Skagit River General Investigation

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Skagit River General Investigation


Researched, assembled and organized by: Dan Berentson and Larry Kunzler 12/21/04
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the sterling cut-off

Meeting at Commercial Club Last Tuesday some opposition met with by property owners in that locality

            The meeting held on Tuesday afternoon at the Commercial Club rooms to consider the matter of securing the right-of-way for the Sterling Bend Cut-off in the Skagit river was largely attended by the owners of property adjacent to the proposed cut-off, and the owners of property which is being damaged by the present erratic course of the river.  The urgent necessity for action in securing an appropriation as soon as possible in order to prevent the  great amount of further damage threatened, seemed to be thoroughly appreciated by all who have seen the effects of the high floods during a long residence along the river, but it developed that parties who have recently settled on the river and have not had any experience of extreme high waters were unable to appreciate the possible consequences to their property should the cut-off fail to be secured.

Sterling Cut-Off


It is believed that they were talking about cutting off the Sterling Bend as at that time the Skagit used to flow around Harts Island and during times of flooding the river would flow across Highway 20 (the Old Dollar Road) into Gages Slough (Varney Slough).

In 1911 during a very small flood event the local farmers took dynamite and blew up a log jam causing the river to change channel. (Source:  1923 Stewart Report)



The ferry

The above illustration of the ferry across the Skagit river at the foot of Third Street is from a negative made by G. C. White.  It is a spot visited by many during the pleasant weather, the beauties of the Skagit river being presented in a charming manner to those who take a trip across.  At this point the river is nearly a thousand feet across.  The Skagit river bears the distinction of being the largest water course in the state, after the Columbia.  The scenery along the banks is varied, increasing in beauty in its upward course.  Several of these ferrys are in operation at different points along the river.

Skagit River Ferries

This is a great picture of how local residents would cross the river in the early days.



Raging Waters That Came and have gone and the harm done.

Skagit County Suffers Little in Comparison with other sections of the StateUseless Fears of Future.

So far as can be learned the recent flare-up of the Skagit river and its tributaries concentrated its damaging effects against bridges and railroads.  No loss of Human life, except that of Mr. H. Peterson at Mt. Vernon, was caused by it.  The case of Mr. Peterson was the result of a self inflicted accident caused by coming in contact with the iron crank used in opening and closing the draw on the county bridge at Mt. Vernon.  A blast to loosen a jam of debris in the river was about to be fired, and in running in the darkness to a place of safety the unfortunate man collided with the iron and injured himself internally, from which he died the day after.  . . .  At Mr. Vernon, while the water over-flowed low places on the dike, by vigilance and hard work the citizens prevented the water making dangerous inroads.  West Mt. Vernon was less fortunate and the town was flooded to a considerable extent but without serious loss.  The dikes both above and below Mt. Vernon broke, but the overflow is, in most cases, looked upon as a benefit rather than an injury to the land covered.  . . .  The railroad bridge between Burlington and Mt. Vernon was put out of commission for several days by drift striking and throwing the draw out of line.  . . .  The water in Big Lake, it is said, was backed up into the basements of several houses.  North of the river the water backs in west of the railroad tracks for a considerable distance toward town, while the water in the slough between the town and river made things look serious for a time, and a rise of a few more inches would have put Sedro-Woolley into the flooded district. . . . The rapid succession of rises and overflows is the subject of much conjecture and comparison with old time occurrences of a like nature.  High water marks of former days are contrasted with those being made, and imagination lures the possibilities of the future.  In this relation it should be remembered that, with the obstruction made by the dense forests and under-growths of years ago, the water which has recently ran out of the mountains and hills would have been backed up to the highest marks made by the flood anywhere in the past.  Whatever may happen in the future it has been fairly demonstrated that Skagit County is not in danger of a widely disastrous overflow.  The greatest danger that threatens is to those who might be affected by a change of the rivers course, which even now is demonstrated to be not unlikely.  The removal of timber quite likely has something to do with climatic changes that are said to be notable in this country.  The same thing lessens resistance to any change of base crowding water will cause the river to make.  It is possible that an extreme was reached in the last rise and that the worst that can occur has been demonstrated and has passed.  If that is true the lesson taught should prepare everyone for any future occurrence.


USGS (Stewart) says 180,000 cfs at Sedro-Woolley.  No figure for Concrete.


Death of Mr. Peterson.




Log jams blasted off of bridges.



Levees overtopped.


Floods and levee breaks in most cases looked upon as a benefit rather than an injury to the land.

Levees broke above and below Mt. Vernon.


GNRR (BNSF) bridge between Mt. Vernon and Burlington damaged.


Big Lake backs up.



Attributes past high water marks to dense forest.






Sounds like they are describing global warming.


As will be demonstrated later the extreme was not reached in the 1906 flood event as the 1909, 1917 and 1921 floods were higher.



The River Gives People of Valley another scare Big Chinook Starts Things Doing but quits with but little damage done.

There may have been a time when a Chinook wind was not an unwelcome thing in this country, but that was a long time before November 1909.  Since then when a Chinook blows every gentleman holds his breath.  . . .  Sunday afternoon the water began to rise at the rate of about 5 inches an hour and by midnight had increased to 8 inches or more an hour.  . . .  Sunday night up valley train was stopped at Concrete on account of the bridge over Jackson creek, near Van Horn, being washed out.  . . .  In Sterling Bend where last year the G.N. tracks were moved back from the river bank, and where subsequent rises have washed away the river bonks right up to the tracks, and rock fills were made, the waters of this rise came right up and again dallied with Jim Hills iron.


USGS reports 114,000 cfs at Sedro-Woolley.  No figure for Concrete.


This would have been a flood comparable to the 1979 and 1980 flood events.




Article states there were 16 daily trains in Sedro-Woolley.



Dam building does not look too good

Several years ago The Times quit building newspaper railroads.  This was after it had learned good and well that when railroad officials got mixed up in an interview and divulged a lot of plans for the future, that the statement was either an explosion of overworked imagination, or was just the reverse of any real intention.  Hence, The Times is skeptical of the big dam story about what Stone & Webster are going to do on Baker river this year and immediately following.  . . .  Under the most favorable conditions the building of the Baker river dam is going to cost lots of money, and just why the Stone & Webster should begin construction work while the price of every factor to construction is abnormally high and still ascending and transportation precarious, is a mystery. 

Rumors of Baker Dam


Newspaper didnt believe Baker dam would be built.



River Floods Roads and Farms; Latest Reports Receding

The warm wind last Sunday filled the river with melted snow from the mountains and caused it to overflow its banks in several places.  The road between Sedro-Woolley and Hamilton was under water in several places, many autos getting stuck when trying to ford.  The river was so high that the Lyman and Skiyou ferries have not been running for several days.  A number of farms near Hamilton were flooded, and the creek along the road is bank-high and washing away its banks.  It is thought that the main channel has been somewhat filled, and that unless something is done the creek will continue to carry more water.  The water was not high enough to damage crops.


First documentation of a summer flood.  Based on the damage reported it appears to be in the neighborhood of the January 12, 1928 flood.



pacific highway is said to be flooded

High water has broken the dike at Milltown and flooded the Pacific highway so that for some days automobiles have been unable to pass at high tide. At other times a Ford helps to pull the cars through.  . . .  The new Nookachamps bridge on the inland highway will be completed in about ten days and the new approach on the south side of the Riverside bridge will be complete in about two weeks, according to County Engineer Frank Gilkey. The traffic, at present is going to Mt. Vernon by way of Clear Lake, while this bridge is closed.


Highwater broke the dike at Milltown and cars unable to use road at high tide.  This is the only article describing this event.  Not listed on USGS or Corps flood list.


Bridge over Nookachamps just about done.



big meeting to be held to plan drainage district land owners to discuss draining problems thousands of acres to be drained, if plans are carried out; to meet at commercial club

. . .  The Sedro-Woolley Commercial club extends an invitation to all people interested in this drainage scheme to attend the meeting which will be held at the club rooms on Metcalf street. At this meeting the boundaries if the drainage district will be decided. The district, it is planned, will embrace all of the territory from Minkler creek to Austin, and from the Skagit river to the foot of the hill on the north.  . . .

Drainage District Planned


Minkler Creek to Austin and from Skagit River to foot of Dukes Hill.



skagit county flood loss estimated at half million dollars minimum -- more stories of damage up-river; roads wiped out; ferries and bridges destroyed; work of repairing flood damage starts; no report of drowning in entire skagit flood district; flood worst in skagit history

While the loss to property in Skagit county, due to the flood, is estimated by the county commissioners at more than half a million dollars, only a small portion of this amount was incurred by the farmers of the county.  In fact, most of the flooded land where the current was not swift, was benefited by the flooded land where the current was not swift, was benefited by the flooding and deposits of silt.  . . .  Abe Young, who lives near Sauk, was a heavy loser.  His house and a barn filled with hay and about fifteen acres of fine orchard land were washed down the river.  For a mile at the lower end of the Sauk river, is a continuous jam of logs and debris.  Above the White place, the whole mountain slid in, carrying road and all.  Several Indians lost their houses and their little farms.  The water was 52 inches high in the Sauk store and did some damage to the bottom layer of goods piled on benches and showcases.  . . .  Miles of the road up the Sauk river was washed out.  Mr. Thompson is doubtful if the old route will ever be used again.  At present a new trail is being cut.  When a new road is built, it will probably be constructed along the hill, out of danger of the river.  . . .  The damage in the southern part of the county and on the flats cannot be estimated yet as the land is still under water.  It is thought that salt water dikes on the flats have broken recently.  When these are repaired, it is probably that the water will have to be pumped out.  . . .  The farm of Mr. and Mrs. A.H. Hamburg on the river bank south of town, was hard hit by the flood.  Mr. and Mrs. Hamburg lived for two days in fear of their lives.  The flood either washed out or covered with logs practically all of their five acres.  They lost their horse and wagon, about 100 chickens, their ducks and geese, and their big garden patch was totally destroyed.  The house is filled with mud.  Where the chicken yard used to be is a hole 15 feet deep and the entire place is a mass of wreckage.  Most of their fruit trees and berry bushes are ruined.


USGS (Stewart) 240,000 cfs Concrete (47.6), 210,000 cfs Sedro-Woolley, Corps 140,000 cfs Mt. Vernon.


Most of flooded land benefited from the flood!!




Lower end of Sauk River a continuous jam of logs and debris.





Sauk River road washed out.


Salt water dikes broken.



Hamburg farm hard hit.  House filled with mud. 



Biggest flood in skagit history say old-timers

The flood of 1921 is the biggest flood in the history of the Skagit, according to old timers, who recall the floods of 1879, 1888, 1897 and on up to the big flood of 1909 and the 1917 freshet. Mrs. Dreyer, who lives west of town, tells of the big flood of 1888, when in some places the river backed up higher than this year. She says that not so much damage was done then because there were practically no dikes and the water spread over the lowlands more gradually. Measurements at the Dalles, near Concrete, show that the flood water this year reached a point two feet higher than at any previous time in the memory of the oldest settler. Charley Moses says that it was the biggest flood, with the biggest volume of water ever carried in the Skagit. At Van Horn the water was 14 inches higher than it had ever been. In 1909 the river in the upper valley was only about two-thirds as wide as it is now. Hundreds of acres of land are being washed away every year, by both Skagit and Sauk rivers. W. A. Ellison says he has been on the upper river for 21 years and this is the biggest flood he has seen or heard old timers tell about.





Charley Moses lived in valley through 1906, 1911, 1917 and 1921 events.  He observed the height of the river in The Dalles in 1921.



flood will not hurt grain fields

Very little damage has been done by the flood to the berry and grain fields, says County Horticulturist E. D. Hunter. In fact, Mr. Hunter states, the silt deposits was beneficial. Only where there was a strong current or where there was a strong current or where stands for a week or longer, there will be a possibility of loss.  . . .

Berry Crops Not Hurt In 1921 Flood


Silt deposits beneficial.



Huge Spillway For Skagit River Proposed To Prevent Flooding


Closely following the recent flood, naturally comes the discussion as to whether such destructive inundations cannot be prevented and what means could be used to accomplish their prevention.  Comes now County Commissioner Zig Nelson with a suggestion, which deserves serious consideration, in the opinion of many.  Mr. Nelson points out the fact that Sedro-Woolley is protected on account of the Sterling cut-off, which opens a straight course for flood waters past Sedro-Woolley, thus minimizing the danger to this community.  Below the cut-off, the waters reaching the big bend in the river this side of Burlington, break out of the banks and continue on the straightest course, as the deep channel east of Burlington clearly shows.  Nelsons plan is to construct an immense spillway starting at the Sterling bend and continuing in as straight a course as possible to deep salt water, which he says is seven miles in a straight line from the bend, while the river meanders some twenty-one miles before emptying in to the Sound.

1st Avon By-Pass Proposal


Commissioner Zig Nelson.  The overflow channel he is describing would have been in the Strawberry Bar area of the Burlington Bend (a/k/a Sterling Bend).  The deep channel he refers to is Gages Slough.



big crowd listens to seattle experts discuss flood plan dam said to be sure cure for skagit valley floods engineers uhden and dimock of seattle, explain plans for huge dam:  sedro woolley interested

A large crowd gathered in the Rex theater in Mt. Vernon Tuesday evening to listen to the plans for a possible means of stopping floods by damming the water at its source.  About three hundred were present.  . . .  Mr. Uhden, the engineer in charge of the big Seattle project on the Skagit river, told all about his work, illustrating with lantern slides.  He said that Seattle is planning a dam 480 feet high, on Ruby creek, which will take ten years to build, according to present plans.  If Skagit county men wish to raise money to pay for the work, a flood gate dam will be built instead of a solid crest dam as at present planned.  He showed the possibilities of stopping flood which this dam would have.  He said that the Skagit river had 100,000 cfs through Sedro-Woolley, while the flow through Ruby creek was 30,000 cfs.  The last 20 feet of the dam will take care of one-half of this volume of water for three days, during a flood, and an additional 10 feet would take care of the remainder for six days.  The engineers are agreed that this dam is the only logical solution of the flood problem.  Mr. Gilkey said that his idea was to get federal aid to help build the dam with flood gates.  It was stated that if the people of Skagit county wished to go in on the dam, and have Seattle change its plans, the work could be speeded up to take only five instead of ten years.  Another statement made was that the damage in Skagit county for the last two floods was a million and a half dollars.

Ross Dam





Flood control not in original plans.  Seattle wanted Skagit County to get funding for flood gates.




Estimates of flood flows were obviously too low.



Damage in 1917 and 1921 floods only 1.5 million?  That would convert to 15,463,917 2003 dollars.  Of course with todays development in the floodplain that figure would be increased several times over.  (Source:  Consumer Price Index)



engineer is hired for river survey

The county commissioners this week employed Mr. Stewart, a government engineer, to make a survey of the Skagit river.  Mr. Stewarts salary is $250 a month, which will be paid out of the money to be raised by the 1 mill levy for river improvement.  The new engineer is from the government office in Seattle, and is working under government orders.  His work here will be under the supervision of the county engineers office.  He is already at work testing the river and tributary streams for their flow and volume of water carried, and other data needed to determine flood remedies.

James E. Stewart

Skagit County paid Mr. Stewart directly therefore the County technically owns his work product.  See 11/20/22 Argus article.



river problems to be discussed soon at seattle meeting  -- federal engineer to hold hearing jan. 22 -- skagit county river committee meets; will make recommendations to legislators at once

The problem of taming the Skagit river is too big a proposition for Skagit county or for the State of Washington, the county river committee decided last week.  Consequently the committee passed a resolution urging the Skagit members of the state legislature to memorialize congress for help in controlling the Skagit river.  . . .  The Skagit river committee urged the employment of an engineer of national reputation on river data and to suggest a feasible plan to control the river.  The federal field engineer is busily at work collecting data but has not made his official report.

River Problems Too Big For Locals


Engineer the article is talking about is James E. Stewart.



county board leaves levy for river work out of new budget  --  river committee and mt. vernon citizens protest omission of mill levy in budget for 1924; budget to be adopted at hearing monday of next week; current expense fund levy is less than last year

The county commissioners in adopting a preliminary budget for county expenses omitted the mill levy raised last year about $22,000 to be used for river survey work and preliminary work toward solving the problem of flood protection on the Skagit river.  The county river committee, of which H.L. Willis acted as spokesman, together with a delegation from the Mt. Vernon Commercial club, waited on the commissioners on Wednesday and made an effort to get a mill levy included in the budget, before it comes up for final hearing and passage on Monday of next week, October 1.  . . .  Mr. Van Buren stated that the commissioners felt that with $20,000 from the amount levied last year, still available, that there was no need for an additional mill levy this year, to add more money to the fund.  He said that about $2,000 was spent last year for the federal government engineer who made a flood survey of the river some time ago, after the big flood.  Mr. Stewart, the engineer has not yet submitted his detailed report to the commissioners.  The reason for this, it was explained, was that he resigned from government service soon after finishing his work on the Skagit river, and had been employed by a private firm in the east.  He has been making out his report as rapidly as he could under the circumstances.  Mr. Willis asked the commissioners to employ a competent engineer to prepare detailed plans for the best way of handling a flood control scheme.  The county, when it has a definite plan to submit, will then be in a position to ask for federal aid, he said.  . . .  The commissioners took no action in the river matter, except to say that they could not include an additional one mill levy at this time. 

Commissioners Leave Flood Control Out of Budget












No report from Stewart was given as justification.


Based on documents obtained from NARA it is believed that Skagit County received Stewarts report in October, 1923.  It is known that the CT had his report in December 1923. See 12/20/23 CT article.





report of engineer gives a history of skagit river flood

James E. Stewart, government hydraulic engineer employed about two years ago by Skagit county to investigate flood conditions along the Skagit valley, has just submitted a report on his findings of the stage and volume of past floods in Skagit valley and advisable protective measures prior to the construction of permanent flood controlling works.  The report is as comprehensive as possible going back to the floods told of by the Indians in 1815.  It is too long to publish in detail, but this article will give some of the main ideas embodied in Mr. Stewarts findings.  Since the arrival of the first white people about 1869, says Mr. Stewart, there have been six Skagit river floods whose discharge has exceeded 175,000 second feet at Sedro-Woolley.  All of these floods have occurred since Nov. 15, 1896.  The number of floods that exceeded 175,000 second-feet at Sedro-Woolley prior to 1869 is unknown, but the occurrence of two great floods has been discovered.  The exact dates of these early floods are not known, but their stages and volumes have been accurately determined.  . . .  Then follows data on the floods, taken at various places along the river.  The data shows that the floods of 1921 was the second largest since 1856, in Sedro-Woolley, the 1909 flood reaching 26.5 feet on the gage and 1921 flood, 24.3 feet.  . . .  In the light of knowledge of past floods it seems likely, says Mr. Stewart that floods like those of 1917 and 1921 may occur within the next five or six years.  . . .  The writer will make several suggestions as to inexpensive measures that should be carried out in the near future.  They may be briefly outlined ass follows; install a flood warning system, delay diking off the Nookachamps district; protect certain danger zones removing drift from river channel below Hamilton and possibly near Lyman, and build protective dikes at Burlington and possibly Mt. Vernon; obtain additional hydrographic data; form a conservancy district.  Mr. Stewart gives data showing that rainfall for the two largest floods since data has been kept is much the same.  At the Skagit power camp in 1909 for Nov. 28 and 29, the rainfall for the two days was 7.85 inches.  At the Davis ranch on Dec. 11 and 12, 1921, the rainfall was 7.62 inches, while the maximum temperature in both cases was about 52 degrees.  . . .  Mr. Stewart recommends a delay in diking the Nookachamps district, as at present it acts as a storage reservoir during floods and has prevented much damage.  . . .  Burlington, he says is in danger from any size flood, and should be encircled by a dike, as a correctly built dike around Burlington would protect it against all floods.  . . .  Mr. Stewarts report contains a mass of data collected at various places along the river, and urges that many more of these stations be established.  He says the matter needs further study before any large flood prevention project is undertaken, but that there is always a danger of a repetition of floods.

