Researched, assembled and organized by: Dan Berentson, Josef and Larry Kunzler
Index prepared by Larry Kunzler, 10/2/2005







argus of 1897 Tells of high water in skagit


River Misbehaves


After being on good behavior for nearly a year the Skagit river got on an obstreperous streak last Friday night and came up ten feet to let the people know it had not forgotten its old job.  After causing many prophesies it tumbled back into its old ruts and now there is scarcely enough water to allow a Missouri river sucker to come up stream without the aid of propellers.  The Skagit is all right—no moss on its back or banks either.  This item was written too early.  She is boiling again.

1897 Flood




River came up ten feet.


early pioneers settled in mount vernon before 1870; incorporated 1890


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


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

Two Log Jams

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

First Farmers

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

Two Log Jams









Indians said log jams “always existent”.









First Farmers.


flood control project fails to get approval

$3,150,000 Expenditure on Skagit River Is Frowned Upon—2 Other Projects Out—Army Engineer Makes Report Before House Committee in National Capital


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




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


Skagit River Damages Farm Lands and Roads at Utopia

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

Logging Interest Blamed For Erosion Of River Banks


Thousands of acres threatened.



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




County Commissioners say problem too big for them.



Nothing could be done by the snag boat.


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

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

Another Study


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

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

Erosion On Skagit Continues In Utopia Area


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




250 to 300 acres eroded in last 20 years.








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


Danger Point Flood Works Suggested


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



Needed more studies of the river.



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



Concerned about channel changes.


soil engineers hope to get relief for utopia erosion

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

SCS Recommends Emergency Plan For Skiyou, and Utopia



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


Erosion from Sedro-Woolley bridge to Lyman. 


All WPA work destroyed except at Lyman.


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

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

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


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






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


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.


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 CanadaSeattle 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 hope 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.


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

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

Corps Wanted Plans For Proposed Erosion Control Work


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


skagit river and probable new hatcheries, considered

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

Fish Issue


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


progress reported on plan to stop erosion on skagit

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

Skagit River Increasing in Velocity


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


Upper River Erosion Work Hoped For Yet This Fall


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

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


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




Dolphins first used in Avon after 1909 flood.


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

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

Flood Early Warning System


Skagit County dodged a bullet.




Skagit County needs a flood early warning system.


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

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

Flood Early Warning System



Log jam in the Utopia area dynamited.


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




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

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

Interesting Bank Erosion Project





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


river crew’s work proves o.k. in flood – new rock and tree mat prevents damage at skiyou slough

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


USGS Concrete 65,200 cfs (28.4).



Record flood rampage?  Flood was barely over flood stage.




sportsmen protest closing skagit river for fishing

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

Skagit Closed To Sports Fishing


Before this time Skagit was open year round.


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


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


Grocery Store Ad

Salmon or Halibut 39 cents per pound


Seattle Angler Vote Defeats Skagit Plea


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


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


Fish Issue




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


Editorial – Closing Skagit Not Enough


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

Fish Issue


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





Editor blames seals and birds.





Game Dept. allegedly was protecting cut-throat runs.


game protector splane cites reasons for skagit closing

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

Skagit Closed to Sports Fishermen.


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



Steelhead take 4 years to reach maturity.


New Dam 23 Stories High


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

Gorge Dam


Under construction.


tugboat skipper relates his adventures on skagit river

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

Skagit River Changed Over Time


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


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


“Upper river dams have little to do with flood control.” 





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


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


skagit soil district helps farmers in drainage plans

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

SCS Helps Nookachamps Farmers


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



sauk, faber dams as flood control means studied

Means to secure better flood control protection from uncertain waters of the Skagit River, a problem which has bothered Skagit county residents since the first settlers arrived, were again thoroughly considered at the June meeting of the Skagit County Planning council held at the Skagit county courthouse Monday night.    The three plans which received the most discussion were:

            1.  The proposed Avon by-pass which would carry off surplus flood water from the Skagit River, from either a point north of Avon or from a point near the southeast corner of the Burlington City limits;

            2.  The proposed Sauk River Dam;

            3.  The proposed Faber Dam.

  Means of financing any of the proposals proved another troublesome problem.  A strictly flood control dam was deemed non-feasible although a multi-purpose dam with poser interests assisting in construction costs was felt possible.

Sauk Dam, Faber Dam, Avon By-Pass


Flooding a problem since first settlers arrived.  Financing any of the proposed solutions was and is just as big of a problem.



loggers warned against practice harmful to fish

A warning was issued yesterday to logging companies throughout the state by Fred J. Foster, Director of Fisheries, against unauthorized removal of gravel from stream beds and other practices by some of the operators that seriously affect the natural habitat and passage of migratory fish.    In commenting upon the warning to loggers Foster said, “Many of the state’s best salmon producing streams have been rendered impotent by practices that completely blocked the passage of spawning fish. Others have been seriously affected by gouging out valuable spawning beds for the purpose of securing gravel for road construction, while some have actually been completely diverted in order to use the stream bed for a truck road. This is especially destructive during the time the fish are spawning and when the eggs are in the gravels.

Fish Issue


Logging hurting fish runs by removing gravel from streams or otherwise blocking fish passageways. 


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

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

Hanson Creek Flooding


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




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




Bridge over Hanson Creek destroyed.



Samish River at highest peak in history.


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

Unless corrective steps are taken, Skagit river eventually may change its course at a point near Lyman and flow directly into Minkler lake, located about four miles east of Sedro-Woolley.  That is the opinion of river experts who have studied the vagaries[1] of Skagit river at this point for years.  Natural outlet of an overflow from Minkler lake would be along a course of such an overflow, according to engineering surveys.  . . .  Actual damage near Lyman so far is the destruction of about 20 acres of valuable farm land washed out by the encroaching river.  . . .  Potential danger of the situation may be summed up in the threat to rich valley land lying between Minkler Lake and Sedro-Woolley.  In less than two years the river channel, to a narrow land passage between the two being now within 25 feet of Great Northern roadbed.  . . .  The river is cutting a new channel to the north about one-eighth mile west of Lyman and evidence of this northward trend in general is borne out by the fact that all sloughs north of the river in this area are filling to overflow point, while those south of the river are drying up, according to Fred Hagen, local fisherman and guide.  Hagen has spent a number of years as a fisherman on the river and is well acquainted with the surrounding territory.  . . .  At Minkler lake, surface water already is flowing between the lake at Skagit river’s new course and local residents expressed the belief that a confluence of the two will result before very long unless something is done.  There is relatively little natural earth barrier separating the two at present, they pointed out.  Should this barrier be eliminated, the river would include Minkler lake in its new course and egress from the lake would be down the valley towards Sedro-Woolley it was reminded.  County Commissioner E.C. Carr stated this week that he does not consider the Minkler lake situation “particularly alarming” at this time, but that rapid changes are possible if the river should get out of hand at Ross Island point, below Lyman.

Skagit Could Change Course Into Minkler Lake


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






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



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


Skagit Flood Warning System Arranged By Weather Bureau

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

Flood Early Warning System











Value in storage behind dams.





Rockport Group Requests Better Ferrying Service

Presenting a petition for adequate ferry service on the river at Rockport, citizens met with the county commissioners Wednesday in the commissioners’ chambers.  The petition, with 269 signatures, requested that each ferry operator be paid at least $210 a month; that a relief operator be employed for rush hours, that proper approaches to the ferry be constructed and that the ferry be kept pumped out at all times and that a capable ferryman be engaged.  Commissioners asked for time to take the matter under consideration.

Rockport residents wanted better ferry service.




People of the Rockport community are petitioning the commissioners for better ferry service or those who must cross the river.  The county engineer told their representatives that they should have had a bridge long ago but for war time conditions.

Supported Rockport residents who wanted better ferry service.



