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Chapter 8

National Forest

The North Cascades National Park complex was created out of parts of Mount Baker National Forest and Wenatchee National Forest. This report touches but briefly on the history of more than 70 years since this land became national forest. The brevity is caused not by lack of interest, but because such a history, properly done, would amount to many hundreds of pages. Also, the North Cascades Study Team has already published a concise but detailed account of the legislative and conservation history of the area.

In 1891, the Forest Reserve Act became a law. It authorized the President to establish, by proclamation, forest reserves anywhere in the public domain. Not until 1897, however, did this act have an effect on citizens living around the perimeter of the North Cascades. In February of that year, President Cleveland, just before leaving the White House, issued a proclamation establishing the Washington Forest Reserve, which included the present park complex. The Chelan Leader did not take kindly to the deed. The editor wrote that "never, since the days when William the Conqueror laid waste the whole of the land . . . has such robbery of public territory been perpetrated as that which, by the late proclamation of Grover Cleveland, alienates nearly eight million acres of public domain from the people of the state of Washington." [1] Administration of the Reserve was the responsibility of the Secretary of the Interior. The agency under Interior that carried out this task was the Division of Forestry in the General Land Office. Then, in 1905, during Theodore Roosevelt's term of office, all the Forest Reserves were transferred to the Deportment of Agriculture. In keeping with his goals, Roosevelt appointed a fellow-Progressive and a dynamic leader, Gifford Pinchot, as Chief Forester.

In 1908, Wenatchee, Chelan, and Snoqualmie National Forests were carved out of a portion of the Washington Forest Reserve. In 1921, an executive order renamed the balance of the Reserve as Mount Baker National Forest. (Congress had established the term "National Forest" in 1907.) [2]

A number of the early rangers in the North Cascades earned reputations as true men. Among those who had long, successful careers in the area were: Henry Soll, on the Skagit and Thunder Creek, 1907-17; Grover C. Burch, on the Baker River and Glacier District, 1911-26; C. C. McGuire, 1908-18 and 1925-39, when he transferred; and Thomas (Tommy) Thompson, on the Skagit, 1907-43. C. C. McGuire, in later years, wrote his memoirs of his early days on the Skagit, which have been quoted from earlier and will be referred to again.

Among the early rangers identified in the Stehekin area (Wenatchee National Forest) were Barney Zell and Rangers Farley and Blankenship. The Chelan Leader, more calmly now, kept tabs on these rangers as they went about their business. In 1901, the paper reported that "Forest Ranger Farley went up the lake Monday to see about the forest fires." Two years before that, it alerted the citizenry to the news that "by a recent change in the rules, all forest rangers are to be made deputy U. S. marshals." [3]

Some of the early structures erected by the Forest Service included the fire lookout on Sourdough Mountain that Glee Davis built of hand-split cedar in 1917. It is said to have been a 12 by 12-foot structure having a 6 X 6 cupola on top. The CCC replaced it with a new lookout in 1933. (Since 1915, the Forest Service has erected 43 lookout stations in Mount Baker National Forest alone.) The first ranger stations in Mount Baker National Forest included Bacon Creek, Babcock Creek, Reflector Bar, Ruby Creek, and the Boundary Station near the mouth of Little Beaver Creek. The Forest Service also used the John McMillan and Tommy Rowland homesteads as ranger stations. Ranger Henry Soll built the stations at Marble Creek and Reflector Bar, as well as the suspension bridge that crosses Thunder Creek. The present National Park Service district office at Marblemount was formerly a National Forest ranger station. The first station there, a four-room house that Ranger Axel Larson built in 1909, was called the Backus Station.

Other structures of interest were a fire lookout at Hidden Lake, 1931; fire lookouts on Crater and Desolation Mountains, 1932; and the CCC camp on Bacon Creek (5 officers, 200 enrollees), 1933. Note has already been made of the now-disappeared ranger station on the lower Stehekin near the ten-mile post. Today, former USFS stations, still used by the National Park Service, are located at Stehekin Landing and at High Bridge.

Early-day forest rangers, like park rangers, were not pampered with large budgets. Of necessity, they were all-round, outdoor men who relied on their own initiatives and skills. C. C. McGuire, describing the construction of the first station on Ruby Creek, in the fall of 1909, illustrated that way of life:

There was no appropriation for this but did have axes, a saw and hammer. With Fred Scarlett, a forest guard, for an assistant, we built a 16' x 18' log cabin. There was no timber near suitable for shakes so we repaired an old miners flume which extended three miles down Ruby Mountain . . ., went up the mountain to the old sawmill, packed 1" x 12" boards down to the flume, floated them down the flume and then packed them on our backs one-half mile to the cabin. These boards served for roof and floor.