James E. Stewart

Mr. Stewart was hired in Nov. 1922.  See 11/23/22 CT article.


6 floods exceeded 175,000 cfs at Sedro-Woolley since 1896.

Clearly Mr. Stewart was using a different datum then is being used today.  USGS has subsequently added 21.06 ft to Stewarts computations at S-W and 12.7 ft to Concrete.  The reported magnitude of these floods has not reoccurred for the past 80 years.

During the November 21 through 25, 1990 flood event 6 inches of rain fell at Marblemount, 15.5 inches of rain fell at Reflector Bar, 11 inches of rain fell at Glacier on the Baker River side and 11.3 inches of rain fell at Darrington on the Sauk River.  The regulated peaks of 146,000 cfs and 152,000 cfs at Concrete and Mount Vernon respectively would have been 182,000 cfs and 180,000 cfs if left unregulated.   One has to ask that if Stewart and USGS computations of the 1921 flood are to be believed, how did we end up with only 180,000 cfs unregulated flow with 15.5 inches of rain at Reflector Bar, and Stewart and USGS end up with 240,000 cfs and 225,000 cfs respectfully with only 10.21 inches of rain falling at Reflector Bar (Davis Ranch 7.6)?  (Sources:  Flood Summary Report, Nooksack, Skagit and Snohomish River Basins, November 1990 Events, Corps of Engineers, 7/18/91; (Stewart/Bodhaine Report, Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 1527, 1961)



high water floods many parts of district; railroad stopped

After several days of rain and Chinooks, the river in all parts of the district, went over their banks in many places on Tuesday.  A stretch of some 150 feet of the Great Northern near Hamilton was washed out, and the town of Hamilton was cut off from everything but telephone communication Tuesday morning.  The bridge over the slough at Hamilton was washed out, and the bridge to the Lyman ferry at Lyman went down stream Tuesday.  At the unprotected places on the river near the town of Hamilton and Lyman, big areas of land and trees were washed bodily into the river.  In the Sterling district, families started moving out of danger Tuesday afternoon.  The old road to Burlington was covered, and lowlands between Sedro-Woolley and the river were under water Tuesday afternoon.  . . .  Big areas of land in the Burlington and Sterling districts were under water Tuesday, and also in the upper valley.  All sloughs along the Skagit river are covering the adjacent land, and the river is filled with drifting trees and debris.  The river rose five feet Monday night.  Tuesday night the river rose several feet more, covering the road between the trestle and the river bridge south of this city, and large areas of land.  By Wednesday morning the flood had reached its crest and had receded from the road this side of the river.  The Clear Lake Road near the Eldred place was under some four feet of water and impassable.


Neither the Corps of Engineers or USGS reported this flood event.


Flood was serious event in Hamilton and Sterling.


Levees broke in Conway and Burlington.  (See 2/14/24 Argus article)



sportsmen protest closing skagit river for fishing

Effective April 1 and through the period ending May 27, the Skagit river will be closed its entire length from the government marker on saltwater, to the Canadian border to all sport fishing, according to the new game laws as issued by the State Game Commission. This announcement comes as a blow to the fisherman of the entire state. Hardest hit, are the residents of Skagit county who have fished the river the year around since white men first settled in the valley. With gasoline rationing pared down to two gallons per week, residents living in the towns and on the farms along the banks of the Skagit will now have to giver up their backyard fishing and burn their precious gasoline on trips to some lake in the adjacent area on and after April 2.  . . .  Oddly enough effective May 1, commercial fishermen will be permitted to pursue their fishing with gill nets in the waters of the Skagit river from the junction of the north and south forks to saltwater.

Skagit Closed To Sports Fishing


Before this time Skagit was open year round.


Gasoline was rationed to citizens at the rate of two gallons per week.


Commercial fisherman were allowed to put nets in river from North & South Fork confluence to Puget Sound.



river flood report to be made

A public hearing will be held in the Commercial Club at Mt. Vernon, Washington at 1 p.m. Wednesday, November 26, in connection with a report on preliminary examination of Skagit River with reference to its floods which was directed by the Act of Congress of May 31, 1924.  . . .  While for accuracy of record all important facts and arguments should be submitted in writing, oral evidence will be heard.

Corps of Engineers Public Hearing

This was one of the most important meetings in Skagit County history.  Copies of the minutes and testimony submitted have been obtained and are on Skagit Countys website. 



farmers consider plans for new drainage district here

A meeting of farmers of this district to consider a new drainage project will be held in the Sedro-Woolley Commercial club rooms on Saturday afternoon of this week at 2 oclock. County Agent Bergstrom is in charge of the meeting and is developing plans for the proposed district. This matter was brought up in 1922 and is being considered again because certain farmers have asked for relief from the excess water in this district.  . . .  The proposed drainage district extends about to Cokedale on the east, including the Northern State hospital lands; goes up to Dukes hill on the north, to the edge of town on the west and as far south toward the river as drainage is needed.  . . .  Those who oppose the drainage district because they say their land does not need drainage, will not be included in the proposed district, if drainage will not benefit them, Mr. Bergstrom said today. He estimates that the district will include between 4500 and 5000 acres in this district, and believes that enough of the farm owners in the district feel the need of drainage, to make the organization possible.

New Drainage Project

5,000 acre drainage district boundaries were Cokedale on the East including Northern State, Dukes Hill on the North, Sedro-Woolley to the west and south to the Skagit River.



river is washing land away rapidly; threatens highway

During the past month or two, more than an acre of land has been washed into the river, from the farm just west of the Northern Pacific railroad bridge south of town.  . . .  Besides the washing away of this good farm land, the most serious menace is the dry bed of an old slough, which has been partially filled in, and is now exposed, or soon will be, to the full current of the river at high water. If the river is permitted to wash much more land away, the backwater will go up this slough at high water, and flood the pavement even worse than it is now at high water.  . . .

Erosion Near Sedro-Woolley


Acre of ground washed into the Skagit just west of NPRR bridge south of Sedro-Woolley (adjacent to Highway 9 bridge).



hearing on Padilla bay dike districts

A hearing was held before a jury in superior court Wednesday, on the proposed Padilla Bay diking district. The jury returned a directed verdict assessing damages and benefits of the proposed project. The estimated benefit to owners of lands in the territory which it is proposed to drain was $1,900,000. There were 126 property owners involved. The estimated benefits were about $200 an acre, and the nominal estimate damage, $1 an acre. It is said that there are over 10,000 acres now under water, that will be drained for cultivation. It is proposed to drain Padilla Bay, which means that the water between the Samish Camp Fire grounds and Hat island will be drained, laving the camps point of land, with water only on one side. Bay View will be left miles from any water, if the plans are carried out.  . . .

Padilla Bay Dike District


Proposal included draining Padilla Bay.



great baker river power plant nearing completion lake shannon newly created 7-mile lake

Washingtons newest hydro-electric project, the great Baker River plant, is rapidly nearing completion.  . . .  In honor to William D. Shannon, the man who has had entire charge of construction, the lake formed by the dam thrown across the Baker river will be known as Shannon Lake.  The lake will be more than seven miles long and will contain sufficient water to cover 70,000 acres one foot deep The surface area of the lake will be 1,780 acres and it will be 405 feet above sea level.  Baker River rises among the glaciers on the south slopes of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan, in Whatcom county.  Near the foot of these peaks a glacial moraine backs up the river to form beautiful Baker Lake, the elevation of which is 664 feet above sea level.  . . .  It (the dam) contains more than 220,000 cubic yards of concrete masonry.  Back of this gigantic dam will be Shannon Lake, the reservoir that will store the flood waters of the river which will develop eventually 80,000 horsepower for use throughout western and central Washington.  . . . Construction was started April 1, 1924.

Baker Dam Just About Completed

Shannon Lake named for William D. Shannon, dam engineer and project manager.




Glacial moraine formed Baker Lake.  Need to determine how much water was in Baker Lake before Upper Baker dam was built.


Lake Shannon reservoir will store the flood waters of the river. 

They built a dam in 18 months. 



drainage expert to visit skagit

A.B. Crane, drainage specialist, will pay Skagit county a five day visit from October 23 to 28 inclusive, and all farmers in the district desiring advice on their farm drainage problems should apply at once, . . .  he has spent 36 days assisting individual farmers in working out their farm drainage problems.  57 of the farmers applying for this work have been given personal assistance in planning their drainage systems, these 57 farmers represent a total acreage of 2,729 acres.



57 farmers represented 2,729 acres.  That would be an average of 48 acres per farm.  Farms were a lot smaller back then.



power from baker river plant ready for use here this week

Marking a new era for electric light and power in this part of the state, the current generated at the new Baker river power project, recently completed by Stone & Webster, will be turned into the Sedro-Woolley sub-station this week.  The water of the river, back of the recently finished dam has risen 160 ft. on the dam to the intake, and the power turbines in the power house have been turned over and tested, so everything is in readiness to start operations.

Baker River Dam Goes On-Line


Water rose 160 feet behind dam.



more puget power

Baker River is harnessed to add its age-old strength to the upbuilding of the Pacific Northwest.  The surge of 40,000 horsepower today augments the surging might vibrating in our transmission lines and serving 350 cities, towns and communities in Washington.  The investment of over eight thousand citizens of Western Washington in our securities has aided in making this plant possible.  . . .  Concrete dam 245 feet high.  Impounding 70,000 acre-feet of water.  Creating Lake Shannon, 8 miles long.

Advertisement By Puget Power

245 feet high??  See 5/5/27 CT article.  It says dam was 260 ft high.



height of big baker river dam to be increased 33 ft.

The Puget Sound Power & Light Company is expending $200,000 according to announcement just made by President A. W. Leonard, to practically double the water storage capacity behind the great Baker River concrete dam at Concrete in Skagit County.  . . .  This enlargement of capacity is being accomplished by increasing the height of the Baker River dam by 33 feet from its present 260 ft. to a total of 293 feet, making it one of he highest concrete structures of the kind in the world.  Water storage in Shannon Lake created by the building of the Baker River Dam two years ago, is now 10,000 acre-feet but will be increased to 130,000 acre-feet by the heightening of the dam.  . . .  The Baker River sockeye salmon have a reputation far and wide as among the most toothsome of the salmon tribe.  But for the construction of this salmon ladder and railway for the salmon they could not have survived the installation of this mighty dam.  A force of some 200 men is at work on these improvements at Baker river.

Lower Baker Dam Raised


Dam completed in 1925 at a height of 260 feet.  Added another 33 feet.


10,000 acre-feet is a typo.  Should be 70,000 acre-feet.  (See 11/26/25 CT article.)


Baker River Sockeye was a much sought after fish.



stone-webster will spend over $2,000,000 near here over a million and a quarter will be spent at concrete and almost another million dollars on transmission lines; new projects announced officially; big crew working out of sedro woolley

Insuring a large additional payroll for Sedro-Woolley, during the next few months, the Stone-Webster Co. announced today its plans for improvements in the Baker River power plant at Concrete, and the transmission lines through Sedro-Woolley, amounting to an expenditure of more than $2,000,000.  . . .  During the year 1927 the height of the Baker River dam was increased about 33 feet enlarging the storage capacity at that point from 70,000 acre feet to 130,000 acre feet, while the generating capacity was increased at the same time from 40,215 horsepower to 53,620 horsepower.

More Improvements to Lower Baker



New transmission lines and improvements to power plant.



high water in skagit streams causes damage

Warm winds and rain Wednesday following several days of warmer weather caused the Skagit river and its tributary streams to overflow in several places east of this city, blocking the road west of Hamilton and undermining the Great Northern track between Lyman and Sedro-Woolley.  Other damage all along the river between here and Marblemount was reported, but so far the main river had not flooded any territory.  Backwater and high water in the creeks was responsible for most of the damage, together with slides along the road.  . . .  Grandy creek is a foot higher than it has been in years, and washed out the dam at the fish hatchery at Birdsview.


USGS 95,500 cfs at Concrete (32.9), no figure given for Mt. Vernon or Sedro-Woolley. 


Very small flood event.



seattle chamber to help get Skagit river relief

The Seattle Chamber of Commerce, answering appeals from C. E. Bingham of this city, and Sibert Eaton, local farmer, is making an effort to get federal aid in the fight against the Skagit river. C. C. Finn, prominent Seattle businessman, was in the city this week, investigating conditions of the Skagit river near here, on behalf of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce river and harbor committee, and will make an effort to obtain a federal survey of the river.  . . .  He was much impressed with the fact that hundreds of acres of fine farmland are being washed down the river, and that the banks need protecting and the channel needs straightening. The recent high water did much damage. The big barn built by Henry Cooper at Lyman many years ago, was washed into the river yesterday. The barn stood originally on a farm of forty-five acres and only three acres are left now. County roads are being undermined my the river, and the channel near Burns bar, east of this city, is threatening hundreds of acres, and if permitted to continue, may finally threaten the city of Sedro-Woolley.

Seattle To Help Study Skagit


Seattle Chamber of Commerce to help get federal aid to study Skagit River.



Barn at Lyman fell into the river.  Used to sit on 45 acre farm.  Only three acres left.



h.m. eakin consulted by congress on flood help

H.M. Eakin of this city, who is recognized as a national authority on river flood relief methods, has during the past few weeks been consulted frequently by Congressmen, on his plan for stopping floods in the Mississippi river basin.  . . .  Eakin, who as a United States geologist, had many years of practical experience in river affairs and is the author of textbooks and encyclopedia articles on the subject, had had a recent article of his in the Thrift magazine, quoted in over 150 daily papers of the United States.  . . .  Nearly everyone knows something of the levee method of controlling flooded streams, but not so many know of the science of river morphology, which aims at so regulating the force of waters that the river could not overflow its banks.   . . .  He views the construction of higher and higher levees as useless, because in time the river will deposit between them sufficient silt to raise the level of the water as high as they can be built.  . . .  The dynamic method of control involves the management of stream energies to regulate erosion.  We have in the river itself a powerful engine of construction and destruction, the natural activities of which are largely adverse.

A Real Local Expert


One has to wonder why local forces didnt spend more time with Mr. Eakin.  We had a real expert in river morphology living in Sedro-Woolley and his name doesnt ever appear on any flood related document yet reviewed.  Skagit County missed a golden opportunity.



crew at work on river protection; plan new bridges

Under the direction of Skagit county engineers office, a crew of men have been doing river bank protection work east of Utopia. Piles are being driven in the slough at the bend in the river and rip-rap work is being done as an added protection.  . . .  Possible methods of straightening the Nookachamps bridge on the Clear Lake road are being considered in the county engineers office. Several plans have been presented, but no decision as to which one will be adopted has been made.

County Crews Working In Utopia

Skagit County crew working in Utopia to prevent further bank erosion.



Plan new jetty for ross slough to stop flooding

One of the greatest menaces to farm land in the upper river valley, the washing away of land by Ross slough, in the Utopia district, may be eliminated if the present plans of the county commissioners are carried out. After a survey by County Engineer Knapp, the county board this week, voted an emergency appropriation of at least $5,000 to be expended at once in the construction of a jetty across the head of Ross slough.  . . .  The board voted to take the money for this work, from the river improvement fund of some $9,000 which has been idle in the bank for several years since its appropriation.

Ross Slough Jetty


County Engineer Knapp recommends jetty across Ross Slough.  Commissioners vote emergency appropriation of $5,000.


Skagit is mecca of many anglers




flood damage estimated to exceed $100,000 in county

rush repairs to highways as flood waters recede; normal traffic announced in most sections; detour arranged while fill is repaired here; thousands watch flood waters on rampage

Bridges at several points were damaged or removed by the raging waters of the Skagit Saturday and Sunday when the breaking dikes and back water sent a yellow flood over nearly 20,000 acres of land and forced many residents to abandon their homes in search of safety on nearby high points of land.  . . .  In the valley proper no loss of life has been reported, and the accident claiming four lives at Diablo, just as the waters threatened, remains the major incident of the highest flood waters since 1921. . . .  Bridge Out  Knapp reported the Diobase creek bridge washed out, sixty feet of span and an equal amount of trestle, the forty foot truss over Hanson creek on the river road tipped over, slides on the Van Horn and Faber hills, damage of fifty feet of the west approach of the Jackman creek bridge, and a wash-out on the German Prairie road west of the Samish school, where the bridge over the Samish remained intact.  . . .  Following the slide above Newhalem the Skagit began rising slowly, but the condition was not believed serious until late Friday night, when flood conditions were approached.  Friday night and Saturday morning the water rose at an amazing rate, with lowlands along the river being flooded.  Fill Damaged -- . . .  Constant rumors of danger to two dams in the Skagit and Baker river power projects resulted in an alarm that one of the dams had broken, and many residents of Hamilton, Lyman, Sedro-Woolley and Mt. Vernon removed to higher ground with emergency rations.  It was reported a man coming down the river had given the false alarm, and Lyman was almost deserted by the exodus that followed.  Responsible agencies spiked the rumor within an hour, and the bolting residents for the most part returned to their homes.  Dams Are Safe  --  Consequent investigation disclosed that flood gates on the dams were not opened and that flood waters poured over the tops of the dams.  At Baker River before the flood, water was 36 feet below the top, and at the peak of high water flowed nine feet deep over the top of the dam.  At Diablo gates were left open until engineers were certain that a flood was imminent, and then closed the gates Friday afternoon.  Early Saturday morning the water flowed over the Diablo spillways, when no more water could be retained.  . . .  The same authorities also explained the fact that while flood waters at Mt. Vernon reached within inches of an all-time record, the peak at Sedro-Woolley was from four to five feet under the record.  This was due to the fact that previous floods had removed two curves below Sedro-Woolley and shortened the rivers course nearly one half mile.  This makes the river almost straight from Burns bar three miles west and the effect had been to lower the river bed here nearly four feet.  Dikes Broken -- Shortly after noon Sunday the dike south of Burlington gave way and the Great Northern fill broke at 12:45 to release a yellow flood through Varneys slough and Gages Lake to inundate the section between Burlington, Avon and the Bay View ridge.  . . .  Breaking of the dike at Conway relieved the pressure in this district late Sunday afternoon, and a large section in the lower end of the county was covered with water.  Alarm Is Given -- . . .  Residents of the Nookachamps district were taken from their homes when back waters filled this section, and the two branches of the creek flowed back on their courses.


