SKAGIT VALLEY HERALD HISTORICAL FLOOD ARTICLE RESEARCH

Researched, assembled and organized by:  Dan Berentson, Josef and Larry Kunzler 3/19//2005

DATE/

PAPER

ARTICLE

COMMENTS

10/21/1895

The Skagit News

(“TSN”) [1]

memorial

to the senate and house of representatives

            The undersigned citizens of Skagit County, State of Washington, believe that a fair consideration of the conditions surrounding the Skagit River and tributary country will induce such liberal action on the part of Congress as will meet the requirements of our present environments and prevent any disaster in the future such as we have suffered in the past.  . . .  The surveys already made, and the map attached hereto sustain the statement that there are tributary to Skagit River about forty Townships, or over fourteen hundred square miles of land.  A large proportion of this country is now, and all of it, when developed, must be largely dependent for its commerce on this important River.  It is navigable for light draft Steamers from its mouth to Sauk City, a distance of about seventy miles, and at some seasons to Marblemount, fifteen miles above Sauk City.  . . .  A system of dikes extends on both sides of the River from its mouth to and above the village of Avon, about fifteen miles; and connecting with the main system, are other dikes, running across the level country toward LaConner and other points to the North and South of the River.  This diking system has been rendered necessary by the filling in of the bed and mouths of the River, from causes which will be explained, and ought to be remedied.  The system, already constructed and maintained, embraces one hundred and fifty-eight miles of dikes, and has cost in money and labor expended in construction, the large sum of three hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars.  All of this has been expended by owners of land in the Skagit valley, including the residents of towns liable to inundation.  . . . 

Before the mouth of the river began to be obstructed, the accumulating waters of the greatest freshets did not overflow the banks.  A channel varying in depth from twelve to twenty feet was a sufficient outlet for all the water that passed in swift torrents from the mountains and highlands of the North and East.  . . .  The main channel or mouth of the River is now closed from an accumulation of logs, driftwood and sediment.  Where a few years ago Steamers could safely navigate in fifteen feet of water persons can now walk from one bank of the River to the other on logs, or other obstruction.  The only entrance from the Sound into the Skagit is by way of a small Slough, narrow and unsafe, and through which Steamers at high tide can find only about six feet of water.  The North fork of the River, through which navigation was formerly maintained, is now practically closed, and no boat can traverse its waters.  The South fork is only navigable from Fir, where it flows through and becomes a part of Steamboat Slough, heretofore mentioned.  Various reasons may be assigned for the obstruction and closing of the two mouths of the River, but until Boom Companies were permitted to place obstructions in the River and to locate their booms and appliances near the mouths, there was no trouble about overflows.

            We call your attention to the fact that since November, 1892, the floods in the Skagit have four times swept over the banks, broken the dikes and inundated the surrounding country.  The destruction of property by the overflow in November, 1892, and January, 1895, was not very great, but the overflow in May, 1894, and June of that year entailed a direct loss on the people of the Skagit Valley as shown by estimates attached hereto, approximating one-half million of dollars.  The town of Mount Vernon was entirely flooded, small boats and rafts navigated the streets and the people were driven from their homes for safety to the hills.  The damage to public and private property was great, and the suffering from exposure and sickness was distressing.

 

 

Unfortunately the newspaper did not publish the names or who wrote this Memorial.

 

 

The first documented “investigation” of the Skagit River was done by the Corps of Engineers in 1890.  On October 13, 1890 Capt. E.H. Jefferson wrote:  “There are several sloughs and channels through which the river finds its way to salt water.  Steamboat Slough is the principal one, and used by the Steamers.  The others are inferior and operated by the log-boom companies.” 

 

158 miles of dikes.  Cost $335,000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

These paragraphs strongly suggests that before the log boom companies came that the river did not flood.  This of course was not true.

 

The 1897 Corps survey map shows that the “Old Main Channel” was completely obstructed with log jams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Previously it has been believed that the only time downtown Mt. Vernon went underwater was in the flood of 1897. (See Skagit Argus article 12/15/21.)  Clearly this Memorial contradicts that statement.  It is also the first time that a summer flood was documented as having hit the valley.  Why didn’t Stewart find any evidence of this flood event or for that matter even mention it?

11/16/1896

TSN

the highest water known

The highest water in the Skagit River known to white men occurred last night.  On last Thursday a Chinook wind commenced to blow which was accompanied by a warm rain.  This rapidly cut away the snow which for several weeks had been creeping down the mountain sides.  The wind continued over Friday when the river commenced to rise rapidly.  By Saturday afternoon the river was booming and many thought it had reached its highest stage.  This however, was not the case as it continued to creep upward during yesterday, and until last night.  As the water gradually rose on the levees it became apparent that unless strenuous efforts were made to raise them, the town would be flooded.  The experience of former occasion was enough to induce all parties to lend a hand, so that when the fire bell rang out the alarm, not for fire gut water, an army of men turned out with shovels and commended to build a dike on top of the levee, commending at the hill and working clear down through the city.  This work saved the town, and but for it, from ten to eighteen inches of water would have swept over the levees and through the city. 

. . . Six hundred feet of the Great Northern railroad track between the bridge and Burlington were washed out, . . . The protection pier at the Great Northern bridge was knocked out and that structure was in great danger of being washed away.  . . . Two big breaks in the levee on the west side occurred.  One near F.C. Ward’s place, the other at D. Storr’s place.  The whole west side including West Mt. Vernon, is a lake.

NOVEMBER 16, 1896 FLOOD

USGS (Stewart) says 185,000 cfs  at Sedro-Woolley.  No figure for Concrete.

 

“The experience of former occasion was enough to induce all parties to lend a hand…”  This statement confirms that downtown Mt. Vernon had indeed went under before.

According to COE reports there were 3 floods in 1896.  January, June & November.  The COE Taylor Report 12/11/1897 stated that “River reportedly was 24 ft on Great Northern Railroad Bridge 6 miles above Mt. Vernon.”, which was 2 ft and 4 ft above the January and June floods respectively. 

 

Burlington levees broke.  Westside Mt. Vernon levees broke.

Clearly damage not as great as 1917.

11/16/1896

TSN

protecting the banks

One of the most important questions for the consideration of the settlers of the Skagit Valley, is an adequate protection to the rivers banks from wash during high water.  It is possible to build a levee of sufficient height to prevent overflow, but it is impossible to build a levee that shall withstand the slow undermining of the river at its base.  So far, several methods have been tried but none of them are entirely satisfactory.  The New Orleans Picayune of Aug. 16 has a description of a system which has been tried along the banks of the Mississippi, with the most satisfactory results.  The following extract from the article will explain the system:

The system was invented by Messers. R.H.F. and N. H. Sewall.  The former gentlemen being interviewed stated that their system of dikes is nothing new to the engineers and citizens at large who are interested in such work.  . . .  The plan is to construct spur dikes of timber at intervals along the caving banks.  These dikes project upstream at an angle of about 25 degrees.  They are constructed of piling driven 80 to 85 feet into the river bottom; the water will fall into the angle formed by the dike and the bank, and be held there, forming a motionless body of water on both sides of the dike, which leaves no pressure against same.  The deposit of the silt laden waters of the Mississippi will b stopped by the dike and will gradually settle, forming an accretion which will eventually create a batture[2].

New Kind of Dikes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sewall’s might have taken credit for this design but it is very similar to what a hydraulic engineer professor in the early 1500’s taught to his class.  That engineer was Leonardo daVinci. 

11/19/1896

SCT[3]

the great flood -- the skagit on a big tear -- the skagit valley from the baker valley to the laconner flats washed by the ruinous flood—stock and improvements carried away

On Wednesday of last week, the wind began to blow from southeast and, before evening had developed into a chinook gale. Unfortunately for the river bottom settlers of the Skagit valley, the warm wind continued until about 4 p.m. Sunday.  On Friday the Skagit began to rise quite rapidly and continued rising at an average rate of three inches an hour until Sunday morning when it began to abate. In the afternoon of that day, the river had risen until all previous highwater marks at Sedro was one foot seven inches under water.  The whole valley east of Sedro was a floating wilderness.  Hamilton was totally inundated; one brick building having caved in and several frame ones torn from their foundations.  The county bridges recently constructed wee destroyed and the improved roads that had become the pride of the upper valley became an easy prey to the devastating waters.  Lower Sedro suffered heavily.  A large number of cattle and small stock perished and buildings ruthlessly torn from their foundations were cast hap-hazard amid the heaps of debris.  Mortimer Cook’s store that has weathered the floods and storms of fifteen years, rose with the eddying waters and turned half way round before lodging against some trees and stumps.

. . . South Burlington sustained great damage.  Houses and barns were undermined and toppled to the ground and the winter’s supply which they contained scattered on the tide.  The fencing of years yielded to the flood and the clearings that represented the toil of a decade were covered with the debris of the surrounding forest.  . . .  West Mount Vernon is next in line of progress and received no favor from the impartial flood.  The water, rising from one to two feet above the first floor of the dwellings, swept fences and everything movable before it.  . . .  In the year 1878 Joseph Hart, our well known fellow citizen, came to Puget Sound and two years latter came to the Skagit valley, just prior to the great flood of 1880.  Since the flood of that year there have been three freshets that have equaled it in height, and the one we chronicle this week surpassed it by eighteen inches.  . . .  In speaking of the floods and their causes, Mr. Hart said:  “At the time of my coming to the valley there had been no freshets of note for many years, and the one that came in 1880 was a damper to the enthusiasm of the dwellers on the marsh lands; but, as several years rolled by without a repetition of the catastrophe and a system of dikes was inaugurated, contentment banished fear.  Shortly after the memorable high water of that year, I had a talk with an old Indian and his squaw, who used to live on Skiyou Island but have since died of small-pox.  These worthies took me to a tree near by and directed my attention to a water mark at least six feet higher than the highest point reached by the recent freshet and said that when they were children the great flood swept down the valley carrying death and destruction everywhere.  He said:  ‘The lodges of my people were carried with their canoes and winters food out to the great waters, and they were left to suffer the horrors of starvation and death from exposure to the inclement elements.  The snows of winter fell to an unusual depth and the animals upon which we were wont to subsist, greatly reduced in numbers by drowning and driven into the mountain fastnesses by the raging torrent, were hard to get and very poor.  The fish we had prepared for winter use were destroyed by the angry waters and we were made to suffer the wrath of the Great Spirit.’ ” Continuing Mr. Hart said:  “Judging from the apparent age of the Indians at that time I should place the time of that greatest of the great freshets at about the beginning of the present century, and was caused according to the story of these Indians, by heavy snows coming early in the fall, which were immediately succeeded by a very warm Chinook wind which blew for many days.  As to this being the only and real cause of the unprecedented high water, however, I have my doubts.  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.

NOVEMBER 16, 1896 FLOOD

 

 

 

3 inches an hour for approximately 48 hours would be 144 inches or only 12 feet.  This would not be a very large flood by todays standards even if we assume the river was at 20 feet when it started to rise.  This could explain why the COE stated the BNSF RR bridge only reached 24 feet (See TSN entry 11/16/1898).  Burlington at that time was not protected by levees and the water must have flowed down Gages Slough.

 

Cook’s store was located on the edge of the river.

 

South Burlington would have been the Gages Slough area.  No references to downtown Burlington.

 

West Mt. Vernon water one to two feet deep.

 

 

Water only a foot and a half more then three previous floods since 1880.  This would have included the 1884 flood that inundated downtown Mt. Vernon.  (See 1895 article above.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

This would have been the 1815 flood Stewart talked about and then later.  Stewart later recanted this by saying The old Indian who told Hart and others at Sedro Woolley in 1879 that the flood was when he was a boy either referred to another flood or they did not understand him.”

(Source:  Transcription of Stewart “flood notes” on 9/16/22 by USGS 6/30/23 re Reflector Bar near Marblemount)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The narrow outlet in the Baker Valley would be where Upper Baker Dam is now.  Baker River before the dam ran on the east side of Baker Valley.

 

Water marks up the sides of the Baker Valley and on trees down the Skagit.  USGS now says this flood never happened because they can’t find any evidence.

1/4/1897

TSN

dikes and fisheries

Upon the call of Representative J. E. Nelson quite a large number of Skagit county people who are interested in the subjects of dikes and fisheries gathered in the court house in Mount Vernon last Tuesday and a thorough discussion was had of the needs of the county in relation to the above subjects.  In the matter of improving the diking system it was the universal opinion that the first and most important steps to be taken is to secure the removal of the “boom works” from the mouth of the river so that the water will carry its load of debris out to sea instead of depositing it in the river channels where it forms a dam to the free outlet.  Old settlers related that in the early days before the erection of the “boom works” there were three clear channels out to deep water with a depth of from 16 to 18 feet of water, but immediately following the construction of the “boom works” the channels began to fill up with drift until now there is but one navigable channel and that has only a depth of about 6 or 8 feet in a most tortuous channel.  . . .  In regard to the fishing interests it was the general opinion that laws should be passed prohibiting the erection of traps in or near the mouth of any river or in any “fish runway.”  And further that the state would foster the fishing industry by the establishment of an additional number of hatcheries.

 

River used to have “3 clear channels”.  The one they are talking about in this article is Steamboat Slough.

 

 

 

 

 

North and South Forks used to be 16 to 18 feet deep.

 

Steamboat Slough 6-8 feet deep.

 

No “fish traps” in or near the mouth of river or in any “fish runways”.  Should build fish hatcheries.

11/22/1897

The

Skagit

News

Herald

(“TSN-H”)

disastrous flood -- mt. vernon is a heavy sufferer

levees overflowed and sidewalks washed out.  a torrent of water pours through the city.  several houses wrecked and one or two narrow escapes.

On Wednesday morning a very warm Chinook wind commended to blow which increased in force until evening, when it was almost a gale.  This hot wind blowing directly on the snow which had been creeping down the hills for the last few weeks, cut it away with the rapidity of fire, and resulted in a raging torrent rushing down the valley of the Skagit on its way to the sea.   The rise did not commence until Wednesday evening, as it usually takes from twelve to fourteen hours for the effects of a Chinook to make their appearance, and the same time to cease.  By Thursday the river was still raising but still within the banks.  During the night, however the water came with increased force, and early on Friday morning the alarm was whistled from the electric light plant which called for help only to find the water pouring over the levees in all directions.  Some efforts were made to raise the levees and keep ahead of the water, but it came so fast that they were useless.  . . .  In the southern part of the city, the very lowest quarter, a great break occurred in the levee, caused by the water pouring over the top, which swept everything before it with irresistible force.  . . .  After the flood Kincaid Street presented a sight that was dismal in the extreme, being washed out and lined with debris from one end to the other.  All other parts of the city were in nearly as bad condition.  . . .  From Conway to salt water, the flood poured over the top of the levee the entire distance on the east side of the river.

On the west side of the river several small breaks occurred letting through large volumes of water.  But little damage was caused however.  . . .  At one time the bridge across the river at this point was in real danger.  A jam had formed on one of the piers which gradually increased in size until it reached almost across the river.  By good work and the liberal use of giant powder, the jam was finally broken, and the bridge cleared.  It is badly damaged however, and cannot be used by teams until repaired.  The protection pier on the next span east of the draw was knocked completely out, and the full force of the jam came against the main pier, springing it fully 18 inches out of plumb.  . . .  At the mouth of the river, steamboat slough, the only channel that can be used by steamboats, is completely blockaded.  . . .  The Great Northern coast line was overflowed as usual, but not so badly damaged as it was last year.  The first train from the south came in today.  A jam formed against the bridge at the Davis place, and came near taking it out.  As it was the protection piers were knocked out, and the rails on the bridge were sprung fully 18 inches.

NOVEMBER 18, 1897 FLOOD

 

USGS (Stewart) says 275,000 cfs at Concrete, 190,000 cfs Sedro-Woolley.

 

 

 

12-14 hours is still what it takes for flood waters to get from Concrete to Mt. Vernon.

 

Water pouring “over” the levees.  This is the first time we have seen evidence of water over the levees.

 

Downtown Mt. Vernon flooded.

 

 

 

 

Kincaid Street washed out.

 

Conway levees overtopped.  Fir Island levees broke.

 

Log jam on Riverside bridge.

 

 

 

 

 

Steamboat Slough blocked with log jam.  No channel open to the sound.

 

Great Northern (BNSF) bridge damaged by log jam.

 

9/4/06

TSN-H

developing the country  --  railway activity is skagit county

the great northern is planning much improvement for next year

Within the next year Skagit county will be developed more than has been the case since the county has been in existence.  This is made possible from the fact that Mr. James J. Hill, who deserves the title of Father of the Northwest, is planning many valuable improvements on such a nature as will bring into the county hundreds of people who will settle upon the rich lands and improve and develop the many resources.  . . .  For a number of years the mining men of Skagit Pass, of Ruby and State creek have cried out for roads and transportation facilities, but have been unable to get them.  . . .  That Skagit county has paying mineral deposits there is but the slightest question.  She has not only gold and silver but iron and copper and cement rock and other valuable minerals.  . . .  But the mineral is not Mr. Hills only object, there are great forests of timber to be moved and there are fertile acres to be developed in the future.

Railroad Development

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s gold in them thar hills.

 

And a few trees and good farmland too.

9/10/06

TSN-H

our resources are many -- a splendid poor man’s country

work is plentiful at all times and wages are always good

What Skagit county needs is more people to develop the great rich fields which spread off every hand.  There is not a country on earth where so many rich stores await the hand of toil and there is not a land extant where the poor man can so nicely get along and soon be in easy circumstances.  Skagit county is one vast field of richness, producing the greatest hay, grain, vegetables and fruits to be found anywhere and once this becomes known to the eastern man who is seeking a home, it will be only the matter of a very few years until this whole country will be alive with industrious men, building homes and developing the great resources which surround them.  Our county needs advertising we must place before the people that which we have for sale.  . . .  Let the eastern people know that we have a land of perfect health, that we have no heat or cold to the extreme, just an even, pleasant climate where health is catching and nature has a bountifully blessed the country with scenic mountains, sapphire seas, fantastic forest, green islands, and crystal lakes.  Let this be known and Skagit county will not be long in claiming her own. 

The Selling of Skagit County

 

“What Skagit County needs is more people . . . . “  Perhaps today this statement would not be so true.

 

Interesting in this article is that it doesn’t mention floods.

11/16/06

The

Journal[4]

(“TJ”)

skagit river out of its banks

water in valley highest known for years—burlington high and dry—very little damage

On Thursday evening the Skagit river was the highest known for years.  Some damage was done at various points on the river.  West Mt, Vernon was flooded, but with very light damage.  The west span of the bridge at that place was swept away.  The draw on the railroad bridge was slightly damaged by a heavy drift but will soon be repaired.  No water came within the corporate limits of Burlington except in the slough in the east part of town, and no damage was done.

 

NOVEMBER 16, 1906 FLOOD

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

 

“highest known for years”  Should have read highest since 1897 which according to USGS was 275,000 cfs at Concrete and 190,000 cfs at Sedro-Woolley.   Burlington had no water in 1906 according to this article. 

11/19/06

TSN-H

highest water in many years – skagit river goes on big rampage

all bridges are damaged and dikes broken in a number of places along the river

While no great amount of damage resulted, it is never the less a fact that the old timer does not remember when the Skagit river contained as much water as it did Thursday night and Friday, and only prompt action on the part of the city officials and citizens saved the town from being inundated.  The dikes here were very secure and did not break but the torrents of water poured over them and it was only by prompt action on the part of the citizens, who labored like Trojans filling sacks of sand and placing them in the low places, that saved the city from another baptism worse than that of 1897, as the water was at least eight inches higher than it was during that memorable freshet.   . . .  The greatest damage done is to the numerous bridges along the river. The railway bridge between this city and Burlington has been greatly damaged and one span of the Mt. Vernon bridge was swept away which leaves the city practically cut away from all communications.  . . . The bridge at this place will never lament with safety, one span carried away, the others injured. A ferry will be established and sustained here until such time as a new bridge can be constructed.  . . . . These floods are fraught with no great danger and throughout the country where the dikes gave way there has been no loss of life and but little damage to property and the farmers are not at all discouraged or alarmed about the future. The dikes in the main remained secure and when the damaged dikes are repaired they will be made sufficiently strong to withstand all future floods. Any home seeker or investor when contemplating coming to Skagit Valley should not hesitate to do so for in truth these floods are of no great consequence except what damage is done to bridges. They really benefit the land, but there is no doubt but in future years the dikes will be so strengthen as to withstand these floods and the country back of them will always remain dry.

Reported Flood Levels do not Support Stewart

 

“no great damage”.

 

Mt. Vernon levees did not break.

 

 

 

This begs the question how did they end up with 8 inches higher water with 5,000 cfs less water.

 

 

Bridges damaged.

 

 

“No great danger from floods.”  In a few years they will regret making that statement.

 

 

 

Floods “really benefit the land.”

11/19/06

TSN-H

There should not be too much blame laid at the door of the dike commissioners because of the dikes breaking.  Those dikes wee built under many difficulties and considering the newness of the country they have held in pretty good shape.  The majority of dikes withstood the floods and in a majority of cases the commissioners are to be commended upon their excellent work.  Where logs or stumps were left in the dikes it is to be regretted, but remember that at this time floods extended almost from coast to coast.

Dike Commissioners Not The Blame

 

 

11/19/06

TSN-H

freaks of the big freshet -- many curious turns are suddenly taken

great excavations are made showing the wonderful depth of skagit county soil

Although no great killing damage was done by the deed of last week, still at certain places the waters cut many curious capers, especially on the ferry road above the city where the greatest amount of damage was done to fences, walks, houses and barns.  In places great excavations 400 feet in length and several feet deep were made.  . . . Great stumps were washed out by the roots leaving the deep excavations all the way from 12 to 20 feet in depth.  Old logs which had been buried no doubt for a century were exhumed by the playful waters leaving great trenches washed deep into the soil.  Below the city in the vicinity of Cedardale, the dykes gave way because of stumps being unintentionally left in them.  These stumps were several feet below the surface and unknown to the dike commissioners.  The waters however entered a rat hole, found their way and the stumps came to the surface by following the crevices made by the stumps at last passing through and soon soaked the dike until it gave way.  The waters then lifted the great roots from hiding places of great years and tumbled them into the great torrents which rushed through the dikes.  . . .  The report published in the P.I. that the dykes at Avon had broken is false, as there is not a break in the dyke within a mile of that town. . . .  The dykes at Mt. Vernon did not break, all stood secure until the city limits were passed.  Just above the city the dyke gave way and the water backed into West Mt. Vernon, making quite a serious time for their inhabitants of that side of the river, but all escaped unharmed, no less save a few chickens.  . . .  The citizens take the freaks of the river in a philosophical manner and are not in the least discouraged.

Dikes Blew Because of “Rat Holes & Stumps”

 

 

Great excavations 400 ft in length and several feet deep. 

 

 

Old logs buried for 100 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avon levees did not break.  City of Mt. Vernon levees did not break.  Just above city levees broke and backed into West Mt. Vernon.

 

 

Floods not a big deal??

11/19/06

TSN-H

true flood report

We have done a little wading and done a little swimming, And we hit for good tall timber when the river got to raging, But we didn’t lose our horses, our cattle, nor our women, Though the water was rather wet and quite above its staging.  . . .

So here’s to good ole Mt. Vernon and the fertile Skagit valley, We don’t care for the river if she does go on a spree, Let her fill her banks and gurgle, and boil, and foam, and sally, It’s the land of milk and honey she is kissing, don’t you see?

Poem

 

Poem downplays the impacts of the flood.

11/23/06

The

Journal

refugee notes from east burlington

The Skagit river has again risen in her majesty, and outdone its previous efforts for some years back.  Everybody at Sterling south of the railroad track was compelled to move, some not getting their household goods high enough, as the water kept raising were obliged to move again.  . . .  Buzz Jewell suffered the greatest financial loss of anyone, as the river raised so that it covered most of his forty acres, and poured over the county roads in such volumes as to cut a chasm thirty feet wide and fifteen feet deep, the roaring of which could be heard half a mile away.  Jeffery Grimbly and wife moved out in season to escape being rescued by a raft this time, “I think the women all bore in mind the instance of one lady during the last flood, being carried out and deposited upon a raft outside the front gate, and determined to get out while the traveling was good.”  . . .  In the dwellings of Messers. Grimbly, Chappeau, and Raymont the water came up to the door knobs.  . . .  The flood did no damage to Wm. Crotchett except to fill all the holes in and about his barn yard.  It poured a wide stream of water over the county road and ran over the road into the slough.  . . .  The bridge over the slough by Wm. Miller’s place is impassable, having been built on logs, which were jarred loose lifting the bridge about three feet into space at one end.

East and South Burlington Damage

Sterling damaged.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water at least 3 feet deep in houses.

 

 

 

Floodwaters found their way to Gages Slough.

11/26/06

TSN-H

what we have.

Come this way Mr. Traveler, and never be afraid, The floods have all subsided; we no longer have to wade, Trout are in the river we catch them at our ease, The weather’s moderated, no danger of a freeze, The winds are blowing milder, we feel a sort of charm, And the waters which were raging have ceased from doing harm, . . . Come out here Mr. Eastern man and settle down with us, Land’s so poor back yonder you can scarcely raise a fuss.  But here’s the land of plenty, the land of perfect ease, And the milk and honey’s flowing from the cows and honey bees.

POEM

Another poem by Charlie Gant downplaying the impact of floods.

11/26/06

TSN-H

bond county for bridges --taxpayers should vote sufficient bonds

county must progress and many new bridges are an absolute necessity

The News-Herald believes only in bonds when bonds are an absolute necessity, and it would seem that at this time such is the case.  There never was a time in the history of this county when bridges were such an absolute necessity.  The county at the present is maintaining eleven ferries at a cost of $3,036, this is for ferry tenders alone, not speaking of the expense of the repairs.  If we had three of four new bridges the county could save $996 per year on hire alone, but this is not the point at issue.  In maintaining these ferries the county will eventually pay out money enough to have built a steel bridge wherever needed and will not have a thing to show for it aside from a few cables and a few worthless old scows.  . . .  Ferries are dangerous, especially the weaklings which are constructed along the Skagit river.  There has been loss of life and property on these ferries.  They are only temporary, while steel bridges properly constructed are good for a lifetime, and once they are constructed the taxpayers feel secure, knowing that the expense is almost at an end.  At the present time the county is paying out annually enough to pay the interest on the amount necessary to construct these bridges, and why not do it?

New Bridges Needed

 

 

County needed steel bridges over the Skagit River.  Editor wanted to do away with the 11 ferries being operated at the County taxpayer expense.

12/3/06

TSN-H

bridge ready for service--repairs are now in good order

excellent work on the part of our county commissioners and the citizens of mt. vernon

The span in the bridge which was washed away during the flood has been replaced by a new one and the farmers can now cross with their teams.  The new span which rests upon large new piling is perfectly secure in every respect and will answer admirably until such time when the county is in shape to put in a new bridge, or at least until the next freshet.

Riverside Bridge Repaired

 

 

Span washed away in flood had been replaced.  Article states they did not think it would withstand another freshet.

2/15/09

ask $100,000 for the improvement of the skagit river

u.s. engineers report – favorably on the proposition to improve navigation on skagit river. will confine water to main channel

some details of Maj. Chittenden’s plan, recommends a modified plan to cost $100,000, through following to a considerable extent the plan outlined by Maj. Chittenden.  The chief obstacles to navigation in the Skagit as seen by Maj. Chittenden in his report are “the shoals at the mouth of the stream, the bad bars or shoals which interfere with low water navigation and the great quantity of driftwood and snags in the river.”  “Beginning with the junction of the north and the south forks in the delta of the river, the energy of the current is greatly dissipated by numerous channels and on the tide flats by a general dispersion of the current in all directions.”  The report favored the partial closing of the north channel to increase the current energy in the main channel by way of the south fork.  For this work Maj. Chittenden estimated a cost of $95,250.  . . .  In a previous report, April 15, 1907, he had pointed out that the total commerce on the river for 1906 reached 188,283½ tons, valued at $1,766,452.  . . .  As a result of a personal examination of the Skagit river from Sedro-Woolley to its mouth, including both north and south forks, the conclusion has been reached that the only means of securing a reliable channel or entrance to this river that will benefit existing commerce is by the construction of a dike at the mouth of the south fork, following generally the line laid down in the report of Maj. Chittenden, and by cutting off or regulating the flow through the other channels.  . . .  “The estimate is as follows:  16,000 feet of retaining dike, at $80,000; regulating dikes and mattress sill at head of north fork, $6,000; cutting off subsidiary channels at the delta, $5,000; superintendence and contingencies, 10 percent, $9,000, total $100,000.

Corps of Engineers Plan

For Improving Navigation

 

 

Several times this report recommends cutting off the flow of river water through the subsidiary channels.  The work that was carried out was further described in COE Cavanaugh Report 12/6/12 & COE Woodruff Report 10/10/19 and COE Butler Report 2/8/28.  What this strongly suggests is that it was not the farmers at least on Fir Island that blocked off the estuary flows but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Clearly this had a tremendous impact on fish.

