Researched, assembled and organized by: Dan Berentson, Josef and Larry Kunzler
Index prepared by Larry Kunzler, 9/4/2005







Drainage Solution Expected (Editorial)

At long last it appears that a solution to at least part of the Mount Vernon storm water disposal problem has been found.  . . .  Now the City Council has worked out a program with Drainage Dist. No. 17, to the south of the city whereby a 7,000 gallon-a-minute pump will be installed to lift water from the ditches of the district into the Skagit River.  . . .  The pump with a capacity well in excess of the run off from the 200 acre hill area now makes possible, if it works according to plan, a continuance of street paving projects.  However, the agreement does propose that if for any reason the pump does not accomplish its purpose in a manner satisfactory to the Drainage District, the project can be halted.  For this reason complete installation of a storm sewer system must await the outcome of one year’s experience with the new pump.

Drainage District #17


Pumped water from ditches into the Skagit River.


Inter-county Flood Control Work Urged

Herman Hanson, Mt. Vernon superintendent of public works has called for inter-county planning for flood control as a major discussion topic at the 25th annual meeting of Washington Flood Control council being held today in Renton.  He is council president.  It is obvious to anyone connected with river work that most of the river work done to date has been piece-meal construction, seldom accomplished in accordance with any over plan,”  Hanson wrote in his call for the meeting.




Flood work between counties has been “piece-meal.”



            The last Skagit river stern-wheeler sits on a sand bar below Mount Vernon while owners ponder whether to junk it or try to salvage it for sale as a dockside eating house. It has become unprofitable to use it for freight on the river. And so another tie with the past disappears. The old paddle wheel boats can’t run on our four-lane highways.

Charles Dwelley on Stern-Wheeler


254,000 steelhead planted in barnaby slough

If everything goes according to plan the Skagit river will become the best steelhead stream in the world.  The plan belongs to the State Game Department, whare now starting the program of raising steelhead in their 27 acre rearing pond across the river at Rockport in what is known as “Barnaby’s Slough”.  The slough is stream fed with good water and has been cleared, diked and equipped with a releasing trap for permitting the mature fish in migrate naturally into the Skagit River.  . . .  In addition to the Barnaby fish plant a summer run will be started from Lake Shannon.  The first plant of summer run steelhead was of 60,000 fry.  Another 100,000 will be planted in hopes of assuring a continuing steelhead run from this spawning area.

Steelhead Fish Issue


It appears that at least 400,000 steelhead were put into the Skagit River system in just one year.


old gorge dam site disappears from site as new skagit lake builds up behind growing high dam

Only the tops of the sluice gate towers of the old Gorge Diversion Dam remain visible as the waters continue to rise behind Seattle City Light’s new high Gorge Dam.  The crest of the concrete spillway of the diversion dam was about 35 feet under water at the time the accompanying picture was taken.  It will be about 100 feet under water when the reservoir behind the high dam is filled. 

Gorge Dam


steelheading on skagit best in state last season

Steelhead fishing is definitely on the upturn last season and figures to date from the punch cards show that 148,281 fish were caught in the winter season. This is 21,751 more steelhead taken than in the previous season. This was tempered a bit by the fact that 3,417 more punchcards were issued last year but still shows an increase in the steelhead runs.  The Skagit River again topped all rivers in the state with 18,568 fish counted. The Green river was next with 11,774 and the Cowlitzs third with 11,075. The previous winter season on the Skagit netted fishermen 14,803 fish. The Green was listed with 9.914 and the Humptulips third with 8,601.

Steelhead Fish Issue


18,568 fish caught.


county backs jackman creek project

            A flood control project set up for Jackman Creek, which has been awaiting a sponsor before the U.S. Army Engineers and the federal government would take action, finally found one this week in Skagit County. The commissioners have agreed to set in the case, and to take over the maintenance of the project after the work is done.             Jackman Creek due to erosion of a gravel bank a short distance upstream from the state highway and the G. N. railway bridge, has jumped its banks a few times the past few years, causing damage to nearby property, but threatening much more serious damage in the future to highway bridges and private property unless some control work is undertaken.  The county had balked at taking sponsorship of the project due to the fact that no county roads or property is involved and that the sponsor is to accept future responsibility for the control of the stream in flood times.  The federal government has set up a $30,000 project for the repair of the stream bed, and a contract has now been let for the work.  The county will have to secure the ownership or right of way.