USGS 147,000 cfs Concrete (39.99), 157,000 cfs Sedro-Woolley, no figure for Mt. Vernon.

Flood was larger then 1951 flood.



Bridges over creeks washed out.






Slide at Newhalem.




Rumor that dam had broken.  Lyman almost completely evacuated.







Flood gates on dams not opened.


Water rose 36 feet in Lower Baker then 9 feet flowed over top of dam.

Diablo gates closed then water flowed over spillways.



It is believed they are talking about Debay Island cut-off as Sterling cut-off happened in 1911.


Dikes broke in Burlington.  Water flowed down Gages (Varney) Slough.


Conway dikes broke.






Jupiter Pluvis Shatters Record With March Floods

Flooded fields and basements filled with surface water attested a record breaking rainfall of 11.15 inches for the month of March in this vicinity.  Harry L. Devin, official weather observer here, can find no counterpart of this in the more than 40 years since he first began observing weather conditions in this district.  The average for March over a 33-year period is a precipitation of 4.30 inches.  The first week of March this year was far under this average, with .33 of an inch.  As the month progressed the rainfall became greater, to end with a 42-hour deluge Tuesday and Wednesday, to set a new record.

Lots of Rain in March 1932

Jupiter Pluvis was the Supreme God in ancient Roman days comparable to Zeus in Greek mythology.  The name translated into Rain Giver.

Most rain in 40 years according to H. L. Devin.  11 inches in Sedro-Woolley.



june snow scene near sedro-woolley -- local man photographs snow field near here

These two views show from ten to fifteen feet of snow not then miles from Sedro-Woolley in Montborne prairie.  They were brought here by Norman Fladebo and show him and John Fladebo.  The upper view shows snow almost fifteen feet deep, covering thousands of acres, and the other shows Fladebo, at the edge of the prairie snow field, with rifle stretched, to show the depth of the snow.  The pictures were taken a few days ago.  Fladebo reports the snow deeper than in the big snow year of 1916, as he walked completely over the top of a tree which he had notched then.  Thars snow in them thar hills.

10-15 ft of Snow Near Sedro-Woolley


Amazing there wasnt a huge summer flood this year.





Want Skagit Power At Same Rates As Seattle Will Get

Skagit and Whatcom counties, in which Seattle will get electric power, when the big water power project on the Skagit river is developed, should get power for the same rates as Seattle manufacturers, according to local men.  The Commercial club will take the matter up with the local Congressman, and with Secretary Lane.  As the source of this power is in the two counties, it is felt that they should not be deprived of the right to use some of it, at the same rate which Seattle will charge to users in that city and district.

Skagit Wanted Same Electric Rates As Seattle



heavy rains close roads

The heaviest rainfall in the history of Sedro-Woolley, fell here Wednesday night, according to H. L. Devin, official government weather man here for 36 years.  Between 6 p.m. Wednesday night and 9 a.m. Thursday morning, there was a total of 2.25 inches of rainfall, which followed 1.83 inches Wednesday up to 6 p.m.  . . .  Heavy rainfall during the past few days brought the river almost to flood levels, closed the road between here and Concrete, and caused sloughs to overflow in many places.  Many roads were closed Sunday, including the Pacific highway at Silvana, but cooler weather brought the water down.  The river rose eleven feet Sunday, but at last reports, had gone down five or six feet, in spite of continued rain.  According to statistics of H.L. Devin, local government weatherman, November is twice as wet as usual.  October rainfall was 6.31 inches here as compared to the normal 4.8 inches and the November rainfall up to November 15, was 6.4 inches as compared to the normal of 6.74 inches for the entire month.


USGS 116,000 cfs Concrete, 125,000 cfs Sedro-Woolley.  Close to a 1975 event.


Heaviest rainfall in history of Sedro-Woolley?  4 inches in 24 hours.



skagit river floods editorial

With high water threatening the Skagit valley, the people again turn their attention to the river and flood damages.  If a bad flood occurs during the next few days, there will be meetings and resolutions concerning getting flood relief and loss of many thousands of dollars to property and business; the water will go down and interest in flood relief will subside until the next flood comes along.  . . .  We will think of flood control now, but when the danger is gone, we forget floods and turn to thoughts of more pleasant things, consoling ourselves with the idea that there probably will not be another one for many years.  It may take a real catastrophe to get real flood relief for the Skagit.

Flood Editorial


For the past 72 years no truer words have been written about the Skagit River flood issue.  Hopefully, in 2005 that is about to change.



Local Farms Sustain Big Flood Losses

Congressman Wallgren Asks $1,500,000 For Skagit

Heavy losses from the recent flood waters along the Skagit river makes the cause for government control more urgent than ever before.  In one bend of the river in the Utopia district, fifteen acres of land have been washed away from the farms of Carl Johnson, James Atwood and Oliver Buchanan since the first of November.  This is merely one case in which improved farm land has been washed away.  William Wulff of the same district was forced to move his residence after the last freshet.  Several other homes in the immediate vicinity are in grave danger from each succeeding flood.

Erosion Problems



Utopia area looses another 15 acres of land.



New Dredge For Skagit

An appropriation of some $100,000 was made this week from the states recent relief bond issue, to purchase a dredger for the Skagit river.  W.R. Morgan, county welfare commissioner, headed a delegation to Olympia the first of the week, and obtained this appropriation as the first step in a program of flood control on the Skagit.  The new dredge will be equipped to build dikes and to work both along the bayfront and the river.  It is estimated it will take ten men to run it, and it is believed that CWA labor can be used.  A plan of reorganizing dike and drainage districts to facilitate the work of rebuilding dikes, will be discussed soon.

New Dredger


No record located that dredge was ever purchased.




sixty miles of dike built by 1,015 men; cost, $160,000

According to a report issued from the office of the superintending engineer, C.A. Strong, work on the Skagit County dikes, if no unforeseen interruption occurs, will be completed by May 1st.  . . .  The allowance made by the CWA authorities for the entire repair and reconstruction project are $59,424.00 for equipment rental, and $14,000.00 for materials and supplies.  The number of men approved for the work is 1,206; the total number of work hours, 332,018.  At the present time there are approximately 1,015 men on the job.  The field forces are divided into three divisions geographically, each under a division superintendent.  The CWA approved a total length of dike work in Skagit County of 328,000 feet or approximately 62 miles, of which 253,434 feet had been completed up to April 19.  Work is progressing at the rate of about 8,000 feet per day.

Skagit County Dike Work


According to this article the average wage paid to the dike workers was approximately $3.83 per hour.


62 miles of levees worked on.



flood expert gives county chamber, talk

col. hanson, speaker at big meeting here; local boy talks

Col. Howard A. Hanson of Seattle, head of the state flood control council, gave an interesting talk to the Skagit County Chamber of Commerce at their monthly hour here Tuesday evening, in the crypt of the Episcopal church.  Some fifty business men from all parts of the county attended the meeting.  Col. Hanson for years has been attorney for King county and Pierce county in their flood control work on the White, Green, Puyallup and other rivers, and is a recognized authority on both the engineering and legal ends of flood and erosion control work.  He was introduced to the audience by A. G. Mosier of this city, Skagit county member of the state flood control council.  The speaker told of the need for a state and national program of flood control, and explained the policy of the federal government which refuses to spend any money on rivers beyond their limits of navigation, regardless of damage done by the river.

State Flood Control Council


Speaker stated that Federal government refused to spend money on flood control, only river navigation.



hansen creek work to start; more projects  -- local plan board has promise; to grade streets here

Work will be started at once on unfinished CWA relief projects in this county, according to information received by the county project manages.  The dredging of Hansen creek will be the first to be resumed here, and will probably start next week.  . . .  The WERA will appropriate $1,000 for rental of a gas shovel to use on Hansen creek, and $864 for employment of non-relief shovel operators.  There are no shovel men available from the relief rolls.  Twenty men from this list will be put to work on the grading work in addition to the shovel men.  The total cost to complete the work is estimated at $6,200.

Hanson Creek


Hanson Creek dredged.



Grocery Store Ads

Cant buy dog food for a nickel any longer.


HERE[2] is a good inflation calculator.



filling in creeks (editorial)

Quick action by citizens in the middle of the night in cutting a channel thru the county road north of town, saved hundreds of families here from being flooded out of their homes.  The channel was cut at the place where the county engineers replaced a creek and bridge with a dirt fill and small culvert.  This disastrous policy was followed in many places in the county in past years, and has cost thousands of dollars and much trouble.

Culverts and Fill


It would appear that culverts and fill across streams and creeks are an invitation to drainage problems.



three skagit cities have flood scares; danger past

The present flood danger in Skagit county is now ended, but three cities, Mt. Vernon, Burlington and Sedro-Woolley, had some bad moments.  Sedro-Woolley was not threatened so much by the river as by high water from the hills north of town, which for two days surrounded several hundred homes and would have flooded the city, but for blasting out the old grade road in the middle of the night.  . . .  Saturday night was the flood crisis in Burlington and Mt. Vernon.  At Burlington Saturday afternoon, the siren sounded an alarm to bring more help on the dike northeast of town.  This time the dike held and it was thought the danger was past.  However, a real break occurred Saturday evening and Burlington citizens prepared to move out.  . . .  The flood reached the Burlington hospital, but the fact that the river was receding at the time, prevented any inundation.  The creek just east of Burlington washed away part of the road.  The big break on the dike near the old Cleveland place, took away a large stretch of highway.


USGS 131,000 cfs at Concrete (37.9).  No figure for Sedro-Woolley or Mt. Vernon.


Sedro-Woolley blows up old grade road.




The Burlington dike they are talking about is Lafayette Road where it takes a 90 degree bend and parallels Highway 20.




two drowned in road hole

Victims of a tragic aftermath of the high waters, Mrs. Harry Dimmick and her three-year-old son, Perry, were drowned Tuesday evening when the car in which they were riding, plunged off the road into the opening caused by high water, near the Cleveland ranch northeast of Burlington.  Harry Dimmick, the husband and father, was able to free himself from the auto, which was submerged in 15 or 20 feet of water, and is recovering from shock and bruises.

Flood Deaths


This is why people shouldnt drive around road barricades during flood events.

Both of these 1/31/35 articles have now helped us locate the Cleveland Ranch which is mentioned in many flood articles.



river survey shows losses

The survey of the Skagit river flood damages, which has been carried on during the past few weeks under W.E.R.A. funds, has found an estimated loss of more than two 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 flood loss.  . . .  While figures given to the men making the river survey have not been given out in detail, many thousands of acres of fine Skagit farm land are reported washed down the river, with many more threatened.

River Erosion


$2,000,000 worth of farmland lost.


thousands of acres washed down the river.


This would beg the question of how has  this impacted the previous studies of the  hydraulics of the river.



plan flood relief (editorial)

Apparently the forgotten Skagit farmer, whose valuable land has been washing downstream for years, is to be remembered.  The Puget Sound Flood Control Council was instrumental in having legislation passed to permit counties to form districts to raise funds for stooping erosion and floods, and the big federal appropriation for public works, including a huge amount for flood relief work.  . . .  Congressman Wallgren has taken the lead in flood and erosion control work at Washington, D.C. and through his efforts it is expected that $1,500,000 will be appropriated for the Skagit.  This will be the first time that much has been done to stop erosion, which goes on at low water even more than during floods.

Erosion Control Proposed


It appears that the Congressman fell short of his desired amount of $1,500,000.  See 10/31/35 CT article.



flood expert here to see river farms concrete spillway to be built south of town

Inspection of all parts of Skagit county endangered by Skagit river floods or erosion is progressing, with Mr. Allen, the federal expert, to spend the next few days in this district as the guest of County Commissioner Hugo Bauman.  He has already inspected the other two districts in the county.  Bauman will take Allen to the various places along the river, such as Utopia, Hamilton, Lyman, Sterling and wherever the river is cutting into land or threatening to do so.  . . .  Commissioner Bauman announced that a spillway will be built at once, south of Sedro-Woolley, on the fill between here and the river bridge.  . . .  The plan is to surface the roadway with concrete and also to put concrete along the sides, and for five feet along the bottom, so flood waters cannot undermine the fill.

Concrete Spillway South of Sedro-Woolley


Although no proof has been located that this spillway was ever constructed it is believed that the location the Commissioner was talking about was located at the end of Township Street near the current Riverside Park, and would have served to allow floodwaters to flow into Beaty slough near the Weyerhaeuser mill.



drainage and road surveys to start here to be first wera job bauman reports; to work on river

The big drainage district project north of Sedro-Woolley and the completion of the Arlington road survey, have been approved by the state W.E.R.A. heads and will be the first work done in this district under the new relief work project plans, according to County Commissioner Hugo Bauman, who, with the other two commissioners, spend Tuesday in Olympia, conferring with state relief heads.  Approximately $19,000 will be required for the drainage system to be developed to drain a big area north of the city.

Drainage Projects Proposed


North of the City at that time would have been near the bottom of the Dukes Hill area.



this district to get aid in flood control -- $300,000 to be spent on river east of here, plan

Using figures prepared by the recent survey of the Skagit flood area by state experts, the county commissioners have filed a detailed description of the proposed work with the United States engineer in Seattle.  . . .  According to the report, some $160,000 would be spent on riprap work along the river at Mt. Vernon and the Riverside bend; on the Burlington bend, where the flood broke through east of that city, $75,000 is to be spent in riprap work to strengthen the banks.  In the vicinity of Sterling, some 4,000 feet of riprap at an estimated cost of $36,000 is provided for. 

Flood Control Projects Planned

$160,000 riprap Mt. Vernon

$36,000 riprap at Sterling

$130,000 riprap Skiyou[3]

$66,000 riprap Utopia

$63,000 work at Lyman

$25,000 work at Hamilton

$75,000 work at Burlington Bend



Big sum for skagit flood work, voted to spend $358,000 for river control; to start soon

According to word received from Congressman Mon Wallgren some $1,700,000 for flood control work in his district has been approved by federal works program officials and will be available in a short time.  Of this sum, $358,000 has been allocated for work in Skagit county.  . . .  A. G. Mosier, local engineer, was sent yesterday by the Sedro-Woolley Chamber of Commerce to confer with Col. H.J. Wild, United States district engineer in Seattle. . . Mosier was informed that the money would be spent at all points along the river, as recommended by the recent Skagit river survey, made for the state planning commission by government engineers. . . This report includes the Lyman and Burlington bends and other dangerous points on the upper river, and according to Mosier, these places will evidently be included in the work, rather than having all the sum expended on the lower river.

Money for Flood Control



Work proposed for Lyman and Burlington Bend area.



Flood control district wins countys vote entire election is now being contested by timberman

Local citizens showed their approval of flood control work in this district by a vote of 170 for the proposal and 84 against, when they visited the polls Tuesday.  The vote was light throughout the county, unofficial results showing 2,669 ballots cast out of a possible 12,754.  Because of court action being taken by the Sound Timber company and the Weyerhaeuser Timber company alleging that the election was null and void, the election board is temporarily prevented from canvassing the vote and certifying the returns to state officials.  . . .  Both companies own large tracts of timber in Skagit county which they claim are far above a possible overflow, yet were arbitrarily, capriciously and fraudulently included in the district.

Flood Control District Vote


There were 12,754 registered voters in Skagit County in 1935.  Only 2,669 of them voted in this election.


Weyerhaeuser and Sound Timber fled suit to invalidate the election and were ultimately successful in defeating the formation of the district.



work starts at dangerous river points wallgrenss $216,000 skagit river job under way

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.  . . .  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.  . . .  Some ten projects have been mapped out along the river between Burlington and Lyman . . . 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 damage.  . . .  One of the worst points on the river is the Burlington Bend . . . Another project calls for a long stretch of protective work above the Sedro-Woolley bend.  Then at the danger point at Burns Bar, above Sedro-Woolley.  Another bad place is the Reese farm, where the river has cut far into a new channel . . . Then at Ross Island, near Utopia . . . The river at this point is now more than a mile from its original channel and cutting more every year.  Another bad place is near the Christ Wolfe farm, where more revetment work will be done.

Sterling Bend Revetment Work



The C. Brider place is now owned by the Leonard Halverson family.


There used to be a bridge over Harts Slough.



Sloughs the article is referencing would be Gages (Burlington) and Beatey (Sedro-Woolley).



local expert says not much chance of bad skagit flood

In a recent article in the Seattle Star, James A. Stewart[4], hydraulic expert with the government, who worked for Skagit county after the big flood in 1932[5], states that ten inches of precipitation in 34 hours on the Skagit would cause a major catastrophe.  The 1932 flood had 11 inches of rainfall but was spread over four days.  Experts say this section is due for another major flood catastrophe like the flood of 1815, and that it should come within a century, which makes it 21 years overdue.  The Star article says:  Today a condition known as a trough exists on the Skagita section of the country which is as much be-dyked as Holland ever thought of being.  The trough, say City Light engineers, has resulted from a three-month deficiency in precipitation with a corresponding level in water run-off for the period.  The condition is such that should an extremely heavy precipitation come, a flood would be almost inevitable.  And if a flood should come, Stewarts report indicates that the communities of Hamilton, Lyman and Burlington would have to be vacated and the lower parts of Concrete, Sedro-Woolley and Mt. Vernon likewise.  Now that we have the flood all figured out, all we have to do is discover what the possibilities are of getting 10 inches of rainfall in 34 hours.  How can I tell?  How can anybody tell? demands Lawrence P. Fisher, head of Seattles U.S. weather bureau.  Experts are continually studying weather conditions and causes, but to say exactly what will happen in the future, is going a bit too far.  Harry Devin, Sedro-Woolley official government weather observer for some 40 years, had the following comments to make on the prospects for the weather said to be necessary for this disastrous flood:  As ten inches of rainfall is nearly double the average per month for the wet months at Sedro-Woolley for the last 40 years, the probability of having that amount in 34 hours, instead of two months, seems rather remote; unless our climate is to become tropical.  . . .  There never has been a major flood in the Skagit river caused by rain.  It has always required heavy snowfall in the mountains and a hot wind to melt it.  Skagit Jim asked the preacher who delivered a sermon on the flood, All rain?  No Chinook?  The preacher replied, Yes, it does not say there was any Chinook.  Heap lie, said Jim, and walked off.  Some data as to the floods of 1615 and 1715 would also be of interest in relation to the hundred-year flood cycles.

Rain and Floods

It appears that Mr. Stewart returned to the employ of USGS after he quit in 1923 to work for a power company back east.  (Source:  Stewart Forward or Introduction section to his 1923 Report, 1/27/43)  Worked for Skagit County.  Further suggest Skagit owns his study, not USGS.