12/3/09

The

Journal

high water on skagit river break all past records

fairhaven avenue flooded with a foot and a half of water river raises twenty-four feet above low water mark -- mark—above all past records

[5]Some among the oldest settlers of Skagit County are found to make the statement that never before have they seen the river rise to the marks reached during the flood, which came during the first part of the present week.  . . . At about 10 o’clock Monday night, W.H. Joyce who lives just east of town, gave the alarm by phone, announcing that the water had broken over the county road east of the Jewell place and was running down the big slough towards the east part of town which is quite timely settled.  . . .  Down at the east end of Fairhaven avenue the current was very swift and the bridge went out . . . leaving some forty people shut out in this lowest land and in a swift current of water.  . . .  Thursday was a great day in Burlington and many talked of camping on the heights Tuesday night, but the change came about noon, the water went down rapidly and Burlington has perhaps received less damage then any other town on the Skagit.  . . .  While the East Mt. Vernon dyke held good, a snapshot from the auction building on the hill at Mt. Vernon shows a sea of water from Mt. Vernon to LaConner.  Much damage was done in West Mt. Vernon and the hundreds shut in.  LaConner was underwater as well as the entire flats from LaConner to Bayview and Mt. Vernon.

NOVEMBER 30, 1909 FLOOD

USGS (Stewart) says flood 260,000 cfs at Concrete, 220,000 at Sedro-Woolley.

This article is in extremely poor condition and very hard to read.  Portions are completely unreadable.

 

Important to remember is that during this time period the Burlington levees were 4,000 feet west of their current location.

 

 

Water went down rapidly.  Burlington received less damage then any other town in Skagit County.  Downtown Mt. Vernon dry, everything from West Mt. Vernon to and including LaConner to Bayview underwater.

12/10/09

The

Journal

should build span on bridge

The high grade and close trestle bridge of the Great Northern Railroad South of town is in a great measure accountable for the extreme high water in the town during the recent flood.  A great drift of wood and logs, at the trestle bridge across the big slough, held the water and caused it to back up and overflow a greater part of the town.  For the safety of the town as well as for the railroad company, a long bridge span should be built at this point so as to give the drift wood and logs a chance to pass through.  If the railroad company does not do this of their own accord, the city authorities should force them to do so.  Many citizens had their homes flooded and were compelled to move out, all on account of this back up water from the above mentioned trestle bridge.  This water may seem of little importance to some, but those who have had some experience in this line think it of great importance to them.  Railroads are very necessary to our town and should always be treated courteously, but there is no reason that they should be permitted to jeopardize the lives, and comforts of our citizens.

Bridge Over Gages Slough Caused Flooding in Burlington

 

This article is extremely significant because it documents the tremendous amount of water and drift that used to travel through Gages Slough during flood events.

12/20/17

MVH

heavy rains cause a raging skagit

The heavy rains of the past two weeks have caused considerable inconvenience to people living along the Skagit river.  It seemed that the high point of the raging Skagit had been reached Sunday morning when the debris dam and the Mount Vernon bridge went out, carrying a portion of the temporary trestles away.  Part of the trestle went out on Saturday, thus putting the bridge out of commission and causing those who wished to get to Mount Vernon to go around by the Avon road and come in from the north.  . . .  The river dropped Sunday and Monday, but the heavy rains of Monday night brought the river up again.  Heavy rains in the hills kept the stream up to a dangerous point and in many places the water covered the low lands.  . . .  The heavy rains of Tuesday brought raging torrents of water down the old Skagit and for the first tie in nine years the danger line was reached on Wednesday morning when a little over twenty-one feet of water was registered.  The dike broke south of town and considerable land was flooded.  However, the standstill came about noon and by Thursday morning the water had fallen to the seventeen foot mark. 

 

UNDOCUMENTED 1917 FLOOD

 

This flood does not show up in USGS or Corps records probably because it was only 1 ft. over flood stage at the current gage.  HOWEVER, it is the first time that we have documented that the infamous December 30, 1917 flood was a “double pump” flood event.  Just like the 1990, 1995 and 2003 flood events.  As we all know, the 2nd flood is always larger, and it was.  Overbank storage would have been minimal at best.

 

Dike broke “south of town” on this minor event.  Although subsequent articles do not mention this levee break it is highly probable that the levee was not repaired in just 10 days.

1/3/18

MVH

skagit river throws mantle of flood waters over ranches and homes

The dear old Skagit Valley, the one green spot in the northwest, has been given a drenching which wrought much damage and caused considerable inconvenience to all persons, ranchers and townspeople alike.  An almost unprecedented rainfall and a Chinook wind starting last Friday in the upper part of the county caused the old timers to open their weather eyes and soon the alarm was given that a “big river” was expected.  The river began raising last Saturday morning and continued to raise all day.  Saturday night the stream was nearing the danger point.  Dikes in all parts of the valley were being taxed to their capacity and in many places efforts were being made to strengthen them.   . . .  LaConner received a full blow of the rushing waters, but aside from the loss of the bridge, some bad washouts, the little town stood up under the blow very strongly.  Mount Vernon’s business section and residence section was spared.  . . .  The Great Northern and the Interurban roads are badly hit.  For miles and miles, both north and south, the Great Northern tracks are hanging here and there like a great trestle.  In some places the road bed is washed out to a depth of six and seven feet.  The interurban tracks are badly damaged and it is not believed that traffic will be resumed between Mount Vernon and Bellingham for a least a month.  . . . 

The first intimation of danger was when advices up river were received to the effect that the water was higher on Saturday morning than it had been during the flood of 1909 and people began to prepare for a wet season.  By midnight it had reached the high point at the hospital and was still rising.  A small dike was thrown across the street with the hope of holding it, but under the strenuous protest of the property owners who would be submerged at the expense of the north end of the town the idea of keeping it back was abandoned and it was allowed to run down the main street to the Great Northern railway tracks where a breach was made and the waters allowed to spill out over the Olympia Marsh.  . . .  The loss in stock also promises to be comparatively light for the reason that the valley is so flat that a sudden rise sufficient to endanger life is almost impossible.  . . .  The Howard Fredman place has suffered the most severely of any in the immediate neighborhood of the big break.  Here the river ran mad, undermining the house and barns and plowing deep channels through the fields.  Deep holes are to be seen everywhere and across the Varney road where once were stumps there are now excavations that look like cellars.  The little station at Varney has been undermined and leans over on its sides in a decidedly disreputable manner.  The damage in the Interurban lines at this point will take weeks in repair. . . .

Sedro-Woolley has not suffered very severely except in the vicinity of the water plant.  At Sterling the damage will be considerable from the cutting up of the farms and the J.H. Hutchins place is said to be pretty badly wrecked.  Dr. Cleveland’s new home on which he has spent so much time and money is also much the worse for its experience as well as those of many others.

DECEMBER 30, 1917 FLOOD

USGS (Stewart) reports that flood carried 220,000 cfs at Concrete and 195,000 cfs at Sedro-Woolley.

This is the most comprehensive article describing the impacts of a large flood on Skagit Valley.

 

 

 

 

LaConner floods, Mt. Vernon stays dry.

 

 

Railroads badly damaged.

 

 

If the water was higher upriver then in 1909 it means 1917 was larger flood.

 

Water diverted to Olympia Marsh would explain why flood water did not reach downtown Burlington business district.  See BJ 1/4/18 article describing this flood.

 

“a sudden rise sufficient to endanger life is almost impossible.”  This statement, given the tremendous development in South Burlington since 1917, would undoubtedly be false today.

 

Varney is what they used to call Gages Slough.  The train station used to be across the street from the Cascade Mall.

 

Sedro-Woolley little damage.  Sterling hard hit.

1/3/18

MVH

clear lake

At 1:30 the water started to come in the west part of town, and the people living in that part received the greater part of the water.  The water entered the mill and also the engine room where the electric dynamo is and rose so high that the mills and town was put out of order and the town was submerged in darkness until Wednesday evening.  The greatest damage done by the water in town was the washing away of sidewalks and fences.  The flood was rather mild here compared to what it would have been had not the Sterling Bend dike broke.  Although the citizens of Clear Lake sympathize with those of Burlington and vicinity they are thankful that it was not worse here.

 

This article unequivocally shows the impacts the levees have had on the Clear Lake area.  1917 was one of if not the most damaging flood in the 20th century, yet Clear Lake suffered only “mild” damage unlike what they suffered in the 1990 and 1995 flood events.

1/3/18

MVH

boat upsets boy drowns

Little John Gruber of Clear Lake, lost his life in the flood waters of the Skagit Wednesday evening when, in company with his brother, Joe Gruber, they attempted to make their way over the waters to the ranch.  The accident happened about 6 o’clock in the evening.  Little John had come down from Clear Lake and had waited near the Clear Lake yards, close to the broken dike for his brother, who was coming in a boat from the Loveless place, where he lives with his family.

Death in 1917 Flood

Not counting the Mt. Vernon bridge tender who died from internal injuries after hitting a portion of the bridge (See   ) this makes 3 people who have been identified that died in Skagit River flood events.  The other two were            (See      )

1/10/18

MVH

are the dikes a failure?

Are the dikes a failure?  If so, what is the remedy?  These two questions have agitated the minds of hundreds of ranchers in the Skagit Valley during the past week since the old Skagit river ran amuck again.  In the end, when the enormous flood waters of the river come down upon the community, dikes are found to be weak, and the result is as shown by the flood of last week.  What is the remedy?  Much money has been spent in making dikes and in the end, practically nothing has been gained.  . . .  The remedy is believed to be found in the construction of spillways.  Several plans and suggestions have been made during the week, but this matter, being of such enormous proportions, will require more than talk to get something started.  . . .  It has been nine years since a flood came.  It may be nine years again and it may be next year.  Don’t wait until it comes again.  There is too much valuable land in this valley to wait until a disastrous flood has overtaken it again and again.  Now is the time to plan the remedy. 

 

 

 

 

Recommended “spillways” or over-topping levees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now is the time to plan the remedy.

1/10/18

MVH

flood waters are receding

The flood waters of the Skagit valley are gradually receding and in a short time, the rancher will be able to walk upon that which he calls ground and view the results of a vicious Skagit river.

            Individuals are now counting up their losses.  Estimates of the aggregate loss to farmers, householders, the county and state in roads and bridges, and to the public service corporations are largely guesswork.  The real loss will never be computed.  It is large, probably larger than that caused by the freshet of eight years ago.  . . .  Reports from all points of the valley show that more or less water and damage was the result of the freshet.  Roads everywhere are in bad shape and will require a good deal of money to put them all back in a passable condition.  The county is badly hit and the commissioners in session this week decided to review the county roads and put them in shape at the earliest possible date. 

 

 

 

 

Flood damages more than 1909 flood.  Again, this strongly suggest that the 1917 flood was the larger then the flood of 1909.

12/15/21

MVH

skagit river causes flood

Skagit valley has been in the grip of a flood for the past week.  Torrential rains and strong southerly winds, amounting to gales at times, preceded the onrush of waters from the melting snow of the Cascade mountains, that came pouring down the Skagit river in a volume that almost equaled that of the memorable flood of 1909, when the river rose to 26 feet 4 inches, just 1½ inches higher than the present flood measured.  . . .  The first break occurred at McKay’s place, Burlington.  The low lying land was soon covered with water.  On Tuesday morning the scene north of the city was one broad expanse of water, with dwelling houses, barns, hay stacks, fences and trees standing in it.  From 3 to 6 feet of water was recorded in this section of the flood area, the lower floors of the houses being flooded, and the inhabitants taking to the second story.  The flood waters reached as far west as Avon.  At the North Fork near Conway the next break was reported.  This break caused the flooding of Conway, Milltown, Stanwood and the Skagit delta.  The whole region from Mount Vernon to Sylvana is all under flood waters.  The highway both north and south of the city is impassable for anything but boats.  . . .  A number of houses between here and Burlington were reported to have been lifted from their foundations and otherwise damaged by the flood.    The most serious reported damage was to the home of Lee Davis whose home floated off its foundation and broke in two.  . . .  The Great Northern railway has been out of service since Monday evening, but the company expects to have trains running again in a day or so.  . . .  The Interurban weathered the storm and flood pretty well.  While regular service was interrupted, they managed to get one or more cars through every day.  By today (Thursday) they expect to be running all trains on time table schedule, and have stages to Everett running Friday.  Travel was interrupted by the washing out of a bridge just out of the city limits and damage to the bridge over Varney slough.  . . .  The dikes held fine and had not the water risen to such a high point, there would have been little or no damage.  Below town, the dikes were patrolled by hundreds of men and it was only after the water had risen to an overflow, that the men deserted their posts and hastened to notify their neighbors that the water was coming.  Burlington was the first place to get wet, a break in the dike causing the water to invade the “Hub City.”  An heroic effort was made to prevent the break.  . . .  While the losses are many, yet they are mostly small.  The main losses are where lands were cut into, stored products damaged, and some losses of livestock.  It is believed, however, that the total losses will aggregate around $50,000, which with the lumber company losses, will approximate a hundred thousand or maybe more for this section of Skagit county.

DECEMBER 12, 1921 FLOOD

 

USGS (Stewart) 240,000 cfs Concrete, 210,000 cfs Sedro-Woolley.

At Mt. Vernon 1½  inches lower than 1909.  26.4 feet would be 34.4 feet at current gage.  3 feet lower than 1990 and 1995.

1st break in levees at Burlington but floodwaters only reached as far west as Avon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bridge over Gages Slough washed out.  Again showing tremendous amounts of water that flow in this area.

 

 

 

 

 

Losses expected to only be around $100,000.

 

 

 

1/5/23

MVDH

committee has skagit river flood data

            Following is a letter received by J. W. Collins, secretary of the Mount Vernon Commercial Club in reply to the Skagit flood data sent to Congressman Lindley H. Hadley recently:        I have received your letter of the 17th instant enclosing separate communication furnishing requested data in the matter of the Skagit River flood control.  . . .  I appeared personally before the Flood Control Committee on December 14th in support of my bill, H. R. 12609.  . . .  When I appeared before the committee, one member of long experience in Congress suggested that I get in touch with General Taylor of the War Department on the question of the probable cost of the survey, as sought by the bill…

Congressman Seeks Study of Skagit River

9/27/23

MVDH

survey work on river to be continued

            The Skagit River Improvement committee, H.L. Willis, chairman, called upon the board of county commissioners yesterday afternoon and urged a one-mill levy to cover the costs of a survey of the Skagit river.  The purpose of this levy would be to procure data to submit in an effort to secure federal aid.  . . .  James E. Stewart, expert engineer from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, has just completed a survey of the volume of water which went down the river in the flood of 1921.  The river committee is now planning to have an expert engineer make a survey and present his findings to the government, in the hope of securing federal aid.  This expense will be carried by drawing on the $20,000 fund.  It is likely that it may require all of this amount to meet the expense of the survey.

Flood Committee Wants Study of Skagit River

 

This is further indication that James E. Stewarts work product was unsatisfactory.  See testimony of public hearing 11/26/24.

 

See also Argus ______ article; Courier Times _______ article.

11/20/23

MVDH

engineering department announces river hearing in mount vernon, nov. 30

            The War Department of the United States engineering office, through W. J. Barden, colonel of the engineering corps, located at Seattle, has issued a notice of public hearing to be held in Mount Vernon, at the Commercial Club rooms, on Friday, November 30, at seven o’clock in the forenoon, at which time the Skagit river project will come up for discussion in all its phases.  . . .  The information especially desired by the engineering department, as combined in the special notice, calls for the following particular data and facts:

 

  • Character of improvements desired

  • Names of vessels now using the waterway with draft and tonnage of each

  • Amount and character of present commerce.  . . .

Corps of Engineers Public Hearing

11/30/23
MVDH

skagit river hearing today

            Over one hundred citizens and farmers gathered at the Commercial Club rooms today in attendance at the river hearing under the direction of the United States war department.  . . .  No time was lost in getting the hearing underway.  H. L. Willis represented the local river committees.  He spoke at length regarding the need of immediate and permanent river improvement.  . . .  At the conclusion of the hearing, Col. Barden reviewed the situation, touching upon past floods, going back as far as 1815.  He stated that the government does not consider the matter of river floods, but considers matters of this kind, from a strictly navigation standpoint.

Corps Concerned With River Navigation Only

 

Proof that the Corps had Stewarts report by November 1923.  See 11/26/24 minutes as to what Colonel Barden thought about Stewart Report a year after this meeting.

12/4/23

MVDH

need of river improvement for deep river navigation becomes growing necessity

            As to the character of the improvement desired, we may say in general that we want free and impeded access to the sea, in order that our rapidly increasing commerce may fully enjoy the advantages which our location very near salt water should give us.  . . .  We are a community of farmers and have not the skill or knowledge of hydraulic engineers.  What we suggest therefore, in the absence of expert determination, is a result of our experience with the Skagit River for the past twenty-five years.  The stoppage to navigation is caused by the formation of bars and the lodging of snags either at the mouth of the stream or along its source higher up.  These same causes raise the bed of the stream and dam up the water during flood, increasing the high water menace.  It seems to us therefore, that a free and open channel to the sea as well as the leesening of flood danger would both be accomplished by the prosecution of three general lines of work.  First, beginning at deep salt water, two rock jetties should be built to the mouth of the river.  . . .  The second line of work must consist of removing the accumulations which now obstruct navigation.  . . .  The third line of work should be directed toward lessening the burden of silt and drift carried by the river.  . . .  To date all improvements have been with the idea of flood control alone.  Thus there has been expended up to the year 1922, but not including that year, the sum of $1,987,799.10 for dikes and drainage ditches.  These dikes have not attained the object for which they were built as during each flood of any magnitude they fall to confine the stream and are broken in numerous places.  Since the 1921 flood there has been some attempt made to take up this river problem along comprehensive lines covering both phases.  There is at present a considerable sentiment among the residents and tax-payers of Skagit County in favor of forming an improvement district covering all the territory threatened by the river and adopting some plan for dredging and widening the channel…  . . .  A very conservative estimate of farm production over a period of years indicates that approximately 50,000 tons of oats, 30,000 tons of hay, 12,000 tons of potatoes, 18,000 tons of straw, and 10,000 tons of general farm products originate in this valley annually.  . . .  Timber Shipments  The annual timber shipments approach the imposing figure at 300,000,000 feet.  . . .  Navigation Now Difficult  It is a matter of common knowledge that the Skagit is one of the great commercial waterways of the Northwest.  . . .  But it is also a fact and a matter common knowledge that the entrance to this waterway is rapidly becoming blocked by bars and obstructions so that at the present rate of filling a very few more years will see the South Fork of the river entirely closed to navigation.  Capt.  F. A. Siegel of the U.S. Snagboat “Swinomish” has filed a statement with the Board of Commissioners of Skagit County in which he alleges that twenty-nine years ago when he started to navigate the river it was difficult to find bottom with a pike pole at any point in the South Fork between Mount Vernon and Puget Sound.  The bottom of the river has now filled to such an extent that at low tide only small boats or skiffs can travel the channel.  There has apparently been a filling in for almost the entire length of the South Fork of some 16 to 18 feet.  This condition can only be remedied by dredging.

Testimony At Corps Public Hearing

 

Navigation hindered by formation of bars and lodging of snags.  Free and open channel to the sea desired.

 

Recommended two rock jetties be built at mouth of river.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dike and drainage districts spent $1,987,799.10 up to and including 1921.

 

 

Dikes did not obtain purpose for which they were built.

 

 

 

 

 

Wanted to dredge and widen channel.

 

 

 

 

29 years ago (1894) couldn’t find bottom of Skagit with a “pike pole” in the South Fork.  Bottom of river now filled 16 to 18 feet.

 

Levees did not start being built along the forks of the Skagit River until 1883.  (See J.O. Rundene Testimony, 11/26/24.)  Clearly the argument could be made that the sediment being deposited in the channel was a result of the levees being placed on the edge of the river as the sediment used to flow out onto the floodplain.

12/4/23

MVDH

editorial:  need of river improvement for deep river navigation becomes growing necessity

 

            At the hearing held by the United States engineering staff at the Commercial Club rooms last Friday, much data was submitted showing why the Skagit river should be improved.  . . .  Past experiences have shown exclusively that it takes a long time to get that little ball of red tape unwound, and then when it is unwound, so much of the financial aid which is supposed to mean so much is generally spent in minor red tape details, that the actual amount is reduced to such an extent that it is of little or no particular use; at any rate it becomes so reduced that the amount left is of little or no consequence.  . . .  The Daily Herald herewith reproduces extracts from the volume of data submitted at the hearing last Friday.  It is important information and shows conclusively that the improvement of the Skagit River is an absolute necessity.

Improvement Of Skagit River Is Absolute Necessity

2/4/24

MVDH

$6,000,000 in giant baker river electrical development

            Water power development of the Pacific northwest will receive great impetus in the announcement of the Puget Sound Power & Light company that it will immediately begin the construction of a 45,000 horsepower hydro-electric plant on the Baker River in Skagit County, representing an investment of $6,000,000.  Foundations and approximately a depth of 50 feet of the dam are scheduled for completion this year and the entire work will be finished in 1925 – regarded by engineers as remarkable speed for the construction of such an important hydro-electric unit.  . . .  The Baker River is looked upon as one of the most interesting electric generating installations in all the northwest, so rich in water powers.  . . .  As it falls out of Baker Lake it passes through Sulphur canyon where there is a splendid potential development that will come as soon as needful following the completion of the present installation at Eden canyon, twelve miles below Sulphur canyon.  Water from the impounding dam in these canyons will create a lake approximately eight miles long and reaching almost to the upper canyon.  This lake will be 1600 acres in extent, storing 50,000 acre feet of water.  . . .  Next on the program of the Puget Sound Power & Light company after the announced development on Baker river probably will be the installation of a hydro-electric plant at Sulphur canyon almost as large as that near Concrete.  The waters of the Baker river will then be utilized in two steps, the Sulphur canyon site having not quite the same amount of water available due to the fact that two or three tributaries flow into the Baker river between the two.

Lower Baker Dam

 

Amount would be approximately $64,000,000 in 2003 dollars according to Consumer Price Index adjusting for inflation.

2/14/24

MVDH

high water hits lyman -- ten families are marooned

            As an aftermath of the high water of the last few days, the upper Skagit people are experiencing much anxiety from possible danger of landslides.  This is particularly true of a small group of ten families, who are marooned on a small island across the river from Lyman, caused by the washing out of three bridges across the Skagit near Lyman, or their approaches.  . . .  The Lyman bridge extending from that city to Day Creek, was carried away Tuesday night, while the two bridges across Alder creek are rendered useless for the present, owing to their approaches having been swept away.  . . .  Several of the smaller homes within ten to twelve feet of the river have been moved.  Men are hauling spruce trees and laying them along the river to prevent caving in of the land near the school building, and steps to prevent loss are being taken by residents of Lyman.

UNDOCUMENTED FLOOD

 

See 2/14/24 CT and Argus articles.  First documented February flood.

10/4/24

MVDH

senator dill and black for river control

. . .  Both Senator Dill and Mr. Black dwelt upon flood control here and pledged themselves to the task of securing government aid in this huge undertaking. Senator Dill reiterated his stand in regard to river control when interviewed in this city today. He said that the valley needs protection from floods and that he would do all in his power to bring about relief. In this connection, Mr. Black also promised to produce results.

Congressman Commits To Flood Control

10/23/24

MVDH

fish case awaits high court ruling

Continuance of the LaConner fish case until after the supreme court of the state has given a decision on a similar case, now pending in the higher court, has been announced. . . .  167 FISHERMAN CHARGED Notice of a restraining order and an order to show cause, with summons and complaint were served the first week in October on 167 fishermen, charging them with operating within the closed area at the mouth of the Skagit river. The fishermen were alleged to have used gill nets.

Fish Lawsuit

 

167 commercial fisherman charged with using gill nets in mouth of Skagit River.

10/25/24

MVDH

skagit river up 14 feet

Rising rapidly, the Skagit river is fourteen and one-half feet higher today than it was at 9:30 last night. The Skagit began rising last night, due to warm winds of Thursday. Before it started to rise, the river was one-half foot below sea level; the lowest it has been this season. Boats on the river had difficulty in docking. The heavy rains of last night have had no effect thus far. It is not expected that there will be any flood danger.

 

11/26/24

MVDH

flood menace is told here

Flood control of the Skagit river was urged this afternoon at a meeting which was held in the Commercial club rooms, this city. Col. W. J. Barden, Seattle , government representative, and his aides were in attendance at the meeting and heard the reports of the local committees in which the need for flood control was stressed. . . .  Data gathered by the committee for the last three years was submitted to Col. Barden and his aides, which they took under advisement. A long report, prepared by H. L. Willis, chairman of the river committee, was submitted. The full report will be found on page three of today’s issue of the Daily Herald. In his report, Mr. Willis went as far back as 1894 when the damage caused by a flood here amounted to $1,500,000. A review of the floods since that time was made in the report, details of which are presented on page three, this issue. The report showed that floods here have cost the citizens thousands upon thousands of dollars.

Corps of Engineers Public Meeting

The minutes of this most important meeting were obtained from the NARA in Sandpoint Naval Air Station.  Because of the importance of what was stated at this meeting, the minutes, Mr. Willis’s testimony, as well as the testimony of the County Engineer and farmer J. O. Rundene are included in this index.

11/26/24

MVDH

curb of flood waters urged by local committee; damage estimates are high

            Data gathered by several Skagit County committees over a period of several years was today presented to Col. W. J. Barden, Seattle, who was there for the river hearing.  All the data asked for is included in a lengthy report submitted by H. L. Willis, chairman of the river improvement committee and which was turned over to Col. Barden.  The complete report follows:

See 11/26/24 H.L. Willis Testimony

The MVDH published the entire Willis presentation.  We obtained the actual copy of Mr. Willis’s presentation in the archives of the NARA in Sandpoint and it is reproduced electronically below.

11/26/24[6]

Minutes

minutes of corps of engineers public meeting

I would like to emphasize the point that Mr. Knapp brought out in his paper, that before any really scientific plan can be prepared for the protection of this valley from floods, it is necessary to have more authoritative information then we now have as to the amount of water carried by the river in time of floods.  . . .  The information that was collected by Mr. Stewart and given in his report to the committee was excellent so far as the data that he had to work upon permitted, but that data was necessarily more or less inaccurate.

Colonel Barden Statement re Accuracy of Stewart Report

 

Stewarts “data was necessarily more or less inaccurate”.  USGS and the Corps are still using the Stewart data in computing 100 year flood flows on the Skagit.

11/26/24

Willis

Testimony

testimony of h.l. willis

“As to the frequency, duration, and height of floods in the Skagit River, we refer you for greater details to the comprehensive report submitted to the Skagit County Commissioners by Mr. J. E. Stewart in 1922.  A copy of this report was also filed with the U.S. Beological Survey.”

Skagit County Received Copy of Stewart Report

Mr. Willis’s report contained a couple of typo’s.  The county received the Stewart Report in 1923 and was filed with the US Geological Survey department.

11/26/24

Knapp

Testimony

testimony of county engineer robert e.l. knapp

“In accordance with the wishes of this Citizens Committee above mentioned, a hydraulic engineer of wide reputation, Mr. James E. Stewart, was employed and in the fall of 1922 and the winter of 1923, he made a thorough preliminary examination of the valley and river system, and his exhaustive report is now on file in my office.  “He has recommended, first that a flood warning system be installed; second, that the diking off of the Nookachamps be delayed; third, that certain danger spots be protected; fourth, obtain additional hydrographic data; and fifth, form a conservancy district.”  “The first recommendation has not as yet been carried out.  Chiefly because of the limited funds at hand.  The second recommendation has been carried out.  The third recommendation has to some extent been carried out.  Drift barriers have been built near Lyman, and a jetty built some little distance below Lyman.  The fourth recommendation we have been very active in fulfilling because it is in direct line with the original wishes of the Citizens Committee on flood control.”  . . .  “I will give you a brief outline of such work as we have done in gathering additional hydrographic data.  Because of the limited funds available in time past, such technical data as has been gathered in this vicinity, has been very meager and calculations of stream flow are at best only an estimate and accurate to within only 10 to 20%The technical data so far gathered, has been done entirely by the USGS Department of Water Resources, and they have had to rely upon intermittent gage readings, observations and recollections of residents, and more or less disconnected precipitation records.”  . . .  “Consequently, in order to secure definite and accurate stream flow records, it is necessary to install good reliable equipment and take measurements in a systematic manner.  For this purpose and acting upon the recommendation of Mr. Stewart, the Board of County Commissioners in the spring of 1924 instructed the county engineer to proceed with the construction of a suitable installation for the purpose of gathering accurate stream flow records.

County Engineer Needs More Accurate Data In Which To Gage Flood Heights

 

County Engineer had Stewart Report.

 

 

 

 

County delayed diking off Nookachamps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stewart calculations were “only an estimate”.  Relied upon intermittent gage readings, observations and recollections of residents, and more or less disconnected precipitation records.

 

Needed gage in Dalles in order to secure “accurate stream flow records.”

