rains caused the rapid rise. It was reported that a 4.36 inch rain fell within 24 hours at Diablo.

October 26, 1955 Flood Event

No reading was provided by USGS for this flood event at Concrete but article says 35.17 observed which would be about 115,000 cfs. Mt. Vernon is reported by USGS to have been 30.69 or 84,900 cfs.

4.36 inches of rain at Reflector Bar in 24 hours.

11/3/55 Argus

27-Ft River Due by 8 a.m. Friday

The Skagit river may go as high as 27 feet by 8 a.m. Friday morning is the prediction of the weather department according to an announcement by the engineers office today at noon. The river was at the 18.7 mark at noon and rising. The break at Conway has been closed but high tide will come at the crest of the rise it is said. Highest point reached in 1951 was 28.2. The county engineers office reported that a careful watch will be kept but that there is no so-called weak point in the dike system. They are most concerned with the break last week at Lundeens farm, especially as the tide may (be) coming in at the crest.

November 4, 1955 flood event.

USGS records say flood reached 106,000 cfs at Concrete or 34.48 and 107,000 cfs at Mt. Vernon or 33.52.

11/10/55 Argus

Flood Loses Held Down By Unsung Heroes

The break at Freshwater Slough has been rebuilt with the dike set back on the Lundeen land. The state is cooperating with the dike district in putting in 1,500 feet of new dike but not all will be done now. State money is expected t pay for 40 percent of the cost. Roads Escape DamageHardly any damage was done to roads although several bridges upriver didnt come through unmarked.

November 4, 1955 flood event.

Evidently not a very serious flood event.

First setback levee in Skagit County?

11/10/55 B.J.

New Dike Withstands 8-Foot Wall Of Water During Last Weeks Flood

Local officials, particularly the members of the dike commission, are very happy over the way the new dike withstood the recent battering of flood water. According to Robert Schroeder, dike commissioner, the dike withstood an eight foot wall of water in most places and although a few places were roughed up slightly and sluffed off there was no apparent damage to the dike itself. . . . Previous to and during the flood conditions considerable comment was heard concerning the removal of the old dike. Some people were very indignant over its removal. But these same people can now be assured that it was a good and sensible plan. . . . First, if they will only take the time and trouble to go out, now that the waters have receded, and see what good condition the new dike is in they will see that there is better protection than the old dike ever gave, even when new. Secondly, had that new dike broke an the old dike remained in place, people and property between the two would suffered much heavier loss than they would have with the old one removed because the water would have been that much deeper. Thirdly, the dike commission saved the taxpayers, according to Schroeder, considerable money by using dirt from the old dike. Had they had to buy dirt and possibly haul it a considerable greater distance, the cost would have been several thousand dollars more than the plan used.

November 5, 1955 Flood

USGS level 33.5 at new gage. 107,000 cfs

11/17/55 Argus

EditorialWe May Have To Modify Our Defenses Against Floods

The raging old Skagit (Wildcat in Indian language) has cooled down and now flows meekly along as if nothing eve disturbed it or ever will again. But the Old-timers know better. . . . Seems to us we will have to alter our plans but no doubt engineers are aware of this. Higher and stronger dikes and dredged channels no doubt are the answers. Sometimes modern conditions are not all they are cracked up to be. At least when they come to greater threats that were not so serious in the old days.

Skagit means Wildcat?

Dredging and Dikes

12/15/55 Argus

Flood Control, Navigation of Skagit to Be Studied

An emergency meeting of the Skagit County Flood Control Council has been called for Friday at 1:30 p.m. . . . to discuss feasibility of cutting a new channel at the mouth of the Skagit River. Supporters of the proposal claim that a new channel at the North Fork of the river substantially would control flooding in the Skagit flat area and open the river to navigation. . . . Hughes pointed out that the new channel could be dredged in a westerly direction, taking of from Valentines Bend, across state owned land and tidal flats, and arriving at deep water, after covering a distance of about four miles. . . . County Engineer H.O. Walbergrevealed that the water level was as high at the North Fork bridge during the November 3,4, and 5 flood threat as it was during the more severe 1951 flood. Silting at the present mouth was one of the factors which accounted for this. . . . According to Asst County Engineer Harold Strombom, 147,000 cfs of water rolled down the river in 1951 high water as compared to the lesser figure of 110,000 cfs in last Novembers danger period.

Cutting a New Channel at Mouth of River

Dredge a new channel.

Could this be because there werent any levee breaks in the last November flood?

12/15/55 Argus

EditorialIts Up To Flood Council To Spur Engineers Into Action

Since the first white men settled in the Skagit Valley there has hardly been a more irritating or time-consuming problem than flood control. The river, aptly named Skagit by the Indians, goes on a rampage now and then and in so doing often provides materials that practically choke the stream, thereby setting up the stage for further floods. . . . We are indeed fortunate to have on that Control Council men who understand the situationmen like Earl Hanson, Lowell Hughes, Nobel Lee, Leo Beckley, Jim Dunlap, Dan Sundquist and Charles Christenson. County Engineer HO Walberg will be adviser to the Council. . . . We no longer have the great forests that sop up rain waters and let them seep out slowly. We still have a great expanse of rainshed, regardless of the fact that dams do some good in holding back excessive water.

Names of committee members.

Logging recognized as impacting floods.

Dams recognized as helping during floods.

1/5/56 Argus

Hanson Reports Emergency Out On New Channel

Other Aspects Encouraging To Committee of 8

Hanson said that Col. Mathius told the committee that the matter could not be handled as an emergency measure but must get necessary and direct appropriation from Congress for the survey and, if approved, money for the actual work of forming the channel to salt water.

Corps had to study it first.

4/12/56 B.J.

Will Start Skagit River Survey Soon

A telegram from Congressman Jack Westland this week stated that General Louis H. Foote, U.S. Army Engineers, Portland area, states that army engineers will be able to allot enough money to start the Skagit River survey this summer. The full survey is estimated to cost $20,000 but only about one-fourth of this amount will be spent this year. The survey is to be made in the interest of flood control program in the Skagit valley.

Another Corps study.

5/3/56 B.J.

Ross Lake Dam Holds Water Back

Ross lake is being kept at a reduced level in order to hold back some of the heavy runoff anticipated for the next few months, City Light Executive Assistant Superintendent John M. Nelson reported today. Ross Reservoir on the upper Skagit River is down to about 100 feet below full level, providing a storage space of about 900,000 acre-feet of water. Snow surveys made April 1 indicate that the runoff of the upper Skagit River will be the highest in 27 years for the period April 1 to August 31. The 900,000 acre-feet of storage space in Ross Reservoir represents about 1/3 of such runoff thus allowing a substantial amount of storage with which to reduce the discharge of the upper Skagit during the peak flows in the lower reaches of the river.