Logging has not been a major economic factor in a large portion of the North Cascades park complex. The elevation, ruggedness, and inaccessibility of some valleys have combined to create and preserve a land of ice and rock. However, in the lower elevations, especially along the Skagit and the Stehekin and their tributaries, loggers appeared on the scene early. On a larger geographic scale, between today's park and Puget Sound, the lumber business developed on a much greater basis. In the beginning of its history, this area had only three colors: the blue of the sea, the green of the forest, and the white of snow-capped peaks.

Starting in the 1860s, men, traveling by water only, began chopping trees along the rivers' banks. Wearing calked shoes and stagged pants, armed only with axes, they felled trees, "sniped the end of the logs, and barked the 'ride.'" Ox teams hauled the logs to the water on skid roads greased with fish oil. Later, crosscut saws replaced axes. The first crosscuts were cumbersome affairs, designed with two cutting teeth and a raker series. Improvements developed and a smoother-pulling crosscut, having four cutting teeth and rakers, emerged.

By the 1870s, loggers had made their appearance on the Skagit below the naturally-formed log jams near today's Mount Bernon. After the late 1870s and after the removal of the jams, they moved further up the river. B. D. Minkler is said to have built the first sawmill, powered by water, in Skagit County, at Birdsview in 1878. Up to about 1883, loggers were able to freeboot in selecting their timber. After that date, most of the land along the Skagit had been claimed. A logger then had either to own his timber or to pay stumpage.

Other firsts along the Skagit included the first logging railroad, animal-powered, built in 1882 by John P. Millett and William McKay at Burlington. Mortimer Cook built the first mill capable or producing machine-sawed shingles, at Sedro in 1886. Ed English, at Hamilton about 1898, introduced the first logging locomotive on the upper Skagit. It was a small, wood-burning Baldwin. Expansion of the industry was rapid. The Skagit News reported in 1888 that 16 logging camps, employing 100 men and producing 80,000,000 feet a year, operated along the Skagit.

Earlier, in 1881, this same newspaper had reported a strange new machine in the mountains, a machine that ended the usefulness of oxen in logging. After visiting Record's Camp on the Nookachamps, the editor had written:

The novelty of the camp is the stationary yard engine. This is an upright boiler set above a heavy frame that forms a sled on which it can be hauled to its place. The engine is "anchored" to a stump, a way swamped out to the log wanted, and a thick cable fastened to it and wound about "gypsies" or large spools on the engine. They say it will do the work of an ox team in a much shorter time. But you must look out for your feet, says Pringle, in fooling around the engine.

Accidents were very much a part of the loggers' existence. On another occasion, the Skagit News informed its readers that Charles McNealey of Jackson's camp, who had already broken an arm, had now lost an eye: "A cant-hook struck him in the left eye, destroying the sight and making an exceedingly painful wound. Dr. Montborne's assistance was called, and the inflammation has been reduced."

Accidents or not, logging technology continued to advance. John Dolbeer invented the steam donkey in California in 1882. The early models were equipped with a single vertical drum around which the logger wrapped a few coils of the cable. The drum wound up the rest of the cable, bringing in the log. Then a "line" horse would pull the cable out to the next log to be hauled. About 1900, this equipment was refined by the addition of a second drum (by then the drums were horizontal) so that the cable could be handled both ways. Thus the line horse joined the ox as obsolete.

A second major advance in techniques was the invention of the high-lead. Before its advent, logs were dragged, flat, along the ground resulting in many tie-ups as logs became entangled with various obstructions. This system might be called a "ground-lead." About 1915, loggers discovered that if they fastened the lead cable to a very high stump, the log would be partially, sometimes completely, lifted off the ground and therefore would come in much more easily. In retrospect, this might not sound like a startling idea, but thus are better mouse traps made. Before long, lead cables were suspended from the tops of the highest trees in the vicinity of the operations. (See photographs.)