11/26/24

Rundene

Testimony

j.o. rundene testimony

. . .I have lived in Skagit County forty-nine years and am familiar with the flood conditions, experienced in the Skagit Valley and particularly the LaConner flats, so called, during that period of time; that the first freshet and flood from the Skagit River that I recall, occurred the last of May in 1882.  At that time there were no dikes on the Skagit River, but the land bordering on the same extending upward to the foothills and the foothills themselves were all covered with a heavy growth of fir, cedar and spruce.  The water at that time covered the LaConner flats and stood on my farm three feet deep for a period of about two weeks, the depth of the water varying during that period of time.  . . .  In 1883 I commenced to build dikes along the North Fork of the Skagit River.  These dikes were gradually increased and work was done on them continuously until 1895, when I retired as Commissioner, and at that time it appeared to me and I thought the dikes were sufficiently high to protect the land against extreme high water at all seasons and during all flood conditions.  . . .  As this condition has increased the size of the dikes have also been greatly increased, until at the present time the dikes are at least three times as large as they were in 1895, when they were considered sufficient for all possible purposes.  There were other freshet of lesser consequences during the intervening years, but the next time at which the entire country was covered with water, as I recall it, was in 1909.  At that time the dikes broke at various points on the Skagit River and North fork flooding the entire country between Mt. Vernon and LaConner and between Burlington and the mouth of the Samish River at Edison, being territory about ten miles square, to a depth of from two to eight feet of water.  There was water in the vicinity of my place, about six feet deep, for a period of two weeks or longer, the water standing on the land for a period of a month or more.  The next large freshet was in 1917, occurring in December and the entire country above referred to was again covered with water to a depth of from two to six feet, the water remaining on the land until after Christmas time.  The next large freshet was in 1921 on New year’s day.  The entire country was again covered to a depth of from two to six feet and the water remaining on the land over a period of two weeks.  . . .

Local Farmer Tells of Flood History

 

Lived in Skagit since 1875.  In 1882 there were no levees.

 

 

 

Began building levees in 1883 along the North Fork of Skagit River.

 

 

He blamed logging for increasing the amount of run-off in floods.

 

 

 

 

 

1909 flood broke North Fork levees and flooded everything from Mt. Vernon to LaConner. 

 

1909, 1917 and 1921 floods all deposited 2 to 6 feet of water on his farm.

12/12/24

MVDH

flood conditions are serious -- high winds and heavy rain cause skagit river to rise

            Continued heavy rains and Chinook winds during the last twenty-four hours have caused the Skagit river to rise rapidly and today the high water conditions have assumed a serious aspect.  Since yesterday noon the river here has risen about six feet and observers today claim that the water is rising about three inches an hour.  At one o’clock the river was nearing the eighteen-foot mark.  . . .  Several of the old timers say the conditions are just about right for flood.  Crest of the high waters has not been reached, they declare.  . . .  Telephone reports received by the Daily Herald this afternoon from Lyman were that the road between that place and Hamilton was under water.  . . .  Late reports received by the Daily Herald were that part of Hamilton is under water.  School was dismissed and the desks and other equipment are being moved from the building, it was reported.

DECEMBER 12, 1924 FLOOD

 

Flood would have been on December 12th and 13th, 1924.  USGS and Corps reported flood carried 92,500 cfs and reached 32.44 feet at Concrete.  No figures for Mt. Vernon.

 

Part of Hamilton underwater.  Dikes broke at Dry Slough on Fir Island. (See 12/18/24 Argus article.)

 

12/13/24

MVDH

weakened dike is washed out

            Seventy-five feet of diking were washed out near Skagit City this morning and as a result several hundred acres of lowlands are flooded.  The break was in the same place as that of the last big flood.  Late reports received here were that the water had not yet reached the road, but that unless the river goes down, the highway will be covered.  Weak construction of the dike is believed to have caused the washout  since the river was four feet from the top.  . . .  Hamilton reports the river dropping and it is said the water is now off the road between Hamilton and Concrete.

Skagit City Dike Washed Out

10/24/25

MVDH

huge artificial lake is formed

            Forming of the huge artificial lake to be known as Shannon lake at the Baker River project was started this week when the Baker river was turned against the power dam at Concrete.  During the first day that the course of the river was turned to the lake, the lake rose eleven feet.  The huge artificially constructed lake is eight miles in length with a maximum width of about a mile.  Its depth approximates 200 feet.  The dam is 245 feet high from bedrock to the top of the flood gates, and is 450 feet ling.  . . .  Construction of the dam started about eighteen months ago, on April 1, 1924.

Lake Shannon Begins To Fill

 

First day lake rose 11 feet.

10/24/25

MVDH

skagit lowest in 30 years, u.s. men busy

            The Skagit River is now at the lowest stage of flow that it has been for almost thirty years.  This startling fact was revealed today by a group of eight field engineers of the United States geological survey who have been obtaining measure on the river discharge measurements.  . . .  Reports from the Upper Skagit district state that the river in that district shows less channel depth this month than at any time during the past twenty-seven years.  In places the waters are so low that it is possible to cross the river, hopping from boulder to boulder without getting one’s feet wet, according to C.H. Park, supervisor of the Mount Baker National forest, whose office is in Bellingham.  The situation in the Skagit river has reached a most serious condition.  It was brought out in the investigation which is being conducted by geological surveyors that the river bed in many places has raised twenty feet between here and the mouth of the river.  This condition alone is cause for alarm.

Skagit River Very Low

 

One has to wonder how much the filling of Lake Shannon had to do with the low levels in the Skagit.  Previous 10/24/25 article states Baker River rose 11 feet in one day.

5/5/27

MVDH

$200,000 being spent to raise baker river dam

            This enlargement of capacity is being accomplished by increasing the height of the Baker River dam by 33 feet from its present 260 feet to a total of 293 feet, and making it one of the highest concrete structures of the kind in the world.

Dam Gets Height Extension

5/11/27

MVDH

wants upper skagit river bed cleaned -- river not navigable except during high water season

            A committee will also be selected to confer with officials of the power company with reference to the use of the Baker river dam for flood control of the Skagit river.  President John Brisky of the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce read a letter which he received from Hugo Bauman of Rockport with reference to the condition of the Skagit river during low water.  Bauman said it was impossible to navigate the river between Sedro-Woolley and Rockport during low water because of snags in the bed of the river.  He urged that the matter be taken up with the government and that a snag boat be put to work, claiming that if the river is navigable the year round, the Rockport community would benefit as well as the county as large.

Lower Baker Flood Control Sought

 

River impossible to navigate during low water between Sedro-Woolley and Rockport.  Wanted snag-boat to work upriver.

3/7/28

MVDH

flood control action taken by skagit c.c. -- resolution asking federal aid is passed unanimously

            Renewed activity in an effort to obtain federal aid for flood control of the Skagit river took the form of a resolution, which was unanimously adopted at the monthly meeting of the Skagit County Chamber of Commerce held at the Rexville grange hall last night.  The resolution was present by H. M. Eakin, Sedro-Woolley, who is recognized as a national authority on flood control.  . . .  A portion of the resolution follows:  . . .  “Whereas, particularly in the case of the Skagit river, business and property of extraordinary value per square mile over an area of large extent have repeatedly been subjected to disastrous overflow.  Whereas the major floods of the Skagit, although the river is only a hundred miles long, may equal in volume an eighth or more of the total volume of a major flood on the Mississippi.  . . .  Whereas the drainage capacity and regiment of the Skagit is deteriorating seriously from causes entirely unrelated to the activities and responsibilities of the people occupying and using the lands so menaced.  Whereas, taxation to support protection work has fallen heavily and is a serious burden upon such individuals and communities.  . . . Therefore, be it resolved that a memorial of these facts be presented to our congressmen and senator in Washington, D.C. to assist them in enlisting federal support of flood control works on the Skagit river.”

Skagit County Chamber Of Commerce

 

Chamber was trying to help County obtain federal aid for flood control.

 

Chamber felt drainage capacity of river had decreased.

3/17/28

MVDH

fraud charged in election of dike district -- mcbee contests election of f.n. haley in padilla district

            The action which was filed by Attorney Henderhon, alleges that Haley was elected through unlawful and fraudulent means.  At the election in question, Haley received 33 votes for commissioner, while Mr. McBee, who is still serving as a commissioner, was given five votes.  McBee complains that Haley deeded a small portion of land to each of 31 persons, in exchange for their votes.  . . .  All 31 people voted for Haley, but they were not qualified to do so, according to McBee, for the reason that they were not property owners.  He claims that Haley actually owned the property and that since, the 31 people held their small portions in trust for Haley’s use.  According to McBee’s complaint, there were only five qualified to vote.  Two of these were Mr. and Mrs. Haley and McBee was a third.  Had the election been legal, according to McBee, he would have received three votes to Haley’s two.  . . .  The Padilla project was formed for the purpose of reclaiming 10,000 acres of tide lands.  A million-dollar program was in prospect, according to McBeen.

Dike District Fraud

 

Only 5 people lived in District.  38 people voted.

1/18/32

MVDH

flood danger is not feared in this city

            That Mount Vernon and its surrounding community is in no immediate danger of floods from the Skagit river was the information learned today in the county engineer’s office, which keeps an accurate check of the height of the river.  . . .  However, this condition will be changed within the next twenty-four hours when a rise of about six feet is predicted as a result of the heavy winds of the last day.  . . .  A flood condition is not prevalent, it was learned, until the river rises to a point of 20 feet or more.  The Skagit has not been near that point since June 1931, when it rose to 18.7 feet.  In May the river height was around fifteen feet and sixteen feet on several occasions, and in January, a year ago, the river rose to 20 feet in one day.

Flood Danger Point Was 20 ft On Gage

 

Last threat was June 1931 when river got to 18.7 feet which would be a 26.7 foot river on todays gage.

3/16/32

MVDH

dike repairs being rushed to completion -- night and day shifts kept on job to make dikes safe if county experiences chinook

            With large crews of laborers working night and day, the danger of additional flood damage, should the Skagit river rise suddenly again is fast being minimized, Clause O. Davis, contractor in charge of repairing two dikes, told the Daily Herald today.  Mr. Davis holds the contracts for the replacement of the dike west of Conway, and the dike south of Burlington, which collapsed during the recent freshet flooding thousands of acres of farmland.  Twenty men, working on ten hour shifts, have placed the Burlington dike beyond the danger mark.  It would require a 12-foot freshet to wash out the new dike, Mr. Davis declared today.  The hole in the dike west of Conway will be closed tomorrow, halting the flow of water for the first time since the freshet.  More than 50 men have been working 10-hour shifts on this job.  This dike will be safe from high waters within forty-eight hours, Mr. Davis declared.

FEBRUARY 27, 1932 FLOOD

USGS 147,000 cfs Concrete (39.9), 157,000 cfs Sedro-Woolley. (See 3/3/32 CT and Argus articles)

 

12 foot freshet would wash out Burlington levee.

3/26/32

MVDH

diablo project is blamed for flood damage -- flood gates of dam were opened at wrong time, dike districts and farmers charge in claim

            Alleging the flood gates on Diablo dam were opened at the crest of the recent high water, thus releasing an additional torrent of water in the already bankful Skagit river, causing dikes to break in many places, four Skagit dike districts, and three individual farmers today filed claims aggregating $53,315 against the City of Seattle.  The claims were rushed to Seattle today so they could be filed before the thirty-day limit expires.  List of Claims  Following is the list of claims filed against the City of Seattle, owner of Diablo Dam, which is a part of the city’s power development on the upper Skagit.  Dike district No. 2, located on the west side of the Skagit river and north of Fir – Claims damages in the amount of $17,500.  Dike district No. 13, located between Dry and Brown sloughs on Skagit delta, west of Fir – Demands $4,000 damages.  Dike district No. 186, located between Fresh Water and Dry sloughs on south side of pavement, west of fire – Demands $6,500.  Dike district No. 12, located south of Burlington – Demands $10,000.  Phillip Iverson, farmer living northwest of Fire, demands $2,925.  Iver Iverson, same locality, demands $7,650.  John Leander, same locality, demands $4,000.  Water Held Back On February 23rd, according to the complaint filed with the City of Seattle, the reservoir behind Diablo dam was approximately half full of water, the amount being between 35,000 and 40,000 acre feet of water.  At that time, the flood gates of the dam were not opened, although the water was continuing to rise, the complaint states.

Diablo Dam Alleged To Have Contributed to Flood Damages

Dike districts and 3 farmers file claims with City Light.

 

 

 

 

 

Crest of the flood happened on February 27th.  This means that Diablo filled from being half full in 4 days.

3/26/32

MVDH

ross ridicules skagit claims for damages

J.D. Ross, city light superintendent, today declared “ridiculous” claims for $53,315 damages against the City of Seattle, filed with the city comptroller today by four Skagit county diking districts and three Skagit county farmers as a result of floods in the county late last month.  . . .  “The dam held back the first on-rush of water down the river,” Ross said.  “As soon as the lake back of the dam rose to the height of the flood gates, we began releasing the water gradually.  Only a part of the gates were opened, just enough to prevent the water from overflowing the top of the dam.  This controlled the flood, releasing it only as fast as the river could carry it away.  The damage to the dikes down in the valley occurred after the crest of the flood had passed at Diablo.  It was simply a case of where the river could not hold the water which poured into it from numerous streams below the dam, in addition to carrying the controlled flow through the flood gates.

City Light Denies Liability

 

 

 

Water was not released until water got to the flood gates.  Blamed “other streams” (Sauk, Baker, etc.)

11/14/32

MVDH

several farms, highways are under water -- skagit recedes after rising with unprecedented rapidity; highways reopened; dikes guarded during night

            After threatening another serious flood in Skagit county, swirling waters of the Skagit river began to recede this morning, and the dread menace of the last twenty-four hours began to disappear as rapidly as it had overtaken this community.  Rising with unprecedented rapidity, the Skagit river had reached a height of 23 feet on the county’s gauge last night, where it remained until this morning, when the drop started.  . . .  The Nookachamps community, which bore the brunt of the flood early this year, was partially under water again today, following the breaking of the newly built dike, the Herald was informed.  The water was not high enough to enter any of the farm homes and little or no damage was done, it was declared.  The new dikes south of Burlington and west of Fir were said to be holding up well under the new pressure, but seepage from the new dike in Dodge Valley had flooded the Art Anderson and F.X. Thein farms, it was declared.  . . .  County roads were flooded in the vicinity of Hamilton yesterday, but autoists were able to get through with difficulty.

NOVEMBER 13, 1932 FLOOD

USGS 116,000 cfs Concrete (approx 36 ft on gage), 125,000 cfs Sedro-Woolley.

 

23 feet in Mt. Vernon would be 31 feet at today’s gage or a little less then 1975 flood event.

 

See 11/18/32 BJ article.  They blamed Baker dam for flood waters.

 

Dodge Valley flooded.

11/18/32

MVDH

major flood fear passes, river drops

            Continued rise of the Skagit river during more than forty-eight hours came to a halt in Mount Vernon today, giving hope that the flood danger that has hovered over this community would soon pass.  . . .  The river had reached a height of nearly 23 feet on the gauge here this morning, two or three feet from the danger mark.  . . .  A log jam east of the Great Northern bridge at Riverside was causing some worry and a crew of men remained on guard throughout this morning.  It was said blasting might be restored in an effort to break the jam.  . . .  The rise of the Skagit river was the most abrupt in the memory of old timers.  Between Saturday afternoon at 2 o’clock, until this morning, the river had risen a total of fifteen feet, according to records kept by the county engineer’s office.  The rise was caused by a deluge of rain and melting snows in the Cascades.  An inch and a fourth of rain fell between Saturday morning and this morning, the county records showed.

Log Jam On Great Northern Bridge

 

River came up very fast.

11/19/32

MVDH

record rain in 12 hours at sedro-woolley

            The most rain to fall in twelve hours in the history of Sedro-Woolley fell here Wednesday night and Thursday morning totaling 2.25 inches, according to H.L. Devin, official government weatherman for the past 36 years.  The entire precipitation for the 24 hours was not extraordinary, however.  . . .  Hansen Creek, which runs through the Northern State hospital grounds, backed up due to a log jam at the Great Northern railroad trestle, flooding much property, including the large berry ranch of George Andrick.

Most Rain In History Of Sedro-Woolley

 

2.25 inches in 12 hours???

 

Hansen Creek log jam causes back-up.

2/2/34

MVDH

dike district votes against merger plan--district no. 3 unwilling to join consolidation plan without more and definite information

            First concerted opposition to merge all the dike districts of the county in an effort to draft a flood protection program that might result in federal, state and county appropriations was heard at a meeting of farmers of dike district No. 3. at the Finn hall at Lower Cedardale yesterday afternoon.  A motion was adopted to delay signing a petition, which provided that a special election be called.  Considerable sentiment was expressed against the consolidation plan, several speakers saying they could not see that the district would derive any benefits.  It was then decided to “table” the proposal for consolidation, at least until definite information is forthcoming.

 

Dike District 3 Kills Consolidation Plan

 

Merger would have allowed flood protection plan resulting in Federal, State and County funding.

 

Several other districts had approved the plan.

5/11/34

MVDH

flood control action urged at conference -- united plea may go to federal official asking survey of all rivers in washington

            OLYMPIA, May 11 – (AP) – Washington flood control groups were urged here today to unite behind a program calling for a survey of all rivers in the state, whether navigable or non-navigable, as the first major step necessary in bringing permanent flood control to the state.  A statewide river survey, with the federal and state governments cooperating, was advocated before a flood control conference here by Howard A. Hanson, Seattle, president of the Puget Sound flood control association.  . . .  Hanson pointed out that without a river survey a permanent flood control program could not be developed.  Under existing legislation no federal funds can be spent on river surveys except on navigable streams.

All Rivers In State Proposed To Be Surveyed

 

All navigable rivers.

1/25/35

MVDH

skagit river still rising at concrete

water coming up at rate of three inches an hour at concrete; danger mark draws near

            . . .  This afternoon the river was within three feet of the point reached at the last flood here two years ago.  . . .  Readings at the county gauge south of the city docks at intervals today were:

8 a.m. – 23 feet, 2 inches.

10:45 a.m. – 23 feet, 8 inches.

12:30 p.m. – 23 feet, 10 inches.

1:30 p.m. – 24 feet.

2:30 p.m. – 24 feet, 3 inches.

            Early this morning the river was said to be rising two inches an hour at Concrete.  The flood gates were opened on the Baker river dam at Concrete yesterday, and huge quantities of water poured from that point and later reached the Skagit.  The amount of water coming over the dam was said to have slowed down considerably this morning, indicating it had been colder in the upper stretches during the night.  . . .  Many acres of farm land in the northern part of the county were flooded by the Samish.  It was said the Samish flood was the worst in years.  Wednesday night the water rose to three inches deep over the floor in Joy’s store at Allen and was level with the floor yesterday.  The Pacific highway was covered with water to within a mile north of the Triangle service station in that section of the county.  At Sedro-Woolley serious flood damage to property was saved early Wednesday morning when a group of citizens in the north end of town gathered under the direction of E. C. Carr and cut a channel through the old grade road northwest of town.  A four-foot culvert with which the county had recently replaced a bridge, proved inadequate for rapidly rising waters which soon flooded the homes in the surrounding districts, and but for the prompt action of the men in cutting the channel a serious flood menace would have threatened, putting the entire north end of the city under from three to six feet of water, with perhaps several feet in the business district.

JANUARY 25, 1935 FLOOD

USGS 131,000 cfs Concrete (37.9), no figures for Mt. Vernon.  More than 1975, less than 1979.

 

 

 

 

 

24 feet at this gage would be 32 feet at todays gage.

 

Water flowed over the top of Lower Baker Dam.

 

Samish River flood worst in years.

 

 

 

 

 

Sedro-Woolley business district flooding averted.  This flooding would most likely have been from Brickyard Creek and not the Skagit River.

1/26/35

MVDH

danger of serious flood is lessened as river starts receding--danger not yet over, but hundreds breathe easier; river at highest point since 1917; dropping rapidly in eastern section of county; scores labor to stop dike breaks

            Hundreds of residents in many sections of lower Skagit breathed a little easier this afternoon when it became apparent that the threat of the worst flood in years was gradually passing.  . . .  It was believed the high point in the river had been reached early this afternoon, and the Skagit was expected to start receding later today.  At 2 o’clock, river watchers said the Skagit was no longer rising.  The county gauge was out of sight, but it was estimated the river had reached a height of 28 feet, which is within a very few inches of the high in 1917 when sections of the county were visited by disastrous floods.  The river was at least a foot higher than three years ago when dikes broke at various places causing the inundation of hundreds of acres of farm lands.  All that saved a recurrence of the flood of late February in 1932 was the strengthening of the dikes under the CWA program, many declared.  . . .  There was only one actual dike break, which occurred on the south bank of Freshwater slough, south of Fir. … was flooding approximately 25 acres of land near the Island Gun club.

Gage Out Of Site – Estimated 28 Feet

 

1917 flood a little over 28 feet.  That would be a little over 36 feet at todays gage, which would be the same as the first flood in 1990 and less then the second flood in 1990 and the 5th flood in 1995.

 

 

 

 

One dike break….Freshwater Slough.

River a foot higher then 2/27/32 flood when many dikes broke (USGS 147,000 cfs Concrete 39.9 ft, 157,000 cfs Sedro-Woolley.)

 

No question levees raise the level of a flood event.

1/26/35

MVDH

county cities recover from flood scare – dike breaks northeast of burlington, but flood is averted; much damage is done to roads, bridges

Mount Vernon and other Skagit county towns were almost back to normal today after experiencing the worst flood scare in years. . . .  Roads and bridges were damaged to the extent of several thousand dollars, but the exact amount cannot be determined until a survey is completed. . . .  Excitement during the high water reached its peak at about 3:30 Saturday afternoon when Burlington residents prepared to “move out” when it was learned that the dike had collapsed near the Cleveland ranch, northeast of Burlington. Hundreds gathered at Varney slough, a short distance east of the Burlington hospital, to watch the water as it roared down the passage. It was feared that the water would run down the Burlington main street from that point, but the receding of the river saved Burlington from inundation. The water reached within a few hundred feet of the hospital, but most of it raced down the slough, . . .

JANUARY 25, 1935 FLOOD EVENT

USGS 131,000 cfs at Concrete (37.9), no figure for Mt. Vernon.

 

 

Cleveland Ranch is located ________ (address) adjacent to Lafayette Road where road is the dike. 

 

“Varney slough” is today referred to as Gages Slough.

1/26/35

MVDH

marblemount isolated 5 days

Marblemount, situated ten miles east of Rockport, with its population of approximately 40 people, was completely isolated from the remainder of the world for five days during the severe weather of the last week. . . .  The Skagit river was almost solid with ice in many places. Snow, which had fallen a few days previously, was blown into high drifts Friday and Saturday. Sunday the weather moderated, and an additional two feet of snow fell, rendering travel impossible. . . .  Newhalem has reported six feet of snow and is entirely isolated.

Skagit River Almost Solid With Ice

 

Newhalem had 6 feet of snow.

1/26/35

MVDH

what river did

The Skagit river, on its rampage last week, rose approximately 18 feet to one of the highest points in years. Gauges were out of sight, but it was estimated that the river has reached the 28-foot mark. . . .  Here’s how the river acted last week, readings being taken at the county gauge each morning at 8 o’clock:

Jan. 21 – 10 feet 10 inches

Jan. 22 – 11 feet 8 inches

Jan. 23 – 16 feet

Jan. 24 – 17 feet 8 inches

Jan. 25 – 23 feet 2 inches

Jan. 26 – 28 feet (estimated)

Jan. 27 – 25 feet 2 inches

Jan. 28 – (Today) – 21 feet

Mt. Vernon Gage Readings

 

If 28 feet is accurate (at the Moose Lodge in downtown Mt. Vernon) then this flood would be comparable to the first flood in 1990 and the October 2003 flood event.  Given the condition of the levees in 1935 it is believed highly unlikely that the river reached this level.

1/28/35

MVDH

flood control measure is now on file

. . .  The rules committee introduced a flood control act, giving the state, through the department of conservation and development, full regulation and control over all waters in the state. The state hydraulics engineer would have authority to reject or approve plans for any structure to be built over or across any flood plain or floodway of any stream or body of water. As soon as funds are available the state is ordered to make a study of flood control needs. 

State Takes Control Of Floodplains

 

1/29/35

MVDH

city will seek assistance from diking districts

Enlargement of a diking district to include all of Mount Vernon, as proposed yesterday by Mayor C. W. Vaux has been found impossible, and city officials will now seek the cooperation of commissioners of dike districts already formed to bring about a program that will include strengthening in dikes within the city limits of Mount Vernon. . . .  He said something would have to be done or Mount Vernon will face a disastrous flood in the future. . . .  South Mount Vernon, including the business district, is in dike district No. 3, of which Edor Bergstrom, Peter A. Lee and Victor Lillquist are the commissioners, while west Mount Vernon is in district No. 1,   . . . 

Mt. Vernon Mayor Wanted All Of Mt. Vernon To Be Included In Dike District

 

 

2/5/35

MVDH

million for skagit dikes to be asked – congressmen to go direct to president to present his views on flood relief in this state

Plans to carry the program of Washington state for adequate flood control of its rivers to President Roosevelt were disclosed today by Representative Wallgren (D-Wash.). . . .  In addition to the projects which Wallgren said had been classed as meritorious, he said other projects totaling $10,520,000 should be started. . . . $1,000,000 for Skagit river flood protection for delta by raising levees to 11 feet. This latter project, Wallgren said, was listed by the engineers as being justified as an unemployment relief project. The same classification was given for bank protection on the stream at an estimated cost of another $100,000.

Raise Levees To 11 Feet

The levees in 1935 were quite a bit smaller then they are today.  In fact, in 1952 the levees “varied from 5 to 10 feet high”.  (Source Corps of Engineers Report on Survey for Flood Control of Skagit River and Tributaries, February 21, 1952)

This proposal would have made levees uniform in protection but far below what we have today.

2/5/35

MVDH

county faces damage suit over deaths – gilbert retained by dimmick and says suit will be filed for $25,000; county is blamed

Skagit county will probably face a $25,000 damage action as a result of the accident nearly a week ago which snuffed out the lives of Mrs. Myrna Dimmick, 22, and her three-year-old son Perry. The Daily Herald obtained this information today from Attorney Warren Gilbert, who admitted he is preparing to file a claim against the county in behalf of Harry Dimmick, husband and father, who narrowly escaped the same fate as the two others. The two were killed when the auto which Dimmick was driving plunged into the water-filled gap left by flood waters on the Burlington-Sedro-Woolley combination dike and road. . . .  “We believe someone is responsible for the failure to provide a proper barricade and light to give the motorist notice of the danger ahead,” explained Gilbert. “The family realizes that money cannot compensate it for the loss of the mother, son and grandchild, but they fell that the county should pay a reasonable compensation for the loss they sustained,” the attorney added. Reports at the time of the accident were to the effect that a sawhorse with a couple of boards on it served as the only warning of the 100-foot gap in the highway ahead. Dimmick said he drove around the sawhorse and his wife exclaimed: “There’s been a little washout.” A few hours later, county officials erected a permanent barricade, making it impossible to drive within several hundred feet of the water-filled hole.

County Blamed For Flood Deaths

 

Woman and son were drowned when husband drove around flood barrier into river near Doc Clevelands Ranch on Lafayette Road.

 

This is why people shouldn’t drive around flood barricades.

2/6/35

MVDH

dike union is urged to get federal aid – burlington c.c. wants dike organization similar to union high schools; dredger also proposed

A super organization of all county diking districts, so that the county can appeal to the federal government for aid in curbing the flood waters of the Skagit and Samish rivers, was proposed at a meeting of the Burlington chamber of commerce here last night, and the group adopted a resolution asking the state legislature to pass the necessary laws to make this possible. The proposal, as outlined at last night’s meeting, does not mean that the dike districts would consolidate, which was described as virtually impossible. The idea is to organize a dike union, similar to union high schools. This would give all the dike districts an organization which could go to the federal government for aid. At present, no single district is large or strong enough to carry any weight in appealing to the government, it was pointed out. . . .  Another flood control measure was advanced at the meeting by W. D. Knipe, well known local man. He proposed an investigation to determine the feasibility of the county bounding itself to the extent of $100,000, or the amount necessary to purchase a dredger for use on the river. He said various districts which use the dredger could be assessed a certain amount for operation expenses and depreciation. The dredger would not only deepen the channel, but at the same time it would aid in strengthening the dikes. In this connection, Knipe said it would permit the building of sloping dikes to that the pressure of the river during high water would not undermine.

Proposed Formation Of Dike Union

 

Consolidation of dike districts “virtually impossible”. 

 

“Dike Union” would have allowed dike districts to go to federal government for aid.

 

 

 

Proposal to purchase a “dredger”.  Like the proposal to form a dike union it never happened.

2/7/35

MVDH

flood loss in skagit place at two million

The survey of the Skagit river flood damage, which has been carried on during the past few weeks under WERA funds, has found an estimated loss of more than two million. 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.