Ross Dam lowered 100 feet.

6/21/56 Argus

New Dam 23 Stories High

Working together to promote their Puget Sound-Cascade region, members of Puget Sound Utilities Council point to this 23-stories high Skagit River Gorge dam now under construction. Costing nearly 15 million dollars, it will add 43,000 kilowatts to present output of Seattle City Lights Gorge powerhouse. It will be 670 feet wide, 285 feet high. New Gorge high dam is part of 700 million dollar program of Council members to boost power supply to meet regions coming growth, as outlined in a Council brochure.

Gorge Dam

Under construction.

1/16/58 B.J.

House Will Be Moved Making Way For Dike

HOUSE WILL BE MOVED- The residence of the Harold Halvorson family will be moved the make way for the construction of the new dike. The house sits on a rise and has been flooded only once since the Halvorsons took up residence there in 1939. The surface of the river can be seen behind the house.

Plans are underway for the construction and extension of the river dike this coming spring. The Sterling Development Area has requested that they become part of District Twelve and that the State will assist with funds for the dike construction. Between 400 and 600 acres are involved in the new area. The make way for the new dike, Harold Halvorsons house, machine shed and garage will be moved. The Halvorsons plan to move their home back from the river, but will not make the move until March at the earliest. At one low spot on the Halvorson property, the dike will have to be 10 or 12 feet deep, while at other parts a minimum of 5 feet will suffice. When asked how they felt about moving their house, Mrs. Halvorson answered, Were for the dike! Naturally we dont like to move the house, but we want to do whats best.

Halvorson house to be moved for new dike in Sterling.

1/30/58 B.J.

Dike Construction Will Continue

The two new projects include the addition of another 1,000 feet of extended dike work west of the new highway and another 400 feet west of the old highway. These two new projects will supplement the work already done along the river. Projects already completed include an added 3,000 feet of dike west of the new highway and approximately 2,500 feet north of Carl Johnsons farm. The dike was raised 29 inches from in back of the Mapes farm to the Great Northern bridge 14,000 yards of dirt was used to widen and raise the dike.

While members of District twelve continues their efforts and plans, their counterparts in District 17 across the river are also busy. Don Bordner of District 17 reports that their district has completed another $60,000 worth of construction work along their side of the river. $10,000 was used for the fill dirt and $50,000 went for the rocks used. Next year the district hopes to extend their project to the Great Northern Bridge. Plans now call for the planting of greens along the dike, Bordner says this will add to both the scenic beauty and the stability of the dike itself.


1,000 FT extension to 3,000 ft new dike.

Dike raised 29 inches.

Dike 17 new fill and rip-rap.

11/26/59 Argus

Power Dams Help Spare Skagit From Flood

Skagit County was not without its high water hard work and individual hardships this week but it could thank a gentler weather man up this way, the Skagit and Baker river dam operators, and the various dike builders, that this area escaped the disaster that befell Snohomish and other counties. . . . Residents of the Nookachamps area took scant solace from the situation, after suffering two backups from the Skagit and seeing many of their farms once more flooded. . . . Seattle City Lights Ross plant was partially shut down from Thursday morning, Nov. 19, to Monday noon of this week to reduce the amount of flood waters in the lower Skagit, Supt Paul Raver advised the Argus. Flow at Ross was cut to the point where even with the additional water from streams feeding into the Skagit below Ross, no water was spilled over the Gorge diversion dam. The only flow permitted at Newhalem was the normal amount necessary to operate the Gorge power house. During the Thursday-Monday period level of Ross lake increased 2.33 feet, or by 26,000 acre feet of water. Raver said power was cut by about 6,000 acre feet and the lost power replaced by purchase or interchange of about three million kilowatt hours of energy.

A like contribution to Skagit valley flood protection was made by Puget Sound Power and Light company with its two dams on the Baker river, one in use this winter for the first time. Division Mgr. John Wallen in Bellingham reported to Mt. Vernon Mgr. Loft that Puget also began holding hack water early last Thursday and stored 27,000 acre feet of water that ordinarily would have gone on downstream. It closed gates to raise the level at Upper Baker by 5 feet and at the old Lower Baker dam at Concrete, another foot. By terms of the federal power commission license, the company is not required to use the Baker dams for flood control but was glad to be ale to do so, Wallin said.

11/24/59 Flood Event

USGS figures show 89,300 cfs at Concrete or 32.17 ft river; 91,000 cfs at Sedro-Woolley; and 91,600 at Mt. Vernon or 31.58 on gage.

Residents of Nookachamps suffer two backups from the river.

No water came from Ross.

Baker dams not required to provide flood control but did so anyway. Upper Baker held back 5 feet of water and Lower Baker another 1 foot.

3/3/60 Argus

Inter-county Flood Control Work Urged

Herman Hanson, Mt. Vernon superintendent of public works has called for inter-county planning for flood control as a major discussion topic at the 25th annual meeting of Washington Flood Control council being held today in Renton. He is council president. It is obvious to anyone connected with river work that most of the river work done to date has been piece-meal construction, seldom accomplished in accordance with any over plan, Hanson wrote in his call for the meeting.

Flood work between counties has been piece-meal.

12/1/60 Argus

River Dredging Backed

Funds to study dredging of the Skagit river from the Sound to Concrete, for navigation, may be asked of the next Congress, Senator Warren Magnuson has advised Leo Sullivan, chairman of the Mt. Vernon chamber of commerce industrial committee. . . . The project, said Sullivan, has hearty endorsement from 36 business firms and chambers of commerce in the area, as well as the waterways association. . . . He said brief initial studies have indicated economic justification for the project could be shown and it would be engineering-wise sound.

Dredging Study

This was actually done and the study was published 1/18/63 as FEASIBILITY REPORT, SKAGIT RIVER (Dredging barge channel), Col. Ernst Perry, Corps of Engineers

12/1/60 B.J.

Survey Funds Sought For Dredging Skagit

Funds for complete study of the feasibility of dredging the Skagit River will be asked at the next session of Congress. Such a study would be made by the Army Corps of Engineers to appraise the economic benefits and estimate federal costs entailed in dredging the existing course and channel of the river for shallow barge transportation.