10 inches of rain in 34 hours would cause major catastrophe.  In 1990 15.5 inches of rain fell at Reflector Bar (Diablo) in 4 days.  In 1921 10.2 inches fell at Reflector Bar.  (Sources:  Flood Summary Report, Nooksack, Skagit and Snohomish River Basins, November 1990 Events, Corps of Engineers, 7/18/91; (Stewart/Bodhaine Report, Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 1527, 1961)



Harry Devin, Sedro-Woolley official government weather observer.

10 inches in 34 hours rather remote.



It has now been proven that several floods on the Skagit have been caused by just rain.  Most recent October 2003.



wallgren reports congress more interested in floods

(By Hon. Mon C. Wallgren)

Last year the national flood control bill, which includes Washington state projects, was attached in the senate by Eastern members.  This year many of the same members, now recognizing the need for curtailing floods, want the first steps taken where the most recent floods have already occurred.  . . .  Floods should have taught these men that high waters can never be foretold and immediate need on other rivers may be evidenced at almost any time.  It is my belief that we should work out a plan where the Federal government would match money in a cooperative effort with the individual states.  A plan similar to the one now in effect with our road building program.

U.S. Congress Interested in Flood Control


Amazing that when disaster strikes close to home how important a solution is.

No women in the congress at this time.


Matching funds proposed.


Grocery Store ads

Coffee 25 cents a pound

HERE[6] is a good inflation calculator.



skagit gets huge river work fund

Congressman Mon Wallgren reported this week that he had been instrumental in obtaining an appropriation of $3,150,000 for building a spillway from Avon to Padilla Bay as a flood control project for Skagit county.  The bill now awaits the signature of President Roosevelt.  To get this money, it is stated that this county will have to contribute a big sum for right-of-way and damage to property.

Avon By-Pass Funding


A big sum would have been over a million dollars.



huge sums available here for flood control projects

(By Congressman Mon C. Wallgren)

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 to $3,411,000 for two projects instead of five million for five projects.  . . .  The bill allots $3,150,100 for the construction of the Avon-Padilla Bay cut-off on the Skagit river and $261,000 for channel and bank work on the Stillaguamish.  . . .  The 17 projects in five counties being carried out under the direction of the Corps of Engineers and WPA represent a real start toward meeting flood and erosion threats.  . . .  The needs for flood control are being recognized. 

Avon By-Pass Funding


Federal funds to build the Avon By-Pass were authorized by Congress.  What the Congressman didnt say was that local cost would have been over $1,000,000 in local funding which ultimately killed the project. (See 6/4/36 Argus article.)



work on river is progressing

Erosion prevention work on the Skagit River is progressing rapidly now, after some trouble with quicksand, Iner Nelson, engineer in charge, reports.  He now has a crew of 175 men at work on project #12, the big Burlington bend, and expects to be finished before the Burlington bend job was started, is in fine condition, with the willow trees growing all along the bank and making a strong protection.  . . .  The work encountered a lot of trouble a short time ago when the men struck a large quantity of quicksand.  Several hundred cords of brush and several hundred yards of material slid into the river. 

River Erosion Projects Progressing


Large amounts of quicksand found.  Sounds like they were digging into the volcanic lahar that underlies Burlington.



two big river bank projects are completed big crew of men moves to utopia; seen other jobs

The largest of the ten revetment jobs on the Skagit river, under the direction of the United States Engineers office and sponsored by Skagit county, will be completed this week.  This is the second job on the project finished this year, making a total of 7,900 feet of river bank protection.  The high banks on both the Sterling and Burlington bends required a greater expenditure of material and labor than is ordinarily found on river improvement projects.  The length of the Burlington bend job is 5,800 feet, built in a great semi-circle, and the sight, with the river at a low stage, is very impressive.  The brush mat extends a distance of approximately 80 feet from the top of the bank out into the river.  For those interested in river improvement, a trip to see the Sterling and Burlington job shows a very good growth of willows which were planted last spring.  The Burlington job is now being planted, much of the value of the revetment depending on the growth of the willows.  Operations have been transferred to Utopia, where the construction of a 4,200 foot job is in progress.

River Erosion Projects Completed


Ten revetment jobs. 


Sterling and Burlington Bends.



One has to wonder if they had to get permits to extend a rock revetment 80 feet from the top of the bank out into the river and how hard would it be to get them today.



No water for power; river is lowest in many years

This section is having the driest season it has known for many years.  H.L. Devin, official weather statistician, says that the Skagit river is the lowest he has ever seen it in the month of November for the past 47 years.  The water as low now as it ordinarily is most Februarys, when everything is frozen in the mountains.  The water in the Baker river dam at Concrete, which generates electricity for Sedro-Woolley, is 75 feet low, and for the last six weeks it has been necessary for Sedro-Woolley to get power from the Shuffleton plant on Lake Washington.  . . .  There has been only one-fifth as much rainfall as usual for this month.  Precipitation from November 1 to 24, inclusive, has been 1.34 inches, while the normal precipitation for this period is 6.74 inches.  October also was a dry month.  The rainfall was 1.06 inches as compared to the normal of 4.80 inches.  For the past month and three-quarters there has been only 2.4 inches of rainfall, while the normal for the same period would be 10.2 inches.

Drought Conditions


H.L. Devinofficial weather statistician.


Water behind Lower Baker dam 75 feet low.



Normal November rain 6.74 inches.  Normal October rainfall 4.8 inches.



Advises Sauk River Control

At last weeks conference on Skagit flood control problems held with U.S. army engineers, A. G. Mosier, prominent local civil engineer, submitted a report advising the construction of a reservoir at the Sauk river, rather than a huge spillway plan, which army men had recommended. Having an experience of 47 years with the actions of the Skagit river, it is my belief that channel control, or bank erosion control, is the most important element of the situation, said Mosier. The relief for surface drainage is also urgent. That flood control begins at the source and not at the mouth of a stream is common sense. Now that the Seattle project insures the building of the Ruby Creek dam, which insure 26 percent control of most floods, and with the enforcement of the operation of the Baker River dam for a reserve reservoir to handle emergency run off from that region, my contention that all floods could be controlled if a flood reservoir were built on the Sauk river. The estimate for such a dam given out by the U.S. engineers office, is $5,700,000, only about one million more than the Avon Cut Off, which, in my opinion, would be entirely unnecessary were this reservoir dam built.

Sauk River Dam Proposal


Common sense proposal. 



and with the enforcement of the operation of the Baker River dam for a reserve reservoir to handle emergency run off from that region


All floods could be controlled if dam on Sauk allowed.   This is the same river that carried 3 volcanic lahars to the lower valley from Glacier Peak.  There will never be a dam built on the Sauk.



$23,000 ditch here, finished by wpa work drains 3,200 acres north of this city; big help to local farmers

This week brings to completion of the Sedro-Woolley ditch project, reports zone engineer A. E. Hoopes to Leslie A. Lechner, Works Progress administrator of District No. 3. This project was made necessary due to the fact that the banks of the Skagit river are higher than the adjoining land, and water standing in the fields until late in the season makes early spring planting impossible one more than 3,200 acres of farm land.  . . .  The drainage project, sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce, cost approximately $23,000 to complete and includes six and one-half miles of ditches. The drainage system starts at a point northeast of town and about a quarter of a mile from the Northern State hospital property and extends west and south, finally having its outlet in the Skagit river, two and a half miles west of Sedro-Woolley, near Sterling.

3,200 Acre Drainage Project


6   miles of ditches.



Sounds like the ditches ended up in Brickyard Creek.



skagit flood work will continue project assured for five months more, nelson says

Work on the big Skagit river flood control project will not be stopped, according to Iner C. Nelson, engineer in charge of this important work. He has received word from WPA headquarters that the project can continue at least four or five weeks, with the county commissioners paying their promised share of five per cent of the cost. When the original project was set up, on an appropriation of $216,000, largely through the efforts of Congressman Mon Wallgren, the county commissioners pledged themselves five per cent of the total cost. Up to the present time they have paid in some $5,000 on emergency appropriations, leaving about $5,800 of the original pledge still unpaid.  . . .  A crew of one hundred men is at work near Burns bar near Sedro-Woolley and is preparing to start work at Lyman in the near future.

Erosion Control Project To Continue


County still owed over $5,000.



skagit flood control work is unfinished up river projects need additional funds for completion

. . .  Those in charge of the $216,000 project estimate that to complete the original plans will take at least $100,000 more. As explained previously, the shortage in funds is not due to unit costs being greater than the original estimates, but that changing conditions of the river, made each job of the project cover a longer stretch of river bank than the original plans called for. Immediate action obtaining the additional funds is most desirable at this time as the present appropriation will be used up by February with a large part of the originally planned work unfinished. Engineers recommend trying to get a supplemental WPA project, which can be approved in a few weeks. Contribution of some funds by the county is necessary. Of the original project some 50,000 square yards of the brush mat revetment work remains to be done between Mount Vernon and Hamilton.

Erosion Control Projects Finished


Another $100,000 needed.  Changing river conditions to blame for cost overrun. 




County still owes money.



wallgren praises skagit river work congressman , honored guest at dinner of lions rotarians and chamber of commerce; favors flood control; fine meeting

. . .  Wallgren told the meeting that he was much pleased with the flood control and river bank erosion work being carried on along the upper Skagit river under the $216,000 WPA project, and favored enlarging the project to complete needed bank protection, before any money is spent in dredging the mouth of the river. He said he could see no sense in spending a huge sum dredging the lower part of the river so long as land and silt is washed down in huge quantities to fill the lower river as rapidly as it is dredged. When the river banks are all protected, is the time to talk about a big appropriation for dredging the mouth of river, he said. The river bank protection, clearing the river of snags, diking and dredging should all be part of the task of making the Skagit river safe from flood and land destruction.

Congressman Wanted To Enlarge Erosion Control Projects


Favored river erosion control work before any dredging of the mouth of the river.



need more wpa funds in skagit river erosion work

The work of protecting the Skagit river banks from erosion will stop before it is much more than half completed, unless additional WPA funds are obtained, Iner Nelson, U.S. engineer in charge of this huge project for the past two years, told Congressman Mon Wallgren and some eighty Sedro-Woolley men at the Wallgren dinner here Tuesday evening. 

3  Miles of river bank have been protected from Burlington to Utopia.



harry devin gives sketch of sedro-woolley history editorial

I have been asked to sketch briefly, for the younger members, why the city was located here, the origin of its name, what supported it in its early days, now, and the prospect for the future. Several factors contributed to its location at this point, but the principal one was the bitter fight between Seattle and Tacoma over the location of the terminus of the Northern Pacific Railway.  . . .  Kelly believed that where the railroad crossed the Skagit river would be a good location for a town, as at the time the Skagit river was the only means of transportation for a large portion of the county.  . . .  Choose Sedro As Name As a name for his town he took Sedro, the name of a post office already established on the bank of the Skagit, half a mile from Jamesons land. The post office had been located by Mortimer Cook, some three years before. Cook was a typical frontiersman who had had a varied and adventurous career; a Mexican war veteran, he joined the rush to California when discharged, mined, tried stock raising, storekeeping, and organized the first bank in Southern California, opening the First National Bank of Santa Barbara in 1871 and being its first president.  . . .  In 1884 he came to Skagit county with a modest stake and believing that the completion of the Northern Pacific railroad would open a market for Puget Sound lumber in the prairie states he bought considerable timber land on the Skagit, and 34 acres on the bank for a landing, at the upper end of Bateys Slough, where the city dump is now located.  . . .  In 1886 he wanted a post office and applied for one, asking that it be named Cedra, the Spanish word for cedar, but the department refused the name, having several Cedras already, so Cook changed the first and last letters, making Sedro, which the department accepted and appointed Cook postmaster.  . . .  Woolley Plats Town In 1890, P. A. Woolley platted 80 acres adjoining the plat of Sedro on the north and called it Woolley, the Hub of Skagit County. All three lines of railroad were being rushed to completion at the same time and Sedro was the supply point and pay station for them all, giving the town a flying start.  . . .  There was bitter rivalry between the two towns of Sedro and Woolley for several years, and in 1896 the Twin City Business League was organized to try to get the business men of the two towns to work together for the common good. It was successful, and after a couple of years the two towns united under the compound name of Sedro-Woolley, neither being willing to give up its name, and the Twin City Business became the Commercial Club, later changing to the Chamber of Commerce.  

Sedro-Woolley History


Two towns.  Sedro was name of post office which was changed from requested name of Cedra, Spanish for Cedar. 


Woolley was named after P.A. Woollley who first platted town.  Known as The Hub of Skagit County.  Clearly, Burlington stole this label.  



river work passes high water test engineers pleased with failure of flood to damage

The brush mat revetments along the Skagit river bank had their first real test last week, when the river rose fourteen and one half feet in less than twenty-four hours, after a night and a day of hard rain and warm winds in the hills. Iner Nelson, U.S. Army engineer in charge of the river bank protection projects, reported that all completed jobs were undamaged. The river at the N.P. bridge here rose twelve feet in twelve hours during the night of October 26 and the day of October 27, rising to a point within six feet of the 1935 spring flood stage. At present the river is back to within four feet of extreme low.  . . .  Below Sterling and above Burlington, for the first time, there was no land washed away, due to the perfect protection afforded by the thousand of feet of brush and concrete pavements.  . . .  Engineers estimate that without the work already done, at least 200,000 cubic yards of Skagit county land would have been washed into the river, from the points now protected. 



USGS 89,600 cfs Concrete (32.16), no figures for lower river.  This would have been comparable to the February 9, 1996 flood which produced 81,800 cfs at Mt. Vernon or 29.27 ft on the gage.


Flood was about 1 foot over flood stage.  Very small flood to be judging the effectiveness of the erosion control projects.



plan new $200,000 skagit flood work --county board confers with u.s. engineer; agrees to sponsor project; john mason heads new flood control group

Promise of a new $200,000 Skagit flood control program to supplement the river bank revetment work, for which funds are now exhausted, was given by the Skagit county commissioners this week after a conference with Captain Trudeau, U.S. army engineer in charge of flood control work in this district.  Details of the new program will be worked out through the new Skagit Flood Control Association of which Chairman John Mason of the county commissioners is president.  According to tentative plans for the new Skagit flood control project to be sponsored by the county, all parts of the river will be included, with a couple of projects for the Day Creek district, the big project at Conway, one at Sterling, at Hamilton, Utopia and other danger spots on the river, which the crew of men under the present appropriation, were unable to complete.

New Flood Control Committee


Chairman of new committee was County Commissioner.  Dredging and snag work proposed.  Upriver and downriver farmers to work together.



editorial new flood control work

With the Skagit county commissioners agreeing to sponsor a new flood control program for the Skagit river to supplement the work already done, and the organization of a new county association to coordinate all bank protection, dredging and snag work in one flood control program, some real progress was made this week.  John Mason, chairman of the board of county commissioners, is president of the new flood control group, and deserves much credit for forming the new organization.  All the upper river communities have joined and will work to help get the lower river dredged, as part of the flood control program, which will be presented by Mason, in detail at a meeting to be held soon.

Editor Approves of New Committee


Everyone will work together.



editorial skagit flood work

Under the direction of John Mason, chairman of the county commissioners, plans are progressing for a comprehensive program for the Skagit river to include completion of river bank protection work, dredging and snagging, and other work needed to make the Skagit less dangerous both as a source of damaging floods and as a constant menace to farmland by erosion.  United States army engineers are preparing a detailed project to include the entire river, and it will not be long before a river project larger than the former one will be set up, with government funds, backed by the county, to complete the bank protection work at Utopia, Day Creek, Conway and other dangerous points left unfinished when the funds were exhausted this month, and work was transferred to the Samish river.  The county officials deserve the thanks of the entire county for agreeing to carry on this most important work, which will be of untold value to the entire county, and is the first constructive work done in this district to try to save the huge loss to rich Skagit farmlands, and to make the lower part of the Skagit deeper for navigation.

Flood Control Progressing


Relying on Corps for a new study.



log rafts do much damage to revetment -- action must be taken to protect bush bank work

Damage estimated at $10,000 has already been done to the revetment work along the Skagit river by the log rafts which are being towed down the river.  The rafts have already ripped out some three hundred feet of revetment at Utopia, which if not repaired before the next freshet, will cause a lot more damage.  . . .  Carr said today that something must be done to stop this, or huge damage would be caused to the revetment.  His idea is to drive dolphins at each of the sharp curves where the log rafts threaten to swing into the river bank, and to fasten sheer booms to these dolphins, to keep the rafts from striking the revetment.  The first question to determine is whether the state, county, federal government or loggers should pay for the considerable expense which will be incurred in installing these booms.  Carr hopes to work out this problem in the near future, because immediate action is necessary if many more thousands of dollars damage is not caused.

Log Rafts Damaging River Banks


Rafts ripped out 300 feet of revetment at Utopia.



Needed to determine if state, county, federal government or loggers should pay for damage and new protective works.



river gouging more land east of city farmer reports acres of woodland, soil eroded by skagit

. . .  W. H. Merchant, who owns 117 acres along the river, said the river is eroding his property at a rapid rate. He lost about 50 acres during the last year, the farmer declared. At present the rivers erosion has slowed down, he said, but that the sudden change in the course of the river has produced a condition similar to that near Burlington Bend.  . . .  Merchant related that the river now turns northward opposite a log dump on the south side of the river. The river is cutting its way toward Skiyou slough and eventually could reach Hansen Creek which is too small to handle them. The farmer said that the logging firm which owns land adjacent to his has lost many acres of timberland by the rivers sudden change of course. He surmised that the river is being forced to take an unnatural channel. Merchant has not yet contacted the transportation tugboat firm operation at the log dump opposite the turn in the river.

Erosion Problems


River changing course near Skiyou Slough and could reach Hansen Creek.  Log dump on Southside of river blamed as cause.



new $400,000 skagit flood project, o.k.  --  president approves big appropriation for this county

A federal allotment of $334,425 for a new Skagit river flood control project, was approved yesterday by President Roosevelt and now goes to the state WPA administrator for final approval.  With the countys share of some $60,000, this means an additional $400,000 will be spent on river bank revetment work on the Skagit River, between Rockport and mouth of the river.  Already approximately $250,000 has been spent on the Skagit and the new appropriation should make it possible to strengthen the banks along the entire river, according to Iner Nelson, who has been general superintendent of the work since its start.

President Roosevelt Approves Grant For Flood Control


$60,000 matching funds needed by County.  Cost would ultimately prove downfall of project.



Commencement of $420,000 Skagit Flood Work, Delayed

The Sedro-Woolley Chamber of Commerce is making every effort to speed up the starting of the new $420,000 Skagit river flood control project, which has been postponed by the WPA, due to failure of the county commissioners to purchase the new dragline which was promised the U.S. war department engineers in charge of the project.  . . .  The county commissioners state that the Utopia project should never have been left by the engineers without construction of a wing dam to protect it from the logs.  They say the logging companies were willing to furnish the logs for the piling and the booms to be used to protect the work, as it is protected below Sterling and at other dangerous points in the river.  The board members state that it is difficult to find money with which to buy the new dragline.