Damages in 1/25/35 Flood

2,000,000 loss in 1935 would equate to $27,000,000 in 2003 dollars using the Consumer Price Index inflation factor.  By comparison the November 1990 floods caused 39,800,000 in damages.  (Source:  Corps of Engineers, Letter Report, Alternatives for Compensation for Flood storage Capacity, Upper Baker Reservoir, 22 January 2003 Review Copy)

2/21/35

MVDH

city ownership of dikes here is again debated

Now arguments for city ownership of all dikes within Mount Vernon, in the event the dike commissioners do not order them repaired sufficiently to prevent a disastrous flood here, were heard at last night’s meeting of the city council. Thomas K. Chambers declared he was certain the dike commissioners would cooperate with the city, but if they don’t, he said he was inclined to support the attitude of Mayor C. W. Vaux, that it might be best for the city to take over the dikes and maintain them. . . .  The discussion arose after passage of an emergency ordinance whereby the city will furnish $2,313.39 on a WERA project for work on the dikes now owned by the city. The city owns and maintains the dike between Montgomery and Myrtle streets, two blocks. . . .

Mt. Vernon Wanted To Own Dikes In City Limits

 

City apparently owns the dike between Montgomery and Myrtle Streets.

6/6/35

MVDH

fund is o,k’d for raising skagit dikes – chairman of flood control committee confident congress will pass bill appropriating big sum

The house flood control committee today approved a bill authorizing an appropriation of #340,000,000 for flood control activities. . . .  Projects included: . . .  Skagit river and its tributaries, Washington, raising of flood protection levees on the delta to 11 feet to prevent erosion, cost $2,000,000. . . . 

Congress Okay’s Rasing Levees to 11 Feet in Delta.

 

See 2/5/35 MVDH article.  Cost increased to $2,000,000.

6/8/35

MVDH

flood district hearing to be held in july – sisson arranged for official hearing here; report of engineer shows need of immediate control measures

A public hearing on the formation of a flood control district in Skagit county will be held in Mount Vernon either July 1 or 2. Grant Sisson, a member of the state’s flood control commission for Skagit, disclosed today. . . .  The proposed district will embrace all of the county east of Swinomish channel. . . .  Formation of the county’s first step in compliance with rules laid down to obtain federal aid for flood control. . . .  Engineer’s Report Given B. H. Allen, flood control engineer of the state department of conservation and development, recently made a survey in this county and a copy of his report to E. F. Banker, state director of the department, has been sent to Mr. Sisson, Allen had the following to say: “About ten days was taken covering the area west of Sedro-Woolley in county district Nos. 1 and 2. A flat bottom boat was used on the South and North forks of the Skagit river and every dike and drainage district covered. There are now organized 11 drainage districts and 15 dike districts, having a combined area of 39,222 acres. Outside of these organized districts there are privately operated districts kept up by the farmers of an estimated 15,000 acres, making a grand total of 54,222 acres. The population of all this area is 25,000 (estimated). During the past 10 years there was levied upon these organized dike and drainage district the sum of $36,319 per annum, for damages arising from floods. $75,431 in 1934 “The past year, 1934, this assessment amounted to $75,431.65. The average levy for 1934 for dike and drainage districts was about 43 mills. This does not take into consideration the money spent unorganized districts by private owners. . . . What Should Be Done 1. Dredging of lower channels of river. A dredge operating in lower channels would deepen same, thereby releasing pressure upon dikes and supply the necessary material for broadening and strengthening dikes. Sloughs at the western ends of the North and South forks of the Skagit river should be cleaned out to allow free passage of water. This work should be carried out to deep water. 2. Bank Projection. Bank protection should be started as soon as possible to save existing banks and the erosion of acres of valuable bottom land now in danger of being carried away at the next stage of high water. . . .  3. Cooperation of Shannon and Diablo dams at peak of floods: This is shown by the graph compiled by the U.S.G.S. of the high water of 1932 in the flood of February 27, when the peak of 182,000 cubic second feet, a control of 61,500 cubic second feet. . . .  Nookachamps creek, running from Big Lake to the Skagit river, offers another possible storage reservoir. . . .”

Another Flood Control District Proposed

 

District needed in order to obtain federal aid.

 

 

 

 

 

54,222 acres covered by dike and drainage districts containing 25,000 people.

 

 

Average sum levied was $36,319 per year.

 

In 1934 that soared to $75,431.

 

 

Report recommended dredging lower channels of river (north and south forks), erosion control bank protection; Shannon and Diablo dams should be used for flood control; and use storage in the Nookachamps.

10/2/35

MVDH

flood control district o.k’d by plan council

Organization of a flood control district in Skagit county, embracing all the territory east of Swinomish channel, has the backing of the Skagit county planning council. The group, meeting in the office of Welts & Welts here last night, approved unanimously a motion to recommend the formation of a legally organized district. Senator W. J. Knutzen moved for approval and was seconded by Harold McFarlane.

Countywide Flood Control District

 

See 1/20/35 MVDH article.

10/23/35

MVDH

go into court

TACOMA, Oct. 23. –(AP)– Canvassing of the returns and certifying of the results of Tuesday’s special election to determine whether or not a flood control district shall be established in the Puyallup valley, apparently overwhelmingly approved by voters of the district, was restrained by Superior Judge Ernest M. Card today on petition of the Weyerhaeuser Timber company, St. Paul & Tacoma Lumber company, Milwaukee Land company and the Northwestern Improvement company. . . .  In the meantime the ballots will be impounded by the auditor as they are received from the election boards and held pending the outcome of the injunction proceedings.

Puyallup Valley Flood Control District Challenged in Court

 

Weyerhaeuser filed suit to prevent formation of flood control district as they would eventually also do in Skagit County.

10/23/35

MVDH

ruling given

Flood control districts, the attorney general’s office has decided, may not properly spend money to drain lands, except to make outlets for flood waters. The opinion, written by Assistant Attorney General George C. Hannan, was given to Director E. F. Banker of the department of conservation and development yesterday. The department had asked whether the law was broad enough to include drainage.

Attorney General Rules F/C Districts Cannot Spend Money on Drainage Projects

10/31/35

MVDH

u.s. engineer lists projects for work here – major portion of $358,100 fund to be expended on skagit from burlington; samish river gets $104,500

An offensive on the Skagit and Samish rivers, with scores of men taking up various implements as cudgels in the fight against future floods in the county, is soon to be underway. . . .  Federal funds amounting to $358,000, obtained through the works progress administration, will be expended in building up and strengthening the existing banks of the two streams in the hope that this method will contribute immeasurably in controlling the waters of the Skagit and Samish rivers, which in the past have caused thousands of dollars of damage in their wild rampages through rich farm lands of Skagit county. Projects are outlined . . .  1. Clearing and snagging and brush revetment of the Skagit river in Township 35, in the amount of $216,600. 2. Work on the upper Skagit from Hamilton to Marblemount, with some work on the branches in the delta area below Skagit City, with the exception of the North Fork in the amount of $104,500 3. Work on the Samish river from its mouth to Friday creek, and also a limited amount on Friday creek, in the amount of $104,500. . . .  He also revealed that the projects as outlined, are the original ones planned by the corps of U.S. engineers, who have previously made an exhaustive survey of the flood situation here. . . .  At the county engineer’s office here, it was said corrective measures will undoubtedly be taken at Hamilton, Lyman, Utopia, Sterling and immediately northeast of Burlington, where the river condition was described as “serious.” . . .  Clearing and snagging of the river, as mentioned by Col. Wild, was declared here of much importance. What method will be employed in this work was not revealed. . . .  The Skagit county planning council had previously asked $2,000,000 for dredging in North Fork and South Fork and main channel of the Skagit river, and had requested $1,000,000 for sloping and riprapping banks to prevent soil erosion. The council had also petitioned for $275,000 for dredging and building adequate dikes on the Samish river. Flood control has been designated as the main objective of the planning council.

WPA Federal Projects Funded For Erosion Control Work on Skagit and Samish

 

 

Hamilton, Lyman, Utopia, Sterling, Burlington. Friday Creek, all to receive erosion control projects.

 

 

 

Dredging of North Fork and South Fork not included in funding.

11/20/35

MVDH

flood control district is debated here – planning council and newspaper men confer on proposal; council to issue statement

A speedy publicity campaign to inform the public about the proposed Skagit county flood control district, on which the people of the county will vote next December 3, was agreed upon by the county planning council at a meeting in the office of Attorney R. V. Welts here last night. . . .  Carol Brider, farmer member of the council, who resides near Sedro-Woolley, reported that the people are complaining that they don’t know enough about the proposed flood control district, and that those who live on upper land won’t vote for the plan. Mr. Welts president of the planning group, explained that individual groups have been fighting floods in the county for the last fifty years and that a plan is now available where all people in the county living east of Swinomish channel can cooperate in bringing about permanent flood control. He argued that floods affect everyone, whether they live on the flats or on the upper land, since a flood on the flats, causing thousands of dollars in damage, cannot help but injure those living on hill land.

Countywide Flood Control District

 

Voters to have say on December 3rd on formation of proposed district.

 

2 weeks before election, voters not educated on what district could do.

 

 

 

 

“Floods affect everyone.”  Even people who live on the hills.

11/20/35

MVDH

need for flood control – federal and state aid at stake in election planning council says

A statement pointing out the need for organizing a flood control district in Skagit county, upon which the eligible voters residing east of Swinomish channel will make a decision December 3, was issued today by the Skagit county planning council. [Council’s statement follows] The Planning Council believes the formation of our flood control district is the most important thing this county has attempted to do. The Skagit and Samish rivers have always presented a serious problem. Through the years, instead of growing better, the dangers have constantly increased. Something must be done or the entire valley faces disaster. In the past we have tried to work single-handed. This has failed. Can’t Succeed Alone The land in this valley has been reclaimed from overflow by rivers and salt water at tremendous cost. Fifty years ago the individual tried to dike and drain his land. In a few years he learned that he could not succeed alone. His neighbors joined with him and formed dike and drainage districts designed to protect and reclaim small isolated units. . . .  We have recently realized, through the flood of two years ago, when over 20,000 acres were under salt water and through the fact that each winter we now have floods from the Skagit and Samish rivers, that we must have help. Cities Are Menaced As we have been building our dikes, the timber has been logged from our hills. They are now bare. The no longer hold back the rainfall and melting snow. This water comes into the rivers more rapidly than before. At Hamilton, Lyman, Sterling and a hundred other places on both the Skagit and Samish rivers are each year washing away acres upon acres of land. This silt has filled up the mouths of the rivers and the river beds. The dikes cannot hold back the flood waters. Each year the condition is growing worse. . . .  At Sterling the Skagit has so changed its course and is so rapidly cutting away the river bank that it will soon force a new channel north of Burlington through the farming country to salt water. . . . Realizing that something must be done, the last legislature passed a series of laws known as the flood control legislation, which permits formation of large flood control districts practically county-wide. . . .  The federal government has recognized the fact that the problem of controlling rivers is too large even for the community or the state to handle and is entering this field and lending federal help. . . .  The federal government does not recognize and will not recognize an application of an individual for flood control aid. The existing dike and drainage units are so small and so scattered that neither the state nor the federal government will recognize them as agencies through which to work in attacking a problem involving a whole valley or a whole river. . . .  The proposed district upon which you will vote December 3, embraces all of Skagit county except Fidalgo island. To avoid the cost of setting up new machinery and a completely new set of officers, the law makes the three men elected as county commissioners, by vote of that election, the directors of the district. The law specifically limits the power of the district, when formed, to tax any land. This act leads: “Any flood control district may raise revenue by the levy of an annual tax on all taxable property within such district, . . .  Such levy not to exceed 2 mills on the dollar in any one year.”  . . .  How long would it take you to lose $2 if Burlington, Sedro-Woolley, Hamilton, Lyman, Mount-Vernon were flooded by the Skagit river? . . .  In 1909, the flood in this valley did approximately $1,000,000 of damage. In 1917, the damage was at least $300,000. . . .  In 1917, the county, because of flood, spent over $100,000 in repairing bridges and highways. . . .  There has never been a flood in this valley that has not cost the county itself, for the road and bridge and highway repair, at least $25,000. . . .  No tax levy beyond 2 mills can be made by the directors under law, without submitting the matter to a vote of the district so formed. . . .  Levy Is Explained The fact that the directors have power to levy 2 mills does not mean that they must levy that much. That is the most they can levy in any one year. . . .     

Proposed Flood Control District To Include All Of Skagit County Except Fidalgo Island

 

 

 

Dangers from floods have increased over time.  Entire valley faces disaster.

 

 

 

 

1932 and 1933 floods showed locals they needed help from State and Federal governments.

 

 

 

Blamed increased flooding threat on logging of the hills, “They are now bare.”

Logging caused melting snow and rainfall to enter the river “more rapidly than before”.

 

 

Were afraid of Skagit cutting “new” channel north of Burlington to saltwater.  This is where Skagit used to flow several thousand years ago.  (Source:  Prehistoric Settlement Changes In the Southern Northwest Coast, A functional Approach, Gail Thompson, 1978)

 

 

 

District would have had County Commissioners as officers.  Could only levy “2 mills” maximum in any given year ($2 per 1,000 of evaluation).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(See 11/27/24 Argus article re damage figures.)

11/26/35

MVDH

several more projects for skagit o.k’d

New Skagit county WPA projects amounting to $50,486 have been approved, it was announced in Seattle today... . . .  Among the projects approved, three were listed for Mount Vernon. They are $16,257 to reconstruct the Skagit river dike here, $9,729 to improve the dike here, and $384 to construct storm sewer and improve Division street. In the list was also $7,774 to improve drainage ditches at Burlington, and $12,000 to construct a school building at Burlington. Superintendent Oliver Hazen said Burlington has no school and building tennis courts, etc.

More WPA Projects Approved

 

Dike reconstruction, storm sewers and drainage ditches.

11/27/35

MVDH

taxpayers to study flood control plan

Following a lengthy discussion in Burlington city hall last night, members of the Skagit County taxpayers association agreed that a committee should make an investigation of the proposed flood control district in Skagit county and issue a statement on the subject prior to December 3 when residents residing east of Swinomish channel will vote on the proposal.

 

12/2/35

MVDH

voters will decide issue on tuesday – safety and prosperity of county depends on solution of flood problem, council says in statement

Declaring that the safety, the prosperity and the future development of the entire valley depends upon the solution of the flood control problem, the Skagit County Planning Council today issued a final appeal for approval of the proposed flood district in a special election to be held Tuesday of this week. “We must recognize it (flood control) as a county-wide problem and organize ourselves into a legal unit large enough to be effective and large enough to be recognized by the state and federal government,” the council’s statement said. . . .  Indications point to a big vote due to intense interest taken during the last few days in the proposal to form a district. A committee of the Skagit Taxpayers association openly opposed the plan on their belief it would give the commissioners to much taxing power. . . .  “Every possible safeguard was written into the statute to limit the taxing power of the commissioners of such a district. The statute forbids the directors to levy a tax beyond 2 mills on the dollar in any year. That means the board has no power to assess in any one year more the $2.00 on farm or other property having a valuation of $1,000. It is true that the timber interests have been outspoken in their opposition to the formation of a district. They feel that if the district is formed they will be called upon to help pay the bill which the farmers are paying today. The planning council adopting this matter of flood control as its major objective. It did so because it felt that the solution of the flood problem was the most important thing confronting this valley. It felt that we have tried for 50 years to let the farmer solve this problem alone. He has failed. He will continue to fail, because it is too big. The safety, the prosperity and the future development of the entire valley depends upon its solution. . . .  The opponents of flood control offer nothing constructive, but merely wish to leave the situation as it is. Something must be done. Do you realize that the taxpayers, instead of paying 2 mills a year on the dollar, in various localities are paying as high as 280 mills on the dollar for flood protection? Following is a list of the levies in the 20 dike districts of the county for 1935:

Dike District Levies

Mills

No. 1    15.00

No. 2    60.00

No. 3    24.90

No. 3    9.80

No. 5    30.10

No. 8    103.00

No. 12   19.83

Countywide Flood Control District

 

Endorsed by Skagit Planning Council.

 

 

Expected a “big vote”.

 

 

Timber interest outspoken in opposition to formation of District.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farmers tried for 50 years to solve problem but failed because problem too big.

 

 

Some dike districts paying 280 mills per year.

 

 

A mill is one dollar per 1,000 dollars of assessed valuation.

 

12/3/35

MVDH

few votes are being cast on flood control

Lack of interest in today’s election to determine whether most of Skagit county shall organize itself into a flood control district was indicated this afternoon. A check of the Mount Vernon precincts showed that only 73 had turned out to make their choice up until after 1 o’clock this afternoon.

Few Voters To The Polls For Flood Control

 

Lack of interest in flood control district.

12/4/35

MVDH

flood control district carries – timber companies attack district in court – district wins by margin of 1,134 votes – residents of district vote 1,901 to 767 in favor of united flood control program

By a vote of nearly three to one, Skagit county residents residing east of Swinomish channel yesterday decided to carry out an organized effort to control flood waters in this section, which in recent years have caused damages running into the thousands of dollars. . . .  Only 2,688 voters out of the 12,754 citizens registered in the district, marked ballots in yesterday’s election. Points west of Swinomish channel, including Anacortes, the county’s largest city, are not included in the district, and as a result did not vote. . . .  Of the three cities, Burlington made the best showing, 300 residents of that city voting favorably, and only 42 against. In Mount Vernon, 290 voted for the district and 91 against, while at Sedro-Woolley, 170 favored the issue and 84 opposed it. . . .  La Conner, Hamilton, and Concrete backed the district by substantial margins.

Countywide Flood Control District Passes by 3 to 1 Margin, However:

 

Only 2,688 voters out of 12, 754 took the time to vote.  1,901 in favor, 767 against.

 

 

 

 

All cities voted in favor of District except Anacortes which was not included in District boundaries.

 

12/4/35

MVDH

two companies say election is null and void – sound timber and weyerhaeuser claim banker was without authority; district not economically sound, claimed

Alleging that yesterday’s flood control district election was null and void, the Sound Timber company started an action in superior court here today in an attempt to prevent final organization of the district. . . .  The action in court here was directed at E. F. Banker, head of the state department of conservation and development, and head of the state flood control boundary commission, and Auditor C. P. Kloke, Commissioner Hugo Bauman, and Prosecutor Richard Welts, members of the county election board. . . .  The lengthy complaint filed in court here sets forth that Banker did not find that the proposed plan was economically feasible, nor adopt a comprehensive plan. It goes on to claim that “Banker acted in excess of his authority and jurisdiction in recommending that the said district be created for the stated purpose of creating an agency that may enter into contracts with the state and federal governments for funds, if available, to carry out a complete plan of development of control works for flood water protection.” Continuing their complaint, the two timber companies assert that the state flood control boundary commission found that $508,000 could be raised by assessment, whereas the cost of the proposed work would be $2,426,852. The theory was used that the state would contribute 25 per cent of the cost of the improvement and the federal government 50 per cent, the companies maintain.

Timber Companies Immediately Sue To Stop Formation Of District

 

Allegations against state agency was that they failed to adopt a comprehensive plan, failed to ensure that the district was economically feasible, and that agency acted in excess of his authority.

 

 

Timber companies showed that only $508,000 could be raised by District where the cost of the proposed work was $2,426,852.  Even with the state contributing 25% and the federal government 50%, the assessment would not be enough.

 

So no one made the suggestion to cut back the size of the project?

1/22/36

MVDH

flood control tax plan is hit by decision

Superior Judge H. G. Sutton of Kitsap county established a precedent for the state’s lower courts here yesterday when he ruled lands to be taxed under flood control districts must receive benefit before they can be legally assessed. Judge Sutton commented that “neither the legislature nor any municipal corporation created by it has the power to tax property for the purpose of specially benefiting and improving other private property without some degree of benefit accruing to the property taxed. . . .  The decision is in the case of the Simpson Logging company vs. E. F. Banker, director of the department of conservation and development. It overrules the defendant’s demurrer to the complaint and continues a temporary injunction granted by Superior Judge D. F. Wright of Mason county against inclusion of certain of the company lands either heavily wooded or lying on steep hillsides arbitrarily included in the boundaries of the taxing district. The decision is directly opposite to a similar court decision in Pierce county, he said, and his department will ask the supreme court to decide the issue. . . .  No official canvass of the Skagit vote on flood control has yet been made, and none is scheduled until after the supreme court rulings are handed down. Skagit voters approved a county flood control district by a vote of 1,891 to 767.

Timber Companies Win Court Ruling

 

Flood Control Districts must provide benefit to those being taxed.  This was the beginning of the end for the Countywide Skagit Flood Control District.

1/29/36

MVDH

river boat history recalled; many old timers are coming

The old Mississippi river will have nothing on the Skagit river Saturday afternoon, when river boats will converge on this city and bring an array of old and new river captains, mates and engineers, the like of which Mount Vernon has never witnessed. . . .  It is believed that Captain Victor Pinkerton, who resides here, and is captain of the Skagit Chief, is the oldest living river captain still operating on the river. He first arrived on the old stern wheeler Mame 44 years ago as a deckhand, and all he could see of Mount Vernon was a few buildings along the river bank, almost hidden by tall cedar trees. However, the captain states that boats ran up the river with passengers over 50 years ago; the first paddle wheelers being the Zephyr and the Josephine, commanded by Capt. Dan Benson. . . .  Other boats operating on the river will be remembered as the T. C. Reed, . . .  And the Lilly, Glide, Monroe. . . .  Thousands of passengers used these boats as the only means of transportation to and from this city, and many are the stories told of the trips taken during floods and storms, as well as when a boat load of passengers was held up for hours, stuck on the tide flats. . . .  Old river men are beginning to lift the veil of years, as they prepare for Saturday’s festivities on the river, when they honor on of their old timers, 70-year-old Capt. F. A. Siegel, who has been on the river for 43 years, pulling out dangerous snags, and straightening the channel, as well as dredging out shallow bars. . . .  Seattle will send Col. H. J. Wild, in charge of dredging operations of the rivers of the Sound, . . . 

Stern Wheeler’s Ran on Skagit in 1886

 

They went by the names of Mame, Zephyr, Josephine, Lilly, Glide, and the Monroe.

 

 

1/31/36

MVDH

skagit observer not fearful of disastrous flood

Harry Devin, well known government weather observer here, does not share the belief of engineering experts of Seattle City Light that there may be a recurrence of the disastrous Skagit river flood of 1915. James A. Stewart, hydraulic expert in connection with the United States geodetic survey department, who worked for Skagit county after the big flood in 1932, said if it should happen that Skagit county experiences 10 inches of rainfall within 34 hours, there’s be a flood of the 1915 proportions. After reading an article, which appeared in a Seattle paper, Devin said that he doubted if there’d ever be 10 inches of rain in 34 hours, thereby causing a disastrous flood. The 1932 flood in Skagit had 11 inches of rainfall but was spread over four days. The Seattle newspaper article stated: “Today a condition known as “trough” exists on the Skagit- a section of the country which is as much be-diked as Holland ever thought of being. The trough, say City Light engineers, has resulted from a three-months deficiency in precipitation with a corresponding level in water run-off for the period. . . .  Devin had the following comments to make on the prospects for the weather said to be necessary for this disastrous flood. “As 10 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. Such downpours occur in the Philippines and other tropical islands, and while the folks along the river are preparing their arks for the flood they should also lay in a supply of sun helmets and other tropical clothing. “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.”

Chance Of 1815 Flood Remote

 

This article is full of typos and mis-information.  “The disastrous Skagit River Flood of 1915” should read 1815.  Stewart worked for Skagit County in 1923 not 1932.

 

Devin doubts we could get 10 inches of rain in 34 hours.

 

 

 

10 inches of rain is nearly double the average rainfall in a normal winter month.  However, more then ten inches of rain has fallen over a 4 day period on several large flood occurrences (1990, 1995 and 2003).

 

 

 

 

“There has never been a major flood caused by rain.”  Mr. Devin should have told that to the people of Hamilton in 2003 which was entirely caused by rain.

2/19/36

MVDH

skagit river hits new low

The Skagit river hit a new low this week when the river gauge at Mount Vernon registered the lowest in years. According to the local fire department journal which was begun in 1931, Monday’s river reading was the lowest yet entered. It was at the 3 7/10  foot level on the gauge. Compared to that are the readings in January 1931 when the river climbed from the seven foot mark on January 20 to 16 feet January 23, and reached a peak January 26, when it topped 27 feet. . . .  The cause of the lowering of the river is the severe temperatures experienced in this region when the mercury hovered around the zero point and snow in the mountains was kept from melting.

Attributes Low River To Zero Degree Temperatures Not Allowing Snow To Melt

 

See 10/24/25 MVDH article.

2/29/36

MVDH

flood hit island four years ago

Another Leap Year day has rolled around and it is a different one from that experienced by one Skagit county community four years ago. Two hundred people in one community, on Feb. 29, 1932, were so anxious and busy that they didn’t have time even to consider the odd quadrennial date. The Skagit river was on a rampage and had not quite reached its peak in the early hours of Feb. 28, when it broke through the dike on Fir Island at the Iverson farms and completely submerged hundreds of acres and caused much damage, especially to the property of I. Iverson and his son Phil Iverson. . . .  That day saw all danger to other diking systems along the river apparently over, and the break at the Iverson place became the Mecca for hundreds of sightseers.

Recounts Fir Island 1932 Flood

 

 

3/6/36

MVDH

flood control program not in danger, banker says

The state’s flood control program is not in danger because of the failure of congress to provide matching funds, E. F. Banker, director of conservation and development, said today. The program contemplates 50 per cent federal aid, with the state and local districts each contributing 35 per cent. The state’s share would be raised by a $15,000,000 bond issue to be voted upon at the November general election. . . .  Four timber companies, which are attacking the legality of the 1935 flood law, contended the program hinges on federal and state funds which may not be received. . . .  

Feds Fail To Provide Matching Funds

 

Bolsters timber companies complaint against state law allowing formation of countywide flood control districts.

3/6/36

MVDH

county board hears appeal for support  – members of planning council want workers from less important projects on flood control

Fighting for more relief workers to carry out the flood control projects in Skagit county, members of the Skagit county planning commission appeared before the board of county commissioners yesterday afternoon and requested that the more important projects in the county be given priority. They asked the commissioners to make a review of the existing projects, weed out the less important ones and assign these men to the flood control project. The commissioners to the plea under consideration and announced they would try to work out the best possible arrangement for all projects. . . .  Mr. Welts presented a detailed list of the projects in the county, showing the men needed on them and the men actually working. This table of project appears elsewhere on this page. He explained that the Skagit river flood control project is not set up under the WPA, but is handled directly by the U.S. army engineering department. It calls for the use of 200 men, but it has been undermanned from the start, the number varying from 20 to the present employment of 100. . . .  A large delegation of farmers residing south of Mount Vernon was present at the hearing and urged that every consideration be given the south ditch project. Ninety men will be needed on this project, it was said. . . .  Commisioner John Mason said definitely that he was going to see the ditch project through “if they hang me for it.” . . .  

More Workers Needed for Flood Control Projects

 

Corps of Engineers handling flood projects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Projects undermanned from the start.

 

 

“South Ditch Project” assumed to be the same as the current “Hill Ditch Project”.

3/9/36

MVDH

flood control law at stake

The constitutionality of the state’s flood control program was at stake in a suit being heard by the state supreme court today. The case is on appeal from Pierce county, where the Weyerhaeuser Timber company, St. Paul and Tacoma Lumber company, Milwaukee Land company and Northwestern Improvement company brought a restraining action to prevent canvass of the vote to determine whether the Puyallup valley flood district should be formed. . . .  The case hinges on whether a district can tax property bordering land affected directly by floods for the purpose of specially benefiting and improving other property, without some degree of benefit accruing to the property taxed. . . .  A precedent was established on January 22 in Shelton, when Superior Judge H. G. Sutton of Kitsap county, ruled that lands “must receive benefit from the flood control before they can be legally assessed.” The decision of the supreme court in the present case probably will rule in similar suits now in lower courts against . . .  The Stillaguamish and south Snohomish districts in Snohomish county, and the Skagit county district.

Washington Supreme Court Hears Flood District Case

 

Because the residents derived no benefit, it was error to include their lands.   Weyerhaeuser Timber Co. v. Banker, 186 Wash. 332 (Wash., 1936)
By the terms "benefits" and "to be benefited," it is meant that the landowner has received, or will receive, by reason of the improvement, an increase in the market value of his property. Union Trust Co. v. Carnhope Irr. Dist., 132 Wash. 538, 232 P. 341, 234 P. 277; Butte v. School Dist. No. 1, 29 Mont. 336, 74 P. 869.

3/11/36

MVDH

skagit c. of c. to fight for river project – aid of seattle chamber’s  -- representative at national capital will be sought; present rule hit

A campaign for a larger share of WPA funds allotted to this state was launched by the Skagit county chamber of commerce at a meeting in the banquet room of the President hotel here last night, after two speakers had maintained that this county is not receiving its “just share.” It was pointed out that the county’s flood control project will end in almost a total failure unless more workers are assigned to it. H. B. Averill, publisher of the Daily Herald, stated that Skagit was either fortunate, or unfortunate, because of its very low relief load during the period which the WPA is using as a basis for work relief now. He pointed out, however, that “when the showdown comes, every county will pay its share of the WPA program and Skagit county will lose in the long run if it does not get its proper allotment.” Mr Averill added that “we must fight for the funds justly due us.” . . .  