Other revolutions in the logging industry included practical gas donkeys in 1921 (first developed in the Skagit area), the introduction of trucks (slow, strong, chain-drive Macks) in the 1930s, the chain saw during World War II, loading tongs that replaced the slower "scratch hooks," and which in turn were replaced by the swinging boom which was gentler on a truck chassis, the eight-hour day in 1918, and tractors in 1921, which replaced most donkeys. Ray Jordan, the Skagit loggers' historian, summarizes these changes:

From the use of manila rope to strong steel cable; from all hand labor to oxen through horses and steam donkeys to gas, diesel and electric yarders and loaders working under high-lead trees; loading logs by parbuckling to "scratch hooks", to tongs, to heel booms; and mobile units with steep spars taking the place of spar trees to a large extent.

Chopping down trees with axes, to crosscut saws, to roaring chain saws for falling and bucking.

From tiny, wood-burning locomotives . . . to heavy steam locomotives . . . then to Diesel locomotives, and finally on to gas and trucks.

He notes too a great change from a time of great waste to the concept of today's tree farms. And, as important as the other changes, Jordan observes the improvements in a logger's lifestyle. Today's logger lives at home, in town, and is more like his neighbors than different from them:

The logger who lived in a bunkhouse all week, or a month at a time, furnishing his own bed, whose only need for a suitcase was something to carry red eye, has gone where the woodbine twineth and the wild wangadoodle mourneth for its mate.

Otto Kiemeth, too, has recalled life at the early-day camps. He wrote that a camp outfit back then consisted of five or six yoke of oxen and about twenty men. From four to six months' provisions, a range, a kitchen and dining room outfit, saws, axes, canthooks, jack screws, chains, doghooks, extra yokes, and pike poles made up a new camp's equipment. The camp building was a simple structure, its length doubling its width. One half contained the kitchen and dining room, the other was the living quarters. In the latter room were two tiers of bunks, one above the other, along the walls, and a seven-foot square hole in the center that was filled with earth to the level of the floor. This served as a fireplace and had a funnel-shaped hood above to capture the smoke. The fire provided both heat and light.

Loggers had a colorful vocabulary that illustrated the specialties of their profession. Some of the terms appeared above; a longer list would include:

Swamper. The pioneer who cleared the brush and windfalls from the right of way.

Skids. Small logs sunk in the earth at 1-foot intervals.

Skidder. He followed the swamper and placed the skids on the road.

Faller. He felled the trees.

Sawyer. The man who sawed the fallen trees into "sawlog" lengths.

Barker. Using a "spud," he barked at least the riding side. If the sap was running, he would bark all the log.

Riding side. The side of the log that was peeled and made slick for riding on the skids.

Hand skinner. He placed the skids over which the log was yarded out to the main skid road.

Hook tender. One who sniped the logs by giving them a sleigh-runner effect so that they could be yarded out more readily. He also placed the rigging for rolling out the logs onto the skids.

Bull-puncher. He handled the ox-team. Usually had a helper.

Oxgoad. A thick hickory stick, 6 feet long and tipped with iron. Turn. From 4 to 6 logs, one behind the other, coupled with short chains with "dogs" at either end.

Skid-geezer. Usually a boy, who swabbed fish oil on the skids.

Bullteam. Team of 16 oxen.

Screwjacks. They were used to get the logs together.

Woodbuck. The man who worked at a donkey engine.

"You're a pinetop." A compliment.

"Holy old mackinaw." Still used by small boys.

High Climber. The man who climbed, trimmed, and topped Douglas firs and rigged them up for high-lead logging.

How to trim, top, and rig: A high climber, outfitted with climbing harness and "irons," his life rope circling the tree, an ax and a saw dangling from ropes at the back of a heavy belt, would climb the tree, trimming it as he went up. Perhaps 150 feet up, he would "saw and hew a shelf around the trunk," then tie in dynamite sticks, fuze, and blasting caps. The materials reached him via a passline that he had taken up coiled and tied to his belt. He lit the fuze and got back down to the ground before the tree "blew its top."

Then he would go back up, receive a larger block and line by the passline, and begin to rig the spar tree. To the tree he fastened the guy cables, the mainline, haulblock, and loading-boom blocks. It must be added that in more recent years a saw and an axe replaced dynamite as the means of topping.