Flood Control Work Postponed


County couldnt afford purchase of new dragline.



Editorial The River Situation

The federal government has already spent more than a quarter million dollars on revetment work on the river banks to protect them from erosion, and save valuable farmland from being washed down the river, and is prepared to spend another $420,000 in the same work.  But unless something is done to hold the log towing companies responsible for damage done to this work, a large part of it will be wasted.  At Utopia, some five hundred feet of the revetment has been eaten away because tows of logs were allowed to swing into the river bank, breaking the steel cables that held the brush mats in place.  The farmers who thought they had finally obtained protection, are now threatened with destruction of their farms.  . . .  The county officials should take a little more interest in maintaining this quarter of a million dollars work on danger spots on the river, and should delay no longer in the purchase of a $10,000 dragline which will automatically result in another $420,000 in WPA funds being spent immediately in Skagit river bank work.

Log Towing Companies Must Be Held Responsible


500 feet of revetment work at Utopia destroyed by log rafts.


County should maintain the $250,000 investment and purchase $10,000 dragline.



county chamber hears about $750,000 wpa river project

. . . some $260,000 has been spent in revetment work on the Skagit river under the first project which started in December, 1935; most of this work has stood up well under all kinds of conditions; there are a few places, such as Utopia, where engineers claim log tows have started damage which has resulted in considerable under-mining of the work; some means of financing maintenance of the work must be provided and a new $420,000 WPA project, all ready to start now, to place more revetments all along the Skagit river, will commence as soon as the county commissioners can agree with the government engineers on the matter of a new drag line.  Nelson said that the county was expected to maintain the work after it was completed, but County Commissioner John Mason stated that the county had no funds for maintenance.  . . .  Several farmers joined Mason in telling of the big cost of maintaining dikes along the lower river, paid by a district tax on the farmers.  They claimed that it would be unfair for the county to pay for maintenance of the revetment work, since they had paid for their diking by a special tax on the farms.  G. Knutzen of Burlington stated that he considered the maintenance of the river banks was a county problem and not something that the upper river should be forced to finance. 

More Revetment Work Proposed


$260,000 already spent.  Revetment work began in December 1935. $420,000 additional work proposed, however, maintenance on first projects needed first.


County was expected to maintain work already completed and had not done so.  Lower dike districts did not want to pay for it.



plan big district to control river utopia farmers start move to finance maintenance of river revetment work; county board will then start $420,000 wpa job

A big flood control district may be formed from Burlington to Marblemount, to raise funds for maintaining the revetment work done by the WPA project on Skagit river banks.  . . .  All three commissioners explained that under the 40 mill limit the county had no funds for maintenance.  Goodyear said that if the river broke through and went into Minkler lake that it would cut across the valley to the north and cut a new channel to salt water.  The board said the new project would start at this danger spot.  . . .  The big damage done at Utopia would never have resulted had the commissioners repaired the break when first reported.  The commissioners have agreed to install a log boom along the entire revetment work on the river to try to protect it from the log tows, which have damaged it in many places, according to farmers who have seen many cables in the revetment broken.

Maintenance District Proposed


The eastern boundary was Hamilton not Marblemount (See 2/16/39 CT article.)


40 mill limit kept County form using general funds for maintenance.



Damage to revetments being caused by log tows.



help control erosion (editorial)

Backed by the Sedro-Woolley Chamber of Commerce, the farmers of Utopia have become roused to the necessity of immediate action to protect their farms from being washed into the river, and are really getting action.  . . .  There is no sense in spending three quarters of a million dollars in brush, concrete and steel cables and revetment work along the Skagit river banks to protect farmland, and then not have a few thousand dollars a year available to keep a crew busy inspecting and repairing damages and doing general maintenance work.

Editor Urged Formation of District


No sense in spending $750,000 without maintenance. 



flood control plans will be made Saturday mass meeting of farm owners at city hall here

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.  . . .  Fink and Lars Langlow, engineer in charge of the flood control of the state, told the committee that Mount Vernon was a death trap, with the river at a higher level than the surrounding land, because of the river 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.

Mount Vernon A Deathtrap


It appears that State government was trying to scare local residents into forming the maintenance district.  River is only at a higher level then surrounding lands during flood events which is attributable to levees and tides and not siltation.



farmers mass meeting (editorial)

. . .  Government engineers have pointed out the dangers to the entire county if farmland keeps washing down the Skagit river, and action by the farmers to form a district for raising a small tax for maintenance of the WPA revetment work will mean the immediate expenditure of $425,000 on new bank protection work on every danger point on the river.  . . .  Plans for protecting the river banks from damage by log tows are being worked out, as the county has offered to put in log booms.

Maintenance District Formation Urged


Maintenance needed to due damage by log tows.



petitions for flood control district ready board will be asked to start new project on river

Petitions for the formation of a Skagit river bank revetment maintenance district, were circulated this week . . . As prepared by Attorney A.H. Ward . . . limits the amount of money which can be assessed at 2 mils, except for a special vote of the district voters, and even then it cannot exceed 5 mills.  . . .  The proposed district has its east boundary, the east city limits of Hamilton, and extends west through Burlington to the Pacific highway (Burlington Blvd.)  Skagit River is south boundary.  Foot of the hills to the north is northern boundary.  . . .  The Utopia farmers whose land is being threatened, believe that if some immediate action is not taken, at Utopia and east of there, that there is danger the river will go into Minkler lake, from which it might go through Sedro-Woolley and Burlington, or in a new channel next to the hills to the north.  State engineers have said that the river formerly flowed in the Samish river channel, after running along the foot of Dukes Hill.

Petitions for Revetment Maintenance District

Would have cost farmers 10 cents per acre.


Would have raised $10,000 a year for maintenance of revetments.


Fears were that Skagit would return to old channel and flow towards the Samish.  Strong evidence that is where it used to flow.  (Source:  Prehistoric Settlement Changes In the Southern Northwest Coast, A functional Approach, Gail Thompson, 1978)



skagit flood control work is inspected state and u.s. engineers look over 22,400 ft. of revetments

In reply to a petition filed with the state conservation department some time ago, requesting a flood control district for this part of the Skagit river, state and federal engineers spent two days the first of the week, carefully inspecting the 4.2 miles of revetment work which has been finished.  . . .  After the inspection, they stated that the revetment had done all that was expected of it, and that before any more revetment work was done that it would be necessary to provide for maintenance and to prevent log tows from causing the great damage to the brush mats and cables.  A group of farmers, representing signers to a petition opposing the formation of a flood control district, recently conferred with Langlee at Olympia.    . . .  The apparent willingness of the more level-headed farmers to discuss the matter, indicates that it may be brought to a head in the near future.  If more WPA projects are dripped, the probability that the $420,000 available for additional river work will be a lifesaver for this part of the county, from a relief standpoint alone, if the opposing group does not delay action long enough to cause this appropriation to revert to the government for use in some other state.

State Inspects River Erosion Control Projects


State demands Skagit County perform maintenance on existing projects before any more money spent on additional projects.  County Commissioners refused to pay for maintenance and instead opted to form flood control maintenance district.


Log rafts blamed for damage to riverbanks.



state turns down proposal for skagit flood district

All the fighting between the two groups of farmers in this section over the proposed organizing of a flood control district, at the request of the county commissioners, is now over, as the state attorney general has ruled that such a proposed district cannot be formed.  This leaves the Skagit river bank protection project where it was when the argument started.  The quarter of a million dollars already spent by the WPA on the river banks in revetment work, will be wasted in many places, as the county commissioners refuse to maintain the work, although the government claims they agreed to do so.  As a result, the revetment has been broken down in many places along the river bank, and in most cases, according to the government engineers, the damage has been caused by tows of logs hitting and breaking off the cables.  . . .  The attorney general ruled that such a district would come under the 40-mill limit law, which makes its formation prohibitive.  The proposed district, if organized under the 1937 law, would be approved by the state, but would have no limit to the local improvement tax which would be levied on all property in the district.

Attorney General Says No To Formation Of Skagit Flood Control District


$250,000 already spent was wasted money.


Revetment work destroyed by log rafts towed down the Skagit.


AG says district would have put Skagit taxing authority over the limit.



Local farmers didnt want alternative district as it would have had unlimited taxing authority.



petition for skagit flood control district refused

Petition for a flood district in the upper Skagit, to help maintain revetment work, was refused by J. B. Fink, head of the state department of conservation and development, in an opinion given to the petitioners this week.  Fink recommended a district be formed under the 1937 state law which provides no limit to the tax which could be levied.  The petition asked for a district under the 1935 act, which fixed the limit of the tax at 2 mills.  The decision and action taken by a large number of farmers in the district again brings the matter of flood control to a standstill.  . . .  This petition was thereupon by the director referred to the flood control engineer of his department for preliminary investigation and report.  The investigations have now been completed and the report rendered and placed among the records of the department.  Said report and other available and pertinent data and information are made the basis for the following:  . . .  3.  The average annual cost of maintaining the flood control works, while not immediately ascertainable, is estimated to be well within the probable average annual amount of damages sustained by property within the proposed district, and the assumption of such cost by the benefited property would, therefore, be justified.  . . .  7.  The two mill levy is deemed inadequate for district purposes, especially during the first several years of district operations.  A five mill levy is estimated to be adequate, but since it is dependent upon a year-by-year favorable vote, it is not a safe basis for a districts financial program.  8.  According to the written opinion of the attorney general, a flood control district, organized under the provisions of Chapter 160, Laws of 1939.  On the basis of this ruling such a district may to all intents and purposes be deprived of the taxing privilege purportedly granted by the act under which it is organized, and may, therefore, be impotent.  . . .  In the opinion of the director, the organization of the district is, therefore, not justified and the petition is hereby dismissed.

Flood Control District Rejected




Flood control efforts brought to a standstill.




The law under which it was proposed to organize the district as well as the general taxing laws of the state appeared to preclude the levy of sufficient taxes to enable the district to exercise the functions for which it would have been created.



harry l. devin is citys historian and weather man

Harry L. Devin, born in Ottumwa, Ohio, June 16, 1862, came to Sedro in 1889 on a visit and liked the locale so well that the following year he brought his family here an established his home.  . . .  Mr. Devin has had a major part in every important development that has taken place in Sedro-Woolley since its founding and his reference library is the haven of every person wishing facts or figures pertaining to Sedro-Woolley.  In addition, he is the citys weatherman.  He has been official weather recorder here since July 1, 1896, and has a forty-three year record of faithful service.

Harry L. Devin


Sedro-Woolleys official weather recorder since July 1, 1896.



big skagit river project abandoned  --  office here closes after almost four years; over $400,000 unspent; failure to maintain work means most of $260,000 to be wasted

On August 25, unless something unforeseen occurs, the Skagit river bank erosion project engineers office maintained in Sedro-Woolley by the WPA since December, 1935, will be closed, and the $418,000 appropriated for additional work on the Skagit, will never be spent.  Iner Nelson, superintendent of the river work, since its beginning in 1935, has already turned in most of his equipment.  . . .  The sum of $418,000 which was appropriated for continuing the work of protecting farms from erosion by the Skagit river, could not be spent because the county commissioners refused to provide equipment they had promised the WPA, and the majority of the farmers fought the plan suggested by the county commissioners, to provide maintenance funds.  The county, in agreeing to the big project, had agreed to finance maintenance, according to WPA authorities, but the county commissioners claimed they had no funds available.  The resulting deadlock has caused the abandonment of further flood control work on the Skagit, and the loss of the $418,000 for which the Sedro-Woolley Chamber of Commerce and Congressman Wallgren worked for months.  The original appropriation of $260,000 was spent in three years of building over four miles of revetments on the Skagit between Lyman and Burlington, at the most dangerous points.  The failure of the county to care for the maintenance of these revetments or to prevent damage by low tows has already resulted in loss of much of this work and will cause eventually its almost total loss, according to WPA engineers.  . . .  Lars Langloe, flood control engineer for the state, made the following statements in his report following an inspection of the work which was done: There is every possibility that reconstruction of these revetments which have failed would be eligible for reconstruction by the WPA and certainly would be included as part of any eventual federal flood control project under the flood control act.  Of the works already constructed about 2,200 feet or 10 percent has been destroyed and requires 100 percent reconstruction at a probable cost of about $27,000.  Lesser portions of the works have sustained some damages which may be repaired at comparatively small expense.  An undetermined percentage of the bank revetments require supplemental planting of willows where the original plantings, for various reasons, failed to grow.

Maintenance Cost  . . .  On the Skagit most, if not all, of the damage has been caused by log rafts and unless some measure is taken to compel tug boat companies to keep rafts from tearing out mats and fascines further construction of revetments, whether they be made of brush or rock is a waste of money.  It is believed that under our statutes (Rem. Rev. Stat. Sec. 1182) tug boat companies can be held responsible for any damage they do.

Skagit County Leaves Money On The Table For Erosion Control



WPA office to close.


$418,000 not spent because County Commissioners refused to provide equipment to WPA as promised and had not provided maintenance of previous completed projects.




Log tows (rafts) reportedly was what damaged flood erosion control projects.




















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Bacon 19 cents a pound

HERE[7] is a good inflation calculator.



new flood control project may start -- chamber of commerce works to get $420,000 project for skagit river; captain trudeau and commissioners talk at busy session

A final effort to have the $420,000 W. P. A. appropriation spent on Skagit river bank projection work, was made at the Sedro-Woolley Chamber of Commerce meeting here Thursday evening.

Skagit County Tries To Save Flood Erosion Control Money



skagit flood control work discontinued  --  efforts to set up new project blocked by lack of money

Efforts to get work started on the new $420,000 Skagit river revetment work project, were blocked this week, when the WPA submitted complete figures for the project which demanded that the county pay some $90,000 as its share of the cost.  This makes it impossible for the county to undertake the project, the commissioners stated Monday.  . . .  Instead of having the WPA furnish the cable, powder, cement and other material, as was done on the other Skagit river revetment project on which $260,000 was spent, the new setup called for the county to spend $29,500 for these materials, and to pay over $6,000 for labor, besides furnishing some $53,000 worth of equipment, necessitating the expenditure of some $40,000 in cash, the commissioners stated.  . . .  The raising of the cash outlay required of the county on an entirely different basis from the first project, has made any immediate start on the new project impossible, the commissioners stated today.

WPA Kills Erosion Control Projects With Cost Sharing Demands


County required to pay $90,000.


County couldnt afford it and projects were at a standstill.



wallgren urges starting of skagit river flood project


Congressman Mon Wallgren, who was instrumental in getting the Skagit River flood control appropriations, hopes that arrangements can be made with the WPA to continue the work under the new $420,000 appropriation.  When asked for his co-operation, he made the following statementA number of people have written me recently urging an immediate start of the new $418,000 flood control project on the Skagit River.  While I have informed these people that continuation of the project depends upon the ability of the county to maintain the revetment work when it is completed, I do hope that the WPA is making every effort to reach an agreement with the Skagit County officials.  . . .  Agreements must be made to protect those investments before additional money is expended but I hope the federal agencies will miss no opportunity to see that proper arrangements are made.

Congressman Tells County They Need To Enter Into Maintenance Agreements With WPA.


Continuation of projects hinged on maintenance of existing projects.



Skagit River Damages Farm Lands and Roads at Utopia

Flood control conditions on the Skagit river are rapidly reaching the emergency state and immediate action is necessary to save thousands of acres of valuable farm land.  During the past week or two, conditions in the Utopia district have rapidly become worse, with many acres of fine farmland, being washed down stream.  . . .  The road has been washed out again, and the river is cutting into the north bank more rapidly than ever.  The farmers blame the logging operators and tow boats for this increased destruction.  They say that the log raft, tied across the river, has caused the channel to swing to the north and that the log tows are constantly snagging on the banks and helping undermine them.  The farmers also claim that a little more work on the bar, would form a channel and relieve the pressure on the north bank, where their farms are located.  They also claim that a little work by the snag boat would go a long way to helping the present emergency, but the new snag boat is too big to be able to come up the river.  They wonder just what it is for, except to provide a nice home for the crew.  The county commissioners will do nothing to save the land, stating the problem is too great for them, and the U.S. army engineers, have promised to investigate, as they have been doing for forty years.  . . .  The farmers who see their entire life work, washing down stream, with the prospect of losing their homes, are getting desperate, and are demanding something more than a federal investigation and survey.  . . .  County Commissioner E.C. Carrand and an officer of the snag boat visited the Utopia district yesterday.  They told the farmers that nothing could be done by the snag boat, which could not get up the river, but advised them to take action, although they could not be officially given permission to do so.  The logging operators were instructed to remove their raft of logs.

Logging Interest Blamed For Erosion Of River Banks


Thousands of acres threatened.



Log raft tied on south bank caused river current to swing to the north.




County Commissioners say problem too big for them.



Nothing could be done by the snag boat.



u.s. survey to be made here of skagit water resources

A systematic study of the streams of Skagit county, to determine flow and volume of water, is to be made by the United States survey crew at once, following discussion at a recent meeting of the county planning council.  . . .  According to estimates, the cost of a complete survey of all rivers and streams will be about $12,000.

Another Study



river at door of ninth utopia home  --  state and county fail to maintain revetments; skagit cuts 200 feet in few weeks; more homes in danger

Three or four more days and another Utopia home will be in the Skagit river because neither the county nor the state could see to furnishing a comparatively small maintenance fund for the revetments put along the river by the federal government a few years back at the cost of many hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The home of George Betschart just behind the Utopia school is being moved today as the river has already cut into the front yard, slicing off more than 200 feet of land in the last two or three weeks and now only a few feet short of the front porch.  . . .  Ninth Home to Move -- The Betschart home is the ninth home in the past twenty years or less that has had to be either moved or torn down in the path of the Skagit in the two bends in that area.  Six silos, two of concrete, as well as many barns and other buildings have had to be transported out of the waters path.  An estimated 250 or 300 acres of cleared land have been carried down the river in that period from that area.  . . .    In the late 1930s the federal government allotted hundreds of thousands of dollars for revetments along the Skagit, the largest river in the State of Washington next to the Columbia, to keep it in its proper bed.  A comparatively small sum of $10,000 a year was asked from either the county or state for a maintenance fund to keep the revetments up.  This was not obtained, and, as a result, the river is this week taking its ninth home in the Utopia area alone.  Lacked Support -- The government had more funds available for additional revetments but would not donate them unless the state or county could supply a small maintenance fund.  It was not done.  . . .  There is also the danger that should the river cut through at one other point, which is not at all unlikely, the city of Sedro-Woolley will have the second largest river in the State of Washington flowing through its main streets.

Erosion On Skagit Continues In Utopia Area


8 homes already moved from edge of river.  9th home threatened.  County and state blamed for not providing maintenance funds of previous erosion control projects.