Large Fish Hatchery Will Be Situated Near Marblemount

Announcement was made last week that land had been purchased near Marblemount for the site of the Skagit Fish Hatchery, for which $150,000 in funds was appropriated at the last legislature.       The state fisheries, department hopes to have the new Skagit county salmon hatchery in operation within the next year, staff chiefs and members of the state legislature’s joint interim committee on fisheries announced.

Fish Issue


New salmon hatchery proposed.


Skagit-Samish Flood Control Survey Planned

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

More Erosion Problems



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










Skagit eventually eroded back into Deadman’s Slough and is now main channel.



County Engineers Begin Diagrammatic Sketch For River Survey

County engineers this week have begun a diagrammatic sketch of the Skagit and Samish River watersheds preparatory to submitting the drawing to Congressman Henry Jackson and a group of United States engineers who will be in this district soon investigating flood control needs locally.  . . .  During months of high run off the Nooksack overflows into the Samish causing an unnecessary rise of that river’s level, and creating additional flood hazards south in Skagit county.  Plans for a dike on the division line of flat land are being considered. . . .  It was ascertained by Walberg that glacial water came down through the Samish last winter, possibly from the Nooksack overflow.




This is the first written record obtained that the Nooksack used to flow into the Samish.




Problems of Skagit River Discussed at Mt. Vernon Meeting

Problems of Skagit and Samish rivers were aired at a public gathering called in Mount Vernon Tuesday to better acquaint the office of Congressman Henry T. Jackson and army engineer with the two rivers and the needs to be met. . . . No definite program as to the future work on the two rivers was presented, the purposes of the session being to obtain material and data on the history of the two streams, the present problems, and the problems which might arise in the future. . . . The lone government proposal for the prevention of floods on Skagit river, adopted in 1936, is the Avon by-pass, which has been deemed impractical by local residents inasmuch as it absorbs much valuable land and since it necessitates expenditures of local funds estimated at between $1,000,000 and $3,800,000.  . . .  “Interesting geological facts are that at one time the Suiattle and lower Sauk rivers reached tide water through the Stillaguamish River in Snohomish and that the upper six miles of the south fork of the Sauk River was once the head of the south fork of the Stillaguamish.”

Avon By-Pass



No definite proposal other than By-Pass which was deemed impractical.


Sauk River used to flow into the Stillaguamish River.




Must Control Skagit River Says McLean

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


Skagit poses “serious danger.”


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


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.


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.



Rainfall at Diablo 8.7 In. Oct. 24-25

Extraordinary rainfall--a total of approximately 11 in. --was recorded by the weather station at Diablo for the week ending October 27.  October 24, with 6.49 inches of precipitation and October 25th, with 2.21 in. were the worst days.  The water behind Ross Dam was raised 18.5 feet to the maximum height 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.

Rainfall & Ross Dam


8.7 inches in 48 hours.



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.


Flood Warning System Set Up; Forecasts Planned


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








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










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



Skagit Valley To Have Flood Warning Soon

Creation of a flood warning system for the entire Skagit valley with emergency service to spread the alarm in event of dangerous conditions was announced today by Attorney A.H. Ward of Sedro-Woolley, chairman of the water resources committee of the Skagit county planning commission.  . . .  As the project develops and forecasts are based on information obtainable in the upper reaches of the Skagit, it will be possible to utilize power dams to aid in controlling the river.  Weather bureau officials pointed out that by holding the crest of an upper Skagit flood at Ross dam for only three hours might permit a Sauk river crest to pass harmlessly whereas the combined crest of both streams might result in great losses to farmers and other residents of the valley.

Flood Early Warning System


So much for the weather bureau knowing what they were talking about.  (3 hrs?)  It would be interesting to someday follow up and see why this system was not put into place as it clearly was not used as late as 1975.  Later articles/documents suggest that a much scaled down version of this plan was implemented and then canceled.


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

Creation of a flood warning system for the entire Skagit valley with emergency service to spread the alarm in event of dangerous conditions was announced recently by Attorney A. H. Ward of Sedro-Woolley, chairman of the Water Resources Committee of the Skagit County Planning Commission.

Flood Early Warning System


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


skagit flood problem considered at meet

            Considering flood problems in the Skagit and Puyallup River basins, the Puget Sound Flood Control Council met for its 13th annual meeting Monday at the Seattle Chamber of Commerce with H. O. Walberg; Skagit county engineer, presiding as president of the council, and L. J. Wright, vice president from this county.

            A brief filed by Mr. Wright detailed the existing trouble along the Samish River in itself and by reason of overflow from the Skagit.  Col. C. P. Hardy of the U.S. Army Engineers’ office disclosed that his office is now making a review of the Skagit river report which recommended the construction of the Avon by-pass and indicated that a conclusion more favorable to the county may be reached during 1946.

Flood Meeting


Samish River problems needed to be addressed separately.




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

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

New Fish Hatchery In Marblemount


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


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


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.


new skagit hatchery is a product of experiments and scientific knowledge

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

Marblemount Hatchery


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


Construction to begin in Spring of 1946.


marblemount hatchery plans are revealed

            The new hatchery will be a rearing station from which the Skagit, Nooksack, and Stillaguamish rivers will be kept stocked.  The new station will operate forty concrete rearing ponds 80 feet long and 20 feet wide.  Also there will be constructed a hatchery building 172x46 feet, which will be of concrete with a high pitch shake roof.      Each rearing pond will begin the season with 150,000 young salmon fingerlings.  As planting progresses this figure will be cut to 40,000 within three months.  The remainder of the fish in the ponds will be kept for a rearing period of one year.  The total capacity of the hatchery will be more than four million fish reared for a period of three months or more and approximately a million and a half will be retained and released as yearlings.

Fish Issue


Marblemount fish hatchery to supply 4 million fish reared for a period of three months or more and another 1.5 million will be released as yearlings to Skagit, Nooksack and Stillaguamish Rivers.



biologist williams assigned here to study and survey skagit fish runs

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

Skagit Fish Runs To Be Studied


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


Skagit has largest run of Steelhead in the state.


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

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

Soil Erosion a Problem


Cooperation of Federal Government badly needed.













Reforestation key element in flood control.



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



Avon By-Pass would not affect upstream property owners.


Long range program needed.




discuss skagit river projects

            The upper Skagit was one of the principal subjects at the meeting of the Skagit County Planning Council, held Monday evening at Mount Vernon.  Proposed subjects for the upper valley were the establishment of the federal forest experiment station, study of fish development and recommendations on flood control and hydro-electric power.             The Water Resources and Fisheries sub-committee, Arthur Ward of Sedro-Woolley, chairman, made the following recommendations to the planning commission: Joint study by the Department of Fisheries and the Puget Sound Power & Light Co., of the possibility of construction a fishway over the Baker river dam; A joint study by the same parties of downstream migration of fish over the dam to determine possible ways of reducing fish loss; Joint study by the department and City Light of means of stabilizing flow from the power stations to reduce fish loss due to stranded fingerlings and exposed eggs at low water.

Fish Issue


These are all the same issues that are being discussed today which must mean that for almost 60 years the dams were killing fish.



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

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


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

PSPL & Seattle City Light Requested To Assist in Flood Control


Record snowfall stirred flood concerns.






Commissioners recognized important role dams can play in flood control.