County Not Getting Fair Share Of WPA Funds

 

Needed more workers.  Flood control work could end in total failure.

3/18/36

MVDH

the new skagit river bridge which was officially opened yesterday

Picture of New Bridge

11/5/36

MVDH

flood control channel held most feasible – army engineers speak at monthly luncheon of chamber of commerce; directors nominated

Two U.S. army engineers from the office of Col H. J. Wild, in charge of the district, today told the Mount Vernon chamber of commerce that $4,982,000 flood control channel from Avon to Padilla bay is the most feasible procedure to eliminate flood danger in the lower part of Skagit county. . . .  “The Skagit river has been studied from many different angles.” Maj. Baker stated, and after naming several stated that the most effective means visualized was by the diversion of the channel at Avon.” . . .  When questioned as how he had arrived at the cost of the benefits, Maj. Baker stated that damages from all the past floods had been totaled and the average annual loss computed with the construction costs. The proposed channel is to start at Avon but preliminary work would have to start east of the Great Northern railroad bridge. The proposed channel is to be 1,500 feet wide at the bottom. It will be used strictly as a flood control measure and will not carry water except during flood conditions. Maj Baker reviewed the history of floods on the Skagit during the past 26 years for which records have been kept. The highest flow of water at Sedro-Woolley during that time has been 220,000 feet per second. The present river below Mount Vernon can accommodate a flow of about 120,000 feet per second. The proposed channel is to carry any in access of 100,000 feet per second, Baker stated. The channel’s capacity is 120,000 feet per second. We have had larger floods, the speaker stated.  In 1815 it is known that a flood with 450,000 cubic feet per second was seen. In 1853 there was a flow of 350,000. The building of power dams on the Ruby, at Diablo, on the Baker and Cascade rivers will all tend to help the flood control situation and although the channel itself is not capable of handling flood waters to such extremes as has been mentioned, with the aid of these other factors it should be adequate. Many questions and suggestions were raised by the people present. Suggestions by Wm. Hayton, Albert Mosier and Gene Dunlap that rip-rapping the cut banks of the river from Mount Vernon to the Sauk and dredging the mouth of the river were heard. The guest speaker stated that such was a good policy but that its cost would far exceed that of the channel proposal. He estimated the costs of such a system at eleven million. Dredging at the mouth of the river met opposition from the speaker. Dredging will have no effect on high tides, he stated. And high tides are always higher during flood periods. It is the high tide that will tend to hold your river up, he added.

AVON BY-PASS

 

By-Pass “most feasible” flood project.

 

 

Average annual benefits computed by adding all damages from past floods and dividing by cost of project.  Is this how it is done today?

 

 

 

Channel of river could only carry 120,000 cfs. In 1936. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dredging the mouth of the river would have no effect on high tides.  It is the high tide that will tend to hold your river up.”

 

2/12/37

MVDH

bills filed in state house pass 500 mark – creation of flood control districts authorized under new bill filed in house

. . .  Chief among proposals offered in 30 bills, two memorials and one resolution were: 1– Creating of flood control districts . . .  The committee on flood control introduced the bill authorizing the creation and maintenance of flood control districts. The measure would permit the director of conservation and development to call a special election on petition of 50 per cent of the landowners in a district, and if approved by 60 per cent of the majority of votes cast, he would appoint a commission of three to supervise flood control. The commission would have the power to set boundaries, fix a levy of assessments, issue bonds and enter into contracts with the United States government for flood control money. 

New Flood Control District Legislation

 

50% of landowners within proposed district had to petition state agency and 60% of the majority of votes cast required for district approval.

2/18/37

MVDH

flood control hearing will be held here – two u.s. departments to hear flood facts at session called for march 2 at city hall

. . .  Congress has directed a preliminary examination of the Skagit river and its tributaries, with the view to control of their floods. . . .

New Study Of Skagit River

P/E led to 3/29/37 recommendation to study river.

4/12/37

MVDH

avon-padilla channel gets committee o.k. – flood diversion channel is recommended for immediate construction; drain district, sauk project also listed.

. . .  Of the 190 projects in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, 113 projects, cost $189,984,00 to construct or complete, were listed for immediate construction. Among these projects in Washington state were . . .  The proposed $4,798,000 cutoff in the Skagit river; . . .  Fifty projects, costing $219,374,000 and recommended for deferred construction, included dredging the Columbia river from Vancouver to the Bonneville dam at a cost of $2,380,000; . . . Among 22 projects, costing $111,510,000 and listed after the deferred group, were the $25,532,000 Ruby dam project on the Skagit river; the $14,612,000 Sauk river project; . . .  Among local projects recommended for deferred construction were . . .  Skagit county drainage district 17, flood control, $107,000; Sauk river channel, river channel, revetments, $53,000; . . . 

Avon By-Pass

 

Cost $4,798,000.

 

$25,532,000 for Ross Dam placed on back burner.

5/6/37

MVDH

u.s. engineers not favorable to dredging

A letter written by U.S.  Senator Homer T. Bone last April 26, and received here by Mrs. W. F. McCormick, secretary of Skagit Pomona Grange, revealed that the chief of engineers, U.S. war department, considers the dredging of the lower Skagit as “inadvisable” at the present time. The letter from Bone, and several others, was read at last night’s Pomona meeting. . . .  Major Gen. E. M. Markham, chief of army engineers, wrote to Bone as follows on the subject: “I have recently had a report from the division engineer, north Pacific division, advising me that three of the subsidiary sloughs were closed by the construction of dams or dikes at their heads in 1910 and 1911. These dikes have been reinforced and reconstructed from time to time. Their purpose was confine the discharge to one channel and thus increase the navigable capacity of the south fork of the river. “If the sloughs were opened, the water would be divided between the sloughs and the main channel, and the existing navigation channel would be destroyed. This channel is used by tugboats towing logs from Tom Moore slough and from points up the river to Utsaladdy where they are taken in tow by deep water tugboats.

Corps Says No To Dredging Lower Skagit

 

 

 

“three of the subsidiary sloughs were closed by the construction of dams or dikes at their heads in 1910 and 1911.”

5/15/37

MVDH

flood control policies will be determined – program for annual conference here next thursday is given; many leaders will attend

. . .  At the present time, nineteen streams have been designated for preliminary surveys, but no funds have been made available for this work. A total of $50,000,000 in the flood control work is outlined for Washington but under the flood control act of 1936, much additional preliminary study must be given the work. . . . 

Puget Flood Control Council Meets In Mt. Vernon

Feds need preliminary “studies” before work can start.

5/20/37

MVDH

skagit flood danger told at conference – seventy attend annual conference in this city; speakers stress need for equalized tax

. . .  Mayor C. W. Vaux welcomed the visitors, representing five northwest counties, to the city, and a short response was given by Charles M. Dial of Seattle, representative of the chamber of commerce of that city.  . . .  Col. Hanson feels that the state should equalize the cost of flood control throughout the various counties of the state, and should assume the burden of the costs of lands and damages to property in constriction work relative to flood control. “The individual counties can then make adequate plans to bear the cost of maintenance of flood control works,” Col. Hanson stressed.  . . .  Mr. Smith touched briefly upon the floods of 1932, 1921, 1917, 1909, and 1856, but the last really big flood, he stated, was in 1815, nearly 120 years ago. In 1923, James Stewart of the U.S. Geological survey set out to make a study of floods of the Skagit river, and with such information as he gathered he discovered that in 1815 a flood occurred in this valley which left layers of river silt in the inner bark of cedar trees on the Skagit flats fifteen feet above the level of the surrounding country. The survey was carried from the mouth of the Skagit river to Ruby Creek, and Mr. Stewart found evidences of big floods all the way. In the Diablo canyon in the upper Skagit are well marked evidences of water having raised to more than a hundred feet above the normal stream elevation. “I suppose we could work out by the theory of probabilities just how often such a big flood might occur. It may be once every hundred years, or every four hundred,” said Mr. Smith, but the only condition necessary is to get ten inches of rain over the watershed in a period of 34 hours with the temperature above 50 degrees. In 1932 we had 11½ inches of rain but it was spread over a period of 72 hours. In 1932 conditions were all in order for a flood in the proportions of that if 1815, but the rain broke one day early.” If such a flood should occur, all of Sedro-Woolley, Burlington, Hamilton and La Conner would be under water, and most of Mount Vernon. Every farmhouse on the Skagit flats would stand in 7 to 15 feet of water, explained Mr. Smith. In the report of the survey made in 1923, Mr. Smith further commented, Mr. Stewart recommended that should the Skagit valley area every get six inches of rain or more in one day, the whole valley would be abandoned without attempting to take any possessions along. He also recommended that dikes twelve feet high be built around the entire city of Burlington. In his second point, Mr. Smith showed by a series of charts how the City Light project on the Skagit river has materially lessened the danger from floods by its huge reservoir at Diablo. The Baker river reservoir at Concrete also is instrumental in lessening flood danger. The city of Seattle has spent $25,000,000 on the Skagit power project, and receives 85 per cent of its current therefrom. Thus, the city of Seattle is deeply interested in flood control work in the Skagit valley.

Speaker Quotes From Stewart Report

 

 

Speaker was Glen Smith engineer with Seattle City Light.  Confirms that City Light had copy of Stewart Report.  Smith felt 1815 flood could be 100 to 400 year event.  Quoting Stewart, “only condition necessary is to get t3en inches of rain over the watershed in a period of 34 hours.”  1932 had 11.5 inches of rain but spread over 3 days.

 

 

 

Stewart recommended dikes 12 feet high be built around Burlington.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diablo reservoir lessens flood damage.  Baker dam also instrumental in lessening flood danger.

 

City of Seattle deeply interested in flood control in Skagit County.

5/21/37

MVDH

state tax for flood control also favored – puget sound council adopts resolution asking solution to skagit problem, which is one of most serious in entire state

Skagit county’s need for a solution to its flood problem gained a new convert yesterday when the Puget Sound Flood Control Council, in annual session here, unanimously adopted a resolution asking the responsible authorities to take immediate action. . . .  The resolution stressed that the federal government had allocated money for a spillway between Avon and Padilla bay but that the county could not take advantage of the allocation since Skagit residents have no means of raising a million dollars, which is mandatory before the project is undertaken. . . .  Earlier in the day, Glen H. Smith, engineer for City Light, Seattle, had told the 70 in attendance at the conference that the Skagit valley is in danger of a flood “such as the white man has never seen.”

Avon By-Pass Dead

 

Skagit County has no means to raise a million dollars for local share.  PSFCC recommended statewide tax for flood control.  Recognized Skagit’s flood problem as “one of the most serious in the entire state.”

5/21/37

MVDH

house committee o.k’s 31 millions for rivers, harbors

The house rivers and harbors committee today reported favorably, by a unanimous vote, a $31,720,000 omnibus bill authorizing construction of 119 rivers and harbors projects.

Feds Allocate Money For Flood Control

5/24/37

MVDH

engineers to rule soon on river survey – wallgren says army engineers will decide within ten days on whether to survey lower skagit

Decision on the necessity for a detailed survey of the Skagit river, including the north and south forks, for navigation and flood control will be made by the board of rivers and harbors engineers in the next 10 days, Congressman Mon C. Wallgren has been informed by official of that board. . . .  If action is taken under the report of the local engineers, it will be the result of the inclusion of an authorization to conduct a preliminary survey of the Skagit which Congressman Wallgren succeeded in having placed in the flood control act of 1936. The report of the local engineers recommends a detailed survey of the Skagit. . . .  “The division engineer, north Pacific division, has now submitted a report on preliminary examination, recommending the undertaking of a detailed survey. . . .”

Corps Considering Doing Study On Skagit River

 

Examination & survey of Skagit River authorized by Congress on 8/28/37.  (Source: Corps letter dated 9/25/47).

6/5/37

MVDH

dredging one step nearer by u.s. action – congressman wallgren sends telegram to shrauger telling of action in fight for dredging project

Congressman Mon Wallgren today notified Postmaster C. F. Shrauger of this city by telegram that U.S. army engineers in Washington, D.C., had approved plans for a complete survey of the north and south forks of the Skagit river from the bay as far as Mount Vernon. “This means that we are one step nearer in our campaign to have the lower Skagit dredged for the benefit of flood control, drainage and navigation,” declared Shrauger.   . . .  Officials of the Skagit dredging association expressed much concern over a report sent to Washington, D.C., that the association was advocating a government owned dredge. While this might be desired the association did not think it advisable to ask for other than the dredging of the river, Mason declared. He commented that today’s action by the army engineers shows that the congressman and the two Untied States senators have fully presented the Skagit problem to the war department.

Skagit Dredging Association

 

Corps approved plans for “survey” of Skagit from mouth to Mt. Vernon.

 

Local association wanted to dredge lower river.  Felt survey was first step to accomplishing that.

12/2/38

MVDH

much damage is reported

Thousands of dollars worth of land in the Sedro-Woolley district is threatened anew by the Skagit river because of damage done to revetment work, it is claimed here. Nearly one quarter of a million dollars have been spent in protecting the river banks, and a new project calling for the expenditure of more than $400,000, to start this month, has been authorized by the WPA. . . .  Log-towers claim they cannot help causing the damage unless booms are placed to protect the worst places at the sharpest curves. Some of the farmers have complained to the county commissioners about the matter, but the board of commissioners claims it has no funds to repair the damage. On the other hand, WPA authorities state that once the work is done it is up to the county to maintain the revetments.

Revetment Work Damaged By Log Rafts

 

Log towers claim they cannot avoid the damage caused by their log rafts.

 

$250,000 already spent.  $400,000 will ultimately be left on the table due to no maintenance policy of the County Commissioners.

12/14/38

MVDH

committee to inquire about river project

The Skagit County Chamber of Commerce, meeting at Burlington last night, authorized appointment of a committee to confer with the board of county commissioners relative to two phases of the Skagit river revetment program. Action was taken after Attorney Arthur Ward of Sedro-Woolley informed the group that much damage has been done to the revetment recently by log booms, and that a new $400,000 project on the river is being held up by WPA officials until the county furnishes a dragline outfit. . . .  Ward pointed out that $250,000 had already been expended on the river and maintained the investment should be protected. In its application for the first project, the county agreed to maintain the project, he stated. Up until recently, before funds were exhausted, the government engineer saw that the project was maintained. No funds are available for the purpose now. . . .  A. G. Mosier of Sedro-Woolley said piles should be driven to protect the revetment work. He thought farmers whose land is washed away might have recourse against the county. L. R. White, president of the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce, said if the river changes its course there is danger to Sedro-Woolley. He said water pipe lines running into Sedro-Woolley are also threatened unless the river is kept in its present channel. He advised watching the river above Sedro-Woolley at high water stages, saying “you can’t tell what will happen.” Jack Davis, Burlington banker, said the $250,000 already spent would be wasted unless the project is maintained.

Skagit County Chamber Of Commerce Forms Flood Committee

 

Committee was formed to help County Commissioners deal with river erosion problems and damage to revetments by log rafts.

12/15/38

MVDH

dike project is finished

Work on the government dike south of La Conner has been completed. . . .  Work started May 16, 1938. The purpose of the jetty was to deflect the North Fork of the Skagit river to stop silting Swinomish Slough channel. During the work on this project 80,000 tons of rock taken from the government quarry on Coat island was used, and 2,900 cords of brush used in building mat placed under rock. The length of the dike was 5,800 feet. Winston Bros. company were contractors, J.G. Montgomery, superintendent. The work was done under the general supervision of Col. H. J. Wild, Seattle, district engineer, and Frank S. Greely was chief inspector on the job.

Corps Of Engineers “Dike” Project At Hole In The Wall

 

12/30/38

MVDH

county hopes for start on river project – commissioner mason sees end of difficulties, but he says county can’t maintain project

J. T. Mason, chairman of the board of county commissioners, said today he thought “everything will be all ironed out in the near future,” so that a start can be made on the Skagit river flood control project. The WPA has allotted more than $420,000 for the new project, which includes bank revetment work at strategic points along the river. Complaint was made at a recent meeting of the Skagit county chamber of commerce by A. H. Ward of Sedro-Woolley, that the project is being held up because the county has refused to provide draglines and because the county has refused to agree to maintain the project.  Mason said the county is ready with its 20 per cent of the cost of the project, and that it has a first class dragline, which was used on the old river project, ready for use. At the chamber of commerce meeting, Ward declared the army engineers were waiting for a new dragline and for a county guarantee of maintenance. The chairman of the commissioners said maintenance of the project is a big problem. The cost would be practically prohibitive, according to his viewpoint. Also, if the county agreed to maintain the project, he thinks the county might be liable for damages to property should the bank revetment go out and wash away property. Then also, if the county maintains the improvement in any one place, it would be expected to maintain it all up and down the river, and the county has no money for that purpose and no prospect of getting any, according to Mason. . . .  When the new project starts, it is expected repair crews will be sent to places near Sedro-Woolley where log tows have damaged the work done under the old project. It has been suggested that piles be driven in the future to protect the revetment work. 

County Refuses To Provide Maintenance of Revetment Work.

 

Cost prohibitive according to County Commissioners.

 

 

 

Commissioners also worried about liability of maintenance on projects.

1/23/39

MVDH

three flood control bills are proposed

            Three bills designing legislation for flood control in the eight western countries will be sponsored by the Puget Sound flood control council as the result of a meeting in Everett Friday.  . . .  Two of the bills to be sponsored deal with setting up machinery for state administration of flood control projects through the department of conservation and development.  . . .  Two of the bills to be sponsored deal with setting up machinery for state administration of flood control projects through the department of conservation and development.  . . .  The other bill repeals a 35-year-old river control act that has never been used.

New State Legislation Proposed

 

 

PSFCC sponsored legislation for setting up state administration of flood control projects.

1/30/39

MVDH

river project model shown

            Depicting in miniature the intricate details that make up a flood control project, a model of the revetment work completed at Lyman several months ago has been put on display in the county courthouse.  . . .  The Lyman project, which was completed last May, was one of six units of a total length of 4.2 miles in place, started in September 1935.  The model was built at the Seattle canal locks by the engineers office, for the purpose of demonstrating the type of flood control work being done in the northwest.  The finishing touches to the project are also shown to scale on the model.  Rotted willow slips are planted six to a square in the compressed mat which protects the river bank against erosion.  Concrete blocks, galvanized cable and machinery add to the reality of the model.  On the banks of the river, a portion of the town of Lyman is shown.

Corps Builds Model of Revetment Projects

 

Model depicted Lyman revetment work.

2/2/39

MVDH

east skagit river district to be talked

            SEDRO-WOOLLEY, Feb. 2 – (Special) – A mass meeting of Skagit county farmers will be held this Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Sedro-Woolley city hall auditorium to discuss plans with state and federal officials for forming a river bank maintenance district.  The river is at present threatening destruction of hundreds of acres of valuable farmlands and the authorized expenditure of acres of valuable farmlands and the authorized expenditure of $420,000 for further river bank revetments is delayed until maintenance can be financed.  . . .  Fink and Lars Langlow, engineer in charge of the flood control of the state, told the committee that many acres of lower Skagit County farm land are in danger, with 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.

Riverbank Maintenance District

 

District needed to stop erosion and perform maintenance of government projects.

2/14/39

MVDH

bill asks million for flood control -- repeal of old river control law included -- measure asks state to aid counties; police patrol criticized for activities during strikes

            OLYMPIA, Feb. 14 – (U.P.) – An act appropriating $1,000,000 from the state treasury to aid counties and cities in flood control work and creating a state division of flood control work and creating a state division of flood control was filed today by Senator Keiron W. Reardon, D., Snohomish.  . . .  The program provided for repeal of a 35-year-old river control law that never has been used and two bills setting up machinery of future flood control projects.

Legislation Proposed Forming State Division of Flood Control

New agency would assist counties and cities with flood control projects.

2/17/39

MVDH

petitions are circulated for river district

SEDRO-WOOLLEY, Feb. 17 – Petitions for the formation of a Skagit river bank revetment maintenance district were circulated this week and sent to state authorities at Olympia for final approval before calling for an election to vote on the matter.  . . .  It is estimated that the average farm will be taxed less than 10 cents per acre.  As petitioned for, the proposed district has at its east boundary the east city limits of Hamilton and extends west through Burlington to the Pacific highway.  . . .  Meanwhile, Skagit County commissioners will be asked on Monday to keep their word in regard to the purchase of the new dragline as required by U.S. engineers in charge of the revetment project.  If this is done, work will proceed to protect remaining danger spots along the entire river.

Riverbank  Maintenance District

 

Proposal called for taxing acreage at 10 cents per acre.  District included river from Burlington through Hamilton.

 

County Commissioners asked to provide new dragline.

3/1/39

MVDH

skagit facts are given on radio program

Skagit County was “on the air” last night in an interesting and factual broadcast about this section.  Speakers were Harry Gille, state and industrial development director of the Puget Sound Power & Light company, and Carl Nelson, of this city, representing the Skagit Chamber of Commerce.  The program was heard on station KJR, on the power company’s regular weekly “Greater Washington Hour.”  . . .  “Logging and lumbering was one of the first and still is a leading industry of the country.  . . .  During the last decade other important industries have been developed, and along with these industries has come the development of agriculture.  Commercial activities in Skagit County include the manufacture of lumber, cement, pulp and paper, clay products and also such plants as condensaries, canneries, creameries and cheese factories.  The mining of minerals and producing dairy center of the Northwest.  The most recent of its many enviable records is that created by Emil Youngquist when, with 18 Holstein cows, he established a national record of 512 pounds of butterfat per cow.  Holstein, Guernsey and Jersey breeds predominate and they will produce this year a total of $3,500,000 worth of dairy products.  The second largest agricultural industry is poultry and eggs with an estimated production this year of $1,250,000.  The total vegetable yield will bring upwards of $1,150,000 – oats $985,630 – seeds $582,735.  Skagit County holds the world’s record for oats production per acre.  In 1935 on the farm of Jim Hulbert was produced 192 bushels.  On the farm of S.A. Medenhall was produced 12,800 full quarts of Marshall strawberries per acre – an equivalent to 1,066 crates or nearly 13 tons.  These are two world’s records Skagit County can well be proud of – and as far as is known these records have never been equaled or exceeded anywhere!  . . .  During the past several years there have been added an average of 100 farmers per year and the towns have prospered in a like manner.

Skagit County Industries

 

Agricultural history.  Timber was king.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim Hulbret produced 192 bushels of oats per acre in 1935.  World record.

 

Medenhall farm produced 13 tons per acre of strawberries.  World record.

 

Farms growing by average of 100 per year.

3/4/39

MVDH

new district is opposed

SEDRO-WOOLLEY, March 4 – (Special) – A group of farmers, who reside east of this city, will meet in Burlington city hall Wednesday night at 8 o’clock to discuss the proposed river control district, it was announced here.  . . .  It was said the farmers fear that the district would cast too much money.  It has been proposed that the district raise funds by levy each year to maintain the river bank revetment work along the river.  . . .  It was declared here farmers who are opposing the district feared they could be taxed excessively.  It was pointed out that the law provides a maximum 2 mills as the annual levy, with a total of 5 mills, if approved at a special election.

Riverbank Maintenance District

 

Farmers fear excessive taxes.  2 mills maximum yearly unless approved by public vote then could go to 5 mills ($5 per 1,000 dollar assessed valuation).

3/10/39

MVDH

district plan to go ahead

SEDRO-WOOLLEY, March 10 – (Special) – Despite opposition to plans for formation for a maintenance district for the upper Skagit River flood control on the part of a group of farmers who met at Burlington on Wednesday night, Chairman Frank Goodyear of the Utopia farmers’ committee plans to go ahead on the project.  . . .  Some complained that the tax would be too high, others thought that the revetment work already done has not held up well enough and still others held that the federal government should put in more permanent flood protection and attend to its upkeep.

Riverbank Maintenance District

 

Despite opposition proposed district formation would proceed.  Some thought revetment work already done did not hold up.

8/10/43

MVDH

skagit fishery work proposed

. . .  Erosion control and fishery development comprised the major items of discussion with representatives of the state department of fisheries and the Skagit soil conservation district present. . . .  That plans are now being initiated for post war work in fisheries was revealed by Clausen who pointed out that the future work must make possible greater spawning areas and protection of river assets now available in Skagit county. In the wide-scale postwar program for Skagit county, he listed eight projects headed by the creation of a Skagit river fish hatchery. . . .  Other projects in Skagit county include the removal of barriers and dam at Nookachamps creek; survey of additional water supply . . .  Sauk river power and flood control dam site; study of the proposed Cascade river power and flood control dam site; installation of facilities at the Baker river dam to aid fish in entering and leaving the Baker river area; and fish way over the east fork falls of Nookachamps creek. Present work on the Skagit water problem includes the establishment of 16 gauge stations in the county. . . .  The need for immediate work on the erosion problem was emphasized by Mr. Dickey as the critical situation in the Lyman-Sedro-Woolley area was again cited.

Fish Projects

 

 

Skagit River fish hatchery, remove dam barriers on Nookachamps Creek; fish facilities at Lower Baker.

 

Flood projects being looked at included dam sites on Sauk River and Cascade River.

 

 

 

Erosion control looked at between Sedro-Woolley and Lyman.

8/11/43

MVDH

upper skagit dams are huge asset to county (editorial)

Be it said to the everlasting credit and honor of “J.D.” Ross and his zealous associates, a few of whom are still living and carrying on, and to the credit of the good people of Seattle who followed their leadership, they have created a marvelous, living, pulsating, engineering project on the upper Skagit river that will endure and serve the people of their city and adjoining coast communities for countless generations to come.  They have reclaimed a mountain wilderness for human service, they have transformed a raging, rushing river, confined for thirty long miles in an almost inaccessible, towering, precipitous canyon, into a modern gigantic hydroelectric power system.  They have harnessed nature, without destroying it, to serve the needs of man.  They have taken possession of the flood waters of this short but mighty Pacific Coast river, removing the menace of annual disaster to the rich and broad valley lands below, and stored them to furnish more power.  . . .  It really belongs to Skagit County by every rule of geography and contiguity, although the first and original Gorge Powerhouse at Newhalem lies three miles north of our county boundary line is, therefore, in Whatcom County.  . . .  Every mile of inhabited and cultivated Skagit valley, aside from the project installations, lies in Skagit County.  Some day we hope the legislature will consider these facts seriously enough to attach this eastern area of Whatcom County to Skagit County, of which it should be a part for all practicable purposes.  . . .  County Job  Building the Skagit project was not child’s play but a man’s job.  It took grit, courage, sweat, and hardship to drive tunnels, build dams, install machinery, to even set up living quarters up there.  The cost cannot be measured in money.  Where the upper dam, Ross Dam, was built in the past few years and where it is now being raised, there wasn’t a level spot on which to build crude living quarters.  . . .  It is probably the world’s worst construction site.  An idea of the depth of the river canyon – a narrow one at that – is gained from the fact that this man-made reservoir, or lake, is 100 feet deep in the channel between Diablo and Ross Dams, a distance of about eight miles.  Above Ross Dam, Ruby Lake spreads out with less depth and when new work on this dam is finally completed, this reservoir will back up five miles into Canada.  Seattle has already acquired the necessary Canadian property and flood rights.  Three Units  The Seattle project consists of three separate units, built in series.  Briefly the original Gorge powerhouse at Newhalem, opened in 1924, receives its water through an 11,000-foot tunnel heading in the river about three miles upstream.  Seven miles above Newhalem, reached by the electric gorge railway, is Diablo Dam and powerhouse.  This water comes from Diablo Lake and consists of the entire flow and storage of the river above Newhalem.  Construction of the highest, or Ross power plant, waits on the completion of this dam.  . . .  Hunters’ Paradise  . . .  Towering above the construction camp 175 feet, or 305 feet from solid bedrock, Ross Dam presents a veritable facsimile of Niagara Falls, a roaring, fascinating cataract, whose clouds and sheets of spray at times envelop and drench everything within hundreds of feet.  . . .  Would Raise Dam  Engineers estimate that the present Ross structure can be safely pushed up 235 feet higher, or 75 feet higher than the contractors are now building it.  Efforts are being made to do this but the decision is in the hands of the Federal Power Commission.  . . .  For comparative purposes it may be stated that the Diablo plant operates on a 313-foot head of water.  It is also important and reassuring to know that Ross Dam is 200 feet thick at its base, tapering to 65 feet at the top, crown measurements.  Huge Reservoir  Of special and vital interest to Skagit County and its people are the figures on reservoir storage, for this constitutes flood water projection.  Diablo Lake now contains 90,000 acre-feet of water.  Ruby Lake is about 10,000 acre-feet larger.  When the present contractors raise Ross Dam 160 feet, the water storage in Ruby Lake will increase to 676,000 acre-feet.  If and when the dam is raised another 75, as desired but not authorized, Ruby Lake will reach the enormous size of 1,400,000 acre-feet and, as related, will cross the Canadian border, a body of water 21 miles in length.  Thus, practically the complete flow of the Skagit River will be controlled and harnessed, i.e. the river above Newhalem.  . . .  The dams on the upper Skagit built by the City of Seattle have unquestionably alleviated flood conditions in the lower valley and the greater storage planned for Ruby Lake will remove the menace, as long as the dams hold.  . . .  Skagit County’s Interest  . . .  Mr. Hoffman, who is no stranger to Skagit County, wants our people to know more about the Skagit project and take a deeper interest in it.  . . .  He would like us to feel that these dams are reservoirs have given us greater security against lower valley floods.  . . .  Some day we home we may utilize some of this power created by our own river.  It is our project as well as Seattle’s.