River was to be dredged from Concrete to Fir Island. This was actually done and the study was published 1/18/63 as FEASIBILITY REPORT, SKAGIT RIVER (Dredging barge channel), Col. Ernst Perry, Corps of Engineers

12/22/60 Argus

U.S. Engineers to Advise During Floods

The US Engineer Corps has assigned Frank B. Metzger and two aids to come to Skagit county in event of a flood and give advisory, or more direct, assistance . . . Because the county is more self-reliant in time of flood emergency, with its county and dike district personnel and staffs, the army engineers sent here will sit in only in an advisory capacity unless and until the flood situation becomes so critical that local authorities formally ask them to take chare, Metzger said.

Corps to be advisory during times of flood events.

1/26/61 B.J.

Martin Cites Reasons for Skagit Dredging to U.S. Congressmen

Additional support for dredging the Skagit River east to Concrete to facilitate shallow barge transportation has been voiced by Senator Fred Martin. . . . The Senators letters follows:

I believe that a proposal has been made to you that the Skagit River be dredged as far as Concrete, Washington, to permit the use of shallow draft vessels and barges. This proposal has a great deal of merit for many reasons which I list as follows: It will substantially lower the cost of transporting cement from the plant at Concrete to market . . . It will also make feasible and profitable the transportation of lime rock . . . It will make profitable the mining the transportation of marble, silica, tale, olivine and other non-metallic ores . . . It will lower the cost of transporting alder, cottonwood, maple and other pulp wood varieties . . . The dredging of the Skagit River channel would have immense value for flood control as it would greatly reduce stream bank erosion above Sedro-Woolley thereby substantially reduce siltation of the river bed from Sedro-Woolley to its mouth.


Help the mining, timber and cement companies make money.

Stop erosion of river banks.

3/16/61 B.J.

Editorial-- Our Greatest Asset Needs A Push!

Recently it was announced that money had been appropriated in Congress for a survey of the Skagit river by Army engineers. Purpose of the study would be to determine the feasibility of dredging the stream for shallow barge transportation. To many people the full import of this project may be lost in the present day era when government survey funds are allocated for a multitude of programs ranging from rehabilitating the gooney bird to effecting world-wide birth control. It should be pointed out, however, that the proposed dredging of the Skagit is not just another crackpot scheme or a ridiculous proposal fostered by dreamers. On the contrary, the possibility of opening the Skagit for limited navigation is most real, the need most pressing, the potential most exciting and the impact on the economy of this region most promising. . . . In the vast regions of its headwaters lie timber, minerals and rock deposits, many of them virgin assets that call for dependable, economical transportation to market before they can be put to use. . . . Unlimited deposits of some of the finest limestone rock to be found anywhere in the world are located nearby. . . . Transportation by river barge would cut deposit-to-plant costs and mean more business and jobs for Skagit county. Limestone is but one of the many raw materials that might find its way down the river once the stream was deepened for navigation. Added flood control and soil conservation could be considered bonus benefits that would automatically ensue.


Help the mining, timber and cement companies make money.

Flood control would be a bonus factor.

5/25/61 Argus

Our River: Keep Navigable!

The Mt. Vernon city council is going to guard the navigable status of the Skagit river. . . . Councilman James Kean brought up the question after Mayor Don Lindbloom had read the letter, drafted by the county engineers office, in which the city would sign in requesting that the old Riverside bridge be declared a fixed span. On first reading, nearly everyone thought the letter also was asking the engineers to declare the Skagit river to be non-navigable. But after considerable discussion and careful rereading of the letter, it was concluded the engineers were being invited only to declare the river non-navigable for vessels too big to pass under the Riverside and the Great Northern Railway bridges in closed position.

River declared non-navigable (to big ships).

7/20/61 Argus

Volunteers Installing River Gauge for Fisherman

. . . The big black numbers on a white background will be set in place to match the US Engineers gauge located on a piling behind the Moose Hall. The fishermens boatmens-river gauge will start at 5 feet, run up to 28 feet, with every fifth foot against a yellow background, and 21, the engineers official flood stage set against slanting orange lines. . . . Local residents may note that 21 feet on the gauge at Skagit river in Mt. Vernon means zero damage, but anything above 21 results in some flood damage. Residents would be living with a false sense of security if they believed 27 feet meant zero damagefor a stage of 27 feet on the Moose Hall gauge used by the Corps of Engineers and Skagit county personnel concerned with flood situations, would result in severe flooding and a critical situation in the lower Skagit river. (Ed.The zero damage point at 27 feet sometimes heard of is on another gauge, maintained by the US Geological Survey a mile above Mt. Vernon.

And A Historical NoteLast major flood crested at 28.2 feet Feb 2, 1951. Main street was sandbagged when the water came within six inches of spilling over into the downtown area. . . . Two years earlier, in November, 1949, the river surged up to 26.05 feet, gave the valley its first real flood scare in many years.

Mt. Vernon River Gage

1951USGS36.85Moose Hall28.2

1949USGS34.2Moose Hall26.05

NOTE: Is this due to an 8 ft fall in elevation or different datum? If the answer is elevation we could now determine at about what level the river was during 1917, 1921 floods when levees broke which would be about 31 feet.

9/14/61 Argus

Old Log Jam Dike Rebuilt

Nearing completion this week is a mile and a quarter of bank protection and dike bolstering that should mean we wont ever have to worry about a flood, to quote one commissioner of Dike District No. 1 . . . The extensive project extends from Edgewater park in West Mt Vernon to Penn road. . . . The downstream half of the improvement is at a sharp bend in the river, site of the tremendous log jam that kept the stream impassable for years after the settling of Mt. Vernon. The jam was removed by blasting and much hand labor. . . . To Commissioner Helde, dike work and concern about the river are remembered back to his childhood, including the big floods of 1909 and 1917. At his parents home, next to his own on Jungquist road, he recalls watching flood waters creep upward one step away from being in the house.

Dike 1 never has to worry about floods.

Site of old log jam.

Jam removed by blasting.

NOTE: If we could find Helde residence on Jungquist Road we could determine how deep the flood waters were in 1909 and 1917.

10/26/61 Argus

25 Year Flood Plan Said Favorable

A 25 year flood protection program for the Skagit Valley appears practical, through diking improvements, the Skagit County Flood Control council was told in Mt. Vernon. Ray Scrinde, Stanwood Army Engineer reserve colonel reporting on progress of the engineers restudy of the Skagit, said a longer flood protection program, such as 50 to 100 years, would involve major works such as a bypass channel or a storage dam upstream.

25 year flood plan.