The lower Stehekin Valley saw its share of logging operations along with the Skagit. The newspaper of the period 1890-1910 contained many references to rafts of logs being assembled at the head of the lake. Steamboats hauled these rafts to the mills at Chelan. A 1902 publication on the Cascade forests noted that "there is a sawmill at Lakeside which has been in operation about seven years, and has cut an average 400,000 feet B. M. per annum." It also said that "most of the logs are brought down from the head of the lake and are handled with very little waste." A typical news item in the Chelan Leader at this time read that "M. E. Field reports his big log drive already one mile below camp and the Stehekin river is rising rapidly, he will soon have them in boom at the lake." [5]

Forest Fires

Forest fires interfered with Henry Custer's explorations in 1858. He learned then that the Indians sometimes set fires in order to clear underbrush from their trails. Other fires, of course, resulted from lightning strikes. Although the western slopes of the North Cascades receive great amounts of moisture, man and lightning have continued to set forest fires since then. Most of them prove to be minor affairs. But, since the U. S. Forest Service has kept records of the area, major fires have swept the valleys from time to time.

Before record keeping became routine, the newspapers of the area would report the major forest fires, especially those that threatened the small towns or logging camps. Unfortunately, time does not allow a thorough search through the dozen or so newspapers of the area for the past century. Thus, knowledge of that early period remains sketchy. Lelah Edson, in her Fourth Corner, mentions three huge fires that occurred in 1868, 1885, and 1894. She writes that the 1868 fire, which started in British Columbia and reached almost to the Columbia, was the "king holocaust of all." One witness said that it "left such a pall of smoke, that it was impossible to travel by water for many days."

Since record keeping, nine major fires swept the North Cascades between 1896 and 1928:

Texas Pond, 18962,000 acres
Wells Creek, 19121,000 acres
Sulphur Burn, 19232,000 acres
Wheeler Mtn., 19241,200 acres
Bacon Ridge, 19251,000 acres
Hannegan, 19251,300 acres
Bacon Creek, 19264,000 acres
Big Beaver, 192640,000 acres
North Fork, Cascade, 1928800 acres

To these should be added a fire on Ruby Creek in 1906 that destroyed a number of mining buildings and equipment. [6]

Fire fighting in the early days did not include today's techniques of aerial reconnaissance, slurry tankers, and smoke jumpers. C. C. McGuire described how he and Tommy Thompson put out a 160-acre fire near Buck Creek: "Tommy was first on the fire and was handling it alone until I arrived a couple of days later to help. It never occurred to us to hire a crew, establish a fire camp and spend a lot of money. But Hell. What were two Rangers for it they could not handle that one."

The 40,000-acre Big Beaver was a different matter. Before it burned out, 35 miles of fire line had been built and $50,000 spent. One fire camp was burned out and one man died from heart failure. It was undoubtedly the largest fire in the history of the land that is now the North Cascades park complex. [7]

About 1930, loggers changed their system of operations in an attempt to reduce fire hazards. But they were not at all overjoyed by the new practice of "hoot owling." This meant beginning their day's work "in the wee small hours and ending perhaps at noon or maybe 2 o'clock." This schedule "allowed crews to be out of the woods in the afternoons when humidity . . . [was] lowest and fire danger greatest." [8]


Sheep grazing has, in the past, played a small but critical role in portions of the North Cascades. This activity was important because of the adverse effects of grazing on the delicate ecosystems of the higher elevations. In 1899, the federal government authorized sheep grazing in a part of the Forest Reserve: "that part of the southern portion of the reserve, in Okanogan county, which is bounded on the west by the Cascade mountains, and on the north and east by the Stehekin river and Lake Chelan; but none to be allowed in any other portion of the reserve." The authorization placed certain restrictions on grazing: the number of sheep were to be kept at a minimum; only citizens of the United States and of Washington could acquire a permit; and the applicants had to agree to cooperate with the officers and rangers managing the reserve. Applications also had to show the number of sheep that grazed on the reserve during the preceding year and the number that would graze during the coming season. [9]

Sheep herders experienced difficulty in getting the sheep to the higher meadows in the spring. A large number of animals invariably got lost in the rugged country. The easiest access proved to be the more open slopes on the eastern side of the North Cascades, that is, in Okanogan County. Grazing in this area continued down to 1940, when the U. S. Forest Service prohibited it because of the destruction to the meadows.