Upper Skagit Dams As Much Skagit County’s Project As Seattle’s

Praises J.D. Ross.

 

 

 

 

Transformed a raging, rushing river, into a modern gigantic hydroelectric power system.

 

Taken floodwaters and removed the menace of annual disaster to the rich and broad valley lands below.

 

Wanted legislature to annex dam sites into Skagit County.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diablo  Lake 100 feet deep and 8 miles long.

 

 

Gorge powerhouse opened in 1924.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“…practically the complete flow of the Skagit River will be controlled and harnessed…” 

 

Dams have unquestionably alleviated flood conditions in the lower valley and the greater storage planned for Ruby Lake (Ross Lake) will remove the menace, as long as the dams hold.

10/26/45

MVDH

storm results in 2 deaths; lower valleys flooded

Although sunny skies averted threats of more serious storm damage in this area today, two deaths were attributed indirectly to the storm.  Louis Betschart, 37, of route 1, Sedro-Woolley, died yesterday afternoon following a heart attack which occurred when he and a companion, Ed Selff, were attempting to rescue a skiff that had broken loose in the flood waters of the Skagit river.  Betschart, while rowing a boat in the turbulent waters of the Skagit near his home at Utopia, collapsed apparently from over-exertion.  Efforts to revise him with the aid of a resuscitator failed.  The body was removed to the Lemley mortuary.  Lyle McNeil of Auburn also was the victim of a fatal heart attack while he and a hunting companion B. H. Yenter, route 1, Sedro-Woolley, were rowing a boat near the Chester Leamer farm southwest of Mount Vernon.  The two men saw another boat in difficulty and went to assist the occupants, Wilbur M. Snyder and R.E. Adams, both of Seattle.  Whel McNeil attempted to reach for an oar in the other boat, he was stricken and died immediately.  . . .  Nookachamps valley on route 4, Mount Vernon, is reported to be flooded with many houses surrounded.  Telephone communications were out in that sector today.  George Dynes’ Riverview poultry farm was partly under water with chickens roosting on top of the chicken houses.  A number of the poultry were reported lost in the flood, and attempts were being made to bring the others to safety.  The Samish River flooded during the night, with only trucks moving over the Chuckanut highway in the Allen area.

OCTOBER 26, 1945 FLOOD

USGS 102,000 cfs Concrete (34.0), 94,300 cfs Mt. Vernon (30.25)  Comparable to 1982 flood at Concrete and second flood of 1989 at Mt. Vernon.

2 men suffer heart attacks while rowing boat in flood waters.

 

 

 

 

George Dynes poultry farm in Nookachamps flooded, chickens died.

 

 

Samish River flooded.

11/2/45

MVDH

11 inches of rain recorded in week at diablo station

Extraordinary rainfall – a total of approximately 11 inches – was recorded by the weather station at Diablo for the week ending October 27.  Heaviest rainfall was recorded on October 24, with 6.49 inches of precipitation, and October 25, with 2.21 inches.  . . .  Residents of Marblemount, Newhalem, Diablo and Ross Dam were marooned for three days, while every available City Light man worked to get traffic lines open.  . . .  the water in back of Ross Dam was raised 18.5 feet, to the maximum possible with the present construction.  This impounded 25,660 acre feet of water and took the peak off the flood which descended on the Skagit valley from the drainage area below the dam.  Enough flood water was stopped by Ross Dam to cover 25,000 acres of land more than a foot deep, had it not been held back, said City Light officials.  Completion of the second step of the dam, now under construction, will create an even more effective flood control, company officials pointed out.

11 inches of Rain over 7 days at Reflector Bar

 

6 inches in one day.  8.5 inches in two days.  Ross dam attributed to withholding 25,000 cfs.  Completion of dam will provide “even more flood control” local residents told by City Light.  This would have made 1945 flood event close to 1975 event had not storage been available.

 

Ross Lake raised 18.5 feet.

12/6/45

MVDH

flood council has talks on skagit basin

H.O. Walberg, president, and L.J. Wright, vice-president, represented Skagit County when the 13th annual meeting of the Puget Sound Flood Control Council was held December 1 at the Seattle Chamber of Commerce.  . . .  Col. Hardy disclosed that his office is now making a review of the Skagit river report which recommended the construction of the Avon bypass, and indicated that a conclusion more favorable to the county may be reached during 1945.

Corps Reevaluating Avon By-Pass

12/15/45

MVDH

dams menace salmon runs

Stating that new proposals for dams in state waters are threatening the very existence of Washington’s salmon runs, Milo Moore, state director of fisheries, has announced creation of a new division of his department to determine the requirements of fish life at these new developments.  . . .  Vigorous planning and a sensible distribution of available water supplies are the only means of providing a balanced state economy, said Moore in announcing plans for the new division.

Washington Fisheries Worried About Dam Impacts on Fish

Dams threaten the existence of Salmon runs.

7/14/47

MVDH

seattle light contributes to hatchery cost

Milo Moore, state director of fisheries, today received a $54,950 check from Seattle City Comptroller W.C. Thomas to assist in financing construction of the state fish hatchery at Marblemount.  The sum is in compensation for damage to eggs and small fish in the river above Marblemount due to the operation of the Seattle City Light department dams.  Spawning Unaffected  . . .  It has been established however that operation of the dams caused damage to eggs and small fish in the river above Marblemount.  This was verified for the city of Seattle by Trevor Kincaid, until recently a professor at the University of Washington.  City Light’s contribution will pay for the construction of seven rearing ponds and related water supply and provide operating funds for nine years.  Completed in Fall  Twenty ponds are under construction and will be completed this fall.  Twenty more will be built as soon as additional funds are available, making a total of 40 ponds.  Approximately three million silver and Chinook Salmon and steelhead per year will be put into the Skagit River watershed by the new hatchery, Moore said.  The number of fish planted will later be increased to six million per year.  Clark Creek  . . . [Milo Moore said]  “City Light by its spirit of cooperation has demonstrated fine leadership in community planning.  Through their understanding of the problems of conservation an important step has been taken for protecting the Skagit fisheries for future generations.”  . . .  Eighteen ponds will be used for salmon and two ponds for steelheads.  . . .  Results of the operation should be evident in from three to five years, Moore said.  The run will continue to build up by increased natural spawning aiding by continuous hatchery operation.

Director of Fisheries Prasies Seattle City Light

 

SCL to help pay for State operated hatchery at Marblemount.  Operation of SCL dams caused damage to eggs and small fish in the river above Marblemount.

 

 

 

3 million silver and king salmon and steelhead per year will be put into the Skagit River.  Later increased to 6 million.

8/7/47

MVDH

county changes plans on river cutoff project

Lowell Hughes, chairman of the board of county commissioners, today announced revision of engineering plans of Burlington Bend, switching back to the original bank revetment program.  . . .  “Plans were submitted last week to the army engineers for final approval,” stated Mr. Hughes, “but requirements placed upon the job by Colonel Hewett’s office makes it impossible for Skagit County to carry out the plan as originally proposed.”  Demands Full Width  “The stipulation which has brought about the change in the Burlington Bend erosion control plan is the requirement by the federal government that Skagit County either dredge the entire channel which the river will require, that is a stream bed approximately 400 feet wide, or that funds be put in escrow by the county for the future dredging downstream of the material removed by the river in establishing its normal channel width.”

Burlington Bend Plans Change

 

County was going to cut a new channel across Strawberry Bar in order to stop erosion on Burlington side of the river.  Corps demanded County dredge 400 ft channel or put funds into escrow for future dredging downstream.

County refused to put funds into escrow, project was abandoned.

8/26/47

MVDH

flood project still unsettled

A new river channel across the Burlington bend, or nothing, that seemed to be the consensus of the group of farmers residing in that area who met last night with Skagit County Commissioners, Burlington city officials, and representatives from the state department of conservation and development, U.S. Army Engineers and the county planning commission, of the city hall in Burlington.  . . .  Engineers’ Stand  The Army Engineers’ stand on the matter was outlined last night by Byron Clark, assistant to Col. Hewitt, who was sent to the meeting by the latter.  Clark said that Col. Hewitt’s job was concerned primarily with navigation of the Skagit River and he had to abide by certain rules and regulations governing the same.  The colonel was not opposed to a new channel, Clark said, but he said that the channel would have to be wider than planned by state and county authorities and an amount of around $400,000 would have to be put in escrow to take care of possible damage by siltation below the cut.  . . .  County’s Part  Lowell Hughes, chairman of the board of county commissioners, explained thoroughly the county’s part in the picture.  Originally he said, both the county and the state had agreed on matching money for the new channel work.  However when it was presented to the U.S. Army Engineers for the permit necessary for that office, the new stipulations were presented and the cost was more than either the county or state could possibly match.  This meant, the commissioner added, that the only alternative to use present funds, would be to install rock revetment work along the most dangerous part of the Burlington bend.  . . .  Action Needed  . . .Despite a plea from several authorities that rock revetment should be installed right away, now that it would be impossible to construct the channel, most of the farmers present stood pat on their decision for a new channel.  Mr. and Mrs. Austin Lytle, whose farm has suffered the worst loss from erosion at Burlington Bend, stated that they would refuse to sign a damage waiver to allow the installation of rock revetment in place of the new channel.  . . .  Downstream Silt  Another farmer asked the U.S. Army Engineers’ representative if he thought more downstream silt would result from the 16 acres of soil necessary to be removed to make a new channel, or the 24 acres that have already been washed from the Lytle farm and more that may be expected.  . . .  Actual work in constructing a new cutoff amounts to the removal of 271,000 cubic yards of dirt for the 1,600 feet of distance, county engineer H.O. Walberg told the audience last night.

Farmers Still Want Channel At Burlington Bend Across Strawberry Bar

 

Corps concerned only with navigation of channel.  $400,000 would have to be put into escrow to take care of possible damage of increased siltation in lower river.

 

 

 

 

 

 

County says new conditions imposed by Corps unsatisfactory due to cost of project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farmers still want new channel.

 

 

Sterling farmer refused to sign damage waiver for rip-rap instead of new channel.  This farmer had lost 24 acres of ground.  Farm is now owned by Earl Jones.

 

New channel would have required removal of 271,000 cubic yards of dirt and been 1,600 ft long.

 

8/27/47

MVDH

flood control meeting set

Plans to send a representative to Washington D.C. to seek action on flood control work at the Burlington bend will be discussed at a meeting of farmers and Burlington city officials scheduled for Monday evening, August 25.  . . .  Spokesman at the meeting declared that abandonment of the proposed channel to divert flood waters has created an emergency and that valuable farm lands as well as the city of Burlington itself is in danger of immediate damage.

Farmers Upset Over Abandonment Of New Channel Project

 

Felt emergency had been created.

8/28/47

MVDH

farmers to call for flood action

A group of fifty determined Burlington farmers will descent upon Col. L.H. Hewitt, district head of the U.S. Army Engineers in Seattle tomorrow, to present their plea for the construction of a channel across Burlington bend on the Skagit River in connection with flood and erosion control.  The original plan of building a channel across the oxbow on the river bend near Burlington was stymied by the Army Engineers when they stipulated that the channel would have to be constructed wider than originally planned and that an amount near $400,000 would have to be put in escrow to take care of possible down-river siltation.  The farmers residing in the danger area have turned thumbs down on an alternate proposal by the county to put in rock revetment on one portion of the bend.  A spokesman for the farmers’ group said today that if no favorable reply is forthcoming from Col. Hewitt, a delegation of women will “see what they can do.”

50 Farmers To Protest In Seattle

 

Farmers preferred new channel over rip-rap project protection.

 

Said that if they weren’t successful in changing the Colonels mind they would send their women “to see what they can do.”

10/1/47

MVDH

flood control survey planned

Congressman Henry M. Jackson, conferring with County Engineer H.O. Walberg in Mount Vernon today, announced that he has requested an overall survey of the Skagit river to determine where emergency flood control measures will be needed.  . . .  To Seek Federal Aid  . . .  Federal flood control work can be done only on existing dikes or work which had formerly been completed by government W.P.A. projects, mainly revetment work, Jackson said.  However, the authorized and comprehensive survey of flood control on the Skagit River that has been underway by the government for some time, is expected to be completed this winter.  He said that it would probably be two or three years, however, before the project would come before congress for its approval or rejection.

New Flood Study Planned

 

Current study been underway for sometime.  New survey would look for “emergency work.” 

10/3/47

MVDH

salmon increase in skagit noted

Seattle – State Department fisheries surveys in the Skagit and Stillaguamish river systems revealed that pink salmon escapement in these streams was greatly improved over the last cycle year of 1945, State Director Milo Moore, announced today.  . . .  The Skagit River system showed 30 percent greater escapement than 1945.  The survey party found 150,000 pink salmon and 11,000 king salmon spawning in the area between Newhalem dam and Faber ferry on the Skagit River.  These figures are not estimates, but based on actual counts taken by the party which drifted down the rivers in a boat recording every fish sighted on a counter, Moor said.

Big Run Of Humpies

 

11,000 Kings found spawning between Newhalem dam and Faber Ferry (located west of Concrete).

10/14/47

MVDH

push completion of ross project

            SEATTLE, Nov. 14 – (U.P.) – Supt. E. R. Hoffman yesterday requested the city council appropriate $350,000 to initiate plans for construction of a power house at the Ross Dam site now building and transmission lines to Seattle for current it will produce.  . . .  He said Ross Dam would be completed in 1948 and that its storage capacity of 1,400,000 acre-feet of water was the key to the project of the Skagit development.

Ross Dam To Be Completed In 1948

10/16/47

MVDH

sewage plant weakens dike, council told

The Mount Vernon sewer disposal plant project, subject of many a heated controversy since it was first proposed, hit a new snag last night when district dike commissioners protested to the city council that the location of the plant weakens the dike at that point.  Appearing before the council on behalf of the dike district were Commissioners Dan Sundquist, Magnus Johnson and Pete Lee, together with their attorney, James G. Smith.  . . .  Base is Poured  . . .  Since the council felt unqualified to act in the matter at this time, the dike district’s protest was referred to a conference between dike commissioners and representatives of the engineering firm, Parker and Hill, to be held in the near future.

Dike District Protest Location of Mt. Vernon Sewage Treatment Plant

 

Protest referred to consultant.

10/20/47

MVDH

flood crest of skagit reached; receding today

The swirling waters of the Skagit River, after having reached a flood crest of 21.6 feet here at 6 p.m. last night, are rapidly receding today, apparently eliminating for the time being at least, the threat of major flood in this area.  . . .  Families Marooned  Several families in the Day Creek area today are marooned as the Gilligan Creek bridge washed out completely Saturday and the Lyman ferry, that provided the only other outlet for some 50 families, sunk after having been covered with debris from the rushing river.  . . .  All of the ferries crossing the Skagit River were grounded today and will not be operated during the high water period.  School children residing on the south side of the river in the Day Creek, Lyman and Concrete districts are unable to attend school today.  . . .  Trucks Overturn  . . .  A total of 1.29 inches of rainfall fell in this area over the weekend, according to reports maintained at the county engineer’s office.

OCTOBER 19, 1947 FLOOD

USGS 95,200 cfs Concrete (32.9), 69,400 cfs Mt. Vernon (28.68).  Comparable to first October flood in 2003.

 

21.6 feet at Moose Hall gage.

 

Lyman ferry sinks.

 

11/13/47

MVDH

way now paved for immediate work on dikes

            A joint program between the city and county for immediate work on waterfront diking repairs with the aid of state matching money, is assured today following the adoption of an emergency measure by the city council last night to cover the city’s portion of the cost.  The program, as announced by Councilman Vern Schacht who had previously met with the board of county commissioners on the matter, calls for probable rock revetment work along the waterfront dike from the south end of the Division street bridge to the south end of property owned by Minnie Lee, known as the Dewdrop tavern.  . . .  Rock Work Probable  . . .  Recent high water of the Skagit river had done considerable damage to the east bank of the river and threatened to do still greater damage unless emergency measures to correct the situation were instituted.  Inspect Site  With city appropriating $4,000 toward the project, the state matching fund would make a total of 12,000 available for the work.  State authorities, who with members of the county engineer’s office inspected river erosion here yesterday, approved the project as an emergency measure and assured local officials that state aid would be forthcoming.  Public Hearing  . . .The revetment work along the dike will be done by the county, using their equipment and manpower.

Mt. Vernon and County Work Together On Dike Project

 

Rock revetment work along waterfront dike.  Recent flood did considerable damage to east bank of the river.

 

 

State matching funds $12,000.  Revetment work to be done by the County.

12/18/47

MVDH

major projects outlined for city light dams

            A major six-year construction program involving the expenditure of an estimated 50 million dollars has been announced by Seattle City Light for its Skagit river project, it was revealed today.  . . .  The initial project, contract of which is expected to be let soon, calls for considerable tunnel work at the present dam sites, installation of an additional generator at Newhalem and the construction of a camp for workers at Gooddell creek, it was learned.  To Raise Gorge Dam  Planned for the second phase of the gigantic construction program will be the addition of seven feet to the present Gorge dam and other work at that site.  A workers’ camp will also be built at a site known as East End.  The third phase of the project calls for continuation of present work at Ross Dam, including the construction of 1800 more feet of cement lined tunnels.  . . .  Local Employment  . . .  A large number of men are at present employed at construction work at Ross Dam which is rapidly reaching its maximum height.

Seattle City Light To Spend $50,000,000

 

Tunnel work, additional generator at Newhalem, raise Gorge Dam.

4/17/48

MVDH

aunt jemima in person

Famous Lady Visits Skagit County

4/19/48

MVDH

seek federal aid to construct span over skagit river

The first direct effort to gain federal aid in the construction of a steel span across the Skagit river near Concrete was started today with appeals being made to congressional representatives from this state by Chambers of Commerce of various cities in this county. . . .  “We ask you and urge your support for federal funds to construct a bridge cross on the Skagit river in the vicinity of Concrete. 1. Construction of the bridge will give access to largest available stand of federal timber remaining in this state. . . .  4. Timer valuations will increase 25 per cent by the erection of a bridge. . . .”

Congressmen Asked For Aid To Construct Dalles Bridge

 

Timber valuations would increase by 25%.

4/27/48

MVDH

hope still exists for skagit bridge

Possibility of securing federal funds for the construction of a bridge across the Skagit river at Concrete appeared remote today, according to information received in a telegram this morning by State Senator Jess Sapp from U.S. Congressman Henry M. Jackson.

Federal Funding Remote For Dalles Bridge

 

4/27/48

MVDH

flood control job on skagit will start soon

Announcement of the official approval of the flood control project at Burlington bend on the Skagit river came today noon from Art Garton, state director of conservation and development, who notified the Daily Herald by long distance telephone that the go ahead signal had been given for the major undertaking. Contracts are expected to be awarded during the next 30 days on the estimated $174,000 flood control job, he said. The work will be done under the supervision of the U.S. army engineers. . . .  Financed Jointly Financing of the project is being taken care of by federal, state, county, city and diking district allocations as announced by Garton: state, $88,000; U.S. army engineers. $50,000; Skagit county, $26,000; city of Burlington, $5,000; diking and drainage district, $5,000. Work to be done at Burlington bend, which is located a short distance east of the city of Burlington, includes rock revetment work with filter blanket beneath, for the entire area on the north bank of the bend which is estimated to be around 3900 feet. That portion of the Skagit river has long been considered as the most dangerous area as far as possible flood break-throughs are concerned. Already acres of valuable farm land have plunged into the river at that point in the past few years. Engineers have stated many times in the past that unless flood control work were instituted there, the city or Burlington itself could easily be completely inundated under water in case of a major flood.

Burlington Bend Project Approved

 

3,900 ft rock revetment project.  Total cost $174,000.

 

Cost Sharing -- State, $88,000; U.S. army engineers. $50,000; Skagit County, $26,000; City of Burlington, $5,000; diking and drainage district, $5,000.

 

 

Most dangerous area for “flood break-throughs”. 

5/28/48

MVDH

skagit is near flood stage as rains continue

The Skagit river, swollen by a heavy deluge of rainfall last night, is expected to reach a flood crest of near 21 feet some time tonight, according to information from the Skagit County Engineers office. Twenty-one feet is considered a danger point as far as possible dike break-throughs are concerned, but is several feet short of the height necessary before water would spill over the levees. . . .  The flood crest, which takes approximately 20 hours to reach Mount Vernon from the upper stretches of the Skagit and tributary rivers, is expected here this evening and the river is steadily rising in the meantime. . . .  Dams on the Skagit river have opened flood gates to let excessive water escape.

UNDOCUMENTED FLOOD

 

Expected to crest near 21 feet (Moose Hall gage which would be 1 foot over flood stage at current gage).  21 feet considered danger point for dike breaks but several feet short of going over dikes.

 

Dams on Skagit opened flood gates.

5/29/48

MVDH

peak is reached in skagit river

The Skagit river is subsiding somewhat today after reaching a peak of 20 feet nine inches at 10:45 p.m. last night, according to an official checks made by the county engineer’s office. At 7:15 o’clock this morning the height registered the same but a slight drop has been noted since that time. No immediate threat of a flood of dangerous proportions was forecast although fear was expressed that dikes will be considerably weakened if the heavy flow of water continues for the next three or four weeks as predicted by weather bureau authorities. Farms Isolated A few farms were isolated by waters of the river going over its banks at points where no dikes exist. East of Mount Vernon in the Nookachamps creek area, the Skagit flooded roads providing ingress and egress and farmers were using rowboats to reach higher land.  . . .  South of here in the Fir Island district high waters broke a dike that has been recently repaired and isolated at least one farm family and led to the closing of a farm road leading south from the Fir-Conway bridge. . . .

Flood Barely Over Flood Stage

 

20.9 would be 28.9 at current gage.

 

Main concern was dikes being weakened if high water continued.

 

 

 

Fir Island dike broke.

6/2/48

MVDH

buller warns of high water peril in skagit runoff

This is no time to be sitting complacently behind the Skagit river dikes saying “It can’t happen here,” Richard Buller, long-time resident of the upper valley, told a Daily Herald reporter yesterday. Dropping in to the Herald office on a visit to Mount Vernon, Buller said: “There are the makings of another flood like that in 1894, up there in the Cascades.” “There is more snow in the high Cascades right now than for any of the 58 years I have been at Marblemount,” Buller said, “and a series of hot days could duplicate the result of a similar situation in ‘94.” . . .  The upper valley, Buller said, has had only three days of warm weather so far this spring and up until the past week end snow thawed on the mountains part of the day and froze again at night.

Local Resident Fears Snowpack

 

More snow then in last 58 years.

6/11/48

MVDH

flood work snarl blamed on official

In a telephone conversation with the Daily Herald today, Mrs. Austin Lytle blamed County Commission Lowell Hughes for the possible “slow down” of work on the proposed Burlington Bend project following the awarding by a superior court jury of $1800 for property along that section of the river owned by the Lytles. “We agreed to a settlement out of court for a figure only half as much as the jury awarded us,” Mrs. Lytle said, “but Commissioner Hughes refused and brought it to court instead.” . . .  Commissioner Hughes stated yesterday that the county had no funds to pay the $1800 for the portion of the Lytle property and that the proposed flood control project might be slowed down until some method of raising the necessary money could be worked out.

Burlington Bend Project Moving Slowly

 

Austin Lytle family stated county refused to pay them for their land.  Commissioner says no funds available.

6/22/48

MVDH

ask permission to dam brown slough

Three Skagit county dike districts and a drainage district have asked permission of the army engineers to build a dike across Brown’s slough, a quarter-mile from the north fork of the Skagit river. . . .  (Brown’s slough is one of a number of waterways across the Skagit river delta. The proposed dike and dam across the slough would be located a short distance south of the North Fork bridge, just off the LaConner-Conway road. There are at present dikes on either side of the slough. It is proposed to connect these and prevent flow of flood water through the slough.)

Dike District Wanted To Build Dike Across Brown’s Slough

10/6/48

MVDH

proposed span at concrete would tap timber resources

For 15 years the subject of a bridge across the Skagit river at Concrete had been discussed and proposed with little success resulting. This year, however, voters throughout the county will have a chance to vote on a proposition of bonding the county for a total of $700,000 with which to construct the span and access roads leading thereto. . . .  The annual tax levy to be collected by the county over a 10-year period, has been set at between 2½ and 3 mills, which will provide sufficient funds to carry out the program. . . .  The bridge will open up a loop highway from the eastern end of Skagit county to Darrington and the Snohomish valley, in addition to providing an outlet for the largest single stand of virgin timber in the nation, soon to be placed on sale by the U.S. Forestry service. The huge timber stand is located on the slopes of Finney Creek. Building of the bridge will eliminate three of the county’s most costly ferries at a saving of from $30,000 to $60,000 a year. . . .  In January of this year a committee of leaders from every town in the county got together to prepare a county-wide road and bridge program for presentation to the Legislative Interim committee. In doing so they designated the Skagit river bridge at Concrete as the second most need project of the county. The number one project was, of course, the Cascade highway.

Dalles Bridge To Go To Vote Of The People To Vote On Dalles Bridge

 

County to bond $700,000 for cost of bridge.

 

 

 

Bridge would save County 30-60,000 a year on ferry expense.

 

Bridge second on list of public works projects right behind Cascade Highway.

10/7/48

MVDH

what about this upper skagit river bridge

Advertisement for Bridge

10/13/48

MVDH

danger to school children who cross skagit on ferries cited

Those who know the Skagit river and have seen it a raging torrent of swollen flood waters each year can readily appreciate the danger faced by the 60 school children who must rely upon the ferries 180 days out of the year to further their education. . . .  That is one of the strong arguments being voiced today in favor of constructing a bridge across the river near Concrete which decision will be up to the voters of the county during the general election in November. . . .  Scow on Cables The typical river ferry is a steel or wooden scow with railings on each side and a hinged ramp at each end. They operate solely by the power of the water against the side of the scow, the scow being swung on cables that permit it to be set at an angle against the current which pushes the scow sideways to the opposite landing. The entire mechanism hangs from a rolling trolley riding a taut cable stretching across the river from high poles on each side. Due to water variation, landings at each side of the river are impossible to maintain at one level. As a result the cars attempting to board or leave the ferry scow have considerable difficulty. . . .  The ferries operating two shifts of 9 hours each, or 18 hours a day. However, they must be closed down in high water due to danger of floating debris and the extra strain on cables, and in low water because of insufficient draft to float the scows. Also in low water the natural eddies at each landing tend to swing the ferry scows around and send them into the current with the cables on the lower side of the scow. On several occasions this has resulted in capsizing the ferry.  Slip Away From Landing Other hazards of ferry operation include the danger of the ferry slipping away from the landing as the cars attempt to drive aboard– the ferry moves out and drops the car into the river. Other instances have found cars sliding off the opposite end of the scow in loading. . . .  The proposed Skagit river bridge in the vicinity of Concrete will immediately eliminate two of the four ferries, and will eliminate a third within the very short time needed to build a few miles of access road. These ferries will be the Faber ferry, the Concrete ferry and the Presentine ferry (Birdsview). . . .  The Faber ferry has capsized in the past. It and others have broken loose, Aprons of the ferries have dropped down and caused the ferry to submerge. Many of these occurred while vehicles and passengers were aboard. . . .  At high water periods, the upper Skagit is swollen and violent. Crossing is very dangerous and at those times the ferry does not run. Last school year this happen on a total of 15 days.

Ferries Dangerous – Dalles Bridge Needed To Replace Them

 

Ferries have capsized several times in the past.

 

 

Cars have slipped off the ferries into the river.

 

Faber, Concrete and Presentine (Birdsview) Ferries would be eliminated.

10/14/48

MVDH

plan conference on flood control

Congressman Henry M. Jackson will confer next week with Col. L. B. Hewitt, district head of the U. S. Army Engineers, in an effort to work out a flood control problem along the Swinomish slough near the Dorsey farm west of here, it was announced today. . . .  Extensive dredging of the slough has resulted in wearing away of the dikes, making break-throughs possible. One such break-through occurred in that area last year, flooding several acres of farm land under two to three feet of salt water.

Dredging Swinomish Slough Damaging Dikes

Dredging resulted in wearing away of dikes, allowing “break-throughs”. 

10/14/48

MVDH

bridge is vital, chamber is told

. . .  McIntyre pointed out the between 3½ and 4 billion feet of virgin timber is contained in the Sauk and Suiattle watersheds which would naturally be diverted through Skagit county if a bridge were constructed across the river. He also pointed to the eventual savings to the county through the elimination of ferries and also the elimination of danger to school children who now must depend upon the ferries to get them to their classrooms. “Approximately a 2½ or 3 mill levy is all that would be necessary,” the speaker asserted, “to raise the $700,000 required to construct the span.” . . .

Dalles Bridge Needed To Get To 3.5 to 4 Billion Feet of Virgin Timber

 

Timber driving force to build Dalles bridge.