250 to 300 acres eroded in last 20 years.








Perceived danger was that Skagit would cut through and flow into Sedro-Woolley.



soil engineers hope to get relief for utopia erosion

Soil Conservation Service officials, county and state men yesterday studied in detail the erosion problems on the Skagit river between Mount Vernon and the Lyman ferry.  . . .  First, a short range emergency program at three critical spots on the river, the Utopia bend, at the bend below Utopia at what was the old Buchanan farm and at the head of Skiyou Slough on the present Reece farm.  Second, a longer range master plan for coordinated improvement as new critical areas develop.  Such a critical area seems to be developing on the last bend of the river before it enters the straight stretch towards the Sedro-Woolley bridge.  Here it might prove expedient to change the course of the river back into what is now called Deadmans slough.  . . .  Alarming erosion was noted continuously on one side of the river or the other with few exceptions all the way from the Great Northern bridge to Lyman.  Of the brush revetment installed five years ago only the job at Lyman has proven itself.  A revetment at Utopia has been abandon by the river while all the other jobs have been undermined along the toe and have completely disintegrated or are beyond repair.  . . .  It is a well known fact that the upriver erosion which seems critical only to the farmers living on the immediate bank of the river is the cause of excessive siltation on the lower stretches of the river where the expensive dikes may soon have to be raised.

SCS Recommends Emergency Plan For Skiyou, and Utopia



SCS floated the idea of changing the channel of the Skagit back into Deadmans Slough (was on left bank of river near Day Creek.  Now part of main river channel.)


Erosion from Sedro-Woolley bridge to Lyman. 


All WPA work destroyed except at Lyman.



soil district favors aid on river erosion -- local farmers to ask for county help program needed

The Skagit Soil District supervisors at their regular monthly meeting last Saturday approved participation by the district in the river erosion control program being developed for the Lyman-Sedro-Woolley stretch of river.  Supervisor Fred Martin, chairman of the district supervisors, insisted that the soil districts participation hinge upon a long term agreement for continuous control of the river.  Supervisor Fred Martin, chairman of the district supervisors, insisted that the soil districts participation hinge upon a long term agreement for continuous control of the river as new problem areas develop in the years to come and for maintenance of work done already.  Mr. Martin felt that the soil conservation district should not rush into this emergency and correct the Utopia-Skiyou Slough danger spots only to have the money wasted by lack of long term maintenance.  Grover Duvall, supervisor, stated that if the river is allowed to go through the new Wiseman creek course it is now developing, down stream siltation may become an immediate serious problem to the farmers on the flats.  Mr. Duvall cited from his own observations the effect of the cut through the Sterling bend some years back.  First, he noticed that the river at his farm suddenly started to cut a deeper channel as the speed of the water increased.  The water table on his farm dropped sharply with the result that he had to lower his well pumps six feet all over the farm.  Mr. Duvalls second observation was that the river at this same time developed the present gravel and silt bar between the Great Northern and Mount Vernon-Riverside bridge.  If the river up-stream is allowed to cut a new channel between the Buchanan and Reece farm down Wiseman creek the diking districts on the flats and navigation interests may be immediately affected.

SCS Wanted Long-Term Agreement For Continuous Control Of The River


SCS participation hinged on long-term agreement for maintenance of erosion control projects.






Sterling farmer noticed that river cut deeper channel after Skagit cut-off Sterling Bend (which we now know was helped along with dynamite in 1911).  Water table at Sterling dropped at least 6 feet.



soil experts to rush work on river here -- u.s. army cooperating to speed erosion prevention

Fred Martin, chairman of the soil conservation district supervisors, announced yesterday that the U.S. Army engineers were cooperating in the erosion-siltation control project now being set up by the Soil Conservation District.  Mr. Martin received data sheets and maps from previous surveys by the engineers in Hamilton-Sedro-Woolley sector of the Skagit River.  In their letter the army engineers made it clear that before any construction work is done on the river, the Soil Conservation District must file with the army engineers complete engineering plans for channel changes or any bank revetment work.  The army is concerned with impediments that might be a hazard to up stream navigation.  . . .  The construction in the three critical points, Utopia school, Wiseman creek and the head of Skiyou slough, will then go forward as county financing of the project is cleared up and army engineers approval is secured on the proposals.

Corps Wanted Plans For Proposed Erosion Control Work


Work near the Utopia school, Wiseman Creek and the head of Skiyou was proposed.  Corps concerned about channel changes creating impediments to upstream navigation.



skagit river and probable new hatcheries, considered

With the Skagit river listed as the second most valuable stream in the State of Washington, from the fisheries standpoint, representing as it does a total value of some $1,600,000 from takes for commercial and sport fishing, the state department of fisheries is scheduling a post-war fisheries program headed by the creation of a Skagit river fish hatchery and three large stations on the main Skagit river for the study of fishing, greater spawning areas and general protection of river assets now available in Skagit county.

Fish Issue


Commercial and sport fishermen represented $1,600,000 in Skagit fish takes.



progress reported on plan to stop erosion on skagit

Upriver erosion control progress was reported, a study of the dike and drainage district problems was instituted, and a rather complete summary of the 35 years of change on the Skagit river was reported by Captain Forest Elwell, at the first meeting of the County Planning Commissions new committee on the Skagit river and water resources, held in the Mt. Vernon Junior college last Monday evening, September 27.  . . .  Captain Forest Elwell, long time Skagit river pilot, outlined 35 years of change on the river from Marblemount to the mouth.  The gradual elimination of more than a dozen ox-bows including the big Sorenson Bend and Sterling Bend has reduced the rivers length by 25 miles, Captain Elwell estimated.  He pointed out that the river has been increased in velocity by the shortening process until increased silt in the lower reaches of the river is steadily reducing the rivers capacity between already restricted dikes.  The present diking system is far from adequate, competent engineers have stated.  In Captain Elwells opinion the Avon cut-off will relieve the flood problem on the flats but he raised the question, For how long.

Skagit River Increasing in Velocity


The shortening of the Skagit River deserves further discussion.  While Captian Elwell is correct that some oxbows have disappeared, others have formed.  In October 1919 the Corps of Engineers wrote The Skagit River is ordinarily navigable from its mouth to Concrete, a distance of 58 miles, and at times of high water 38 miles higher. (Source: J. A. Woodruff, Lt. Col. USACOE, Report dtd 10/10/19).  In 1925 the Corps wrote, Baker River junction with the Skagit 58 miles above Skagit mouth.  Todays GIS maps show Baker River junction at RM 56.5.  1.5 miles shorter, not 25 miles. 



flood control council urges warning plan valley in danger from floods last winter; cold prevents

Flood possibilities in the Skagit valley last winter were the worst on record, it was learned by the Skagit county delegates attending the Puget Sound flood control meeting in Chehalis last Saturday, October 9.  The snows were the deepest on record, the rains had saturated the lowlands and the upstream dams were full.  The only thing that saved the valley was the fact that the temperature remained very low throughout the winter and stayed low for most of the summer.  Such a threat, little known by the average citizen, lead the flood control council to recommend that Skagit county immediately take steps to set up a flood warning system.

Flood Early Warning System


Skagit County dodged a bullet.




Skagit County needs a flood early warning system.



skagit flood control work starts soon county gives $5,000.00 warning system is being prepared

With engineering studies nearing completion, piling purchased, and a $5,000 appropriation from the county commissioners, flood control work in the Utopia area will be started soonCaptain Forest Elwell of the Parker Tugboat company, reported that he had dynamited a log jam on the Wolfe place which should release the erosion both above and below the jam.  . . .  Plans for the flood warning system which the U.S. weather bureau, Seattle, has offered to set up were described and the committee learned that no local expense will be involved.  The committees job will be to find cooperative and competent persons in the upper Sauk, Suiattle, Cascade and Baker River areas to report rainfall and river conditions daily during a potential flood period.  . . .  A local agency interested and willing to act as the discriminating body when a warning should be made over the Skagit flats that a flood is on its way must be found also and three have been suggested:  county engineers office, the SCS or the State Department of Forestry with offices in Sedro-Woolley.

Flood Early Warning System



Log jam in the Utopia area dynamited.


Residents on Sauk, Suiattle, Cascade and Baker Rivers were to be river watchers.





crew of men now at work on revetment building big mat for diverting current near skiyou

On the Reese place the Skagit has been gouging a progressively deeper U-shaped hole, extending in length about 800 feet above the entrance to Skiyou slough, a channel which could bypass the Skagits flow should active erosion eat away the protecting bank.  It is the plan to divert the rivers attack by building out a floating, interlaced mat of large trees, interlaced mat of large trees, complete with branches.  These hemlock, firs, maple and alders now are being dragged to the bank area and being jostled and lashed into position with cables anchored to a series of buried deadmen inland.  Out in front a 1,000 foot stretch of cable, to which a tree raft will be anchored, will straighten out the bank line and act as the main baffle mat.  This extended mat is intended to slow down the current, catch debris and gradually build up a thick wall to keep swirling flood waters away from the bank.

Interesting Bank Erosion Project





The description of this project is entirely different then what they did at Sterling and Burlington.  Sounds kind of like an artificial log jam against the river bank.



river crews work proves o.k. in flood new rock and tree mat prevents damage at skiyou slough

Mud spattered battalions of the county engineers office are flushed with their first victory in the major battle against the Skagit river, which last week rolled back her banks and went on a brief but record flood rampage.  . . .  Last Fridays torrential rains precipitated premature test of this engineering theory, which has been regarded with skepticism by some side-line engineers.  The Skagit started climbing a foot an hour and finally topped her banks.  Although overflow water entered Skiyou slough, the bank did not gouge out.  Witnesses who watched the rivers rise and saw the debris and logs bob by, claim that the brush mat was instrumental in deflecting the river enough to protect the bank at the slough entrance.  Rock in place withstood the current that did hit the bank.  Since neither the mat or rock work was completed, the success is noteworthy.


USGS Concrete 65,200 cfs (28.4).



Record flood rampage?  Flood was barely over flood stage.





sportsmen protest closing skagit river for fishing

Effective April 1 and through the period ending May 27, the Skagit river will be closed for its entire length from the government marker on saltwater to the Canadian border.

Fish Issue



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Salmon or Halibut 39 cents per pound

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game protector splane cites reasons for skagit closing

So much interest and open condemnation of the state game department was expressed by sportsmen and others, following the recent announcement of the closing of the Skagit for its entire length to all sport fishing, from the first of April to the twenty-eighth of May that it seemed advisable to contact Game Protector Morris Splane and learn the game departments side of the story.  . . .  Splane gave the following reasons for the closing of the Skagit . . . Fundamentally it was for the management of the steelhead and cutthroat in the costal waters, and for their protection during two periods or stages in their lifes history. We have assembled considerable data which indicates that the majority of young steelhead go to salt water when the approximately two years of age. At this time many of them, if not most of them, are legal sized fish. Their migration from fresh to salt water extends over a period of several months. It is heaviest from about the first of April to the middle of May. It has been found that these fish may be readily taken at this time and it follows that if the catch of these immature fish is large, the numbers of returning adults is proportionately reduced. Therefore, in order to avoid depletion from this cause, we find that it is necessary to have a closed period so as to guarantee a sufficiently large escapement. In some of the streams, such as the Skagit, returning adult steelhead will ascend the stream during every month of the year. The winter run fish reach the peak of their run from February to April.  . . .  Also remember that steelhead are primarily a four year fish- that is, they reach maturity at the age of four years.

Skagit Closed to Sports Fishermen.


Protection of steelhead and cutthroat primary reason for closing river from April 1 to May 28th



Steelhead take 4 years to reach maturity.



skagit soil district helps farmers in drainage plans

Supervisors of the Skagit Soil Conservation District this week plan to make the dirt fly on 3750 lineal feet of open ditch construction on the Curt Wiles place, on the East Fork of Nookachamps Creek. Jack Turner, of Bow, has been engaged to complete the project with his power shovel. The drainage job is one of several in progress under the sponsorship and technical guidance of the Skagit District.  . . .  East Fork of Nookachamps creek is well known to local people because of the aggravated drainage problem present. Logs coming down stream during earlier logging days clogged up the stream and became compacted and then silted, until today the stream bed runs about three feet above the level of the surrounding territory. The long time drainage program to be worked out by the Skagit Soil Conservation District not only will benefit individual farmers and the general area, but also should help restore fish populations in this obstructed stream.

SCS Helps Nookachamps Farmers


Nookachamps Creek became silted in and no longer carried water in channel.  Project said to help fish.



tugboat skipper relates his adventures on skagit river

For forty years a tugboat skipper on the boisterous Skagit river, Captain F. M. Elwell drew upon his rich background of experiences to give Rotarians, on March 30, a colorful flashback to the countys pioneer days, when Sauk was the upriver terminus for daily tugboat service between it and Seattle.  . . .  Tug boating on the Skagit began when log towing was started, after the daily freight run between Seattle and Sauk ended. Sauk, jumping off place for pack string trains to the upper valleys mining centers, was then a busy terminal, boasting a newspaper, The Sauk Journal.  . . .  The Skagit has changed considerably during Elwells tug boating career. Sternwheelers formerly required three hours to make the run from Mount Vernon to Sedro-Woolley. Present day tugs can make the trip in an hour and a half, because of the shortened distances caused by the river straightening out ox bow bends, principally at Sterling. Other river stretches where channel changes have cut out ox bows are at Lyman, where elimination of three bends reduced nine miles of water to three, and between Marblemount and Rockport, where twelve miles have been dropped to four.  . . .  Upper river dams have little to do with flood control on the Skagit, according to Elwell. A bad flood year can occur again if winter conditions are right, such as heavy snowfall with continued rains or a thawing Chinook. If such a flood should occur, the Skagit flats are in for trouble because the present channel of the South Fork is silted up to the level of the surrounding land. An inadequate dike system, not designed for a prolonged flood, is the only bulwark against flood waters and would not last long. The South Fork should be dredged or a head opened up to allow water to scour out some of the silt, according to Elwell.

Skagit River Changed Over Time


Sternwheelers used to take 3 hours from Mt. Vernon to Sedro-Woolley.  Now only takes 1.5 hours due to Sterling cut-off.


3 ox bows eliminated at Lyman.  Reduced river by 6 miles.  Between Marblemount and Rockport 12 miles reduced to 4.


Upper river dams have little to do with flood control. 





An inadequate dike system, not designed for a prolonged flood, is the only bulwark against flood waters and would not last long.


(See CT article 9/30/43 for related story.)



$25,000 damage caused by flood -- northern state hospital water reservoir washed out when hanson creek runs wild; prairie family escapes death; home ruined

Heavy damage to the Northern state hospitals intake reservoir dams on Hanson creek near the hospital was caused last Sunday when a log jam in a ravine above the dams was broken up by flood waters and the logs sent smashing with destructive force against the concrete structures.  Cost of repair of the dams will approximate $25,000, hospital authorities stated.  . . .  Torrential rains last week near the headwaters of Hanson creek swelled the stream to unprecedented floor stage and swept the log jam downstream, from where it had been lodged for several years in the ravine.  The logs were the accumulation of abandoned cuttings from a logging operation in the nearby hills several years ago and residents of that vicinity estimated that there were perhaps a thousand logs packed in the ravine, many of them of great size.  Mr. and Mrs. G. H. Gaston, who reside about two miles below the dam, and near Hanson creek, narrowly escaped death when the huge mass of logs crashed through their premises riding a six-foot wall of swirling water.  Giant logs smashed against the Gaston residence, carrying away the entire outer wall of a bedroom and doing an estimated $1,000 property damage.  . . .  About 100 yards distant, across Hanson creek from the Gaston residence, a two-acre field seeded to clover was ruined by the flood.  . . .  A county bridge across Hanson creek, joining the Flaherty road with the old C. C. C. road, and located between the Gaston and Hill residences, was destroyed by the deluge of logs and rushing water and the creek bed at this point was filled in to a depth of five feet with muck and sand.  . . .  The Samish river was at its highest peak in history last week and flood waters covered hundreds of acres of farm land, but without causing material damage.

Hanson Creek Flooding


Heavy rains cause log jam from logging operation to break loose and damaged intake reservoir dams on Creek.




Resulting landslide and flood almost killed local farming family living along Hanson Creek.




Bridge over Hanson Creek destroyed.



Samish River at highest peak in history.



skagit river poses threat in lyman area -- great northern roadbed endangered; farms damaged

Unless corrective steps are taken, Skagit river eventually may change its course at a point near Lyman and flow directly into Minkler lake, located about four miles east of Sedro-Woolley.  That is the opinion of river experts who have studied the vagaries[9] of Skagit river at this point for years.  Natural outlet of an overflow from Minkler lake would be along a course of such an overflow, according to engineering surveys.  . . .  Actual damage near Lyman so far is the destruction of about 20 acres of valuable farm land washed out by the encroaching river.  . . .  Potential danger of the situation may be summed up in the threat to rich valley land lying between Minkler Lake and Sedro-Woolley.  In less than two years the river channel, to a narrow land passage between the two, being now within 25 feet of Great Northern roadbed.  . . .  The river is cutting a new channel to the north about one-eighth mile west of Lyman and evidence of this northward trend in general is borne out by the fact that all sloughs north of the river in this area are filling to overflow point, while those south of the river are drying up, according to Fred Hagen, local fisherman and guide.  Hagen has spent a number of years as a fisherman on the river and is well acquainted with the surrounding territory.  . . .  At Minkler lake, surface water already is flowing between the lake at Skagit rivers new course and local residents expressed the belief that a confluence of the two will result before very long unless something is done.  There is relatively little natural earth barrier separating the two at present, they pointed out.  Should this barrier be eliminated, the river would include Minkler lake in its new course and egress from the lake would be down the valley towards Sedro-Woolley it was reminded.  County Commissioner E.C. Carr stated this week that he does not consider the Minkler lake situation particularly alarming at this time, but that rapid changes are possible if the river should get out of hand at Ross Island point, below Lyman.

Skagit Could Change Course Into Minkler Lake


Natural course of Skagit used to be through Minkler Lake when river used to flow into the Samish River basin.






River cutting new channel one-eighth mile west of Lyman.



Surface water already flowing between the lake and Skagit River new course.  Would allow Skagit to flow towards Sedro-Woolley.



Skagit-Samish Flood Control Survey Planned

Serious erosion at points along the Skagit, and flood danger on the Samish have imperiled farms throughout the district, and agriculturists hope that such conditions can be remedied before greater damage can occur.  While the rapid erosion which was washing away farmland at Utopia has been lessened, 200 feet of land bordering the river near the mouth of Nookachamps creek have eroded, changing the course of the river and facilitating further erosion on raw banks.  Lee Wright, assistant county engineer, stated that All along the Skagit river, banks are dissolving and new channels opening up because of erosion.  Between Sedro-Woolley and Lyman, where flows have been routed from old courses and in some places have begun working back, is one of the most critical spots along the river.  . . .  Problems on both the Skagit and the Samish are represented on a map now being drawn up, which will acquaint Jackson with the flood and erosion districts.  Last year the Skagit rose high enough in the Nookachamps area to inundate both grazing and farmlands.  Previous surveys of the Utopia-Skiyou area have advanced the possibility of re-routing the river through Dead Mans slough, thus reducing erosion in the present channel.  However, as yet no plans have been formulated for dealing with the situation in the Lyman area.

