Settlers and Explorers
In the mid- to late-1800s, many expeditions penetrated the heartland of the North Cascades, including Lieutenant Henry Pierce who discovered gold-bearing quartz near Eldorado Peak in 1882.
Early settlers faced many challenges in the rugged environment. Nonetheless, settlements occurred in the Cascade, Skagit, and Stehekin River valleys, including the 25-room Fields Hotel in Stehekin which was dismantled in 1926.
Settlement along the three major river systems, the Stehekin, Cascade and Skagit, continued through the 1880s. Early settlers faced many challenges, for the rugged environment made this a harsh land to live in. The majority of early settlers were not farmers but shopkeepers and innkeepers who came to sell goods and services to the trappers and prospectors who first ventured up the rivers. Close to the mouth of the Stehekin River was the final stop for steamboats bringing prospectors and their supplies up Lake Chelan. Prospectors stayed in a small boarding house called the "Argonaut" before venturing into the mountains. The boarding house was sold in 1892 to M. E. Field who eventually transformed it into a 25-room hotel. By 1902, the town of Stehekin had formed with a post office and schoolhouse. Marblemount, at the confluence of the Cascade and Skagit rivers, was established as a base for miners; the first wagon road was built into the area in 1892.