10/21/48

MVDH

proposed span key to vast timber resources, report

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 where it is no long 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 trucks. . . .  According to the U. S. forestry department all the timber in the Finney creek, Mill creak, Pressentin and Quartz creek areas would logically move down the Skagit valley with a crossing at Concrete. Timber also could move in a downhill route from the Suiattle river district. . . .  The Finney creek timber has not yet been placed on sale by the forestry department, but will be highly sought by timber operators when bids are called in the next few years.

Dalles Bridge Needed To Get To Untold Wealth In Timber

 

Without bridge, timber would be sent to Snohomish County mills.

3/12/49

MVDH

set hearings on river projects

. . .  The Skagit river hearing will be held in Mount Vernon at the court house April 12 at 10 a.m. . . .  The Skagit river improvements to be discussed are all in the delta area. They include completion of a training dike and work on the river at the Skagit city bar to increase the available depth. Already completed are regulating dikes and a mattress still near the head of the north fork, a dike at the mouth of the south fork and the closing of subsidiary channels at the delta.

Skagit River Public Hearing

Work proposed on “training levees” on Fir Island.

4/30/49

MVDH

bridge survey

A county surveying crew yesterday began work on the first major step toward construction of the $700,000 Skagit river bridge which voters have authorized for the upper Skagit valley, County Engineer H. O. Walberg said this morning. . . .  Prior to the beginning of the actual survey, county commissioners, engineers and up-river residents made several field trips into the area under consideration to gain preliminary information on the problems involved in construction of the up-river span.

Surveying Work Begins On Dalles Bridge

 

Voters Give Okay on Bond Issue

4/30/49

MVDH

flood warning setup dissolved

Skagit county’s flood-control warning system, developed by the county planning commission three years ago, is being abandoned; it was learned here today. . . .  The flood control warning system was coordinated by the weather bureau in Seattle who received periodic reports from the gauge readings in the upper Skagit and readings at Skagit river dams, and then relayed warnings to the county engineer’s office here when floods or high water are apparent.

Flood Early Warning System Abandoned

 

See 11/22/45 Courier Times article.

11/28/49

MVDH

worst flood in years passes crest; falling

The Skagit River, a few days ago a peaceful stream, turned into a raging torrent last night, spilling over its banks in several spots, marooning many families and causing untold damage to property and loss to livestock.  The flood, which reached its peak here at 4:40 a.m., this morning with a crest of 26.5 feet, was the worst in Skagit County for the past 27 years.  . . .  Yesterday afternoon and last night the entire community of Hamilton was cut off from the outside world and travel to the eastern end of the county is still at a standstill.  Most of the families living in and around the community of around 200 persons, left their homes before the water spilled through the streets to a height of about two feet.  Amphibious ducks, operated by private individuals and members of the state patrol, evacuated approximately 50 marooned persons there during the evening.  This morning hundreds of acres of land in the Fir Island district near Conway are under water due to at least three breaks in river dikes.  . .  A trestle and 165 feet of the Great Northern’s main line railroad track just south of Conway was washed out during the evening…  . . .  The main business district of Mount Vernon was seriously threatened during the night but flood crest stopped two feet short of the top of the dike.  . . .  Greatest flood damage in Skagit County was centered today in the Conway district where workers were unable to stop a dike breaking through at Fisher’s slough and above Conway on the North Fork.

NOVEMBER 28, 1949 FLOOD

USGS 154,000 cfs Concrete (40.8), 149,000 cfs Sedro-Woolley, 114,000 cfs Mt. Vernon (34.21)

 

Worst flood since 1921.  Hamilton underwater.  East end of County at a standstill.  Water 2 feet deep in Hamilton.

 

One has to wonder if getting rid of the Flood Early Warning System was a good idea.

 

Fir Island levees fail.  Conway levees fail.

 

 

Water stopped 2 feet short of going into downtown Mt. Vernon.

 

Conway levees failed at Fisher’s Slough.

11/29/49

MVDH

travel restored to all main roads in county

Rapidly receding flood waters in the Skagit Valley today spelled an end to the emergency conditions that have existed since the Skagit River poured over its banks Sunday evening and broke through dikes south of here yesterday.  There is still plenty of flood water covering valuable farmlands, particularly in the Conway-Fir Island region, but the threat of further damage is over.  The river, which had risen to a height of 26.5 early Monday morning, was down to 19.8 feet at 10 o’clock today.  . . .  The break in the dike at Fisher’s Slough which had threatened the town of Conway saw concerted action on the part of volunteer workers last night but the waters of the river have receded so rapidly that further damage in that area is not expected.  . . .  Most of the damage appeared to be to roadways, farm buildings and to winter crops, the latter mainly seed crops in the Fir Island district.  . . .  Skagit County Commissioner Lowell Hughes reported today that the county’s Lyman ferry “completely disappeared” during the flood.  . . .  Travel between Marblemount and Newhalem is still blocked off.  . . .  Residents of Hamilton, who were perhaps the hardest hit by the flood waters, were busy today cleaning out their homes of the mud and debris that rode into the city on the crest of the flood waters, estimated from two to two and a half feet.

River Drops 6ft in 24 hours

 

Most farm damage was to seed crops on Fir Island.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lyman ferry completely disappeared.  Travel between Marblemount and Newhalem still blocked off. 

 

Water 2 to 2½ feet deep in Hamilton.

11/29/49

MVDH

quick river rise surprised residents, but cut damage

The sudden flood, which subsided almost as quickly as it rose, deposited less silt than most residents had feared and damage to homes was in most cases confined to water-soaking, he said.  Mr. Williamson found new evidences of structural damage on a survey tour of the Hamilton flood area yesterday.  . . .  On his trip yesterday Mr. Williamson found 35 homes in Hamilton had been flooded, some to a depth of five feet, but the water had subsided and most families are now moving back and going about the job of cleaning up the flood debris and damage.

35 Homes In Hamilton Damaged

 

Some homes had 5 feet of water in them.  These must have been homes closest to the river as previous reports stated water only 2 ½ feet in downtown Hamilton.

12/1/49

MVDH

flood clean-up is continuing

Residents of Hamilton were beginning to settle down to normal living again after spending the past two days shoveling mud and muck from their stores and residents in the wake of Skagit county’s near-disastrous flood of the weekend.  . . .  No definite estimate on the amount of damage to Skagit county as a result of the flood has been made yet . . .  Quoted figures of two million dollars is believed to be high.  . . .Water is still on many acres of farmland today in the Conway area but inundated lands in the area east are rapidly becoming free of water again as the Skagit river continues to drop.

Hamilton Cleans Up

 

Reported damage figure of 2,000,000 said to be too high for County.  Water still in Conway area.

12/2/49

MVDH

organization planned for future flood emergencies

The Skagit river raised four feet in the past 24 hours due to torrential rains that fell last night but clearing and colder weather has prevented any reoccurrence of the disastrous flood that struck the county last week-end.  Meanwhile it was announced that the Skagit county board of county commissioners will set up an organization in the immediate future to coordinate all activities in case of any emergency that may arise because of flood conditions later on.

County To Plan For Flood Contingencies

12/21/49

MVDH

skagit river flood damage is estimated at $306,965

Flood damages totaling $306,965 excluding crop losses which might with other reported damages bring the total to over one million dollars, were reported this week in a survey of the recent Skagit river inundation by the soil conservation service. . . . Seventy farm buildings were either washed out or severely damaged in the flood, according to the SCS report, and 14,765 acres of land were inundated.  Fortunately, according to the survey, damage to the rich top soil in the flooded areas was very minor and stream, bank and gully erosion was also surprisingly small.  The flood washed out 2,700 feet of dikes, destroyed five bridges and made it necessary to rebuild three and a half miles of road, the report states.  The peak flow of the Skagit reached 132,000 cfs, the highest since the flood of 1921.

70 Farm Buildings Damaged

 

14,765 acres inundated.  2,700 feet of dikes washed out.  5 bridges destroyed.  3.5 miles of road to be rebuilt.

 

Peak flow 132,000 cfs is different then what USGS is currently reporting for that flood.

USGS   1949-11-28        91000

Corps of Engineers 114,000 cfs

2/9/51

MVDH

skagit rises foot here this morning

. . . Nearly three-quarters of an inch of rain in 24 hours up to 8 a.m. today, coupled with moderately warm winds have continued to raise the river more than two inches per hour.  Rainfall in the 24-hour period as reported by the experiment station was .71 inch, making 1.41 inches since last Saturday.

River Rises 2 inches per hour

2/10/51

MVDH

skagit rising fast upriver; dike breaks

At 1 p.m. the river was at the 25.1 level in Mt. Vernon, 1.4 feet above the 1949 crest.  A shortage of sacks and workers in some districts hampered the job, but dike strengthening was going ahead at a rapid pace.  . . .  The county engineer’s office predicted a 28.5 foot level in Mt. Vernon by 9 p.m. almost two feet above the a November 1949 crest . . .  The river was up to 38.85 at Concrete this morning and continuing to rise.  Rain was still falling upriver at noon, but a cool wave was reported coming in from the north, which might check the river rise later.  . . .  Water boiling through a 40-foot gap in the dike on the George Moore farm, on the south bank of the North Fork just below the bridge west of Conway, had covered over 1,000 acres of pasture-land on the northwest side of the island west of Fir Island at noon and blocked all but very pressing traffic on the south approach highway to the bridge.  . . .  Although the river is still two feet short of the top of the dike in most places on the lower part of the river, sandbagging was needed in some spots and water continued to filter through and threaten another break farther down.  . . .  All traffic at the upper Skagit Valley was cut off at Lyman where the road is under water.  Another stretch of road above Marblemount is flooded and the road to Newhalem is closed.

FEBRUARY 11, 1951 FLOOD

Corps of Engineers 139,000 cfs Concrete (38.99), 150,000 cfs Sedro-Woolley, 144,000 cfs Mt. Vernon.

USGS, 1951-02-11, 138000 cfs Mt. Vernon

25.1 feet in Mt. Vernon would be 33.1 at current gage.  28.5 ft level would be 36.5 feet at current gage.

 

River at Concrete would continue to rise to 38.99 feet.

 

 

 

River still two feet below top of most dikes.

2/12/51

MVDH

thousands of acres flooded in rich valley

The worst Skagit river flood since 1921 inundated thousands of acres of rich Skagit valley farmlands over the weekend and left two county towns, Stanwood and Hamilton, standing in water ranging up to six feet deep.  . . .  Fir Island Flooded  Water from the Conway break spread over an estimated 4,480 acres, to a depth ranging from a few inches to several feet.  . . .  Highway 99 was closed to traffic yesterday afternoon and was under water for four and a half miles today.  . . . Crested At 28.2  The river reached a crest at 28.2 at 5 a.m. yesterday and held very near to that mark for several hours before feeling the effect of cooler weather on the upper Skagit.  . . .  Hamilton residents evacuated without incident but some chose to remain on the second flood of their homes.  Eight families were taken out of the flooded Nookachamps valley Saturday by civilian “ducks”.  . . .  One of the most serous threats to the dike was in the river bend area west of the Riverside bridge where leaks and boils in the road which parallels the dike caused concern throughout Saturday night and Sunday.  . . .  Across the river, from the bridge to the Avon vicinity, the dike held but showed the same tendency toward seepage, with water bubbling up in the road and adjoining fields until stopped by the sandbag treatment.   . . .  A portion of the drawrest on the West Side bridge across the Skagit was swept away and there were times at the crest of the flood when the bridge was felt to sway noticeably, but held fast.  The new rip rapping on the dike in downtown Mt. Vernon came through with flying colors and the higher level of the dike was credited with preventing serious flooding of business buildings along the riverfront.

Worst Flood Since 1921

 

Fir Island and Conway flooded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riverbend and Burlington area dikes threatened with seepage.

 

 

Portion of Westside bridge swept away..

 

Work on Mt. Vernon revetment credited with preventing serous damage.  See 11/13/47 MVDH article.

2/12/51

MVDH

volunteers fight valiantly to save conway dikes—almost win battle

The break in the dike a mile south of Conway, which started from a muskrat hole and inundated some 4,500 acres of farm land between dawn and early evening yesterday, was one of the most heartbreaking features of a thoroughly heartbreaking weekend for Skagit county.  . . . Miller tried to cross the gap in his rowboat to the solid part of the dike running in the railroad trestle at Fisherman’s slough, but the bottom fell out of the boat and he saved himself by grasping a fence post.  Owen Tronsdale and another man saved him from the waters, taking him to the railroad.  . . .  Footsore, bleary-eyed and arm weary the 30 odd emergency workers thought they had won the battle against the rampaging Skagit, as they climbed the soggy dikes, carrying sandbags to over-floe points west of the town.  . . .  But still the river rose, necessitating a second or a third row of sandbags.  . . .  Dikes Like Jelly  Greatest fear was held for the dike behind the fire station to which there was access from only one point below and from either end.  Stumbling through ankle-deep mud, the men carried sacks to the top, tight-roping between the river and the side of the dike covered with blackberry vines.  . . .  Break Was Sandbagged  The breaking point was one of the first spots on the Conway dike to receive attention Saturday evening, when a crew of eight or ten made an attempt to stop what was then a “rat-hole” leak, about eight feet below the top.  Sacks were stuffed into the hole, after which others broke out and sandbags had to be piled all over the side of the dike – they held for about 10 hours.  . . .  By seven, water was coming in force down the streets of Conway and the coffee and sandwiches had been removed from the fire hall.

Muskrats Blamed For Conway Break

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conway dikes became like jelly.

 

 

 

 

Water in downtown Conway.

 

2/12/51

MVDH

flood story more than statistics; hundreds had personal interest

Muskrats and beavers better not show their heads anywhere near any Skagit valley farmer or volunteer dike worker.  These and other burrowing animals are blamed for most of the dike leaks and possibly for the breaks.  . . .  Hit three ways by the flood nobody in Skagit county had as many worries as Miss Lucille Axelson, whose farm was one of those hardest hit on Fir Island.  She and her brother are believed to have lost 80 head of stock.  In addition to her duties at home Miss Axelson is president of the Skagit Valley Red Cross chapter charged with the responsibility of feeding and housing evacuees and assisting in the rehabilitation of flooded out families and is the chairman of the diking commission in her district.

Lucille Axelson Hard Hit

2/13/51

MVDH

21,000 acres affected by river overflow

With the Skagit River far below the danger point, flood waters that inundated an estimated 21,000 acres of Skagit Valley land over the weekend were receding in some areas. . . .  Although the acreage affected by the break below Conway and the overflow of the Samish River was greater, the heaviest damage from the Skagit’s biggest flood in 30 years was in the Fir Island area, flooded by breaks near the North Fork Bridge and leaks and overflow in other areas. A hole blasted in the sea dike was expected to gradually drain the water level to a point where the North Fork dike break could be stopped. The river ripped a hole in the dike below the North Fork bridge that permitted a virtually new channel for the raging stream wiped out the buildings at the George Moore farm and inundated half of the main section of Fir Island.

Floodwaters Receding

2/13/51

MVDH

house, split in two, floats in hole gouged by north fork near bridge

. . .  The large old-!--style farmhouse, one of the landmarks in that area for many years, was hit by the full force of water pouring through a break in the North Fork dike Saturday. The river, virtually taking a new course directly through the house gouged out a hole under the dwelling deep enough to float the large structure, which split in two, the two portions resting on their sides.

George Moore House Destroyed On Fir Island During Flood

2/15/51

MVDH

slow runoff hinders surveys to determine flood damage

Hampered by the slow runoff of flood waters which leave thousands of acres inundated in the lower Skagit valley, surveys are now in progress to determine the extent of damage in the disastrous Skagit river flood.  . . .  The county agent’s office is conducting a checkup on farm damage, particularly livestock and crops, and the county engineer and drainage districts are surveying damage to roads, bridges, dikes and ditches.  . . .  Incomplete results of the SCS survey plainly show that the cost of this flood will far exceed the 1949 disaster, when an estimated $306,965 damage was caused by the overflow of Skagit county streams. The extent of flooding the Samish area was about the same then as now, according to Austin Summers of the Soil Conservation service, and damage in the Nookachamps and upper Skagit areas is expected to be at least as great to farms. The lower Skagit flood this time was far more serious in area and damage done with greater cost to dikes, ditches, roads, farm buildings and stock. . . .  The rapidity of the water rise at Conway and on the island prevented the saving of much of the personal property and furniture in homes, and the loss will no doubt be heavy. In the Hamilton vicinity, there was sufficient warning- through a siren system- to permit most residents to save their mattresses and furniture that would be ruined by water, a Red Cross spokesman reports. . . .  The dike below Conway was ripped from top to bottom, with a 40-foot gap torn in the protecting wall. The emergency pumping equipment of diking district 17 is under water and the tide gate of district 36 was ripped out. Dike damage, both breaks and weak spots, is very extensive and a great many ditches on Fir Island and in other flooded areas were filled with silt and sand. It is impossible to estimate road damage as yet, but the Dollar road is still closed due to a washout east of Burlington and roads in the lower valley were seriously eroded. 

1951 Flood Did More Damage Then 1949

 

 

Cost to dikes, ditches, roads, farm buildings and livestock.

 

 

 

 

Dollar Road (Highway 20) damaged and closed to traffic.

2/20/51

MVDH

planning needed to avert floods

Fixed planning for future control of the Skagit river is a “must” in order to save the resources of the valley, Herman Hansen, Mount Vernon superintendent of public works, told the Kiwanis club at the weekly luncheon meeting yesterday noon at the President hotel Togi room.

Planning For Floods A Must

2/20/51

MVDH

state pledges aid for flood repairs

The board of county commissioners yesterday reached an agreement with Lars Langloe of the state department of conservation and development for state aid in flood reparations, Chairman A. B. Wiseman reported this morning. . . .  Although work right now is concentrating on dike repair to take care of the emergency, river dredging work was mentioned in the discussion and may be an eventuality, Wiseman stated.

River Dredging A Possibility

2/22/51

MVDH

flood damage to farms over half million

            Agricultural damage from the Skagit County floods will total “at least half a million dollars” a Soil Conservation Service official said today.  Based on a nearly completed SCS survey, which shows 28,776 acres of Skagit County land flooded.  Austin Summers of the local soil conservative office placed the estimate on flood damage which does not include damage to houses, furnishings or personal property, or to roads and bridges.  It does include damage to land and crops, dikes, ditches, farm buildings and equipment and livestock.  Of the total acreage inundated, 8,320 acres were flooded by the Samish River in the northwestern corner of the county and the rest by the Skagit River.  Approximately 117 acres of land were “destroyed” for agricultural purposes by erosion, the report shows, with 50 acres of that land on Fir Island and most of the rest around Lyman.  . . .  Included in the loss was an area of mature bearing filbert trees on the Loop place in the Nookachamps area.  . . .  One of the heaviest strawberry field losses was on the Noble Lee farm on Fir Island, washed over by the river when it broke a private dike.  About 75 acres of bulbs were flooded, with almost no change of any salvage on most of them.  . . .  Diking districts have a monumental task of repairing flood damage.  A total of 4,300 feet of dikes were washed out (200 feet on the Samish River), and the tide gate of District 13 was ruined.  The district’s tide box installed in 1937 at a cost of $7,000, was wrecked by the flood and salt water had been coming in on the land at each high tide.

28,776 Acres of Farmland Flooded

 

$500,000 damage figure includes damage to land and crops, dikes, ditches, farm buildings, equipment, and livestock.  Does not include houses, furnishings or personal property.

 

117 acres destroyed by erosion around Lyman and Fir Island.

 

 

Private dike failed on Fir Island.

 

4,300 feet of dikes were washed out (200 on the Samish River). 

2/22/51

MVDH

engineer pessimistic on flood control work

            The US army engineers are nearing completion of a comprehensive study of Skagit River flood conditions, but a representative of the Seattle district office today held out little hope for any action by the army engineers in the foreseeable future to remedy the situation.  Byron Clark, speaking before the members and guests of the Mount Vernon Kiwanis Club this noon at the President Hotel, said that the flood control plan considered most feasible by the engineers – raising of the dikes along the entire lower river – could probably not be justified economically to earn Congressional approval for the project.  He said the long-proposed Avon Bypass plan, cutting a channel for emergency overflow from the Skagit River to Padilla Bay would be “slightly more expensive” and indicated it would not have compensating features making it a first choice plan.  . . .  “Not a penny has been appropriated for the Avon By-Pass to date,” Clarke said in answer to a question.  Clarke pointed out that under the existing law flood control projects must be “economically justified” by showing that damage which would be prevented over a period of years would exceed the cost of the work, spread out of the same period – say 50 years.  He said that even the least expensive way of meeting the flood situation on the Skagit could not be justified on that basis.  . . .  This year’s flood, he pointed out, was exceeded in volume and damage by several in the past and he was inclined to doubt that “floods are getting worse.”  He also disputed a remark that “the Skagit is silting up,” quoting studies made of the river bed near its mouth in 1930 and 1950, showing comparatively little change.  He discounted the importance of closed slough outlets as a flood cause, and said their effect would be very local and not too great since the sloughs carry off little water in comparison to the main stream.  He said Swinomish Slough jetty work had absolutely no effect on the Skagit.  Clarke also minimized the effect of cutting over timber as a cause of floods.  “The main cause of floods in this area,” he said, “is the appearance of storms concentrating in the area of the watershed.”  Clarke did not think that dredging the Skagit would have any great effect on preventing floods, at least in the area above the North Fork bridge.  He dismissed as far too expensive to consider the diversion of the entire river.  The engineer pointed out that Ross Dam has had a helpful effect in reducing flood levels and estimated that the most recent flood would have been one to two feet higher if the dam’s reservoir had not operated as a check.  “That margin,” he pointed out “could have been very serious, as you all realize.”

Corps Flood Study Near Completion

 

No hope for flood control project in foreseeable future.  Raising all levees not economically feasible.

 

 

No money appropriated for Avon By-Pass.

 

 

 

 

Corps does not believe floods are getting worse or that river is “silting up”.  No change in mouth of river since 1930.

 

 

 

 

Swinomish Slough jetty work has no impact on floods.

 

 

 

 

Corps doesn’t believe cutting timber contributes to flooding.

 

Dredging would not work.

 

Ross dam helpful in 1951 flood.  River would have been 1 to 2 feet higher without it.

3/15/51

MVDH

dike vote close in district twelve

            In the closes dike district election yet reported from Tuesday’s elections in the county, Bob Shroeder was elected in district 12 with only 31 out of the 84 votes cast.  Shroeder won by only three votes over Harold McMoran (28), who was followed closely by Bill Jewett with 25.

Only 84 Votes Cast In Dike Election

12/16/51

MVDH

allocate $60,000 for dike repairs

            WASHINGTON, March 16 – (U.P.): The Corps of Army Engineers has allocated $60,000 to repair four breaks in dikes along the Skagit River in Washington caused by recent floods, Rep. Henry M. Jackson, D. Wash., said today.  . . .  A 50-50 division of the cost between the government and local agencies is being considered, he said.

Federal Money To Fix Levees

 

50-50 cost sharing proposed.

12/18/51

MVDH

flood cost, effect of new law, hit county taxpayers

Last spring’s flood and the effect of a new state law will hit the taxpayers’ pocketbooks in Skagit county next year. Cost of rebuilding and strengthening the dikes along the Skagit accounts of a boost in the levy for most of the districts affected by the flood as well as some of the others. The new state law, providing for levying dike taxes on the basis of improvements as well as acreage, has sent the valuation of the districts soaring, particularly those which include city property. . . .  All the diking districts but one affected by the flood have higher levies in the coming year. Diking district 15, on Fir island, has doubled its rate from 100 to 200 mills. Diking district 20, paying for past improvements, keeps its rate at 170 mills. The two districts which include parts of Mount Vernon, No. 1, on the west side of the river, and 3, on the east, show the biggest jump in valuation. District 1 has a valuation of $1,081,545, as compared with $347,855 before the new law went into effect. District 3 has upped its valuation from $401,636, when only acreage value was counted to $2,138,350, representing improvements as well as land. Reduce Mill Rate Thanks to the big boost in valuation, district 3 was able to reduce its mill rate from 37 to 7, to produce approximately the same amount of revenue. District 1 increased its rate from 15 to 20 and its revenue from $5,218 to $21,630. . . .  

Dike District Assessments Soaring

 

Dike District 15 on Fir Island charging 200 mills ($200 per $1,000 assessed valuation).

 

 

 

Dike District #3 reduced from 37 mills to 7.

 

Dike districts now allowed to tax improvements instead of just land.

12/19/51

MVDH

county starts job at devil’s elbow

Dynamiting of the rock promontory at Devil’s Elbow on the upper Skagit river began Monday as the first step in construction of the rock road bed across the small bay on the south side of the river southeast of Concrete, the engineer’s office reported today. About 5,000 of the necessary 25,000 cubic of rock will be obtained from the spot for the dike, which is part of the second unit of the Dalles bridge project. About 13,000 yards of rock are needed for the base of the revetment, another 12,000 to establish the subgrade and about 40,000 yards of earth to complete the fill. . . .

Dalles Bridge Work Begins

4/3/52

real estate ads

What Farms Used to Cost

1/24/55

MVDH

c-c names 3-man river group on barge route

Continuing their drive to open the Skagit river to more river traffic the board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce selected a three-man “river-committee” at its noon meeting yesterday in the President hotel. Leo Beckley was appointed chairman of the committee by Ted Reep, chamber president. Andy Loft and Bob Ringman will also work on the project. . . .  The Chamber initiated action last week to have the Skagit river dredged from Mount Vernon to Puget Sound.

Chamber of Commerce Wants River Dredging for River Traffic

4/25/55

MVDH

baker river dam planned at concrete

A dam on the Baker river north of Concrete is one of several major power projects now under consideration in the Puget Sound – Cascade region, which would more than double the present power supply during the next eight years. . . .  The project on the Baker river, which is currently being investigated by the Puget Sound Power and Light company, would add 140,000 kilowatts of new capacity. Surveys for the dam, which would be located just inside the Whatcom county line, already have been made to a great extent.

Upper Baker Dam Planned

6/15/55

MVDH

skagit farmers protesting dike location ‘walls off’ their lands

. . .  Residents of Sterling, a farming community 600 acres up the river, have written to State Sen. Paul N. Luvera of Anacortes protesting the location of the new dike.  Mrs. Johnson says that she and her husband have a lawyer fighting the dike placement for them.  “About half of the people of Burlington are for us,” she said, “they think it is an awful thing they are doing to us out here.”  The land for the dike, which has already been acquired by Dike District 12, follows the old railroad logging grade from the Burlington acreage towards Sedro-Woolley.  Lawrence Boettcher, who owns 18 acres in front of the new dike location, is sharply critical of the dike plans.  . . .  Mrs. Florence Johnson said she and her husband are “almost sick” over the situation.  “My husband was born this land and has lived here for 60 years,” she said.  “We built our new house high so it would be protected from floods, but it won’t be any good now because the dike would raise the water level two feet if we have a flood.”

Sterling Residents Protest Dike 12 Moving Their Dike

 

Residents felt new levee location would raise flood waters by 2 feet. 

6/17/55

MVDH

mount vernon c-c asks federal aid in struggle for inland port

nine-mile $500,000 barge route in skagit sought

Mount Vernon today renewed its long fight to win status as an inland port by creation of an all-year nine-mile $500,000 barge route down the silt-choked channel of the Skagit river to salt water below LaConner.  . . .  Receives Copies  Mrs. Anna Grimison, president of Skagit River Navigation and Trading company which currently operates shallow-draft sternwheelers on the Skagit, will receive copies of the letters to Westland and Jackson.  If she indicates that river dredging will benefit river commerce, the Chamber said, a hearing will be asked with the Army engineers.  The Engineers estimate that about six miles of dredging would be necessary, with the federal government bearing bulk of the cost if the project is approved.  Approval would depend on area ability to show annual savings of at least $350,000, the Engineers said.  The last major improvement work on the channel was completed in 1911, and dredging of the river was entirely discontinued in 1941.  Today, a government snag boat is the lone craft assigned to clear river jams.  . . .  Need Justification  . . .  Delta silt at the mouth of the Skagit is one of the main obstacles to passage of all but shallow draft craft.  The project won immediate support from Mount Vernon officials and industry spokesmen.  “The Skagit river would become another outlet for transportation for Mount Vernon and the Chamber of Commerce should spark-plug it,” Ted Reep, Chamber president, said.  . . .  Seek Schedules  . . .  Channel deepening would permit extensive tugboat operations on the river.  . . .  Trouble Develops  . . .  Dunlap says a jetty is needed near the mouth besides dredging if the river is to stay navigable.

 

Mt. Vernon Wants Barge Route On Skagit

Proposed 9 mile Dredged Channel To Puget Sound

 

 

Last major improvement to mouth of Skagit was in 1911.  Dredging (side-casting) stopped in 1941.