Old-timers at Stehekin still recall drives of sheep coming down into the Stehekin Valley from the high country on both sides of the river. In the valley the herders would separate out the lambs and ship them down the lake by boat. In fact, the lower bridge on Agnes Creek is still called Sheep Bridge. [10]

Mountain Climbing

The array of stupendous peaks in the North Cascades has long challenged those men, and women, who carry in their veins the burning desire to climb. In recent years, mountaineers have kept records of their ascents, and newspapers and magazines have publicized them, particularly those that are considered to be "firsts." But who knows what unrecorded climbs have taken place? Harvey Manning writes:

Were any Washington peaks left virgin by Indians, trappers, farmers, foresters, mappers and miners? Indeed a great many, but no one can know precisely which. Human memories are everywhere short and inaccurate, and human artifacts disintegrate rapidly in the damp coastal mountains. [11]

The Mazamas (Spanish for mountain goats), a still very active mountaineering group, organized on the slope of Mount Hood, Oregon, in 1894. Five years later, forty members, both men and women, arrived at Stehekin by boat, intent on climbing a virgin peak and bringing attention to the superb mountain scenery of the region. The Chelan Leader editorialized: "The visit of the Mazamas is one nf the most important events in the history of Lake Chelan, as it will make known to the world . . . that here may be found the perfection of mountain scenery." The party camped at Pershall's cabin on the Stehekin. Hiking up through Horseshoe Basin, the enthusiastic climbers scaled a peak which they named Sahale, an Indian term for "higher." The mountain still bears that name. [12]

Mount Shuksan, 9,127 feet, is the highest peak in the North Cascades National Park. Photographers have ceaselessly taken pictures of this massive and dramatic block of ice and rock. It early attracted climbers; but there are rival claimants for the honor of having been the first to stand on its summit. Joe Morovits a homesteader and prospector on the slopes of Mount Baker between 1891 and 1918, claimed to be the first to climb Shuksan. He climbed Mount Baker in 1892, and apparently made his ascent of Shuksan soon after. Harvey Manning writes that this claim "is nowadays generally accepted." On the other hand, two Mazamas, W. M. Price and Asahel Curtis, climbed the peak in 1916. They believed themselves to be the first human beings on "the black mass of the summit pile":

On the summit we could find no trace of a previous ascent. No rocks had been disturbed, except where lightning had struck them, and no record had been left. We left a record of the ascent in a glass jar under a cairn that we built, claiming the ascent in honor of the Sierra and Mazama Clubs of which we were members. [13]

Among the first ascents of the many peaks in the Picket Range and elsewhere during the twentieth century are:

1910, North Sister, Mazamas
1923, Three-Fingered Jack, Mazamas
1923, Mount Washington, Mazamas
1931, 8 first ascents on Colonial Ridge and Picket Range, including Mount Terror, William Degenhardt and Herbert Strandberg.
1930s, 21 first ascents, Hermann F. Ulrichs
1936, Mount Agnes, Mt. Challenger, Dome Peak, and Goode Mtn.
1937, Bonanza Peak, Curtis Ijames, Joe Leuthold, and Barrie James.
1939, Sinister Peak, Lloyd Anderson, Clinton Kelly, and Jim Crooks.
1939, Blizzard Peak, also Anderson, Kelly, and Crooks.
1939, Triumph, also Anderson, Kelly, and Crooks.
1939, Despair, also Anderson, Kelly, and Crooks.
1954, Mount Fury. [14]

Cascade Crest Trail

In 1932, Clinton C. Clarke of California wrote the U. S. Forest Service and the National Park Service proposing a trail along the summit divides between the Canadian and Mexican borders, through Washington, Oregon, and California. The two agencies agreed with this proposal. By 1937, the CCC had done sufficient work so that the 2,156-mile trail could be traveled after a fashion. The northern portion of the trail is known specifically as the Cascade Crest Trail. Within Washington, the 483 miles of the trail are divided into three districts. District No. 1 includes the Cascade Crest Trail from the Canadian border south to Stevens Pass. It enters the park where upper Bridge Creek crosses the park boundary, follows down Bridge Creek, then the Stehekin, finally climbing Agnes Creek where it leaves the park. Except where this trail follows the Stehekin road between Bridge and Agnes Creeks, it is a wilderness trail and will become ever more popular with hikers. [15]


The Davis family's efforts to produce electricity on Stetattle Creek marked the beginning of hydroelectric power on the Skagit River. About the same time, a few of the larger mining companies also introduced electric power to aid their mining activities. But not until 1905 did large-scale commercial power interests become active in the Skagit area. That year the Skagit Power Company posted claims in the valley, principally in the area of Diablo Canyon. The principal backers of the company were three Denver, Colorado, men: E. M. Biggs, J. S. McCrystal, and M. W. Patrick.