More Erosion Problems



200 feet near Nookachamps Creek eroded into river.  All along river banks eroding.










Skagit eventually eroded back into Deadmans Slough and is now main channel.



new system to warn valleyites of floods -- reports of water levels at 10 strategic points to be taken daily; public to be informed

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 recently by Attorney A. H. Ward of Sedro-Woolley, chairman of the Water Resources Committee of the Skagit County Planning Commission.

Flood Early Warning System


Individuals were going to be hired to monitor river at strategic locations and they would phone in river levels.



bids on new fish hatchery to open in april; building to be completed end of next year

Bids will be open the first of April for the construction of the new state game department fish hatchery to be located above Marblemount, Milo Moore, state director of fisheries stated at a meeting of the Sedro-Woolley Wildcat Steelhead club at the American Legion hall here last Friday evening, which was attended by state director of game Don Clarke and other officials.  The new, modern hatchery for which land has already been purchased and money appropriated, will be completed by the end of next year, Moore said.  An appropriation of $129,000, plus an additional grant of $118,000 recently approved by Governor Wallgren, will assure Skagit county and the northwest one of the finest salmon hatcheries possible, it was pointed out.  The new plant will have forty 20X80 ft. rearing ponds capable of holding 25,000 salmon fry at the start of operation.  When completed the hatchery will be capable of liberating 75,000 fish a year of an average length of five inches.

New Fish Hatchery In Marblemount


$247,000 grant for construction.  Would be capable of producing 75,000 5 inch fish per year.



new skagit hatchery is a product of experiments and scientific knowledge

The hatchery which is intended as a rearing station, from which the Skagit, Nooksack, Stillaguamish Rivers and their tributaries will be stocked, will operate 40 concrete rearing pounds 80 feet long and 20 feet wide.  . . .  Jordan Creek, a cool mountain stream, will furnish the main water supply which will be supplemented by the almost constant temperature spring water of Clark Creek.  . . .  Each rearing pond will begin the season with the introduction of 150,000 young salmon.  . . .  The overall capacity of the station will include more than four million fish reared for a period of three months or more, and in addition approximately a million and a half will be retained and released as yearlings.  . . .  The Skagit hatchery has evolved as a product of the experiments and scientific knowledge gained by the State Department of Fisheries through years of experience.  Actual construction is slated to begin in the spring of 1946, and the entire project will cost approximately $165,000.

Marblemount Hatchery


Overall capacity of hatchery would be 4,000,000 fish per year raised for 3 months, plus 1,500,000 retained and released when they are one year old.


Construction to begin in Spring of 1946.



biologist williams assigned here to study and survey skagit fish runs

In a move by the state game department to make close hand observations and studies of fish runs in the Skagit river and its tributaries, Biologist Douglas Williams has been assigned to Sedro-Woolley, where he will conduct extensive work for the next several years. The location of a biologist here for the sole purpose of studying the migratory runs of fish, especially in steelhead, in the Skagit, comes as a result of the game departments decision to send biologists into the field where they can make first-hand observations and obtain data necessary for the perpetuation and eventual increasing of the fish runs.  . . .  The location of a biologist in this area is only logical, he said, as the Skagit has probably the largest run of steelhead and migratory fish in the state.

Skagit Fish Runs To Be Studied


Study was to be conducted over several years.  Should contact Fisheries Dept. and determine what happened to results of study.


Skagit has largest run of Steelhead in the state.



skagit river control vital government official states d. a. williams, water conservation head, notes damage during inspection trips; says maintenance program is needed

A temporary maintenance program for the Skagit river, to prevent soil erosion, and a really comprehensive flood control problem, with the co-operation of the federal government, is badly needed, according to D. A. Williams, chief of the water conservation division of the U.S. soil conservation office in Portland. He was here last week with Paul Dickey, head of the local soil conservation office, on an inspection tour of the Skagit river.  . . .  Now the department of agriculture has recognized that full attention to the use of the water of an area is as necessary as the best use of the soil, in the work of this division with individual farmers and farm groups. Williams said that much of the revetment work done on the Skagit river was under the WPA appropriation, has been of much help in controlling soil erosion, but the failure of the county to maintain some of this work has prevented it from being as much help as it might have been. There are now a good many danger spots in the river, from Utopia down, in which bank erosion is very severe. The October and November high water aggravated this condition, he said.  . . .  The proper control of the Skagit river, both from bank erosion and from a flood danger point of view, is a big job and will involve the best of land-owners of the district and the co-operation of the county, state, and federal government.  . . .  Ultimately the program to control the situation must involve reforestation of badly denuded areas. This is more evident this year. A preventative maintenance program, with the removal of the worst trouble spots before they get serious, should be part of a far-sighted program and would save a lot of expense later on. There should be a maintenance crew working along the river at all times to accomplish this. The proposed Avon cutoff might be one feature of the long range plan, but this would not effect the stream bank above the site of the proposed cutoff. Engineers are now studying storage opportunities on the upper Skagit.  . . .  No accurate survey of the channel above Mt. Vernon is available. A permanent maintenance program is needed. By attending to a lot of little things now the big program which must be formed with federal, state and county co-operation will be greatly helped. The tendency is to ignore danger conditions until a serious flood occurs. Now is the time to act.

Soil Erosion a Problem


Cooperation of Federal Government badly needed.













Reforestation key element in flood control.



Maintenance crew of erosion control projects should be working at all times.



Avon By-Pass would not effect upstream property owners.


Long range program needed.





effort made to lessen flood threat control of dam overflow asked by county officials

In an effort to lessen the possibility of a major flood in Skagit county due to the record amount of snowfall now in the Cascades, the board of county commissioners and the Skagit County Planning council this week contacted by letter, heads of both the Seattle City Light and the Puget Sound Power and Light companies in a request that these concerns co-operate in regulating the flow of excess water over their respective dams on the Skagit and Baker rivers, and making more storage space available during the peak flow. Following is a copy of the letter written to Gene Hoffman, superintendent of City Light, and Frank McLaughlin, president of Puget Sound Power and Light, and signed by W. A. McLean, chairman of the planning council and James T. Ovenell, chairman of the board of commissioners:


The board of county commissioners and the Skagit County Planning council have requested that this letter be written in an effort to gain your help in solving a flood control problem.  . . .  We wonder if, through the cooperation of City Light and Puget Sound Power and Light it might be possible to avert potential disaster. It is our understanding that the existing dams on the Skagit, if proper regulation of water flow be had, can serve as an important agency toward preventing a flood. We understand also that as a perquisite to the grant of the right to place dams, the federal commission requires that the upper reaches of such dams be made to assist in flood control.   . . .  Those of us who have lived here all our lives know that the diking assistance can handle all but the last few feet of water.  . . .  We realize that the problem of City Light and Puget Sound Power and Light is to be sure that they have abundant water at all times. With the present snowfall there can be no doubt that sufficient water will be available. The difficulty is there will probably be far too much water. Would it not be possible, through full co-operation and intelligent regulation, for the storage levels to be maintained near the minimum requirement until the excess of melting snow comes through warm winds or warm weather, and when that does start so regulate the flow as to allow escape during its maximum periods. We appreciate the fact that the water that comes through the Skagit, as far up as the City Dam, is only 35% of the entire flow that reached the lower valley. We do feel, however, that there is sufficient margin of regulation to control the quantity of water that will prove dangerous at the peak flood time.  . . .  We cannot believe that a solution is impossible. This danger is acute; this large amount of snowfall is bound to come off during the next 90 days. If sufficient storage can be made available, it does seem that disaster might be averted. We ask you for your help and co-operation.

PSPL & Seattle City Light Requested To Assist in Flood Control


Record snowfall stirred flood concerns.






Commissioners recognized important role dams can play in flood control.











Commissioners requested storage levels to be maintained near minimum requirement until after the snow melted.










mcleod points out threat of dams to fishing at sportsmens banquet

You can kiss steelhead runs in the Skagit and sockeye runs at the Hope island goodbye if the army engineers go through with their plans of constructing a dam at Fabers ferry. Those were the words of Ken McLeod, well-known Seattle sportsman and writer who addressed a large gathering of sportsmen at the annual banquet of the Wildcat Steelhead club held here Thursday evening at the city hall. Faber Ferry on the Skagit river has already been surveyed by the army engineers as a site for a flood control dam.  . . .  The commercial and sport fishing value of over a million dollars annually as set by the department of fisheries, hardly scratched the surface, the speaker asserted. Taking into consideration the money spent by out-of-county fishermen who pay for meals, lodging, guides and sporting goods here, this figure comes close to 38 million, he said.

Dams Threaten Fish Runs


Dam at Faber site would destroy steelhead runs.


Speaker valued sports fishing on the Skagit at 38 million dollars.



log raft on nookachamps

Its been forty years since log rafts were towed down Nookachamps creek, but the scene was re-enacted recently when Otto and Ruben (Tuffy) Boyd of Clear Lake brought out four rafts at different intervals through the narrow waters of that stream. These pictures, supplied through the courtesy of Art Ward of Sedro-Woolley, show (upper) Otto Boyd astride one of the rafts of white fir, spruce and cottonwood taken from the final stand of timber near the Nookachamps, and (lower) a raft of logs goes through one of the narrow passages of the creek. Believe it or not, for most of the voyages down the stream the Boyd brothers towed the rafts by rowboat with outboard motor attached. Measurements of a highway bridge on the way had to be taken before the rafts could safely negotiate under it. Near the mouth of the Nookachamps a towboat was brought in to finish the towing job to the booming area near LaConner. The logs were shipped to the Morris Mill company at Anacortes.

Logs Floated to Market Down Nookachamps Creek



flood control action asked by committee present plans would not be effective until 1955, report shows

. . .  In a letter to Congressman Jackson drawn up by the Water Resources Committee of the Planning Council, of which A. H. Ward of Sedro-Woolley is chairman, it was pointed out that the recent study of the Skagit conducted by the U.S. Engineering Corps will not leave the Seattle office until 1948 and will not be ready for congressional action until 1950. Effective construction work along the river could not begin until 1955.  . . .  The plan would call for study of the past habits of the Skagit indicating the changes in its course between the period 1932 and 1946 and working a master plan for easing the river into its most logical course and holding it there with rock revetment. Costs would be worked out from local funds and match state and federal funds.

Corps Studys Move Slowly Through System


Study would have looked at past habits of Skagit erosion and work on master plan for holding Skagit on a logical course.



farmland or fishing

The question will soon arise as to which is more important, several acres of river Skagit valley bottom land or a river full of fish for the sportsman and the commercial fisherman.  We are referring specifically to the unquestionable possibility of one or more flood control dams that may be erected on the Skagit river.  Surveys for such a dam at the Faber ferry have already been taken and these water barriers have a habit of popping up suddenly, especially in periods of unemployment.  If such a dam were to erected on the Skagit river it would mean the saving of several acres of rich soil that is being washed away by floods.  However, on the other hand, it would in all probability mean the eventual elimination of the great migratory runs of fish in the river.  Past experiences with river dams have proven that even with so-called efficient fish ladders, they have in many cases completely destroyed fish runs.  Is the value of fish runs in the Skagit more or less that the threatened farm land?  In our estimation and that of state game officials and sportsmen, the fishing value is by far greater. . . . It doesnt make sense to save a few acres of farm land at the expense of one of our most important resources. 

What is More Important:  Fish or Farms?


New dams would mean total destruction of fish runs.


The Faber site was just below Concrete.  The Corps was looking at several sites.  Upper Sauk, Lower Sauk, Faber, Upper Baker and others.  Only Upper Baker was ever constructed.



skagit river flood control plan outlined a h. ward says new plan will not harm local fisheries

. . .  To the Editor: Your editorial of June 20, entitled Farm Land or Fishing states that there is a pending conflict of interest between the fishermen and the farmers of this community over prospective flood control dams on the upper Skagit river and aligns the editorial policy of your paper with the fishermen and against the interests of the farmers. Your editorial represents that the damage done by the Skagit river is limited to the loss of a few acres of farmland. This is such an understatement as to amount to a misrepresentation of the facts. You have lived by the Skagit river for over a quarter of a century and you are personally acquainted with the families of the farmers in that community who have lost their entire farms through riverbank erosion. While you have lived here, you have seen the river carry away the earnings and savings of a lifetime of hard work invested in river bank farms. You know that this erosion will continue until some means if found to regulate the spring and fall run off of water to a more steady stream.  . . .  Your editorial completely ignores the matter of flood damage by the river. You state that the only work required on the river is channel straightening and riverbank revetments. Just how will river straightening and riverbank revetments eliminate the periodic flood damage in this valley? The engineers state that straightening the river course will increase the speed of the current, increase the danger of flash floods, and will increase erosion. A flood which measures more than 120,000 second feet of water at Sedro-Woolley will break the dikes and flood the lower valley.  . . .  Certainly the matter of preservation of fisheries is a part of this problem to be solved and a most important part. In any river improvement work done, provision must be made for saving our fisheries. The army engineers are working on part of this problem right now in survey being made. Before you start taking pot shots at the army engineers, why not wait and see what solution their report contains with respect to the saving of the Skagit river fisheries? There are many other problems in connection with the development and control of the Skagit river system besides erosion, floods and fisheries. There are the problems of development of recreational facilities, irrigation, reforestation and hillside erosion, and domestic water supplies. Will it be to the best interests of this community if your paper succeeds in dividing up the people of the valley into hostile factions, each fighting the other for the benefit of its favorite project? We request the support of your paper for a program of control and development of the water resources in the county which will not favor one of the elements over the other but which will attempt to reconcile and harmonize any conflict of interest between these various projects.  A. H. Ward, Chairman, Water Resources Com.


A.H. Ward, Local Attorney Responds To Anti-Dam Editorial.


Dams needed to lessen riverbank erosion.


Entire farms have been lost to erosion.








Editorial supported river straightening  and riverbank revetments.



Straightening river would increase the speed of the current and would increase erosion.




Many problems due to flooding of Skagit.  Recreational facilities, irrigation, reforestation and hillside erosion and domestic water supplies to name a few.



waters drop in flooded areas east -- $20,000 damage results at fish hatchery; bridges out

A fortunate change in the weather was all that prevented a flood of major proportions in the upper Skagit valley the early part of this week. As it was, considerable damage resulted from high waters after four days of torrential rainfall.  . . .  Wiseman and Hansen creeks, which washed over the roadway between Sedro-Woolley and Lyman, further damaged the already cracked and broken concrete highway and left silt and debris piled high. Fortunately, the Skagit river reached only bank full and failed to leave its course expect in a few minor instances.


USGS 82,200 cfs Concrete (31.14), 64,900 cfs. Mt. Vernon (27.80).  Didnt reach flood stage at Mt. Vernon.

Damage limited to streams and creeks.



funds for river improvements at utopia approved

Final approval of the $15,000 emergency appropriation to take care of flood control on the Skagit river near Utopia, has now been secured, according to a letter to the Courier-Times from Congressman Henry M. Jackson.

Utopia Funds Approved



complete plans for flood control in beaver lake area

Engineering plans for the elimination of drainage and flood problems in the Beaver Lake area were completed this week by Roy Tuttle, SCS engineer.  . . .  Tuttles plan includes a drag line channel clearance job calculated to put the rampaging East Fork of the Nookachamps Creek back into its old channel, a short dike to be faced with quarried rock and also included a badly needed dredging job at the lower end of the project.  The Beaver Lake area has become a veritable jungle, Tuttle said, Excellent land has been inundated by the spreading creek, the land over the years has now grown up to alder and willow brush.  The land is too wet to work.  . . .  During high water the creek actually flows back into Beaver Lake, rendering useless almost all the farm lands now drained by Drainage District No. 21s choked up outlet.

Beaver Lake Flooding


Nookachamps Creek silted in.  The area described in this article is believed to be near the current Tewalt Rock Quarry.  During the 1990 and 1995 flood events the Skagit backed up into this area and local drainage had no place to go.



rains, rivers bring much flood damage bridge washed out, cars wrecked, sewers back up, as two inches of rain falls in 48 hours, woman barely escapes injury

A bridge was washed out, two trucks were wrecked by rushing flood waters, traffic was interrupted, rivers were swelled to flood levels and sewers backed up in the Sedro-Woolley area, as the skies opened up and dumped more than two inches of rainfall in 48 hours last weekend to bring the months rainfall to 5.97 inches.  This is an inch above the average for the entire month of October.  . . .  By Saturday night water was rushing across the Lyman road as Wiseman Creek emptied gravel in two high banks across the highway to hamper traffic and stall may a motorist.  Flood waters reached a peak of 21.6 feet about 6:00 p.m. Sunday and began receding after that.  Rising waters also chopped away more land from farm property near the Burlington bend.  (During the last rainstorm two weeks ago, the Austin Lytle place lost 11 feet of land in two days  . . . 


USGS 95,200 cfs Concrete (32.99 ), 69,400 cfs Mt. Vernon (28.68)




21.6 ft reading believed to be at Mt. Vernon Moose Lodge.  This was barely a flood stage event in the lower valley.


Austin Lytle place is currently owned by Earl Jones.



skagit river bridge near concrete urged many groups join in requesting federal funds construction of skagit river span to make timber accessible, to aid schools

Direct appeal for federal aid construction of a bridge across Skagit River near Concrete was started Monday at a special meeting called by S.S. McIntyre, president of the East-West, No State Highway Association.  . . .  Primary reason for the group asking immediate erection of the bridge is to make timber available to independent local mill operators in Skagit, Whatcom, and Snohomish counties.  . . .  School authorities throughout Skagit County have also emphasized the necessity of a span to insure the safety of children being brought to school. The ferries being used at present have been repeatedly mentioned as dangerous, expensive, and unsatisfactory for crossing the river.  . . .  It has been pointed out that by the governments constructing the span across the river, the value of the timber would be increased sufficiently to pay for the project.

Bridge At Dalles Requested


Federal aid requested to build new bridge at the Dalles near Concrete.


Bridge would make timber available to independent mill operators.



Burlington bend project approved

Approval of the flood control project at Burlington bend on the Skagit river was announced this week by Art Garton, state director of conservation and development. Contracts for the $174,000 job are to be awarded within the next 30 days and work will be done under supervision of U. S. Army engineers, Garton said. Financing allocation include $88,000 from the state, $50,000 from U.S. Engineers; $26,000 from Skagit county; $5,000 from the city of Burlington; and $5000 from diking and drainage district.  . . .  It is estimated the project will be completed by fall.

Burlington Bend Project


$88,000 from state, $50,000 federal funds, $26,000 from Skagit County; $5,000 from Burlington and $5,000 from Dike 12.