Jackman Creek Project


And from this day forward the County taxpayers have been paying for this project.


Results Show Scattered Vote On Dike Issues

Results from 18 of the 24 diking and drainage district commissioner elections held Tuesday had been turned in to the office of Skagit County Auditor Al Johnson by this morning.  Light voting was the rule in all but one of the districts – Diking District One, where 121 voters turned out.  In other districts not more than 30 persons voted in each, and the average was nearer 15.  In Diking District One, there was no apparent reason for the heavy vote.  Mrs. Howard Persons, an election judge, thought a “get-out-the-vote” campaign might have been responsible.

Dike District Elections



Voter turnout very light except in Dike District #1.


Open Skagit To Navigation Being Pushed

The Waterways Association meeting in Portland Nov. 21 and 22, passed the Skagit resolution along with 31 other resolutions backing various waterways proposals, mainly on the Columbia River.  . . .  “The Skagit Valley already has exceptional natural advantages that favor economic growth.”  U.S. Army Engineers would make the river study, determining if navigation would justify its cost, explained Magnuson.  A report on the study would be submitted to Congress “at the earliest possible date,” he continued.  Brief initial studies have indicated navigation on the Skagit will show economic justification, engineering soundness and relatively minor dredging costs, Magnuson recalled.

Navigation Project for Skagit River Proposed


River Dredging Backed

Funds to study dredging of the Skagit river from the Sound to Concrete, for navigation, may be asked of the next Congress, Senator Warren Magnuson has advised Leo Sullivan, chairman of the Mt. Vernon chamber of commerce industrial committee.  . . .  The project, said Sullivan, “has hearty endorsement from 36 business firms and chambers of commerce in the area,’ as well as the waterways association.  . . .  He said brief initial studies have indicated economic justification for the project could be shown and it would be engineering-wise sound.

Dredging Study


This was actually done and the study was published 1/18/63 as FEASIBILITY REPORT, SKAGIT RIVER (Dredging barge channel), Col. Ernst Perry, Corps of Engineers


Survey Funds Sought For Dredging Skagit

            Funds for complete study of the feasibility of dredging the Skagit River will be asked at the next session of Congress.  Such a study would be made by the Army Corps of Engineers to appraise the economic benefits and estimate federal costs entailed in dredging the existing course and channel of the river for shallow barge transportation. 


River was to be dredged from Concrete to Fir Island.  This was actually done and the study was published 1/18/63 as FEASIBILITY REPORT, SKAGIT RIVER (Dredging barge channel), Col. Ernst Perry, Corps of Engineers


Indians’ Fish Test In Court

Trial of a minor criminal case – of major importance to Northwest Washington Indians – started in Skagit County Superior Court at 9:30 a.m. today. More than 100 persons, a majority Indians, were present in Judge Charles F. Stafford’s courtroom. Only one Swinomish Indian, Joe McCoy, is on trial, but the outcome of the case will affect fishing rights of all Washington Indians west of the Cascades and north of the Duwamish River. McCoy is charged by State with catching salmon during a closed season near the mouth of the Skagit River. THE STATE alleges Indians have unrestricted fishing rights on, but not off, their reservations. . . .  The State, represented by County Prosecutor Walter J. Deierlein Jr., says the 1855 treaty, and another augmenting it in 1873, does not put the boundary out into the Skagit River channel. DEFENSE COUNSEL, Harwood Bannister, however, said he would show that the reservation reaches out into the channel. . . .  The State is pressing this case because the rights of all fishermen, whites or Indians, sports or commercial, are involved, the prosecutor said. (MILO MOORE, State Fisheries director, has said the State mist be able to regulate the taking of salmon headed into rivers in order to halt the decrease in salmon runs.)