The company proceeded to have a survey made and to develop plans for a $6,000,000 plant producing 75,000-100,000 horsepower. A 170-foot dam would be erected in Diablo Canyon. About 1908, it established two construction camps, at Goodell's Landing and at Reflector Bar, and began building a road upriver from the Landing.

Although the Skagit Power Company took up additional claims on Newhalem and Ruby Creeks and on the Skagit itself in 1909, it nonetheless turned its attention to the Cascade River the next year. The engineers decided that dam construction on the Cascade would be easier. They prepared plans for a 172-foot dam for this river.

Running into financial problems, Biggs sold the company for $250,000 in 1912 to Stone and Webster of Boston, Massachusetts. Stone and Webster, which also controlled the Puget Sound Traction, Power and Light Company, kept the name of Skagit Power, but gradually turned control of its new acquisition to Puget Sound. (The name Skagit Power Company was eliminated in 1916.) Turning attention once again to the Skagit, Puget Sound obtained a 50-year permit for the area from the Secretary of Agriculture in 1913.

Meanwhile, James Delmage Ross, a dedicated public servant, became superintendent of the Seattle City Light Department in 1911. The growing city of Seattle needed additional electric power. After a bitter dispute over public versus private control of electricity within the city, a battle which the public interests won, Ross looked about for a suitable site for development. It took very little time for him to decide that the Skagit River offered the best possibilities.

Ross's first major hurdle, of course, was the permit held by Puget Sound. He quickly learned that the permit required Puget Sound to begin construction within a specified time and that that time had elapsed without any work accomplished. Ross then submitted a request for a permit to the Department of Agriculture's Portland Office. The ensuing legal battle lasted for more than a year. During that time Ross visited Washington, D. C., to make his point more clearly. On December 21, 1918, Secretary of Agriculture David F. Houston awarded a new permit to Seattle City Light. [15]

City Light began construction of the Gorge plant in 1919. The original dam was a simple wood crib dam. On September 27, 1924, President Calvin Coolidge pressed a button at the White House that started the first generator. The Gorge Dam was the first major dam on the Skagit; but the present structure bearing that name is also the newest dam. A concrete diversion dam replaced the wood crib construction in 1950; then it in turn was replaced by the present high dam in 1961.

Gorge Dam today is a combination concrete, thin-arch and gravity dam, 300 feet high and 670 feet long. Behind it lies Gorge Lake, 4-1/2 miles long. A tunnel, 11,000 feet in length and having an interior diameter of 20-1/2 feet, leads from the reservoir to the Gorge power plant outside Newhalem.

The second dam to be built, and now the oldest, was the Diablo Dam at the head of Gorge Lake. Construction began in 1927 and was completed in 1929. The first regular service began in 1936. Diablo is a concrete, arch dam, 389 feet high, 1,180 feet long at the crest, and 146 feet thick at the base. Behind the dam lies picturesque Diablo Lake. A 1,990-foot tunnel feeds the penstocks at the Diablo Powerhouse.

The Ross Dam is the largest of the three. Construction lasted from 1937 to 1949; and service commenced in 1952. It, like Diablo, is a concrete, arch dam, but of a modernistic design. At present, it reaches a height of 540 feet, thus being one of the world's highest dams. Two tunnels, each 1,900 feet long and 27-1/2 feet in diameter, lead from the intake portal to the powerhouse. The total production today from the three generating plants is:

Diablo--159,000 kilowatts
Gorge--175,000 kilowatts
Ross--360,000 kilowatts
Total--694,000 kilowatts [16]

An interesting aspect of Ross Dam's construction was the clearing of the present 24-mile long Ross Lake. Before creating the reservoir, the Department arranged to have cleared of trees and brush the 11,820 acres of the basin of the Skagit. Since 600 acres of the proposed reservoir lay in Canadian territory, an International Joint Commission agreed to the concept providing that Seattle City Light compensate British Columbia for damages. The Watton Lumber Company of Everett, Washington, got the contract to remove the merchantable logs from the American portion of the area, paying Seattle City Light $60,200. The company also had to invest $800,000 in a 38-mile gravel road from Hope, British Columbia, to the site of the reservoir. A Canadian firm, the Silver-Skagit Logging Company, got the contract to log the Canadian portion of the lake.