Same area that was worked on in 1935.  See CT article 7/25/35



skagit river threatening utopia farms farmers as aid to stem erosion; wolfe farm loses land

With the Skagit river threatening to break through into the low area near Minkler Lake, East of Sedro-Woolley, Utopia district farmers this week were signing a petition to be presented members of the Skagit Conservation district tonight, July 29, at Mt. Vernon. Five acres owned by Chris Wolfe have been washed away, taking with it Wolfes barn, chicken house and woodshed. The river threatened his home, which was emptied of all household goods and moved to higher ground. Wolfe is now living with his daughter on the Burmaster road.

Skagit Threatening To Run Into Minkler Lake


Utopia farmland gone.  Five acres washed away.  Wolfes barn and chicken house washed into river.



Skagit bridge may require bond issue sedro-woolley C. of C. host to county bridge enthusiasts; span at dalles discussed; financing is main problem; bond issue is suggested

A bond issue, which may or may not have to be voted by Skagit county residents, was cited Wednesday night as the one means of financing construction of a bridge across the Skagit river between Concrete and the Dalles. With the entire delegation attending the dinner meeting at the Sedro-Woolley city hall agreeing that the bridge is vitally needed to assure this countys future support from logging the number one problem became that of finances.  . . .  Lowell Hughes, chairman of the board of commissioners, said that the county has been attempting to get estimates of what a bridge will actually cost, and also surveys of where it should be built. He said that a man is expected to be in the county within about two weeks to make the survey. The commissioners said that when the figures are drawn up, the request for issuing the bonds will be put on the November ballot.  . . .  As the discussion closed, the group tossed he problem of building the bridge in the laps of the county commissioners and they in turn flipped it back to the voters, who they say must be educated to the fact that the bridge will save taxpayers money in the long run, and will ultimately increase the income of the entire county. H. O. Walberg, county engineer, and State Senator Jess Sapp eliminated the possibilities of financial aid from the U. S. Forestry service or the state highway department.  . . .  Sapp said that since there is no state highway which runs to the point where the bridge is tentatively scheduled to be built, the state cannot lend assistance either.

Dalles Bridge Proposal


County Commissioners decided to have voters decide if bridge should be built.


No aid from state or federal government because road was not a state highway.



sterling hill dynamited to get rock for Burlington bend

A distant, powerful explosion felt in several Sedro-Woolley homes last Saturday noon made available more than 30,000 yards of rock for flood control revetment work on the Skagit river near Burlington. An 11-ton charge of dynamite, buried deep in the southeast end of Sterling Hill about two and a half miles west of this city lifted thousands of pounds of rock and pebbles into the air and poured up dust, When the scene cleared, several acres of a farm in front of the hill were littered with rocks ranging from pebbles to pieces 10 feet thick and 15 feet long.  . . .  The combined forces of the U.S. Army Engineers, state and Skagit county officials are carrying out the $175,000 flood control project.

Sterling Hill Mined For Burlington Bend Rock Revetment Project


Rock for revetment project came from Sterling Hill.



bridge is key to timber

The southern half of Skagit county above Sedro-Woolley contains untold wealth in timber. For many years logs have been rolling into Skagit county mills from this area by truck and rail, but a point has now been reached when it is no longer practical to bring logs to the river or try to run a railroad up the south side of the river as has been done in the past. The logging of today is by motor truck. One of the largest remaining stands of virgin timber in the nation today lies on the slopes of Phinney Creek, just south of the Skagit river at Concrete. This timber is within Skagit county yet a great portion of this wealth will be taken out through Snohomish county, to Snohomish county mills if no access is provided by a bridge to the railroad lines on the north side of the river.

Dalles Bridge


Bridge is key to timber resource.  Logging changed from floating logs down the river to motor truck.  Bridge would keep timber from being sent to Snohomish County mills.



many fish caught final day; 2,500 total for season

More than 2,500 steelhead probably were caught in the Skagit river during the recent season, reports fro local fishing guides and Game Protector Vern Gee indicate.  Five guides reported a total of 1,117 steelhead taken during the season.  . . .  Local fishermen who do not use guides would account for enough to push the total well over the 2,500 mark.  . . .  Howard Miller caught an eight-pound female steelhead near Day Creek.  At least 13 fish were taken at Gillam Creek Thursday.

Fish Issue -- Steelhead Abundant

2,500 many in 2004?

The local legend around Howard Miller is that he made two casts with a fly rod and caught two steelhead and went home.



harry devin was citys historian, weather recorder

Harry L. Devin, born in Ottumwa, Ohio, June 16, 1862, came to Sedro in 1889 on a visit and liked the locale so well that the following year he brought his family here and established his home.  He opened a real estate office in 1890 on the bank of the Skagit river and in 1892 was appointed postmaster, later resigning in favor of the Woolley postmaster.  He spent two years in the Klondike prospecting and upon his return spent nine months in North-eastern Washington, managing the Silver Butte mine.  He came back to Sedro-Woolley, and in 1902 entered the real estate business with C.J. Wicker, forming the Skagit Realty Co.  Mr. Devin had a major part in every important development that has taken place in Sedro-Woolley since its founding and his reference library was the haven of every person wishing facts of figures pertaining to Sedro-Woolley.  He was official weather recorder here for forth-three years.

H. L. Devin

He is directly responsible for passing on the Indian Legend of the 1815 flood event.

Our fellow townsman, Mr. H.L. Devin, was some years ago engaged in surveying in the upper valley in the vicinity of Baker Lake.  Being detained over night in an Indian camp, he was told the history of a great flood.  They said that about 60 years ago a great slide had choked up the narrow outlet of the Baker valley and that the water accumulated in the basin thus formed until the whole valley was an immense lake, full 80 feet deep.  By this time the imprisoned waters had burst through the dam and in a few hours this great volume of water was precipitated into the Skagit flooding the whole valley.  The water marks still plainly visible high up the sides of the Baker valley and the great variation in those upon the trees as you come down the Skagit would indicate that this was the real cause of that terrible disaster."  (Reprinted from the Skagit County Times, Serving Sedro and Woolley, Skagit County Washington, Thursday, November 19, 1896.))



emergency aid given flood victims residents mop up; flood loss set at two million dollars

Emergency assistance today was being given flood victims of Hamilton and the up-river district whose homes and household belongings were damaged or destroyed in one of the worst floods in Skagit county history.  Hamilton residents were shoveling silt, mud and sand from their homes and were trying to salvage damaged household goods and merchandise in their places of businesses.  . . .  Ranked the worst since 1921 this weeks flood caused an estimated $2 million loss of property, land, homes, household goods, clothing and food, the highest loss of any flood in Skagit county history.  Sedro-Woolley residents assert that the floods of 1932, 1921, 1909 and 1897 were worse for this city, but for upriver residents, this week ranked with the 1909 and 1921 disasters.  Hamilton, floodswept community of 290 residents, is now cleaning up.  . . .  Thirty-five houses sustained flood damage, the Red Cross said.  . . .  Hamilton, Rockport and farmers in the Utopia and Lyman-Hamilton district suffered most loss and damage from the floodwaters.  . . .  Estimates of damage in the community of Hamilton alone ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  . . .  Hamilton school had more than three feet of water in the first floor rooms and cafeteria and six feet in the boiler room.  . . .  Most Sedro-Woolley residents were slow in learning that the flood was coming.  . . .  In the afternoon the water spread out in the low area north of the disposal grounds and by evening crossed the lower extension of what would be Township street.  By nightfall water covered the southern extension of Third street halting traffic to Clear Lake.  The Nookachamps also backed up inundating all the flat, low country in its vicinity.  By Sunday night many communities were isolated, including parts of the Sterling district.  . . .  The water rose along both sides of lower Third street (highway 1-A) and came to within a few feet of the Union Oil bulk station and drove farmers south of town from their homes.  . . .  Local residents, who have seen earlier floods, frequently commented that this one was not as bad as those of earlier days.  . . .  Sunday and Mondays flood had remarkable similarity to the 1909 disaster which occurred almost on exactly the same days, and in the same way.  This weeks flood followed a heavy downpour of rain last weekend and a warm Chinook wind which melted snow in the hills and brought down a deluge into the mainstream of the Skagit river.  The 1909 flood started after rains and a Chinook wind on Sunday and Monday, November 28 and 29, 1909 according to a copy of the Herald-Recorder, Skagit countys official newspaper of that day, which was printed at Hamilton.


USGS 154,000 cfs Concrete (40.8), 149,000 cfs Sedro Woolley, 114,000 cfs (34.2) Mt. Vernon.



highest loss of any flood in history  The 1917 flood caused more damages in the county.  See 1/10/18 MVH article.


Hamilton had 290 residents.  35 homes damaged.


Hamilton school had more than  3 ft. of water in it.




Need to find where was Sedro-Woolleys garbage dump.



Water came within a few feet of the Union Oil bulk station.



Rain on snow event.








damage high in hamilton, utopia districts

Total loss caused by the flood has not been determined but a partial list of estimated damages and loss in Hamilton, the surrounding area and in the Utopia district indicates the final totals will run into high figures.  Hi Lead Tavern, $4,500; Cascade Grocery $6,000, . . .  Mrs. Cecil McDougle, Courier-Times correspondent, reports the Matson family, who lives on the peninsula known as the Island between Lyman and Hamilton, lost five cows and cannot find a sixth.

Flood Damage



Lots of livestock lost upriver.


Island.  Cockerham Island??



ross dam lessens flood damage

Seattle City Lights Ross Dam in the upper Skagit played a large part in keeping the serious flow from begin even worse, E. R. Hoffman, Lighting Superintendent, reports.  The valves in the big dam were closed Wednesday, Nov. 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, a large town below Ross Dam crested at 149,000 cubic feet per second on Sunday, Nov. 27. This would have been disastrously worse except for the water held behind Ross Dam.  The crest passed Mt. Vernon early Monday morning, Nov. 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.  . . .  The flood was caused by heavy rains and unseasonable warm temperatures that melted snow already in the mountains. From Tuesday through Sunday approximately 11 inches of rain fell on the upper Skagit.  About 4 inches of rain fell in 24 hours on Saturday and one and one-half inches on Sunday. Maximum temperatures were from 45 to 58 degrees, melting an undetermined amount of snow. 

Ross Dam Flood Control

No water passed out of Ross during 1949 flood event.



42,600 cfs held back from crest of flood.






USGS reports crest at Concrete at 154,000 cfs and 149,000 cfs at Sedro-Woolley.





Flood was rain on snow event.  11 inches of rain in 5 days.  4 inches in 24 hours.



mother child rescued as they hang from rafters

Mrs. Albert Watson yesterday described a hectic night which she and her three-year-old son, David Allen spent floating on mattresses and finally hanging onto the rafters of their small frame house near Rockport in the raging flood of Saturday and Sunday.  . . .  The baby and I were alone as my husband, A.L. Watson and our grown son had been away working and couldnt get back across the river, Mrs. Watson said.  When the water backed up in Mosquito Slough Saturday night and started to come in our house, I was scared, the woman continued.  I got up on a chair and then the baby and I stood on a dresser.  Then I piled one mattress on top of the other and we floated on them.  . . .  Mr. And Mrs. George Moses and their children, also residents of Mosquito Flat, climbed into two dugout canoes, paddled into some trees where they tied up, and spent the night with blankets over their heads.

Rockport House Floods


House next to Mosquito Slough.







Lived on Mosquito Flat.



things to be done (Editorial)

After all, it might have been far worse.  No irretrievable damage has been done.  The thing to be done now is to clean up, begin the work of repair, and proceed as though nothing had happened.  Skagit county has a glorious future and not even extraordinary misfortune can set it back for any length of time.  The weak-kneed brothers will move out; those made of sterner stuff will stay and reap the rewards of grit and energy.  It is no time for calamity howlers, and they should not be tolerated.  Let them go their way; their places will be filled by better men.  No expense should be spared to put the roads and bridges in as good and better condition than they were in, before the freshet.  If necessary, the taxpayers should not hesitate to bond the county for any needed sum, and no man who has the interests of his county at heart will balk at such a move.  It is no time for hysterics or petty politicscalm judgment, definiteness of purpose and indefatigable and well directed energy must now be combined.  (The above editorial appeared in the Dec. 4, 1909 issue of The Herald-Recorder, Skagit countys official paper published at Hamilton, the week of the big flood.)

Floods Shouldnt Deter Development


Proceed as though nothing has happened.


No time for weak-kneed calamity howlers.





No time for hysterics or petty politics.


Calm judgment, definiteness of purpose and indefatigable and well directed energy is what is needed.



log jam breaks, pours tons of debris on farm; railroad blocked

Railroad repair crews have been working sixteen hours a day since last Thursday trying to clear the Northern Pacific track just back of the Frank Oliver farm at Prairie, seven miles north of Sedro-Woolley, of some ten feet of tangled logs, gravel and other debris which came crashing down the mountainside sometime between six and nine oclock that evening.  A huge log jam, apparently released by the recent heavy rains and melted snow, suddenly broke loose far up the canyon above Heck Falls about dusk last Thursday and, gaining momentum in the increased flow of water below the falls, pummeled down into the valley, piled against and over the top of the track for an estimated eight to eleven hundred feet and spilled over valuable hay land on the Oliver farm.

Log Jam on NPRR Bridge in Prairie


Prarie is located in the Samish River Basin.



soil conservation office submits flood damage report for county

Seventy farm houses and buildings in Skagit county were washed out or damaged severely by the Skagit river flood November 27 through 29, Paul C. Dickey, district soil conservationist reported this week.  Cost of rehabilitating the buildings was estimated at $160,000.  The soil conservation office estimated cost of all damage except crop losses due to the floods at $806,965.  . . .over-all loss caused by the flood to $1 million, Dickey said.  . . . 14,765 acres of land in the county were inundated during the flood, and 2,700 feet of dikes were washed away.  . . . This flood was caused chiefly by sudden and heavy rainfall, augmented by quick melting of new snow on the mountain slopes.  During the three days previous to the flood moderate rains fell and to this was added a popularly reported four inch precipitation during a 24 hour period on November 27 and 28.  . . .  The peak flow of the Skagit river, according to the gauge at Mt. Vernon was 132,000 cfs.  This is the highest flood since 1921.  The cause of much of this flood damage is simply that the water rose to a greater height than the farmers had prepared dikes for, and that too many of the dikes were not of sufficient cross section to withstand a flood that remained high on them for any considerable time.  This was a quick flood.  Probably there would have been much greater break-through if the river had remained high over an extended period.  . . .  Dikes should be raised and greatly strengthened to prevent a recurrence of flooding that might very easily be disastrous under conditions les fortunate than existed this time.

Soil Conservation Flood Damage Report on November 27-29 Flood


Damage figures would be approximately $1,240,310 for building damage and $6,255,813 for overall damage in 2003 dollars.





USGS has this flood as having only 114,000 cfs at the Mt. Vernon gage.  It was the highest since 1921.


Levees neither high nor wide enough. 



skagit flood causes big damage hamilton, conway areas hard hit; roads washed out

Reaching a near record crest of 28.2 feet at Mt. Vernon at 5 a.m. Sunday, the Skagit rivers worst flood in several years, caused many thousands of dollars damage to highways and property, and left many families temporarily homeless.  The Hamilton area was the worst hit, east of Sedro-Woolley and the Fir-Conway district south of Mt. Vernon.  . . . Mt. Vernon and Burlington were spared from a bad flood.  The county engineer reports that the Burlington road will be ready for use Saturday night.  All roads upriver are passable and most of the roads in the Nookachamps area are again in use.  . . .  By Saturday all traffic to the upper Skagit valley was cut off at Lyman where the road was under water.  Another stretch of road above Marblemount was flooded and the road to Newhalem closed.  . . .  Traffic on the Clear Lake road was closed at 11 a.m. Saturday as a log jam threatened destruction of the bridge.  Later the road was covered with water.  . . .  The river broke through the railroad embankment east of Burlington, which acts as a dike, and tore through the Dollar road, cutting the PUD 14 inch main serving Burlington.  Hamilton was flooded for the second straight year, but fortunately many of the residents had more warning about the coming high water.  About midnight Friday night the water began to come over the top of the dike and continued to rise until approximately 2,000 acres in the Birdsview-Hamilton area were covered with water.  . . .  It has been reported that many of the people in Hamilton were going to sell out and move, but nearly all of the for sale signs seen on homes now had been up before the flood.  The oldtimers who had been going through floods for years take it in stride. 


USGS 139,000 cfs Concrete (38.99), 150,000 cfs Sedro-Woolley, 144,000 cfs Mt. Vernon (36.85)

The 28.2 ft. reading was at the Moose Hall gage in downtown Mt. Vernon.  There is a 8 ft. drop in elevation from the current gage to the Moose Hall gage.


Marblemount road flooded. 


Log jam threatened Highway 9 bridge.



Railroad embankment along Highway 20 (Old Dollar Road) acts as a dike.



hanson creeks flood problems to be discussed

The problem of Hanson creek in its flooding of farmland is being studied by state and county officials, at the request of farmers owning land along the creek.  . . .  It was reported that at present Hanson creek has deposited so much dirt and gravel from the foot of the hill and on to its mouth at the river, that it is now too shallow to hold its water, after a heavy rain, and adjoining farmland is threatened.  . . .  The Soil Conservation men have conducted a survey since the meeting, and recommend a dredging of the creek bed, as in some cases the gravel is higher than the adjoining fields.  . . .  The farmers felt that the state should pay a large part of the cost and perhaps county help could be obtained.

Hanson Creek Flooding


SCS recommended dredging the creek.



Samish Indians sue for $41,500,000; to meet at LaConner

The Samish Indian tribe of Washington as filed suit against the U.S. Government for the sum of $41,500,000 on the basis of breach of the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855.  The Samish originally owned land in Whatcom, San Juan and Skagit counties for which they received no consideration when it was taken over by white settlers.  Other Western Washington Indian tribes are suing for a total of $700,000,000.  They are being represented in the lawsuit by Warren J. Gilbert and Harwood Bannister of Mt. Vernon and Frederick Post and Malcolm McLeod of Seattle.

Tribes Lawsuit


Should contact Gilberts son and find out what happened to this litigation.


[1] The Skagit County Times was the forerunner of The Courier-Times, Sedro-Woolley newspaper.  It stated it was The Only Democratic Paper Published in Skagit County.

[2] for those reading this in printout form.

[3] The meaning of the Indian word Skiyou is dead man.  Many skeletons rested in old canoes put up on poles or in the branches of trees on Skiyou Island and many more near the Nookachamps.  They were not very agreeable places to pass on a warm day.  (Source:  Courier-Times 10/20/49)

[4] This is a typo.  It should be James E. Stewart.

[5] Perhaps there are two Stewarts.  He worked for Skagit County but in 1922-23 after the 1921 flood.  Typo??

[6] for those reading this in printout form.

[7] for those reading this in printout form.

[8] for those reading this in printout form.

[9] Unpredictable change.