8/23/62 Argus

Bypass Could Produce New Skagit Fish RunsStart in 1964 Is Possibility

Development of new fish runs and of a several-mile length of excellent boating-swimming water are important by-products of the revived Avon By-Pass flood control plan for the Skagit valley that are being seriously studied. . . . The experts say near-ideal conditions could be provided for natural fish propagation and it is possible completely new 4runs of fish could be produced. . . . Johnson said it was possible the engineers could proceed with final design and construction as early as 1964.

Avon By-Pass

To start construction in 1964.

8/23/62 Argus

Revised Flood Plan Eyed

The Avon By-Passis being revised as a solution to flood control here by the Corps of Engineers. . . . Proposed by the US Engineers in 1936, the original by-pass plan was dropped because of local costs involved and because of strong objections based on the farm lands it would have taken out of production and feared effects on adjoining lands. Now the engineers propose a 340 instead of a 1600 foot wide channel. . . . About four million of the total nineteen million dollar estimated cost of the project would have to raised by the countyThe by-pass plan would protect the valley from a 30-year flood, the engineers believe. . . . The by-pass could have lowered the Skagit river flood stages three to five feet and the river level from two to four feet in the North and South forks in the 1951 flood, which broke dikes on Fir Island, at Conway, and lapped the top of dikes elsewhere up and down the river.

Avon By-Pass

30 year flood protection, 340 ft wide channel instead of 1600 ft channel.

Bypass would have lowered 1951 flood 3 to 5 feet.

8/23/62 B.J.

Avon By-pass Pushed

The Avon By-Pass has again been proposed to Skagit County by the Corps of Army Engineers as the most practical means of additional flood control. Many miscellaneous other uses of this by-pass other than flood control are under study, such as fish farming, recreation, drainage, irrigation and water transportation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife consider fish farming conditions in the upper part of the by-pass as very good and they are reporting as being enthusiastic about the prospects. The Skagit River water temperatures are near ideal for fish farming. Plans for swimming, boating and other recreation will be utilized to everyones advantage.

. . . Flood damages for a flood larger than that of 1951 have been estimated at over six million dollars at todays prices and with our present development. . . . The by-pass channel as authorized in 1936 contemplated a shallow channel approximately 1,600 feet wide. The channel now proposed has been deepened and narrowed to a 340 foot bottom with 3 to 1 side slopes. . . . Protection for about a 10-year flood is provided by the present levee system. With the by-pass constructed the area below the intake would have protection for about a 30-year flood. For the 1951 flood the by-pass would have lowered flood stages 3 to 5 feet in the Skagit River and 2 to 4 feet in the North and South Forks of the Skagit River. . . . Consideration is being given to additional flood protection by upstream storage. Complete protection from storage alone is not feasible because suitable storage sites are limited. The best sites for multiple purpose storage have been developed for single purpose uses.


Flood damages over 6 million with present development.

340 feet wide vs 1,600 ft wide.

30 year flood protection

Dam storage.

1/17/63 Argus

Flood Study Boosted

For Skagit county civil works, the budget asks $120,000 for dredging the Swinomish channel and revetment repairs, and $70,000 for continuance of the Skagit flood survey. . . . Apparently, the Corps has decided a point of no return has been reached, Westland explained. Otherwise, the survey would have been discontinued. Only the possibility of a favorable benefit-cost ratio would warrant expansion and continuance of the survey from the original $135,000 to $275,000 now.

More money to study the Skagit.

1/31/63 Argus

Flood By-Pass Route RevisedProject Given State Commissioners Backing

The Washington Association of County Commissioners and Engineerspassed a resolution requested by the Washington State Flood Control association asking the legislature and the state highway department to cooperate in the by-pass project.

. . . The new route will follow the line between Drainage Dist. No. 19 and Dike and Drainage Dist No. 8

New route for by-pass.

2/7/63 B.J.

Skagit River By-pass Explained At Meeting

The name of the water diversion channel is now a misnomer, but came about as a result of earlier plans for a similar plan to control the river during flood stages. Under the previous plan the river would have been diverted at Avon and flood water taken by a shallow ditch 1,600 feet wide and dumped into Padilla Bay. Recent plans call for changes in the intake location of the ditch and a width of only 340 at the bottom but deeper than originally proposed. The intake of the channel has been relocated to utilize Gages Slough south of Burlington and follow the hillside north of the valley keeping to a minimum the amount of valuable farmland required. Cost of the structure estimated at $19,000,000 with the Federal Government paying $15 million of the cost. Average annual benefits from the project are said to be $1,000,000. . . . The plans call for levee extension and improvement west of Burlington. . . . Protection for about a 10-year flood is provided by the present levee system. With the by-pass, the area below the intake would have protection for about a 30-year flood. The Army Engineer said river flow up to 200,000 second feet of water could be controlled under the plan.


Intake relocated to utilize Gages Slough.

Cost $19,000,000, local cost $4,000,000.

Levees in Sterling.

Would control floods up to 200,000 cfs.

8/1/63 Argus

Fisheries Study Promised by U.S. Engineers

As to flood control, Col. Garbacz pointed out that while the proposed Avon By-Pass would provide partial protection, the US Engineers felt this and existing levees would not give all the flood protection needed in the lower areas of the Skagit. The ultimate solution he said, is to provide some type of reservoir upstream from the lower valley areas. Sauk Site ConsideredLater in the interview the engineers spokesman said superficial examinations had been made on the Sauk river about seven miles upstream from the Skagit as a possible dam site. He called it premature to say that site is a good site. DredgingThe engineer did not duck the issue of potential damage to fish life from the proposed dredging of the Skagit channel between Mt. Vernon and Concrete for barge navigation. Sports groups have voiced great concern that such channel work would ruin spawning grounds and wipe out steelhead and salmon runs in the river. Fish Studies Promised--we are very much aware of the problem that dredging in that stretch of the river might cause to fishing and promised that we will have the fisheries experts of the state and federal agencies go into it a little bit later on. . . . Present thinking of the engineers is to have a river channel fout to six feet deep and about 100 feet wide. Dredging alone doesnt bother the run so much as it does the spawning of the sea-run fish. This is the particular concern I think that the sportsmen out there have and so does the Corps.

Fish Issue

Sauk River Dam


Fish Study Promised

8/29/63 Argus

Cost Big Factor in Bypass Protests

Warren Good and Norman Dahlstedt, farmers and truckers, and Ray Billups, custom carpet expert who lives in the bypass area, presided at the head tableDahlstedt said he and others seriously questioned whether the flood overflow channel proposal would give adequate protection and would justify its $19 million estimated cost. He also said there was doubt that this would be found the final maximum cost by possibly many more millions of dollars. . . . Dahlstedt said the questions were whether we can afford this and whether we want this or something else. . . . Jim Hulbert, longtime LaConner farmer, said he had seen water from Stanwood to Edison and warned you are going to have some more floods someday. The Avon bypass is the only thing they have ever recommended, Hulbert went on. It would be very foolish to laugh this offto turn it down.