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









state fisheries against skagit dam at faber

Strong opposition to the proposed Faber dam on the Skagit River can be found elsewhere than in the upper Skagit valley, we find.  At a Kiwanis club meeting in Mount Vernon Monday afternoon, State Senator Barney Jackson, public relations officer of the state department of fisheries, voiced his opinion that such a dam would seriously jeopardize the entire Skagit river basin’s $1,185,500 commercial fishing industry, while still remaining an ineffective solution to the flood control problem.  In his talk he said that the Faber dam, if constructed, will so diminish the Skagit river in fisheries importance that it will no longer rank as a contributor to the wealth of the state.  At present the river is second in importance to the Columbia river, and the new Marblemount hatchery and other work planned for the future will raise it’s value over a million and a half dollars.  At present the Skagit river contributes 48 percent of the commercial Chinook salmon fishing industry of the Puget Sound area.  Along with this there is the sport fishing that brings many dollars to this county because of the river.

Faber Dam/Fish Issue


Proposed dam would have jeopardized entire Skagit River basin’s commercial fishing industry.  48% of commercial Chinook salmon industry depended on the Skagit.



mcleod points out threat of dams to fishing at sportsmen’s banquet

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

Dams Threaten Fish Runs


Dam at Faber site would destroy steelhead runs.


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


approve higher dam at ruby creek project

The City of Seattle this week gave approval of a third step in construction of Ross Dam at the head of Diablo Lake, a step that will raise the completed height to 1,620 feet by adding 70 feet to the height of the dam as now planned. 

Ross Dam


Approval given to raise to present day height.



log raft on nookachamps

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

Logs Floated to Market Down Nookachamps Creek


ferry at rockport sinks with cars

Two cars and a truck – and their occupants took a ducking in the cold Skagit river at Rockport yesterday when the Rockport ferry swamped in crossing against the high water and sank to the river bottom.  Water started coming over the ferry deck and managed to fill the scow before it could be stopped.  The ferry sank while passengers in the cars’ climbed to the roofs of their vehicles.  All received a thorough soaking before rescuers arrived to take them off.  The ferry was hauled ashore and pumped out and is now operating again – but cautiously.

Rockport Ferry Accident




The Rockport ferry accident yesterday again brings to the front the need for bridges across the Skagit River.  Perhaps it will be necessary to drown a few citizens before the county commissioners decide to do something besides dole out maintenance for a ferry system that is as antiquated as it is unhandy and dangerous.  So far they have successfully used two wars as excuse for not building our needed bridges, World War I and World War II.  Make sure the candidates for commissioner this fall understand that we want action before World War III. 

Rockport Ferry Accident



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

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

Corps Study’s Move Slowly Through System


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


farmland or fishing

The question will soon arise as to which is more important, several acres of river Skagit valley bottom land or a river full of fish for the sportsman and the commercial fisherman.  We are referring specifically to the unquestionable possibility of one or more flood control dams that may be erected on the Skagit river.  Surveys for such a dam at the Faber ferry have already been taken and these water barriers have a habit of popping up suddenly, especially in periods of unemployment.  If such a dam were to erected on the Skagit river it would mean the saving of several acres of rich soil that is being washed away by floods.  However, on the other hand, it would in all probability mean the eventual elimination of the great migratory runs of fish in the river.  Past experiences with river dams have proven that even with so-called efficient fish ladders, they have in many cases completely destroyed fish runs.  Is the value of fish runs in the Skagit more or less that the threatened farm land?  In our estimation and that of state game officials and sportsmen, the fishing value is by far greater. . . . It doesn’t make sense to save a few acres of farm land at the expense of one of our most important resources. 

What is More Important:  Fish or Farms?


New dams would mean total destruction of fish runs.


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


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

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


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


Dams needed to lessen riverbank erosion.


Entire farms have been lost to erosion.








Editorial supported river straightening  and riverbank revetments.



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




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


work begins on state fish hatchery

Work on the new state fish hatchery at Marblemount was under way Tuesday of this week as Roy N. Gaasland of Bellingham, contractor who built the Marblemount school, began construction of the large project on the Cascade river.  Construction plans call for a main fish hatchery building 46 feet by 172 feet of rustic stone and timber construction, 20 cement rearing ponds, a large home for the caretaker and other small buildings.  The hatchery will be used to raise trout and salmon for a program of restocking the hundreds of lakes and streams in the upper valley in addition to trying to bring the fish population of the Skagit River back to normal.

Marblemount Fish Hatchery


Construction begins.  Purpose of hatchery was to “bring fish population” back to normal (i.e. before the dams).



Skagit River Washing Away Lytle’s Burlington Farm

            Dropping off with loud splashes as the swirling waters dig deeper and deeper into the lower sand pocket is the land on the Austin Lytle farm about one and one half miles east of Burlington in Skagit county.             Since last fall’s heavy rains and the winter’s heavy snow fall, the Skagit river has washed out more than 15 of his original 45 acres of fertile top soil, and Lytle, estimating conservatively said last week that at the same rate his house, now about 200 feet from the river, would be gone by Christmas.  . . .  “The river’s near its low depth for the year,” Farmer Lytle said as he watched salmon jump in the stream as it swirled past at a 6 mile per hour rate.  Just then several large bits of dirt and sand broke away and washed down the river.  . . . However on river control work, the county is putting in rock revetments at Utopia, some distance east, and has indicated it “might start work on the ‘Sterling bend’ about one half mile east, this year, but that isn’t saving us”, the farmer dishearteningly acknowledged.  He indicated County Engineer Haljmar Walber and several of the county commissioners had evinced great interest in river control work, but lack of funds was holding up any work.    Army and navy engineers, called in last fall for consultation said that the river would be hard to stop if it washed away the last 1,000 feet to the Dike road.  After crossing the Dike road, it would be in an old slough which runs through Burlington and out to the city hospital and Darigold plant they said.  The soft sand pocket runs west to the Dike road, the hungry river needing only time before it swallows up hundreds of acres of land.  Harold Halvorson, owning the next farm east of Lytle’s has sand silt where he used to graze cattle, the river ruining the ground when it ate away and covered the land. 



Erosion in Sterling Bend on Earl Jones place.







Rock revetments went in Utopia.








Gages Slough


Soft sand pocket.

Leonard Halverson’s dad.


lake stocked by plane on cascade

Fish planting by airplane was again used in the upper Skagit last week when fifty-five thousand grayling fry were parachuted into Granite Lake, which is located at the head of Boulder Creek in the Cascades above Marblemount.  The drop appeared to be successful.  This is the second year that grayling have been planted in this district, last year a planting being made at Lime Mountain in the Suiattle river watershed.  The grayling is similar to the trout, and is highly rated as a game fish.  Eggs for the plantings were obtained from Utah hatcheries.  This fish is native in Montana.  The air planting was made by the state fisheries department.

Fish Issue


Grayling planted in upper Skagit.  It would be interesting to find out if any of them survived.



faber ferry dumps truck

One more black mark against the county ferries was chalked up on Friday when another passenger took a ducking in the cold, cold Skagit River and subsequently had to salvage his truck from about 12 feet of water.  The accident occurred when Jim Hillman’s garbage truck had the Faber ferry slide out from under it as he was attempting to drive onto the scow.  One other truck had already driven on and the ferryman gave Hillman the signal to come ahead.  The truck was half on the slip when the ferry slid out into the stream and dropped the truck into the water.  Hillman just managed to get out of the cab as it went under.  The ferry had not been tied to the landing.

Faber Ferry Accident




It has come to serious state of affairs when it becomes necessary to keep children from school because the county in which you live will not make safe passage for traffic across a river.  The ferry system has always been bad, but the past few years has suffered even more from the total lack of interest and glaring incompetence of our duly elected commissioner–our sole “representative” in county government.  Although Mr. Carr continues to pass the ferry issue off as trivial, we of the upper valley are growing angry and determined to settle once and for all this daily hazard to everyone who must cross the Skagit.  We know what happens when a school bus full of children plunges into deep water.  Chelan taught us that last year.  We are determined that this will not happen here.  The people of Sauk do not ask for a bridge, which is the only permanent solution.  All they ask is a safe ferry crossing at this time.  To provide this is the duty of the county commissioners and to date they have failed in their duty failed even in accepting responsibility.  This is the sort of thing we of the upper Skagit must continually battle and it’s time that the true facts are presented to the public.  Refusal to send school children into daily danger should bring quick judgment by public opinion.