In addition, Seattle City Light itself established a 35-man floating camp to collect the brush and debris from the area. Later, it let a contract for finishing this work. This contractor established a 65-man semi-permanent camp at Hozomeen, which he later turned over to Seattle City Light on completion of the work. [17]

In later years, James Ross became the administrator of the Bonneville Project. He died in 1939, and lies buried at Newhalem, near the Gorge power plant. Ross Dam, Lake, and Mountain are all named in his memory. Seattle City Light plans to raise Ross Dam. It also plans to construct dams on Thunder Creek (for diversion purposes and without a power plant) and on Copper Creek, eight miles below Newhalem and outside the park. Plans exist too to eventually reconstruct the small plant on Newhalem Creek, across the Skagit from the town of Newhalem. This 2,000 kilowatt plant (1921) originally served to supply the necessary power to construct the first Gorge Dam. In later years it burned and is presently closed to the public. [18]

Of lesser importance to the park was the damming of the outlet of Lake Chelan, 1926-29, for hydroelectric purposes. The Great Northern and the Washington Water Power Company of Spokane entered upon an agreement in 1925 to undertake this project. The principal effect on history, as far as the park is concerned, was the raising of the level of Lake Chelan 17 feet, thus flooding the site of the former Field Hotel at Stehekin. [19]

National Park

Even before the Washington Forest Reserve became a fact, the Chelan Falls Leader protested loudly against a national park being established in the North Cascades. In February 1892, the paper's headlines blared: "A Very Vigorous Protest," "A National Park Not Wanted," and "The Resources Too Great to be Preserved." The editor reported to his readers that "a petition has been circulated among the people at or near Lake Chelan . . . asking the government to set aside the larger portion of that beautiful lake and the country contiguous thereto as a national park or reservation." He announced that "we want Lake Chelan for business and for pleasure," and advised his readers that "when asked to shut Lake Chelan out from the commercial world let every citizen answer decisively, No!" [20]

Although the region became a forest reserve in 1897, the idea of a national park in the North Cascades never really died. Periodically, an organization or an individual made a renewed proposal that some part or all of the North Cascades be made a part of the National Park System. Sometimes, Mount Baker would be the focal point; at other times, Glacier Peak or Lake Chelan would be the center of the idea. The North Cascades Study Team has outlined the various proposals for such action, beginning with the Mazamas' recommendation in 1906, down to 1968.

Then, on October 2, 1968, President Johnson signed Public Law 90-544, thus creating North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. According to this law, the North Cascades National Park "preserves for the benefit, use, and inspiration of present and future generations . . . an unmatched array of jagged peaks, majestic mountain lakes, over 300 active glaciers, alpine meadows . . . and other unique natural features in the North Cascades Mountains"; Ross Lake National Recreation Area will "provide for public outdoor recreation use and enjoyment of portions of the Skagit River and Ross, Diablo, and Gorge Lakes, together with the surrounding lands, and for the conservation of the scenic, scientific, historic and other values contributing to public enjoyment of such lands and waters"; and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area will provide the same uses as Ross Lake for portions of the Stehekin River and Lake Chelan.

Thus this report closes with the beginning of another rich chapter in the history of the North Cascades. To know these mountains well, one needs to know, among other things, the ways in which the mountains and men have reacted to and challenged each other. The mountains are still wild, but history has made its deep mark in the 155 years since Alexander Ross stood in Cascade Pass.

Evaluation and Recommendations

The North Cascades' seventy-year history as national forest land is important both in the history of conservation and in the administrative history of the area. Inasmuch as the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service will jointly operate visitor centers, recommend that the principal elements of this long history be interpreted in them.

The story of logging is much more important in the adjacent National Forests than in the National Park complex. Thus, recommend that this colorful story also be interpreted in the joint visitor centers, rather than at sites in the National Park complex.

That portion of the Cascade Crest Trail that follows along Bridge Creek is a part of the trail recommended for Class VI status and entry in the National Register discussed under Transportation and Communications.

The production of hydroelectricity on the upper Skagit is the overwhelming industrial development in that area. Three large dams, their reservoirs, and the transmission lines make the visitor very much aware of this activity. Seattle City Light continues to provide guided tours of its complex and plans to do so in the future. The National Park Service plans to develop close liaison and coordination with Seattle City Light, so that the interpretive programs of each might be enhanced. Recommend that this policy be pursued. Inasmuch as the developments will remain in the ownership and control of Seattle City Light and since its system is not yet complete, recommend no entries in the National Register at this time.

Finally, recommend that the history of the creation of the North Cascades National Park complex also be told in the jointly operated visitor centers.

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Last Updated: 11-Jun-2008