Avon By-Pass Protest

Can we afford it?

11/14/63 B.J.

Editorial: Avon By-Pass Boon or Boondoggle?

From what we have seen and read, to date, we are unable to determine whether the misnamed Avon By-Pass would be a bonafide boon to our area or just another bureaucratic boondoggle. According to a recent release by Congressman Jack Westland the Corps is considering construction of the by-pass, strengthening of levees and building of a water storage facility as parts of a long-range flood control plan for the Skagit. The informational bulletin makes it plain that the bypass project itself is not intended to be up for discussion at the Nov. 22 hearing. A plan of uniforming the Skagit river levee system from Mount Vernon in combination with minor channel widening, and the addition of recreations and fisheries as added purposes to the Avon By-Pass will be the subjects that will be discussed, We do not know if this means the Corps has already been sold on the by-pass or not.

At any rate, we did not know the Corps was in the business of selling anything. We always thought their function was to take over when a need was expressed, justification determined, and funds provided. Maybe it wasnt intended that way, but the informational bulletin mentioned above strikes us as a first class promotional piece as far as the recreation and fisheries aspects of the by-pass are concerned. We are presented with sketches of ducklings in the rushes, fishermen netting fish out of a boat, canoeing, bird and duck hunters prowling in the banks, beach balls and beach scenes, picnickers and even overnight campers in tents. . . . With the levee improvements cited, and the addition of the by-pass, the engineers say we would be able to control flows of up to 180,000 c.f.s. from Burlington downstream, and would increase the level of flood protection in presently diked areas to 30-year frequency. Under this plan, the river would carry 120,000 c.f.s. and the by-pass 60,000. . . . The fact remains, however, that the river has exceeded 180,000 c.f.s. five times in its recorded history 185,000 in Nov. 1896, 190,000 in November 1897, 220,000 in November 1906, 195,000 in December 1917, and 210,000 in December 1921. Were certainly no experts on rivers but its reasonable to presume these excessive flows could occur again under the right circumstances. If they did, we would all get our feet wet, by-pass or no by-pass.

On the other hand there have been no disastrous floods in the lower Skagit Valley since the completion of the Ross Dam in 1949. During flood periods, the Ross Plant has been shut down, sometimes entirely, to hold back the greatest possible amount of water. In 1949, from Thursday midnight until Sunday midnight, enough water was held behind the dam to cover 116,000 acres of land to a depth of one foot. At the crest of the flood approximately 50,000 cubic feet of water was impounded every second. Although the dam was built primarily for power production, it had appreciably reduced the flood threat in the lower Skagit. . . . We are not convinced either that the by-pass would tend to impair the free flow of people and traffic across the valley. This barrier could work a hardship on business, industry and agriculture. From a strictly selfish viewpoint we can see the City of Burlington and surrounding area locked in by the river on one side and the artificial moat on the other. It would appear that the Burlington Cut-Off would be a more appropriate name for the project than the Avon By-Pass. Before this thing blossoms into reality sufficient thought should be given to the possible consequences.


The Beginning of the End

Corps selling the concept.

How Stewarts figures impact flood control projects.

No disastrous floods since the building of Ross Dam.

11/21/63 Argus

2 Flood Plans Held Must

Primary subjects of Fridays hearing are the Engineers plan to bolster dikes and widen channel of the river below Mt Vernon and their addition of recreational features to the revised Avon Bypass plan originally authorized by Congress in the 1930s. We would not recommend the lower river work without the by-pass, Robert Gedney, chief of basin planning branch, Seattle engineer district, told the special meeting group. He explained that as now diked lands along the lower river have from two to seven year flood protection. . . . Also brought out at the meeting was that the State fisheries department within the last two months had asked the Engineers to consider use of part of the Avon bypass channel for migratory fish propagation.

11/21/63 B.J.

Engineers Point To Beneficial Possibilities Of Avon Bypass

Highly favorable benefit-to-cost ratio for the Skagit River flood-control and Avon Bypass project is announced by Colonel Ernest L. Perry, Seattle Army District Engineer, . . . Under present conditions, the safe channel capacity of the Skagit River downstream from the proposed Bypass is only 90,000 to 120,000 cubic feet per second (c.f.s.). With the improvements on levees, a save capacity of 120,000 c.f.s. with 2 feet of freeboard would be obtained. All levees would be widened and strengthened to provide a minimum 12-foot top width.


Safe channel capacity 90-120,000 cfs. Would be raised to uniform 120,000 cfs. Benefit to cost ratio 3.6 to 1 with recreation as added feature.

1/9/64 Argus

Mayor Backs Flood Control Plan

-- Rescheduled U.S. Engineer Hearing Here Friday Given Letter

The city of Mount Vernon is on record with the U.S. Corps of Engineers as endorsing flood control plans recommended by the Engineers. . . . The mayor said he had consulted with City Engr. Denny LeGro and written the approval letter prior to the original hearing date, Nov. 22, canceled by the Presidents death. The letter declares the Engineers proposals for levee and channel improvements reasonable and practical, . . . assuming that the costs . . . are economically feasible and that suitable and equitable financial arrangements can be achieved . . . . . . If we hadnt had the dike break below us wed have had it, LeGro commented, as to the 1951 flood. RECALLS 1951 FLOOD Mount Vernon residents clearly remember the date of Feb. 10, 1951. The record book shows that on this date the Skagit river reached a flood flow peak of 150,000 c.f.s. (cubic feet per second). But to Mount Vernon residents and the City of Mount Vernons officials, the peak flood flow of 150,000 cfs. was no immediate concern through that long night and the following early morning hours of the next day. What our Mount Vernon officials do remember is that the Skagit river filled their banks completely in Mount Vernon and that the flood crest rose until the water level had completely covered our revetment area and was lapping at the gutter line of Main street at the Myrtle street intersection. Another six or nine inches would have required sandbags to keep the Skagit river from spilling over into our downtown commercial area. STORE OWNERS PREPAREThe city of Mount Vernon, with full knowledge of what a flood flow of 150,000 cfs means to our city, hereby congratulates the Corps of Engineers for their comprehensive and forward-thinking flood prevention plan. UPSTREAM STORAGE

--And in conclusion, with the achievement of all the plans presently under consideration for flood control on the Skagit river, that the comprehensive development of upstream storages on the various tributaries of the Skagit river, can give our fertile valley a virtual freedom from the danger of floods and possibly in our lifetime.