Editorial Against Unsafe Ferries



 School children at risk.



flood damage is large in upper skagit

marblemount hatchery has big damage – bridge is reported out

Evaluation of flood damage in the upper Skagit valley from the flash flood caused last Thursday by heavy rains in this district was still not complete this week.  Many reported washouts proved not as serious as first estimated, while real damage was found elsewhere.  Greatest damage in the upper valley was at the state fish hatchery at Marblemount, where Jordan and Clark Creeks combined to play havoc with the hatchery grounds.  Rocks and gravel from up-stream covered the grounds and much of the work already completed will have to be done over before the damage can be erased.  Unofficial estimates place the damage at near $20,000.


USGS 82,200 cfs Concrete (31.14), 64,900 cfs. Mt. Vernon (27.80).  Didn’t reach flood stage at Mt. Vernon.



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

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


USGS 82,200 cfs Concrete (31.14), 64,900 cfs. Mt. Vernon (27.80).  Didn’t reach flood stage at Mt. Vernon.

Damage limited to streams and creeks.


ask planning group aid on baker lake

Active promotion of the Baker Lake area as a recreation spot was urged upon the Skagit County Planning Council last Monday evening by Editor Dwelley of the Concrete Herald, who has again resumed his post as chairman of the council’s sub-committee on recreation.  The Baker Lake district holds a wealth of scenic and tourist attractions, equal in possibilities to the Mt. Rainier development, yet while located in Whatcom county, can only be reached through Skagit.  Development by Skagit County is the logical move and the planning council accepted this view with a motion to place the project on their approved list of developments.  . . .  As outlined, the plan will include a large lodge at the site of the present fish hatchery, new camp grounds at Noisy Creek and near the bridge on the west side; one or two more camps for organized groups; two sites near the lake for leasing grounds to private persons for cabins; and further development of the privately owned camps.

Baker Lake Recreational Area


Obviously this all changed with the building of Upper Baker Dam.



Silvers Heavy Sockeyes are Normal At Dam


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

Fish Issue


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

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


record salmon run on baker river dam

Over 7,000 silver salmon and 4,900 sockeye salmon have been taken over the Baker River dam so far this season, according to the state department of fisheries.  The sockeye run is about normal, but the silver run is almost twice the size of any precious cyclic run since the construction of the dam.  The department reports that fish trapping and handling facilities at the local dam are still far from perfect, but that the power company is cooperating in every way to aid the rehabilitation of salmon runs with existing traps.  Both the company and the department are now studying ways and means of improving the traps and hoisting cars to eliminate injuries and to permit restoration of steelhead trout and Chinook salmon runs, now almost completely destroyed.  Silver and sockeye salmon have reacted more favorably because they occur at the season of the year when they are more easily trapped.

Fish Issue


7,000 silvers and 4,900 sockeye.  Steelhead and Chinook almost completely destroyed.



loggers sue city light

Four Skagit county logging companies this week filed damage suits against the City of Seattle, charging faulty operation of Ross and Diablo dams during the high water of October 24 and 25, which resulted in the loss of logs boomed on the lower Skagit near Day and Gilligan creeks.  The companies assert that the City of Seattle’s power projects failed to hold back and regulate correctly the rapid rise in the Skagit River above the dams and that the resulting high water in the lower Skagit was thereby unnecessary.  They ask $36,900 in payment for logs taken down the river when high water tore out their boom sticks.

Seattle City Light Sued By Loggers




Talk of making the Baker Lake area into a huge recreational resort has now reached the planning stage.  The forest service has the preliminary plotting done with provisions for a lodge on the site of the old Baker Lake fish hatchery, new camp grounds and lease property for private cabins, a ranch resort at Morovitz, development of the hot springs, a ski resort at Schreiber’s and eventual development of the Mazama park area a natural ski bowl.  All this is as much a part of our resources as timber or mines, and will pay dividends perpetually instead of what’s being developed.  Tourists are good business.

Baker Lake Planning Area


Baker Lake recreational resort would bring in tourist and “Tourists are good business.”



rain brings more high water in skagit valley

More of the same, said the weather man this week as again the skies opened up and sent down enough dripping, soaking rain to send the creeks and rivers up to flood stage in the upper valley.  This time, however, traffic continued to move after a fashion.  Water was over the road at Corkindale, near Marblemount, when a creek left its banks.  The temporary bridge at Rocky creek slipped a little lower at one end.  Ferries suspended operation during the peak stages of the Skagit.  At Wiseman creek below Hamilton, ten inches of water met daring motorists but failed to stop many of them.  Mail and food trucks came through a little late.  At Hamilton the high water and bad roads made a detour advisable.

Non-Flood Event



funds for river improvements at utopia approved

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

Utopia Funds Approved



The new county commissioners will take office on the 16th of this month, bringing the county two men who firmly maintain that a bridge across the Skagit near Concrete is of prime importance to the county as a whole.  Ferries are rapidly becoming as costly as separate bridges and a few years of operation under present expenditures will not only mean outlay of money sufficient to provide for at least one bridge, but will mean that this money is wasted as far as the county is concerned.  There are times when spending money means saving money.  This is the case in building a bridge in the upper valley.  The people of the upper Skagit have two friends to talk to in the commissioner’s office this year and should lose no time in calling on them and talking the subject over.  No matter how favorable they may be, the upper valley must take the initiative and request immediate action.  From then on the commissioners can proceed as our elected representatives.

Upriver Bridges Needed to Replace Ferries


Ferries as costly as a new bridge.



fish hatchery at birdsview will be closed

The government (federal) fish hatchery at Birdsview will be abandoned this spring.  This word was received recently from head officials of the federal fish and wildlife department under which the hatchery has been operating for the past few years after the reorganization of the old Bureau of Fisheries.  The hatchery is one of the oldest in the state and had been the headquarters for fish propagation in this section for many years.  The closing was made necessary by the condition of Grandy Creek.  Erosion has been increasing on this stream for the past few years until so much silt and debris has been washed from its upper reaches that the water is no longer usable for the hatching troughs and rearing ponds.

Birdsview Fish Hatchery Closing


The hatchery was primarily interested in the salmon run on the Skagit and Baker rivers.




will try to keep hatchery at birdsview

It took a little time for the news that the upper valley was about to lose the Birdsview hatchery to sink in – but when it did people began to do a little thinking about the matter.  The result was a resolution by the Birdsview Grange that an effort be made to have the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service continue the hatchery in operation.  . . .  It was pointed out that the only real reason for closing the hatchery is the silt in Grandy Creek from which the water supply is derived.  This condition is caused by erosion on the upper reaches of the stream and in turn comes from logging operations which have cut the heavy cover from the watershed.  . . .  During its many years operation on Grandy Creek, the hatchery has paid big dividends to the upper valley, maintaining a continuous study of the sockeye run on the Baker River and the various salmon runs in the Skagit.  In addition trout from the hatchery have been placed in almost every lake in the district.  The resulting fine fishing sport has brought hundreds of fishermen to the upper valley and continuation of the stocking program is necessary to hold and improve this growing recreation business.

Birdsview Hatchery


Loggers blamed for deteriorating water conditions of Grandy Creek.  Hatchery ran by the federal government.