6/20/55

MVDH

skagit officials to make barge route inspection

Top Skagit county and Mount Vernon officials – fighting to win a year-around tug and barge route on the Skagit river from Mount Vernon to salt water – tomorrow will personally inspect low water navigation hazards on the nine-mile route. . . .  Lowest tides of 1955 will be recorded on the Skagit river delta today and tomorrow, and official will see firsthand how the delta blocks passage of all but shallow-draft traffic for 22 hours daily under worst tide conditions. Jim Dunlap, tug company operator, estimated that tomorrow the exposed bar will be passable for only two hours when covered by six feet of water from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Under ideal conditions, Dunlap said, his tugs should have seven or eight feet for operation. . . .  Strong representations were made to the area representatives in Washington, D.C., to press for the project, estimated to cost about $500,000.

Local Officials Inspect River Lower River Hazards

 

 

Mouth of Skagit River covered by 6 feet of water only 2 hours a day.

6/21/55

MVDH

(picture caption)- inspect river

Members of the board of the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce and county officials inspect the silt choked north fork of the Skagit River this morning. The party was the guest of the Dunlap Towing Company. The men were to be guests at a salmon barbecue this afternoon. The chamber and other county groups are trying to have the driver dredged so that barge traffic can get up to Mount Vernon.

Picture of River Inspection

7/1/55

MVDH

dredging will affect valley, hughes warns

County Commissioner Lowell Hughes warned the Chamber of Commerce board yesterday that dredging the Skagit river could produce good or bad results to the lower Skagit Valley depending on what work was done to the river. “What you do at the mouth of the river affects the lower valley,” Hughes said. He said that dredging the river would help in flood control, but would not be permanent since river silt would fill the bottom. A “wing dam” would be needed to create a permanent channel, but such a dam might increase the danger of floods along the lower part of the Skagit, he explained.

Dredging Good & Bad

7/29/55

MVDH

in skagit dredging – chamber requests river industry aid

A series of letters soliciting aid in getting the Skagit River improved for better water transportation were mailed today by the Chamber of Commerce to various industries along the river. . . .  Harry Grimison of the Skagit River Navigation and Trading Company, founded in 1890, said his two stern wheelers have not been able to navigate the silt filled north fork of the river for the past ten days. Jim Dunlap, speaking for the Dunlap Towing company in LaConner, said the firm towed $2 million worth of timber down the river last year from upper Skagit County. “We brought down 32 million board feet of timber which otherwise would have been carried on the highways and there is more to come,” he said. Both men said they could only use the river at high tides to get over the delta land at the mouth of the river.

Dredging Letters Sent

 

$2,000,000 worth of timber floated down the river in 1954.  32 million board feet.

8/8/55

MVDH

engineers will deepen skagit mouth immediately – westland – north fork river work

The plug is about to be pulled out of the silt-filled mouth of the north fork of the Skagit River. Congressman Jack Westland, second district sent the Daily Herald the following telegram this morning: “Regarding action to improve conditions at the mouth of the north fork of Skagit River. Army engineers advise work will be undertaken immediately to deepen channel depth about six inches. This deepening will mean the difference between vessels and rafts standing or making the passage safely.” . . .  “This action by the Army Engineers came as the result of work by the Chamber of Commerce which has sparked the drive to clean out the river and improve it for more use of water transport transportation,” Reep said. . . .  Commercial rivermen Harry Grimison and Jim Dunlap told Chamber of Commerce Board members two weeks ago that river boats and log rafts could now get through the north fork only during high tides.

North Fork Mouth Of River To Be DREDGED

 

“Dredged” (actually side-cast) six inches deeper.  Done entirely for the benefit of river boats and log rafts.  Had nothing to do with flood control.

8/16/55

MVDH

puget power to borrow $20 million in 3 years

Puget Sound Power and Light announced from Bellingham today that it has entered into a credit agreement with nine local and nine eastern and midwestern banks to borrow up to $20,000,000 in the next three years. . . .  McLaughlin said the upper Baker project, with a potential of 85,000 kilowatts, would also enable the installation of 55,000 additional kilowatts at Puget Sound’s present lower Baker plant.

Upper Baker Dam Needed $20,000,000 Loan

9/21/55

MVDH

u.s. skagit flood aid unjustified, army says

The U.S. Army’s Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors, following a review study in Washington, D.C., this week, again has found that federal participation in flood control projects along the Skagit River would not be justified. . . .  Under study was a Skagit River flood control program authorized by Congress in 1936, but never implemented because of the unfavorable reports of engineers who held that the work could not be justified from the standpoint of the ratio of costs to benefits. This week the engineers told the board that a $29,000,000 Upper Baker Reservoir might possibly be justified if built both for flood control and power production purposes, but that such a project would face heavy opposition from fishery and recreation groups operating in the area.

Corps Again Says No To Skagit County

Upper Baker Dam Might Be Justified

9/23/55

MVDH

westland backing $20,000 survey

Second District Congressman Jack Westland pledged his support yesterday in seeking a $20,000 appropriation in Congress to finance a survey of the Skagit River by the Army Corps of Engineers. . . .  Harry Grimison of the Skagit River Navigation Company said his boats could cross the sand bar at the mouth of the river only at high tides, which makes a regular schedule impossible. He noted that the engineers had opened a channel on the north course from Bald Island to Smuggler’s Cove this summer, but said it could not be used when certain types of winds are blowing.

$20,000 To Study Skagit River

10/14/55

MVDH

puget power plans $35 million project

The Federal Power Commission yesterday issued a license to Puget Sound Power & Light Company to construct a $35,000,000 Upper Baker River power dam, and the upriver town of Concrete immediately began wrestling with the problems which will result from the construction boom. The site of the second dam on the Baker River will be eight miles north of Concrete. . . .  The new dam will be 300 feet high, 200 feet wide, will be constructed of concrete with a straight gravity section, and will be 1,200 feet long with a 12-foot wide road across its top. . . .  Ed Monrad, Concrete businessman and past president of the Upper Skagit Valley Booster Club. Said this morning that “right now we are trying to figure out how we are going to put up just 35 engineers and official who will be arriving in the next two weeks. There just isn’t any empty housing in town, and the communities further down the valley also have their problems.” Monrad said he was “shocked” by a poor turnout for a booster club meeting last night – only seven persons appeared – at which discussion of how the community is to solve the housing and other problems which will be posed by the dam project was highlighted. . . .  Behind the new dam a reservoir some nine miles long and storing 980,000,000,000 gallons of water will be created. North of the dam a dike 1,260 feet long and 50 feet high, requiring 270,000 cubic yards of earth and rock fill will be constructed.

Upper Baker Dam Cost $35,000,000

10/19/55

MVDH

ike to urge flood insurance

New England’s second disastrous flood in three months is likely to spur Congress to its first serious consideration of some form of federal flood insurance. President Eisenhower assured New England governors by letter from Denver Tuesday that the administration will make specific legislative suggestions next month.

Federal Flood Insurance Is Born

10/26/55

MVDH

crest in skagit river passes; nookachamps valley flooded – high water follows 2 rainy days

. . .  The county engineer’s office reported that the crest of the flash flood was reached at 7 a.m. with a gauge reading of 23.7 feet. It rose to that level from a low of nine feet Monday morning. . . .  The high water gauge reading hit Concrete at 7 p.m. yesterday and was 35.17 feet. . . .  Some reports of flooding over the dikes in the lower valley were received, but again no one reported serious loss. . . .  Nookachamps Valley residents were commuting by boat this morning. Superior Judge A. H. Ward said by telephone that about 200 of his 230 acres was under water, but that all his cattle were safe, as were those of his neighbors. . . .  For those interested in the pure statistics Whitnall revealed that this flood closely paralleled that of 1949 in its quick rise but was much less severe than the 1951 inundation which hit a high mark of over 25 feet at Mount Vernon. At its peak this morning there were 87,000 cubic feet of water a second passing by the revetment. In 1951 there were 140,000 cubic feet of water per second . . .

OCTOBER 26, 1955 FLOOD

 

USGS 84,900 cfs, 30.69 Mt. Vernon

 

35.17 Concrete gage according to article.

 

“Some reports of flooding over the dikes in the lower valley were received “ on just a 30 foot river?

 

87,000 cfs reported at Mt. Vernon

10/26/55

MVDH

flood highlights

Riches instead of nature’s wrath is often brought to the Nookachamps Valley by high water, County Agent Homer K. Rowley said this morning. “The flooding of the valley leaves behind a rich soil containing potash which fertilizes the ground,” Rowley explained.

Flood Water Good For Farmland

 

See articles on 1906 flooding.  They said the same thing.

10/27/55

MVDH

engineers may blast salt water dike at fir island – district flooded

Plans to dynamite the salt water dike at Fir island were being made this morning by the Skagit County engineer’s office if the flood waters which ripped a 150-foot hole through the Fresh Water Slough dike yesterday do not slack off. The dike broke on the slough at a point about a mile and a half south of the Conway bridge at 1:30 p.m.. . . .  The county engineers and area farmers estimated that at least 2,000 acres have been covered with over a foot of water even though the flood-swollen Skagit River had dropped from a high point of 23.7 feet yesterday to 18.5 feet at 10:30 this morning at Mount Vernon. The salt water dike which protects the low-lying farm land from the waters of Puget Sound was acting as a dam bottling up the District No. 2 and the county engineers were considering blasting that barrier to provide an outlet. . . .  Farmer Bill Brown, who has gone through this before in ‘32, said the flood has “picked” his ten acres of broccoli. He and his wife Alice cleaned out their basement when they saw the water coming. . . .  An on-the-spot inspection of the ruptured dike was made by assistant county engineer H. O. Strombom and Gregory M. Hastings, supervisor of the state department of Conservation and Development. “I’d estimate that there is a half a million gallons of water a minute coming through right now,” he said at 5 p.m. last night “This has been a real eye-opener for me and I intend to declare this area eligible for emergency funds from the state flood control maintenance fund.” Assistant County Engineer W.R. Whitnall noted somewhat wryly that a rabbit or gopher hole at the base of the earth dike probably was the flaw that weakened the dike for the flood waters.

Fir Island Levee Breaks After Flood Waters Dropped 5 feet

 

Dike break blamed on rabbits or gophers.  I’d like to know the last time a gopher was sited in Skagit County.  In that location it was more likely then not a river otter or a beaver.

 

 

11/3/55

MVDH

level of skagit river goes up after 4-inch rain hits area – crest may come tomorrow morning

. . .  The river forecast center in Portland predicted this forenoon that the Skagit River will crest at 27 feet at Mount Vernon by 8 a.m. Friday. . . .  Whitnall explained that an electronic brain machine at the river forecast center in Portland takes all available information on river level, snow, and rainfall and compares it against past records, then gives the prediction. At 9 a.m. this morning the river at Concrete had reached a gauge reading of 29.17 feet and was rising at the rate of a foot an hour. The flood last week reached its high mark at 35 feet there. A high mark of around 37 or 38 feet is expected at Concrete tonight by 6 o’clock. . . .  In the 24 hour period ending at 8 a.m. the weather bureau reported that 4.03 inches of rain fell at Diablo Dam. 3.68 inches at Darrington, and 3.85 inches at Marblemount. The Northwestern Washington Experiment Station reported that yesterday’s rainfall of 1.71 inches in the Skagit Valley was the highest amount in a 24-hour period since records were started in July, 1949. The freezing level was at 9,000 feet this morning. “The dike at Mount Vernon withstood 28.2 feet in 1951, but it was right up to the top and lapping over. We should still have a foot or two to spare at tomorrow morning’s peak.” commented engineer Whitnall.

4 Inches Of Rain Fell At Diablo In 24 Hours

 

 

 

Highest amount of rain in 24 hours in Mt. Vernon (1.71 inches) since records started being kept (1949).

 

Floodwaters lapping over top of Mt. Vernon dike.

 

Fir Island still underwater from October 27th break.

11/4/55

MVDH

sandbaggers hold own -critical period due in this afternoon

. . .  With the Skagit River due to crest at 25.5 feet in Mount Vernon shortly after noon today there was still no immediate relief in sight. Associate County Engineer W. R. Whitnall figures that the crest will be of long duration, further weakening the already water-saturated dikes. . . .  And the weather bureau’s electronic brain in Portland had re-figured the expected Skagit crest and lowered its forecast from the 27 feet at Mount Vernon which it originally had predicted for this morning. However, both Seattle City Light’s Ross Dam and Puget Sound Power and Light’s Baker River Dam were holding back enough water to cut the crest 1.5 feet. Ross Dam was purchasing power from the Bonneville Power Administration to supply its lines. Stream flow at the dam was reported to be something on the order of a small creek. . . .  The most critical point was at Ted Lundeen’s Fresh Water Slough dike, which broke during the flood last week. Some 12,000 sandbags had been placed on top of the dirt fill to keep the rising water back. . . .  Earlier this morning there was a break though at Fisher’s Slough, two miles south of Conway. Crews from the county engineer’s department and volunteers stopped the break in time. Farm families in the Nookachamps Valley took their stock out yesterday morning and afternoon as the waters crept upwards. The Nookachamps road was closed this morning as was the old Mount Vernon – Clear Lake road. . . .  River water was reported in the Hamilton School yard after that community had been isolated when a culvert on the last access road was washed out.

NOVEMBER 4, 1955 FLOOD

 

USGS 106,000 cfs, 34.48 Concrete; 113,000 cfs Sedro Woolley; 107,000 cfs, 33.52 Mt. Vernon

 

Lower Baker and Ross Dam held back water.

11/5/55

MVDH

skagit hits crest; some flood danger persists over lowlands – high waters begin to recede slowly

. . .  The river reached its peak in the Skagit Valley at 5 p.m. yesterday at 25.7 feet at Mount Vernon. Unlike the flood of a week ago the river did not start to drop quickly, but stayed up over 25 feet until 1 a.m. this morning. At 9 a.m. this morning it was 24.7 feet. . . .  Associate County Engineer Jack E. Frets put it this way: “Once the river drops to 20 feet we should be fairly safe, but even then a major break in any of the dikes could flood a lot of farm land. A 12-f0ot tide will start going out a noon and things should be a little better after that, but we probably won’t be able to breathe easily until 8 tonight.” The tide at the mouth of the Skagit acts as a dam against the outflow of the flood river, slowing down the flow of water as it passes the patched up Fresh Water Slough dike break near Ted Lundeen’s home on Fir Island. The reason for the long crest of the river is that the main tributaries of the Skagit, such as the Sauk, Cascade, and Baker rivers, reached their peaks at different times, thereby keeping the Skagit up. A high point of 34.5 feet was hit at Concrete Thursday at 10 p.m. The readings at Concrete then began to drop but as the offshoots of the Skagit reached their high marks the level came back up to 33.74 yesterday at 1 p.m. . . .  A group of 90 sailors was at the Fresh Water slough through the night while 30 more were plugging a threatening break at Fisher’s Slough, about 3½ miles above Conway. The Great Northern Railway sent up a crew of 40 from Seattle with a load of rock to re-ballast the roadbed near the South Fork which had high water seeping through it. . . .  The dredge from Seattle, hired by Dike District Two officials for repair work, was still tied up at Whidbey Island, unable to cross the channel in the rough water. Very little erosion was reported on the Burlington Dike and the Lyman-Hamilton detour was back in service after being washed out Thursday.

12 Foot Tide Slows Flood Waters

 

25.7 downtown Mt. Vernon gage. 33.5 new gage.

 

 

 

The tide at the mouth of the Skagit acts as a dam against the outflow of the flood river, slowing down the flow of water…

11/18/55

MVDH

dike funds hit $17,445

State tax money totaling $17,445.20 will be spent by the Department of Conservation and Development in the rip-rapping of a salt water dike and two Skagit River dikes in the county whose final cost will total $43,613. George R. Thompson, assistant director of the department, notified State Sen. Paul N. Luvera of Anacortes today that the state will pay $2,965.20 of the $7,413 cost of having two rock revetments built on the Skagit River near Burlington. The Wilder Construction Company completed the job last week at both the new and old Darigold intakes. Dike District No. 12 and the county river fund will pay the remaining 60 per cent of the job.

Rip-Rap Dike Projects

12/5/55

MVDH

$7,000 provided – state’s funds aid river job

The state will participate in the cost of a riprapping project on Fir Island on the north fork of the Skagit River. . . .  Rock for the job is being taken from the Fir Island quarry and is being placed on the river bank on the west side of Fir Island in Dike District No. 13. Walberg said the state is paying 40 percent of the cost while the county and dike district each pay 30 per cent. This, he added, is the normal arrangement for such projects. . . .  Walberg said the county this past weekend accepted as complete another riprapping job on the Skagit River in Dike District No. 12 near Burlington.

Rip-Rap Dike Projects

12/17/55

MVDH

panel named to seek federal, state help for river channel – increased traffic sought

Old man river, stay away from my door. That was the theme of yesterday’s meeting of the Skagit County Flood Control Council in the Skagit County Courthouse. Over 50 persons, including representatives from 11 diking districts in Skagit County, were packed into the small courtroom to discuss the possibility of creating a new channel for the mouth of the silt – choked north fork of the Skagit River. Up-shot of the hour and a half meeting was a unanimous resolution by the council to support an emergency program with state and federal powers to dredge the new channel. . . .  A proposal to cut the new channel from Valentine’s Bend proceeding westerly past Bald Island to deep water was the main topic of discussion. . . .  “We used to be able to enter drawing 5 feet 8 inches. Now we can’t get into the river drawing 5 feet,” Captain Spencer commented. LaConner area farmer Jim Hulbert said that the effect of the heavy silting was to raise the level of the mouth of the river which then backed the water upriver endangering low-lying farmland. . . .  Chairman Hanson noted that the water level at the river’s mouth during the Nov. 3-5 flood was as high with a 25-foot level at Mount Vernon as it was in the more serious flood in 1951 when the Mount Vernon reading was 28 feet. . . .  Several of those at the meeting noted that the same idea had been proposed to the Army Corps of Engineers after the 1951 flood. “If we are going to get anything done we have got to be of one mind and get on the ball and get this thing rolling,” said County Commissioner Lowell Hughes, who is a Fir Island farmer himself.

Dredging Mouth of River Proposed

1/3/56

SVH

‘skagit’ again used for name

            “Skagit” may seem new to the present generation of Mt. Vernon daily newspaper readers as part of the name of  their publication, but actually the usage dates back 71 years.  The original predecessor of the Skagit Valley Herald was The Skagit News, a weekly established in Mount Vernon on March 4, 1884, by William C. Ewing, who announced, “This paper was due a good while ago . . .”

History of the Skagit Valley Herald

1/4/56

SVH

steady rains fail to cause flood threat

. . .  The gauge reading at Mount Vernon at 11 a.m. this morning was 10.7 feet, about a feet higher than the reading taken 24 hours previously. . . .  The gauge reading at the Dalles station on the Skagit River near Concrete at 7 a.m. this morning was 18.14 and rising. Observers for the power station said, however, that most of the water is surface runoff and would not prove dangerous unless the temperature rose and snow began to melt.

Flood Scare

 

Flood never materialized. 

1/6/56

SVH

river group awaits information by army in planning new move

The answer was no, but they’re not done yet.  Such was the feeling yesterday of the eight men from Skagit County as they left the Seattle District Army Engineers headquarters in Seattle after having their proposal to declare an emergency to have a new channel  in the mouth of the Skagit River turned down.  . . .  Gives Resolution  Hughes presented resolutions from the 11 dike districts in Skagit County to Col. Norman A. Matthias asking that the work be done in order to provide a faster runoff of the Skagit’s water and lower the river level by a foot more.  “You can’t realize how important the difference of a few inches on the dikes during a flood mean to us,” commented Hughes.  Members of the colonel’s staff pointed out that their studies showed that the river bottom of the Skagit has remained more or less stable in the past 18 years.    . . .  Funds Sought  . . .  George Kurttilla, civil engineer for the Army in the planning section for navigation projects, pointed out that their office has a report on flood control and navigation made on the Skagit now in Washington D.C. before the Chief of Engineers.  He said action is expected on the report in the next two years.  . . .  Kurttilla said that some of the main recommendations in the report were for extension and raising of the dikes from Burlington down to the mouth of the river.  Agree to Study  In addition to this information, the Army Engineer agreed to have his staff make a comparative study of 1937 soundings of the river and the tide flats as against those taken in July, 1955, and forward the report to the Skagit County engineer, H.O. Walberg, next week.

Corps Says No To Declaration Of An Emergency To Have River Dredged

 

Corps study says river bottom hadn’t changed in 18 years.

1/24/56

SVH

state agrees to help pay for dike job

The State Department of Conservation and Development announced today that the state will pay 40 per cent of the cost of a$14,800 rip-rapping job on the Skagit River opposite the north city limits of Mount Vernon. . . .  The Skagit County engineer’s office located the job as being between the old Skagit River bridge and the new span now under construction. The north bank of the river will be rocked between these two structures for a length of 1,600 lineal feet. “This is a project that Dike District No. 12 has asked for because of the high velocity of the river which is tearing the bank away at that point.” Assistant County Engineer H. C. Strombom explained.

Rip-Rap Dike Projects

2/1/56

SVH

senator jackson drafting bill to allow river mouth work – lawmakers to seek plan for engineers to speed projects

The drafting of federal legislation which would release U.S. funds for the deepening of the mouth of the Skagit River for flood control and navigation purposes has been disclosed in Washington, D.C. . . .  Senator Jackson said he is drafting legislation which would authorize the Army Engineers to undertake flood control projects costing $500,000 or less which they determine to be justifiable. . . .  The Senator pointed out that he and Itschner agreed that no work could be accomplished without new legislation. . . .  Jackson writes: “My purpose in sponsoring the new legislation will be to eliminate the procedural bottleneck which now prevents work on small but vitally needed flood control measures. Passage of this legislation by the Congress will provide the means by which federal assistance for flood control on the Skagit – now apparently hopeless – can be gained.”

Dredging Mouth Of River Proposed

 

See 8/8/55 MVDH article.

2/2/56

SVH

log jam removal helps city grow

Strange are the quirks that sometimes dictate the destines of a town or a region.  Consider the Skagit Valley, where the removal of old log jams from the Skagit River hastened the death of one town and undoubtedly contributed much to growth of the thriving modern community of Mount Vernon.  The huge log barriers from time immemorial had blocked the river and affected early fortunes of the valley after the white man’s arrival.  Had it not been for the initiative and perseverance of pioneer settlers, who bent to the almost insurmountable task of eliminating the jams, the demise of Skagit City, then the area’s principal town, would have been postponed, and Mount Vernon might not have become the sizable city it is today.

Log Jams

2/20/56

SVH

river vessel to continue skagit trips

The stern-wheeler river boat, the Skagit Chief, will continue to ply the waters of the Skagit River indefinitely, according to word received today by the Skagit County commissioners.  . . .  It was brought out at that meeting that lowering the height of the fixed-span bridge from 55 to 36 feet would reduce the cost of construction some $58,000.  However, it also was noted that the Skagit Chief and some types of pile drivers and dredges required a 55-foot clearance height in order to enter the river beneath the bridge.  H. E. Grimison of the river navigation company said in part in his letter: “It is our intention to indefinitely continue operating using our present equipment.  We might also point out that, even though we should switch to the use of barges at a future date, the height of the clearance would not be materially altered, inasmuch as the freight elevator on a barge would be approximately as high as our vessels.”

Stern-Wheeler Skagit Chief

2/29/56

SVH

first settlers begin moving into skagit

By John F. Conrad, Historian, Skagit County Pioneer Association

 

The first white person to see the shores of Skagit County is believed to have been Lt. Salvador Fidalgo of the Spanish Navy in 1790 on one of Spain’s claiming expeditions which had begun 20 years previously.  The English reached our county two years later in 1792 when Capt. George Vancouver made such a thorough exploration of the whole Sound area and contributed so many lasting names such as Puget, Baker, Rainier, Townsend, Bellingham and Whidbey.  . . .  March’s Point, where history is being made today by the oil industry, is reported by good authority to have been first settled in 1853 by Enoch Compton and John Carr on what later became Munks’ place.  But due to dangerous Indians they were forced to move to Whatcom where Carr died.  The Indian war came to a head with Compton enlisting.  Then in 1859 he returned to find William Bonner on his old place.  . . .  One mill man William Bonner, went to March’s Point in 1859 and settled on the place vacated by Compton and Carr five years earlier, then sold his rights the same year to William Munks for $60 and a silver watch.  Munks was the first postmaster at the post office called Fidalgo and is still credited with being the first permanent settler. 

Skagit County Pioneers

3/16/56

SVH

rock strengthens section of dike

A 3,000 foot long section of dike on the east side of the Skagit River between Mount Vernon and Conway is now stronger by some 14,000 cubic yards of rock, the Skagit County engineer’s office reported today.  County Engineer H.O. Walberg said the rip-rapping job in Dike District Three headed by Daniel Sundquist was expected to be finished today.  Weymouth and Wheeler, Seattle contractors, did the work for Dike District No. 3 as part of the district and county’s continuing flood control program.

Dike District #3 Rip-Rap Project

3/16/56

SVH

engineers get plans for north fork span

Skagit County has submitted for approval its plans for the new fixed bridge on the north fork of the Skagit River to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Seattle.  . . .  However, the colonel probably already is aware of possible objections as a result of a meeting held Feb. 14 in Mount Vernon to which interested parties were invited.  It was brought out then that certain river craft such as large dredges would not be able to clear the proposed bridge if it were built.  The site of the planned bridge is three-eights of a mile downstream of the existing highway bridge across the north fork of the Skagit, and the bridge, if built, will provide a minimum vertical clearance of 120 feet, normal to channel.  . . .  The application from Skagit County to the Army for permission to build the bridge, as required by the General Bridge Act of 1946, shows that the earlier suggestions to lower the height of the fixed span bridge to below 40 feet to save construction costs have been dropped.  . . .  Matthias said the decision as to whether or not the plans will be approved must rest primarily upon the effect the proposed work will have on navigation and/or flood control.

North Fork Bridge Plans

 

 

Large dredges would not be able to pass upriver.

4/14/56

SVH

not worried about flood – bulson scoffs at snow pack

As the warm weather spreads throughout the Skagit Valley this week residents greeted it with mixed emotions – joy that Spring is arriving and fear that a heavy snow pack in the Cascade Mountains might melt rapidly and cause a sudden spring flood. To 88-year-old E. E. Bulson, a Skagit County pioneer, such fears, however, are not justified. “Only a strong, hot wind from the southwest will cause a really serious flood situation,” he says. “Otherwise I think we will make out all right.” . . .  He came to Skagit County in 1892 and has been farming off and on in the Conway area area since that time. He will be 89 on May 9. His memory reaches back some six decades when the Skagit River had few if any of the controls that it now had is dikes, revetments, and dams. “When you farmed on Fir Island in those days, the ground was always wet. It was so wet that we had to put ‘tooley shoes’ on the horses’ hooves to keep them from sinking into the mud. What are tooley shoes? Well, they were round pieces of board that were fastened to the hooves kind of like a snowshoe. When it was real wet down there we used to kid each other and say we had to put tooley shoes on our wives when they went outside,” Bulson recollected. . . .  He can remember the year that they had seven floods on Fir Island in the month of January. Then, too, there was the big flood in 1893 when the river became clogged with logs from Scorndal Slough for three solid miles backed up to Mann’s Landing. Bulson, a former “white water man” from Michigan where he worked on log jams on the White River near Muskegon was contacted by a “fellow name of Hanson for the Tacoma Boom Company to help break up that drift... we worked until the next spring with a donkey engine on a scow pulling logs out on that jam.” . . .  However, Bulson does believe that there would be less danger of a flood if certain improvements were made on the south fork of the Skagit. “All those old pilings should be taken out. They act like a dam and those jams in Steamboat Slough should be cleared out also,” Bulson. . . .    Engineer Walberg has spent many hours with the elderly gentleman recording historical facts about previously floods and high water marks in the county.

Heavy Snow Pack Doesn’t Worry Skagit Pioneer

 

 

E.E. Bulson came to Skagit County in 1892.

 

Ground was always wet on Fir Island.

 

 

Used “tooley shoes” on the horses to pull a plow.

 

One year they had 7 floods on Fir Island  in January.

5/1/56

SVH

fish runs increased, schoettler declares

Salmon runs in Washington and British Columbia streams have been substantially increased after years of depletion, according to Robert J. Schoettler, director of the State Department of Fisheries. . . .  Rehabilitation on the other hand, he said, was the restoration and bringing back of the resource. In the case of the salmon that has been the reclaiming of lost spawning areas for the migrating fish and establishing new runs with hatchery plants. Dams, pollution and the loss of the forest cover are some of the main reasons which have closed streams to the spawning salmon. . . .  The Washington Fisheries Department embarked on a long range program of clearing streams, building fishladders, and restocking runs in the new spawning areas.

Fish Issue

 

Salmon runs increasing by reclaiming lost spawning areas and hatchery plants.

 

Runs depleted by dams, pollution and loss of forest cover.

1/23/58

SVH

meeting sought by council on state flood control funds

Mount Vernon City Engineer Denny LeGro was asked by city council members last night to attempt to arrange a meeting with Gregory Hastings of the Washington State Department of Conservation and Development to discuss the possible availability of state flood control funds to assist in the financing of the proposed dam on Maddox Creek. THE DAM is part of a city-advanced plan for the draining of storm water from the proposed south hill area storm sewer local improvement district – and from the area south and east of the city limits – into Maddox. . . .  LeGro explained that the county board has consistently maintained that “the county should not be involved in the drainage business.”