Dike break at Fir Island saved Mt. Vernon in 1951 flood.

Mt. Vernon congratulates Corps.

More dams would give freedom from flooding events.

6/11/64 Argus

Cloud Seeding Worries Hysteria

-- says State Aides Reply; Eldridge Says Letter Contradictory

Effects and costs of a cloud seeding experiment the state conducted in the upper Skagit river basin this past winter still remained uncertain after State Rep. Don Eldridge this week had received a reply to an inquiry he made late in May. . . . The choice of this (upper Skagit basin) area was assured only by the complete wilderness nature of the area to be affected, Price explained. We were aware of the hysteria brought on by cloud seeding operations in western Washington and, even though we were secure in the belief that a project operated in the middle of Seattle would not endanger the public, we wanted to avoid the anxiety that is usually concomitant with the incomprehensible . . . It is simply ridiculous to expect the layman, or for that matter the expert, to observe merely the effect of cloud seeding without benefit of an appropriate sixth sense. The fact that cloud seeding has been conducted throughout the world since its inception in 1946 without positive and irrefutable evidence of success attests to the difficulty of evaluation. . . . Nothing in this letter gives proof that the precipitation in the Skagit valley has not been in part due to this program, Eldridge declared.

Cloud seeding blamed for extra precipitation.

6/11/64 Argus

flood waters held back for skagit

Ross dam spillways on upper Skagit river were dry Sunday, holding back water to level off late spring runoff for lower valley, when group of newspaper folk toured Seattle City Lights project. Joe DeLeon, City Light public relations director, above, told Mrs. Stephen Mergler of The Argus, and others, that water level behind this dam was about 40 feet below overflow point, to provide storage in case of heavy warm rains that could bring flood threat. Excess water was being spilled from lower Diablo and Gorge dams as necessary to maintain the emergency storage in Ross lake, which extends north of Canadian border.


No flood event recorded for 1964 in USGS records.

10/29/64 Argus

Avon Bypass:

Study Authorized, Construction Due in 1968, Flood Council Told

The Avon bypass flood control project should be under construction by 1968, George Dynes told the Skagit County Flood Control council at its annual meeting at the courthouse in Mount Vernon Wednesday night. . . . Dynes said he understood the U. S. Engineers had tentatively selected a site for the first of two Skagit river tributary dams that at some future time would be built to provide protection against a 100-year flood. This site, about two miles from Rockport, would be for a 150-foot high dam across the Sauk river that would back water all the way to Darrington. The other dam would be on the Cascade river.

Avon By-Pass

Dams proposed on Sauk and Cascade Rivers.

1/28/65 Argus

Nookachamps Group Backs Avon Bypass

Committee to Study Joining Forces With Dike District

. . . The Dist. 20 commissioners have suggested that the Nookachamps basin be protected against the Skagit river by dikes from near the new bridge at Sedro Woolley to Hoag hill east of the Great Northern bridge north of Mount Vernon. . . . The Corps of Engineers will consider making a study of giving the Nookachamps lands flood protection if residents of the area want it and funds can be obtained, the meeting was told by Ray Skrinde, who is directing the Skagit river flood control planning. He said the Engineers hope before next fall to have their plans for the Avon bypass project and bank protection-channel work on the lower river completed. . . . Superior Judge A. H. Ward said he would not favor the Nookachamps plan until the Avon bypass is built because, otherwise, the rest of the Skagit valley would be endangered. He made the motion to support the bypass project.

Avon By-Pass

Dikes in Nookachamps

2/18/65 B.J.

Engineer Corps To Be Present

Avon Bypass To Undergo City Council Scrutiny

Discussion of the By-Pass, which has aroused some controversy in Burlington, is expected to attract more than the usual few spectators who attend a routine city council meeting. The 8 p.m. meeting is open to the public. City Supervisor Frank Screws said this will be the first formal presentation of the project to the Burlington City Council although various members and other city officials have attended other meetings and presentations in the county.


2/18/65 B.J.

Engineers Explain Bypass At City Council Meeting

Approximately 30 interested citizens heard an Army Corp of Engineers report on the projected Avon Bypass and later participated in a question and answer period at the Burlington City council meeting Tuesday evening. . . . Further explaining that floods run in cycles; in the Skagits case 8,35, and 100 years, Holbrook said that the improved levee and channel would protect against the 8 year cycle floods, the levee, channel, and Avon Bypass together against the 35 year cycle variety, but that an improved and increased upriver storage area would have to be added to these two parts before the basin would have the needed protection against a flood of the 100 year cycle frequency. . . . Projected figures show that if the flood of 1921 were to occur in this area with its present state of development an estimated damage of $13,-273,000 would occur. . . . Gedney placed the cost of the project at $24 million, two to four million of which would have to come from Skagit County. Gedney also explained that local diking commissions have spent $3.5 million dollars on maintenance and improvement since 1947. The original cost of the project in 1936 was $4 million.


Floods run in 8.35 and 100 year cycles.

Levee improvements protect against 8 year floods, add the By-pass and protection goes to 35 yr protection. Increased upriver storage (Sauk Dam) would provide 100 yr protection.

If 1921 flood happened damages would be $13,273,000.

Cost of project now $24,000,000. 1936 cost was $4,000,000.

2/25/65 Argus

Petitioners Oppose Avon Bypass

Petitions opposing the Avon bypass and, in particular, any modifications for other than flood control purposes were filed with the Skagit county commissioners Wednesday by a group calling itself the Citizens Association for Skagit County Improvement. An accompanying letter said there were 823 signatures on the petitions. It was signed by Norman H. Dahlstedt as chairman and Ray Billups as secretary. The petition headings oppose any plans to modify the structure of the Avon Bypass for any purpose other than flood control. They go on to say the signers are in fact opposed to the Bypass itself because as presented to us it will not provide protection of major floods. . . . The letter expressed the belief the public was nearly 100 percent in favor of lower river (below Mount Vernon) improvement. The Engineers plans would increase the downstream capacity by 30,000 cubic feet per second, which the association contended would represent half the bypass capacity for one-quarter the cost.

Opposition to Avon By-Pass

5/20/65 Argus

whose river? whose future?

An editorial in The Seattle Times Thursday that seemed to land on both sides of the fence raised a serious question as to whether that newspaper be for us or against us here in the Skagit valley. . . . Nothing that Seattles City Light objects to inclusion of an 11-mile stretch of the river in the designation because it would rule out construction of a hydroelectric dam (Copper Creek) contemplated in the municipal utilitys long range plans to provide power for its customers, The Times offered as its present view this comment: unless City Light can document a case otherwise, the wilderness river concept should take precedence on the Skagit river. Too many of our mountain-stream valleys already have been despoiled of their natural site.