Hatchery was a valuable resource supplementing fish runs and thus bringing hundreds of sports fisherman into the valley



complete plans for flood control in beaver lake area

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

Beaver Lake Flooding


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


seattle okays completion of higher ross dam

The Seattle City Council this week approved the proposal to negotiate with the builders of Ross Dam for completion of the third and final “step” in the huge Skagit river project.  The present contract will be complete, except for minor details in the next two months and the officials of City Light believe that they can secure a good bid on the final step if the work is begun while the contractors have their equipment and labor still at the site.  The present dam rises to a height of 475 feet.  The final contractor will elevate this to the 540 foot level and will allow the generating equipment to be installed and placed in operation.  No power will be generated at Ross Dam until the final step has been completed.  . . .  The final step on the dam will cost in the neighborhood of seven million dollars and will require another two years work.

Ross Dam


Was only 475 feet tall in 1947!



Editorial—It Could Happen


This week’s high stage of the Skagit river ought to remind us that rivers long kept in their places have a way of springing surprises.  It’s been so long since the Skagit went on any serious rampage, near Mount Vernon, that it’s all too easy for the city to remain complacent about its defenses.  It’s all too easy to ignore the widening gaps in the old piling bulwarks to “the dike”, to forget those feverish days and nights of other flood seasons when townsmen and countrymen fought the river as a real and threatening adversary, with shovel and sandbag.  Much more of the Skagit basin’s timber went to the mills during the war years, and it’s still going.  Which means that rains and melting snows reach the stream more rapidly than ever before.  Isn’t it about time to look over our river defenses once more and plug the little gaps before they become destructive torrents?


This flood event is undocumented in Corps and USGS records.


Skagit River Course May be changed, hughes


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




Cut a new channel through the Nookachamps.


Would have eliminated Strawberry Bar.







Editorial—Courage To Do


The members of the board of Skagit County commissioners are well aware of the consequences of tinkering with the Skagit river’s course when they propose to “do something” about the stream’s steady encroachment on valuable farm lands east of Burlington and its threat to that city itself.  That was made plain as day Tueday night when Chairman Lowell Hughes told a chamber of commerce industrial development audience here of the commissioners’ plans.  Hughes’ frankness was refreshing, as he emphasized that “we are sticking our necks way out on this project.”  So little had been said recently of the proposal to start the river on a new course designed to eliminate the river’s “oxbow” bend at Burlington and stop its present heavy erosion (erosion that has been moving ahead ominously during recent weeks’ high water) that Hughes’ comments took many by surprise.  The spirit of courage, in undertaking a project of such magnitude with its many uncertainties, is commendable on the part of the commissioners.  Eliminating the “Burlington Bend” of the Skagit probably will be only the beginning.  The Skagit is a constantly shifting type of stream.  One remedy may merely breed a new erosion problem at another point.  Of this the county commissioners are well aware.  But they are willing, backed by the best engineering advice they can obtain, to take the chances involved and to go ahead and try to do something about the river problem; that is much better than sitting back doing nothing for fear “something might happen”.  Were the commissioners to take the latter course, there is danger that the whole lower Skagit valley might undergo drastic change.  The flood control engineers agree that the river threatens to cut into Gages slough, on the south-eastern edge of Burlington and make a new channel through Whitney, or within eight or nine years to take out the Burlington-Sedro Woolley highway, the Great Northern right of way and work a new course running into the Samish river.  Far-fetched?  The engineers don’t believe so.






Eliminating the “Burlington Bend”.






One mans flood control is another mans flood problem concept.









Worried about river changing course into Gages Slough.


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.


River Channel to be Changed With State Aid


Nookachamps to Be Dredged and New Road Opened


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





DCD was forerunner of State Dept of Ecology.





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


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.


Plans For River switching get setback, Hughes


Rock Revetment to Be Used in Bend Above Burlington


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





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


Guest Editorial—Puget Sound Mail—More Fish Troubles


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


Fish Issue


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


many fish to be planted in upper skagit district

More fish plantings for the upper Skagit district were in prospect as State Game Protector M. Splane began a plant of rainbow and cutthroat fry from the Lake Whatcom hatchery.  The first are between three and four inches in length.  Plantings will be made as follows: Day Creek, 15,000; Upper Skagit between Gorge Creek and Diablo, 20,000; 25,000 in creeks along the Baker river; 10,000 in Swift Creek.  Big Watson lake will be planted with 20,000 cutthroats by plane and another 50,000 rainbow will be flown to Diablo Lake.  Grandy Lake is slated for 30,000 cutthroat by truck.

Fish Issue


Only planted trout, no salmon.  However, article shows that even the cutthroat trout population was not natural in the Skagit River as many of those plants in creeks clearly made their way down to the Skagit.



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.



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.


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.”


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.” 


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).


salmon on increase in skagit river

The state department of fisheries recent survey of the Skagit and Stillaguamish rivers has revealed that pink salmon escapement has been greatly increased in both waters over the last cycle year of 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.  These figures are based on actual counts taken as the survey party drifted down the river in a boat, recording the fish sighted.  The Skagit river count shows a 30 per cent greater escapement than in 1945.  The Stillaguamish, in a similar survey, showed a 50 per cent improvement.

Fish Issue


11,000 Kings found spawning between Newhalem and Faber Ferry.  Interesting to note is that they didn’t count any fish on the Sauk and only included fish that they saw.  River must have been incredibly clear for this survey to mean anything.


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.


Dike Commissioners Protest Location of Disposal Plant


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




Mt. Vernon Sewage Treatment Plant





Dike District Commissioner wanted plant outside dike.


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.


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.



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

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


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




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


Austin Lytle place is currently owned by Earl Jones.


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.


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


County Ready For River Bank Work; Now up to State


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


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

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












River 33 feet deep??


what bridge?  says county

The Concrete Lions Club played hosts to the County Commissioners last evening, having invited them to be present to give their knowledge and advice to a discussion of a Skagit river bridge for the upper valley.  Commissioners Ed Carr, Lowell Hughes and Wallace Sharp heard the discussion of the club in regard to the project that has been the subject of campaigns, meetings and publicity here for a number of years, culminating in a definite selection of a site and the promise of active support by the commissioners last spring.  Then the commissioners shocked the club members almost out of speech by admitting that they knew very little about a bridge for this district and had made no effort whatsoever to investigate the possibilities of building one.  There was never even an inquiry by the board into how a bridge could be financed.

Dalles Bridge


Small disconnect between upriver community and County Commissioners.



This week our editorial column is reserved for a complete and detailed report of the plans made, financing, outlined, surveys completed and other notable work done on the Skagit river bridge for the upper valley by the county commissioners who only last year were elected to office with the bridge as the number one item in their campaign pledges.  The report reads as follows:


Editor’s comment: It has been a long time since we have such an unblemished record presented by men hired to serve the public as top executives.  We only hope that these men choose to “stand on their record” next election.

Editorial Comment on Competency of County Commissioners With Respect To Dalles Bridge


Sometimes saying nothing at all speaks volumes.  There was nothing but a blank space in the report section of the editorial.


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.


a bridge in 1952 maybe

The three million dollar program schedules a complete job of repair, maintenance and new construction for all county roads and bridges, but will fall about one million dollars short of estimated revenues for the four-year period.  This means that unless additional funds can be provided from new sources, the complete program can not be carried out.  As usual, the upper valley gets the short end of the deal, with little to be done in this district except for some repairs on the Sauk river road and some new bridges there in the next two years.  The road from the Dalles to Faber and the Faber bridge are on the program for 1950 at the earliest.  The county expects to be about $360,000 short on funds by this time, which gives an idea of how much importance is placed on a bridge in this vicinity.  Engineer Wallberg stated that cost of ferry operation for 1947 was $70,000, of which all but the $8,000 subsidy on the Guemes Island ferry was spent on the Skagit river ferries.  He estimated it would take $60,000 to operate them in 1948.

Upriver Bridge


Still running ferries during this time span at $60,000 a year.