While The Times was attempting to register as its main point a complaint that determination as to use of and restrictions on natural resources, such as the Skagit, were being left to outsiders, meaning the federal government, it seemed both to be taking a slap at its communitys own City Light and at the same time to be ignoring opinion as to the needs of the Skagit valley as to utilization of the Skagit and its tributaries, for power and industrial development, water supply and flood control.

Wild & Scenic River Designation

5/20/65 B.J.

Slide Damage

A mudslide from the 300 foot bank behind the Baker River powerplant smashed through the plant carrying part of the structure into the Baker River and causing an estimated $1 million worth of damage. Minor slides continued to rumble all day Tuesday as loose dirt fell from the hillside carrying with it trees and other debris.


Upper Baker Dam

5/27/65 B.J.

$30,000 For Avon By-Pass Gets Support

Support for appropriation requests for two Skagit County public works projects was given May 19 by Congressman Lloyd Meeds before the House Appropriation Committee. Terming the Avon Bypass essential to the development of the Skagit River Flood Control Project, Meeds pointed out that it could increase significantly flood protection for the area. The Skagit River Valley has a serious flood protection for the area. The Skagit River Valley has a serious flood on the average of every seven years at present. With the Avon Bypass, protection would be increased so that a serious flood would be expected no more frequently than once in every 35 years on the average.


35 Year Protection

7/1/65 Argus

Flood Plan For Skagit Sent to D.C.

A July 30 deadline for further comment on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommendations for Skagit river flood control was set in an announcement from their Seattle office Wednesday. . . . The 124-page report re-outlines the Engineers plans for the Skagit and reproduces the testimony given by public officials and interested citizens at the public hearing held in Mount Vernon Jan. 10, 1964.

The Engineers are recommending levee and channel improvements along the river from Sedro-Woolley down and modification of the Avon Bypass flood control channel plan to include fisheries and recreation facilities.

Levee and Channel Improvements

Avon By-Pass

7/22/65 B.J.

Engineer Corps Recommends Federal Funds For By-Pass

Recommendation of flood control and allied improvements in the lower portion of the Skagit River valley by the Federal Government is being reviewed by the Armys Chief of Engineers for transmittal to the Congress. . . . The value of lands and improvements in the Skagit delta area was estimated at more than $113,000,000 in 1962. This flood plain is highly susceptible to flood damage which averages more than $2 million dollars under present levels of development, Col. Holbrook said. . . . Finally, Col. Holbrook said. we plan to evaluate feasibility of upstream multi-purpose storage in 1966, 1967. This project alone would be planned to control flow of the main river and tributaries so that with all three elements: levees and channel improvement, the Avon Bypass, and upstream storage, 100-year or higher flood protection could be realized for the Skagit River flood plain from Sedro-Woolley downstream.

7/29/65 B.J.

Engineers Set Conditions For Skagit Flood Control

1. Ten conditions to be met by local interests have been suggested by the U.S. Corps of Engineers in connection with flood control and allied improvements on the Skagit River basin. Provide with cost to the United States, all lands, easements and rights-of-way necessary for the construction of the projects.

2. Hold and save the United States free from damages due to the construction works.

3. Maintain and operate all the works after completion in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Army.

4.Provide without cost to the United States all relocations of buildings and utilities, roads, sewers, related and special facilities necessary for construction of the projects.

5.Provide assurances that encroachment on improved channels will not be permitted.

6.Notify the public annually of the limited flood protection provided by the recommended works subsequent to their construction.

7.Secure the water rights necessary for operation of the recommended works for recreational purposes.

8.With respect to recreational facilities, provide cash, equivalent work, or lands so that the non-Federal share shall be at least 50 per cent of the total first cost of the development.

9.Assure public access for all on equal terms for recreation development.

10.Submit plans for any additional recreational development of the Avon Bypass project to the Secretary of the Army for approval and determination of the Federal interest prior to construction.


10 Conditions on local government.

10/22/65 B.J.

Army Crosses Off Skagit As Navigable Stream

The Skagit River is no longer considered a navigable river by the Corps of Engineers, North Pacific Division, Department of the Army. This is not an overnight decision considering the report released this week read: Notice is hereby given that the report on Skagit River, Washington, for navigation, authorized by resolution of the Committee on Public Works of the House of Representatives adopted 13 May, 1947, has been completed by the District and Division Engineers. The report is unfavorable to the improvement. A public hearing was held at Mount Vernon, Washington on 12 April 1949. At issue was the feasibility of improving Skagit River for navigation by dredging from deep water in Skagit Bay upstream about 54 miles to the vicinity of Concrete. This weeks report stated that officers engaged on the project find that the estimated transportation savings would be insufficient to justify the estimated cost of improvements.


Headline is misleading. Dredging the river for navigation was found to be infeasible.

Public hearing was in 1949 and they make a decision in 1965.

5/11/67 Argus

Clamp on Valley!

State Report Issued Here Wednesday Defines Federal Order Restrictions

A Skagit river information survey that will restrict, guide and control use of virtually all lowlands in the Skagit valley was unveiled in Mount Vernon Wednesday afternoon by Gregory Hastings, state flood control supervisor , and H. Maurice Ahlquist, director of department of conservation. With the report, Hastings handed out to a crowd of city, port, diking district, county and federal public officials copies of a presidential order issued last August that is key to the new valley regulations. This order directs all federal executive department agencies to approve constructions, loans, road work and other federal activities in flood plain areas, subject to some exceptions. . . . Controlled use appears key to the federal order and the Skagit Basin reports. . . . The part of the flood plain subject to inundation every few years could be zoned for agriculture, including buildings necessary for farm operation. Public and commercial activities which can recover quickly from inundation could be allowed, such as parks, playfields, parking lots, and drive-in theaters. A useful method for determining the limits of this zone would be to use the high water mark on one of the larger recorded floods. For example, limits of a Skagit river flood having a frequency of 50 years

A 50-year flood is defined as one such as occurred in 1920 when the recorded Skagit stream flow at Sedro-Woolley was 210,000 cubic feet per second. The reports detailed maps show areas that would be hit by such a flood and also fringe lands beyond that would be affected by a less-frequent 275,000 cubic foot flood.