How long would an efficient organization go on paying $30,000 to $70,000 a year to maintain old equipment that could be replaced with new minimum upkeep material in a matter of five or six years at the same cost!  Well, count the years they have been maintaining our antiquated ferry service at various points along the Skagit river.  Then note that in a four-year plan of master-minded road and bridge construction – the bridge that would eliminate three costly ferries is relegated to the “someday” bracket.  What kind of economy is this!  If any group of roads in the lower valley were costing $70,000 a year to maintain and were getting worse each year there would be something done – even if it cost every cent the prosperous third district could dig up.  But let the same amount be wasted up here and you can’t get the commissioners to lift an eyelid.  None are so blind as those who will not see.  We now must ascertain if they are also deaf.

Demanded Action on Upriver Bridge


aunt jemima in person

Famous Lady Visits Skagit County


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%.


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

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

Bridge At Dalles Requested


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


Bridge would make timber available to independent mill operators.


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



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”. 


Burlington bend project approved

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

Burlington Bend Project


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


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


Emergency Funds To Flood Control

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


Burlington Bend “Emergency Work” to begin.


Flood Control At Burlington Bend Assured


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

Burlington Bend Project


forest service has no funds for skagit bridge

As was expected, the Forestry Department at Portland found no funds available for aiding Skagit County in building a bridge across the Skagit river here this year.  County Engineer Walberg met with Forestry officials in Portland upon his return from Washington D.C. last week and found that the department had barely enough funds to carry their own program this year.  The bridge is greatly favored by the Forestry Dept. in that it will open the vast Phinney Creek area of federal timber and permit easy access for timber sales and logging. 

No Federal Funds For Bridge


The ball now reverts to the county commissioners, who have yet to initiate any sort of a program for building the bridge from any funds.



skagit bridge will release much timber

Forest service officials at Portland estimate that approximately 20 million feet of timber a year on sustained yield cutting will be the timber yield to come across the proposed Skagit river bridge at the Dalles if the bridge is built within the next few years.  “. . . it appears that about 1½ billion feet of National Forest timber might be beneficially affected by the proposed bridge.  Converted to sustained allowable annual cut, this would amount to something in the neighborhood of 20 million feet per year.

Logging and Bridge




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.



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.


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.


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.


Editorial—Skagit Flood Protection


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

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






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



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


567,000 acre feet held for ten days.


flood work snarl blamed on official

In a telephone conversation with the Daily Herald today, Mrs. Austin Lytle blamed County Commissioner 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.


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


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

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

Skagit Threatening To Run Into Minkler Lake


Utopia farmland gone.  Five acres washed away.  Wolfe’s barn and chicken house washed into river.


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

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

Dalles Bridge Proposal


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


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


sterling hill dynamited to get rock for Burlington bend

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

Sterling Hill Mined For Burlington Bend Rock Revetment Project


Rock for revetment project came from Sterling Hill.


Editorial—A Bridge for the Upper Skagit


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

The Dalles Bridge







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


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.


what about this upper skagit river bridge

Advertisement for Bridge


Army Engineers to Resurvey Skagit River Basin


Valley Considered For Flood Control Aid, Cain Reports


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



Another study.





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


Bridge Issue Before County At Election

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


Dalles Bridge


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


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


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.


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”. 


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.


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.


bridge is key to timber

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

Dalles Bridge


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


upper skagit hits election jackpot

The Skagit river bridge, one of the most hoped-for issues, passed by an overwhelming vote of 11,618 for to 3,185 against.  A.B. Wiseman, county commissioner for this district after Jan. 1, 1949, will have the responsibility of carrying out the county’s request for a bridge across the Skagit River near Concrete.  The voters approved a $700,000 bond issue to provide funds for the new bridge and the necessary roads for connecting south of the river roads with its approaches.

Bridge Bonds Approved



Well, there is your bridge.  Handed to you on a silver platter by the people of Skagit county.  All you had to do to get it was work yourself into alternate states of fury and despair over a period of eighteen or twenty years before someone noticed that a bad situation wasn’t getting any better, that our wails in the wilderness were of some distress.  It takes a lot of time to convince a few stubborn men who don’t want to understand, a very short while to convince a lot of common folks.  So, when you get around to watching the final steel go into place on that bridge across the Skagit river, make sure that on the inevitable plaque that goes with it’s price there are no dedications to glory for the few men whose duty it was to make the plans and buy the steel.  Instead, let’s have a simple wording of honesty and truth – “This bridge built by the people of Skagit County.”  I wager folks will come for miles around to see that plaque alone, it would be so unusual.

Bridge To Be Built


The building of any bridge be it physical or philosophical begins with a concept and must be followed by tenacity and advocacy.  The building of the upriver bridge is a tribute to the upriver community and the people of Skagit County.


no decision on bridge

The Skagit river bridge to be built near this community is still the center of a lot of argument on site.  So much so that the county has made a request for a geologist from the state department of highways to make a preliminary survey and settle the question.  The big problem between the two suitable sites, at Faber ferry and at The Dalles, is the stretch of road between them.  The Dalles is a perfect site for a short span; the Faber site must have a long span with only one solid rock footing.  . . .  Forestry officials, engineers and now the state geologists have been called into consultation to solve the riddle.  The main problem is about 2,000 feet of clay slide and a few other portions of underlying clay strata over which a road must pass.

Geologist To Determine Location of Bridge


Geology was what determined the location of the bridge between Faber and The Dalles sites.


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.


Public Hearing on River Work Set April 12


U.S. Engineers Seek Local Opinion On Projects

Navigation Main Topic

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


Project Described

“The existing project provides for channel stabilization through the delta by means of a dike at the mouth of the South fork; regulating dikes and a mattress sill near the head of North fork; and closing subsidiary channels at the delta; and for increasing the available depth at Skagit City bar by dredging and by training walls.  The length of the section included in the project is 9 ½ miles.  The mattress sill, closing dikes, and 10,450 feet of training dike at dike at the mouth of the South fork are completed.  The training dike was completed to a length 5,550 feet less than project length.  The work at Skagit City bar awaits the local cooperation required by the act of 2 March 1919.

Corps Project












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



If the upper Skagit can stave off another “valley authority” on the Skagit river, it will only be because we were warned soon enough to start working against it.  For several years now army engineers have been making surveys of possible power sites and flood control projects that could make the valley above Concrete just a serious of ponds.  We know that the people of the valley don’t want such a thing to happen, but we know also that unless some definite and concerted action is taken to make this fact known we will one of these days find a construction crew on the river banks making ready to put an end to all the hopes and aspirations of those who live in and love this green valley of ours.  Too much of the propaganda that calls for despoiling a river is from government agencies themselves whose never-ending greed fattens on more and more “projects” whether needed or not.  Power needs are growing, but until present sources are developed to the utmost, no new dams are needed.  If upper streams can be utilized, a Faber dam will never be needed for its avowed purpose of flood control.  Take warning from the happenings in other quiet valleys.  The Skagit is being lined up for sacrifice.

Opposed to More Dams


Didn’t want the upper valley to become a “series of ponds.”


faber dam in news again as possibility

Rumblings are again being heard from the federal government on more hydro-electric and flood control projects on the Skagit river.  Army Engineers, who have been conducting surveys on the Skagit, Cascade, Sauk and Baker rivers for several years, are now nearing the final stages of their work and plan to have their report ready next year.  Under consideration by the Army Engineers are four dams: One on the Baker river; one on the main channel of the Skagit at Faber; one on the lower Sauk river and another on the lower Cascade river.  They are now seeking information from the state game department as to possible effect on the river’s system of fish runs.  . . .  The Game Commission has issued a statement that “Part of the Skagit river already is blocked by power developments, so we must be on our guard to protect the great fish runs on this stream.  The Skagit is famed the breadth of our land for its fine fishing, being worth a tremendous amount to us as a tourist and recreation asset for this reason.”  The proposed dam on the Baker river (above Lake Shannon) would back water into the canyon above Baker Lake, inundating much valuable recreational area around the present Baker Lake shore line.