The most severe flood listed from 1896 to date was 220,000 feet in 1909,
when the dike broke southeast of Avon and the river flowed southward across the flats along the Avon-Allen road. The report points out that some areas may be flooded by a 90,000-cubic foot flood, while others would be safe up to 140,000 cubic feet. Floods of these magnitudes, it says, are expected to recur at frequencies of three and 14 years, respectively. It estimates annual flood damages average $2,216,000 at 1963 prices. . . . Nothing that early settlers had the good judgment to build their homes on the highest available part of their holdings, and, as a result, flood damage along many streams has been confined primarily to crops, the report warns. The danger is the promoters of new housing sites, shopping centers, and motels may lack a long-range view point and unintentionally saddle future owners with flood-susceptible, depreciated and hazardous property.

Floodplain Management

50 year flood defined.

1909 flood listed as most severe.

Dike protection 3 to 14 years.

2/29/68 Argus

City Endorses County Flood District

Skagit county commissioners last night received approval of Mount Vernons city council to proceed with formation of a countywide flood control zone district. . . . The Proposed district, authorized by the last legislature, would enable the county to sponsor flood control projects directly, rather than through smaller, independent districts, LeGro explained. . . . The new district would not necessarily mean elimination of present diking and drainage district, LeGro added, in response to a question. . . . The advisory council favors the proposed improved diking of the river and channel widening from Sedro-Woolley to the mouth, which would give eight-year flood protection, but has taken no stand on the controversial Avon by-pass, which would protect against a 35-year flood. . . . A new flood control development, possibility of having the Puget Sound Power & Light Co. reserve from 22 to 19 feet of its Upper Baker dam storage for flood control use, has been suggested and is now being studied, LeGro divulged. . . . This storage could step up flood protection by as much as 12 cycle years, or to 20 if combined with the lower river dike-channel program.

Countywide Flood Control Zone District

Did not necessarily mean elimination of diking and drainage districts.

Upper Baker reserve from 19 to 22 feet of storage being studied.

1/9/69 Argus

City To Make $4,419 Survey of River

Mount Vernon city councilmen voted four to one last night to make a $4,419 engineering study of the Skagit River to clarify status of the citys Edgewater park and garbage fill operation. . . . As agreed on at the Dec. 6 meeting, the suggested cross-section points on the river were outlined on a map prepared by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. . . . The study is intended to provide data on which a decision can be made as to how much of the park riverbank should be cut back to provide additional river flow at flood time to make up for high water channel room taken by the garbage fill.

Study to clarify status of Mt. Vernon Edgewater Park (garbage dump).

2/13/69 Argus

Fire Chiefs Urge Flood Preparations

Six Skagit county fire chiefs called on the county engineers office and Joe Cain, county civil defense director, Tuesday night for immediate planning to cope with a possible flood emergency this season. . . . Johnson said there was some cause for concern because the latest snow pack report lists the Skagit watershed as 127 per cent above normal. He pointed out that while record floods have tended to come in November or December, the last serious flood in this valley occurred in February, 1951. . . . The problem of communications, between the courthouse and the fire stations and to workers on the dikes appears in better shape than in 1951, discussion indicated.

Snow pack 127% of normal.

Problem with communications between courthouse and fire departments in 1951.

2/20/69 Argus

High Water?

Flood Council Decides Dike District Agency it Open Dikes if Necessary

One of the major agreements the group reached was as to who would have to right to order a dike blown to reduce water pressure and hold down flood damage. It was agreed this was the right of the dike district commissioners. . . . Other subjects discussed included how to coordinate flood control work, availability of sand bags and pay for help obtained during an emergency.

Dike Districts have authority to blow dikes.

4/10/69 Argus

City Pinpoints Profile Of Skagit River Bottom

HOW DEEP THE RIVER? - Sketch above is profile of Skagit river bottom, between Gates street on east and Edgewater park on west, drawn from river depth surveys completed Wednesday by City Engr. G. D. LeGros crew. With river holding at nine-foot level on the gauge, there was 15 feet of water at 100 and 200 feet out from the parking revetment, 9 feet at the 300-foot point and ten feet at 400 feet. River width at this point is 500 feet. Deepest water directly under the downtown bridge was 24 feet. LeGro calculated river at this point is 500 feet. Deepest water directly under the downtown bridge was 24 feet. LeGro calculated river at this point would carry 120,000 cubic feet per second at 27 -foot flood height, which is considered between a seven- and nine-year frequency flood.

Mt. Vernon Sounds River Depths

River about 10 to 15 feet deep.

Deepest point under Riverside Bridge 24 feet.

7/17/69 Argus

river flood plan offered

A master plan for future development of the Skagit river channel through downtown Mount Vernon for both flood protection and landfill has been forwarded by city officials to the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Seattle, and the state Department of Water Resources, Olympia. The state agency, which last year question the citys continuing to use Blumberg island as a garbage fill, for gradual conversion to Edgewater park, replied in recent days that it would study the report. Combining Corps of Engineers data on river flood capacity with results of the citys actual measurement of the river bed at 19 crossings this year, City Engr. Denny LeGro has recommended cutting back the bank of Blumberg island from 44 to 98 feet between the Division street bridge and the downstream tip of the island, across from Kincaid street. . . . His letter suggested a plan for a minimum river channel width of 50 feet at ten-foot river level through downtown Mount Vernon , with a flaring out on below to improve the flow of flood waters. LeGros letter declared the proposed plan would provide the hydraulic needs of the Skagit river through Mount Vernon without materially affecting the flood plain needs of the Skagit river at flood stage.

Edgewater Park study completed.

Mt. Vernon city engineer recommends cutting back bank of Edgewater Park from 44 to 98 feet.

9/2/69 Argus

wildriver? no, say soil supervisors

The Skagit Soil and Water Conservation District supervisors late last week took a strong stand in opposition to the proposal to declare the Skagit rifer a wild river with resulting severe limitations on stream developments and uses.

Wild and Scenic Designation

SCD against designation.

9/2/69 Argus

editorialusda looks at our river

Uncle Sam has his eye on our Skagit riverThis should be a warning signal for all Skagit residents to start thinking about this river, its uses, the problems it creates, and how it should be regulated, if at all, in coming years.

Wild and Scenic Designation

Concerned about impacts on flood control and landowners.

[1] This is a mistake. It should be December 1917.

[2] This is a misstatement. That was the date of the newspaper article. The flood happened on December 29, 1917.

[3] Should be flood of 1917.

[4] February 27, 28, & 29th

[5] 1949 flood was 154,000 cfs at Concrete. 40.8 on gage. 2 ft. below flood of record 10/21/2003 (42.2 ft 166,000 cfs)