Faber and Baker Dam & Fish


Opposition by state to either Faber or Baker due to impacts on fish runs.  See 2/25/49 USFW letter to Corps (re dams at Faber & Sauk sites); 2/23/49 Letter to Corps from WDOG (re impacts of dam construction); and 3/4/49 Letter to Corps from WDOF (re impacts of dam construction).  See also Historical Record of Fish Related Issues (1897-1969).


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

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

Fish Issue -- Steelhead Abundant

2,500 steelhead….how many in 2004?

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


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


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.


Skagit’s Runoff To be Heavy, Say City Light Aides


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

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

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







The entire statement was printed in the article.  Looks like they were using Diablo for flood control in 1949.  Why can’t they do it now?







78% of total runoff at Diablo was impounded!!


county drops flood warning employees

Skagit County’s flood control warning system, which had been developed by the county planning council three years ago, is now being abandoned.  The two men employed by the county during three months of the year to check weather gauges in the mountains on the upper Skagit have been notified that their services will no longer be required.  The action was taken by the board of county commissioners who feel that this service is already being duplicated by other agencies such as the power projects on the river, and that there are adequate means of warning in case of flood danger.

Flood Early Warning System


Not needed say County Commissioners.


dams holding back skagit flood threat

The information from the surveys completed through the joint efforts of the U.S. Geological Survey, the Dominion Water and Power Bureau of Canada, the Forest Service and Soil Conservation Dept. and City of Seattle has provided much valuable information in anticipating flood conditions.  Last year from May 24 to June 12, the natural flow of the Skagit River at Diablo Dam maintained a flow of from 16,000 to 32,000 cubic feet per second, which is the highest spring runoff of record at that point.  This year, due to the large storage capacity of the Ross Dam, the greatest amount of the runoff has been held and flows actually released at Diablo now range between 2,500 and 8,000 cu. ft. per second.  Actually 78 percent of the total runoff was impounded.  . . .  In their statement concerning the possibility of floods, City Light reminds residents of the valley that floods are still possible despite all precautions if weather conditions bring on unusual runoffs.  However, most serious floods occur during the winter period from October to March.  . . .  Flow of the Baker River by the Puget Sound Power dam is also controlled as far as possible by river conditions and release of water from all dams are timed through close cooperation of the power dispatchers.

Operation of Baker, Diablo and Ross Dams




river remains high as warm weather holds

The hot days of the past week have had the Skagit River up near flood stage several times, but at latest reports, the gauge at Mount Vernon is still below the “danger point” of 21 feet.  Ferries at Faber and Rockport have been operating only when a drop in the river gave show of safety, but school children are being forced to miss their last week of school.  . . .  Last season’s high point was 20.8 feet.  The highest yet so far has been 19.4 and the river has been dropping since this point was reached Friday morning.

Non-Flood Event


River stayed high but did not reach flood stage.


city light co. will double plant’s output

Present capacity of the City Light company’s plant is to be more than doubled with the installation of three 90,000 kilowatt generators by the Westinghouse corporation, it was announced this week.  . . .  For operation of the generators the dam has been heightened to 540 feet and a reservoir containing 1,400,000 acre-feet of water, extending almost to the Canadian border is being built up.

Seattle City Light/Ross Dam


Three new generators increase production of power.  Ross dam 540 feet high.


against more skagit dams

John M. Hurley, Jr. chief of the stream improvement division of the state fisheries department spoke at a Salmon bake at Hope Island on Sunday, opposing the full development of power in the state as the end of the fish runs of the state.  He spoke against the CVA in that it would place jurisdiction of all state fisheries in hands of a federal board.  He also spoke at length on the Skagit river’s proposed Faber and Sauk dams, which he said “would reduce the Skagit to relative insignificance as a producer of migratory fish.”  He urged that the people go slowly in approving legislation that will destroy all fishing resources in favor of power development.

State Opposes Sauk and Faber Dams


Dams would destroy salmon runs.


ruby dam dedicated in ceremony today

At formal ceremonies, covered by radio and newsreels the City Light Department today accepted the completed Ross Dam from the contractors General, Shea and Co.  The construction company have been cleaning up their operations at the dam site for the past month in preparation for turning the dam over to City Light.  The huge dam has been built so that if future needs require it can be raised in height by superimposing another face over the present honeycomb-like structure.

Ruby/Ross Dam Completed


twelve year construction job of building ross dam completed last week

The construction of Ross Dam was one of the most difficult and spectacular jobs in the world.  The granite cliffs rise for hundreds of feet from the river gorge.  Every pathway, building site and toehold for man or machine had to be blasted from the rock.  Construction of the first step of the dam began in September 1937 and was completed March 11, 1940.  Work was resumed in February of 1943 and carried through until completion on August 18th, 1949.  Cost of building the dam was approximately $28,000,000.

Picture available.

History of Ross Dam Construction

Construction of the first step of the dam began in September 1937 and was completed March 11, 1940.  Work was resumed in February of 1943 and carried through until completion on August 18th, 1949.  Cost of building the dam was approximately $28,000,000.  Construction of the entire Seattle City Light project began in 1919.  NOTE:  Notice how narrow the canyon is in the picture.


harry devin was city’s historian, weather recorder

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

H. L. Devin

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

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


county hires engineer for skagit bridge

The Skagit county commissioners, who have been keeping rather quiet on the upper Skagit bridge due to lack of any specific progress to report, this week heaved a sigh of relief and sent out word that they have hired a bridge engineer to draw plans and specifications and to act as consultant on the project.  The new engineer is Cecil Arnold of Seattle, and he is expected to report in Skagit county immediately to begin work.  It is the intention of the county commissioners to be ready to let contracts by March 1, 1950.

Dalles Bridge


Construction to start by March 1, 1950.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


County Keeps Weather Eye on Hills As Skagit Flood Cleanup Progresses

Fresh Rise In River Not Held Cause For Fear

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


November 28, 1949 Flood Event


USGS records show 40.8 ft at Concrete and 34.21 feet at Mt. Vernon.  Why is there a 14 ft difference between the downtown gage and the new gage?


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


Burlington Escapes Serious Damage During Devastating Skagit Flood

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

November 28, 1949 Flood

Worst flood in 25 years.



Ross and Diablo used as flood control.

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


Ross Dam Plays Large Part in Preventing Flood

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


November 28, 1949 Flood


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

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








One fourth of river above Ross.


skagit river floods in quick rise after storm 

freak storm with heavy rain and high wind sets off first serious flood since 1921 – damage heavy in rockport and hamilton; no property hit here

Heavy rains and unseasonably warm temperatures combined with other factors over the week end in causing the first serious flood on the Skagit river in many years.  Although the river was high for several days, the rapid rise of the river Saturday night and Sunday morning caught most residents living near the river by surprise.  The real cause of the flood was the unusually heavy rainfall during the week, when 11 inches fell on the upper Skagit between Tuesday and Sunday.  During the storm that hit here Saturday, four inches of rain fell in 24 hours.  This, combined with a Chinook wind and the already bank-full river, brought the water up at a rapid rate starting early Saturday evening.  By 2:00 a.m. Sunday water had started to enter the town of Hamilton and by morning there was from two to four feet of water over the entire town.  . . .  All traffic to the upper valley was closed Sunday by water over the road at Lyman.  Before that a few cars had been able to get thru by detouring Hamilton by way of the Lyman Timber Co. road to Grandy Lake.  . . .  The fact that water was low behind Ross dam kept the flood from being much worse.  The valves of the dam were closed Wednesday and the dam was able to hold back all water here until the flood crest had passed.  At the crest of the flood 42,600 cubic feet of water were impounded every second.  The lake, over 20 miles long, came up ten and is now forty feet higher than anticipated for this time of the year.  Monday there was still enough storage space to impound another 200,000 acre feet of water.  No water is being released.


USGS 154,000 cfs Concrete (40.8), 149,000 cfs Sedro-Woolley, 114,000 cfs Mt. Vernon (34.21)  This was more water than the two 1990 floods and the first 1995 flood events at Concrete.


Hamilton under 2-4 feet of water.  Crofoot addition had water up within a few inches of the bank, but no homes were touched.  Edgar Gates’ barn was isolated by a virtual river.


The fact that water was low behind Ross dam kept the flood from being much worse.  The valves of the dam were closed Wednesday and the dam was able to hold back all water here until the flood crest had passed.  At the crest of the flood 42,600 cubic feet of water were impounded every second.  The lake, over 20 miles long, came up ten and is now forty feet higher than anticipated for this time of the year.

The Baker river dam here held back the rising Baker river until late Saturday evening, when storage capacity was reached.  The water was then released at a minimum rate, keeping the lake level at full height.


hamilton hard hit by flood

The town of Hamilton took the brunt of the damage on the upriver flood water.  Residents of that city were awakened about 2:00 a.m. to watch the waters rise in the west end of town.  Soon the water was advancing almost as fast as a person could walk down the main highway through town and by morning almost the entire flat had been covered.  The rise continued until there was from two to four feet of water over the entire area.  All homes and business houses suffered damage as silt and dampness took toll against furniture, store stocks and buildings.

Hamilton Flooded


All homes and businesses suffered damage.


reports of upper valley flood damage

City Light railroad washed out beneath the tracks at Bacon and Damnation Creeks on the upper Skagit.  The highway at Damnation creek also went out.  Road closed.  Cascade road washed out east of Marblemount bridge.  Small span to Fish Hatchery washed away.  Railroad right-of-way and highway damage in vicinity of Hamilton.  Highway open.  Lyman ferry completely missing.  Much damage to homes and the school and business building at Hamilton.  . . .  Puget Sound Power & Light high line damaged by river near Lyman.

Upriver Damage Reported



Again nature has proved that in spite of the best laid plans of mice and men, she stills holds the power to make her own rules when it comes to storms and floods.  Storms are one thing no one claims to control, but floods are too often dabbed “impossible” after a few man-made projects are erected to end them.  Last weekend proved that when a combination of weather conditions occur at the same time there is no holding back of high water.  Luckily these coincidences are spaced many years apart.  So we are again warned to respect the Skagit River, and to make our future plans accordingly.  It is not yet captive.

1949 Flood Event


Skagit not yet captive.  floods are too often dabbed “impossible” after a few man-made projects are erected to end them.”


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

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


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



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


Hamilton had 290 residents.  35 homes damaged.


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




Need to find where was Sedro-Woolley’s garbage dump.



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



Rain on snow event.







damage high in hamilton, utopia districts

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

Flood Damage



Lots of livestock lost upriver.


Island”.  Cockerham Island??


ross dam lessens flood damage

Seattle City Light’s Ross Dam in the upper Skagit played a large part in keeping the serious flow from begin even worse, E. R. Hoffman, Lighting Superintendent, reports.  The valves in the big dam were closed Wednesday, Nov. 23, and no water from the entire upper river was allowed to pass.             From Thursday midnight until Sunday midnight enough water was held behind the dam to cover 116,000 acres of land to a depth of one foot.  At the crest of the flood approximately 42,600 cubic feet of water were impounded every second. Elevation of Ross Lake, nearly 20 miles long, came up ten feet, and is now forty feet higher than anticipated for this time of year.  On November 28 there was still enough storage space to impound another 200,000 acre feet of water behind Ross Dam. The valves were still closed and no water was getting past the dam.  . . .  The flood crest at Concrete, a large town below Ross Dam crested at 149,000 cubic feet per second on Sunday, Nov. 27. This would have been disastrously worse except for the water held behind Ross Dam.  The crest passed Mt. Vernon early Monday morning, Nov. 28 and the entire river was reported to be receding.  “Ross Dam does a great deal to keep floods on the Skagit from being much worse.” Hoffman said. “However, it cannot be expected that a dam so far up the river will prevent floods altogether.  . . .  The flood was caused by heavy rains and unseasonable warm temperatures that melted snow already in the mountains. From Tuesday through Sunday approximately 11 inches of rain fell on the upper Skagit.  About 4 inches of rain fell in 24 hours on Saturday and one and one-half inches on Sunday. Maximum temperatures were from 45 to 58 degrees, melting an undetermined amount of snow. 

Ross Dam Flood Control

No water passed out of Ross during 1949 flood event.



42,600 cfs held back from crest of flood.






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





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


mother child rescued as they hang from rafters

Mrs. Albert Watson yesterday described a hectic night which she and her three-year-old son, David Allen spent floating on mattresses and finally hanging onto the rafters of their small frame house near Rockport in the raging flood of Saturday and Sunday.  . . .  “The baby and I were alone as my husband, A.L. Watson and our grown son had been away working and couldn’t get back across the river, Mrs. Watson said.  “When the water backed up in Mosquito Slough Saturday night and started to come in our house, I was scared,” the woman continued.  “I got up on a chair and then the baby and I stood on a dresser.  Then I piled one mattress on top of the other and we floated on them.”  . . .  Mr. And Mrs. George Moses and their children, also residents of Mosquito Flat, climbed into two dugout canoes, paddled into some trees where they tied up, and spent the night with blankets over their heads.

Rockport House Floods


House next to Mosquito Slough.







Lived on Mosquito Flat.


things to be done (Editorial)

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

Floods Shouldn’t Deter Development


Proceed as though nothing has happened.


No time for weak-kneed calamity howlers.





No time for hysterics or petty politics.


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


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


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

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

Log Jam on NPRR Bridge in Prairie


Prarie is located in the Samish River Basin.


Dike Leaders Rep. Jackson to meet here


Want Action on Cleaning Out Lower River

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

New Flood Association Formed


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


Three levee breaks.

12/15/49 Argus

city to repair broken sewer outside dike


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



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


soil conservation office submits flood damage report for county

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

Soil Conservation Flood Damage Report on November 27-29 Flood


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





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


Levees neither high nor wide enough. 


skagit 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


Dike Leaders Push For Early River Clearing

Insist North Fork Cutoff, Dredging Are Flood Aids

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









The Corps of Engineers is all about “time”.



Levees to be raised.




flood damage estimated at over $300,000

Figures on flood damage from the Skagit River’s recent rampage were released yesterday by the soil conservation department, which estimated the total cost at $306,965.00, excluding crop losses.  Their survey showed that seventy farm buildings were washed out or badly damaged; 2,700 feet of dikes went out; five bridges were lost and three and one-half miles of road was destroyed.  A total of 14,765 acres were inundated.  The Skagit River reached its highest peak since 1921 with a flow of 132,000 cubic feet per second.

1949 Flood Damages

$300,000 would be $2,436,230 in 2004 dollars. 


Also note change in cfs.  USGS has flow at 154,000 cfs.  CH first reported 154,000.  Now 132,000.  Damage figures should have been more if flow was 154,000 cfs.


valley jolted by outbreak of new slides

. . . Meanwhile the lower valley was getting their share of the surplus water with the creeks between Minkler Lake and Cokedale over the highway and traffic detoured over the new highway.  There was also water on the road between Lyman and Hamilton.  Roads were open and passable in most places today.  The Samish river overflowed its banks near Allen, flooding much of that area and water covered the fields between Sedro-Woolley and Burlington along the main highway.

Partial Article on Small Flood


[1] Unpredictable change.