Fish Issue

A Prelude To The Boldt Decision



Battle Lines Drawn In Fish Test

Fishing closures are a necessity to the conservation of salmon in Washington, top officials of the State Fisheries Department testified in the Indian fishing rights test case yesterday afternoon. Testifying, for the State, were Milo Moore, director, and Edward Mains, research division supervisor. On trial in Skagit County Superior Court is Joe McCoy, Swinomish Indian. Arrested near the mouth of the Skagit River’s North Fork, he is charged with salmon fishing in a closed season. Moore, who said he previously lived along the Skagit about 40 years, said he feels the only way salmon fishing could be effectively “rehabilitated” would be a halt to all salmon fishing for two full salmon life cycles. In lieu of such a drastic measure, he pointed out, temporary fishing closures at certain times are a must. REGULATION OF fishing at certain places, particularly near river mouths and immediately below falls and dams – places fish congregate – is a necessary tool in the conservation of salmon runs, Mains said. . . .  “A few individual fishermen unregulated on the Skagit could definetly destroy its salmon runs,” he emphasized. “By gill net they could take up to 98 per cent of a run.”

Fish Issue


The only way salmon fishing could be effectively “rehabilitated” would be a halt to all salmon fishing for two full salmon life cycles.


“By gill net they could take up to 98 per cent of a run.”


U.S. Engineers to Advise During Floods

The US Engineer Corps has assigned Frank B. Metzger and two aids to come to Skagit  county in event of a flood and give advisory, or more direct, assistance . . . Because the county is more self-reliant in time of flood emergency, with its county and dike district personnel and staffs, the army engineers sent here will sit in only in an advisory capacity unless and until the flood situation becomes so critical that local authorities formally ask them to take chare, Metzger said.



Corps to be advisory during times of flood events.


dedication of gorge high dam of many years of construction on upper skagit

Formal dedication ceremonies at the new Gorge High Dam, above Newhalem on the Skagit River, was held last Friday afternoon with two bus loads of dignitaries and guests making the trip from Seattle, and many others also present from the Skagit projects.  Guests included Mayor Gordon Clinton of Seattle; members of the Seattle city council and other officials; Dr. Wm. A. Pearl, Administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration; Henry Heckendorn of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce; City Light officials; newspaper and television men from Seattle and from Skagit and Whatcom County.  . . .  The Gorge plant was the first of the three Skagit plants built by the City of Seattle and was started in 1919.  The first generator was started by President Coolidge in September of 1924.  A second generator was installed later the same year and a third in 1929, giving the plant a capacity of 60,000 kw.

Gorge Dam

Started in 1919 as a diversion dam.  Produced power in 1924.




Valley Gets Head Start On High Water

By early evening, four members of a flood-fighting team dispatched by the United States Army Corps of Engineers had established themselves at a headquarters in the Courthouse at Mount Vernon.  . . .  Fred Metzger, of Seattle, a spokesman for the Engineers’ flood team, said he expected the Skagit River to crest in Mount Vernon at 24 feet about 8 p.m. today.  . . .  At 1 p.m., when flood readings began, the river stood in Concrete at 26.85 feet.  At 6:30 p.m., the Concrete reading was 28.09 feet.  Then at 7 o’clock last night, three gates at Baker Dam, normally closed from Friday evening through Sunday evening, were opened.  Engineers at the dam immediately forecast a normal river rise of half a foot.  Then half a foot and additional water created by downpours of rain in the upper Valley served to increase the river’s level to 29.27 feet by 8:30 last night.  Early this morning, at 12:30 a.m., the Skagit County Sheriff’s office reported the Skagit at Concrete had hit 30.08 feet – less than three feet below its predicted 6 a.m. crest of 33 feet.  . . .  Mount Vernon itself apparently faces no imminent flood threat, Metzger indicated.  He said normal flood stage in the area along the city’s dike is 28 feet.


USGS 30.61, 79,000 cfs Concrete, 29.40, 76,000 cfs Mt. Vernon



Baker Dam Opened During Flood




Normal flood stage in Mt. Vernon 28 feet?


Skagit Harbor, River Projects In New Budget

Skagit Valley rivers and harbors are included in the outlay of funds sought in President Eisenhower’s fiscal 1962 budget.  Second District Congressman Jack Westland told the Herald last night.  . . .  Swinomish Channel, operation and maintenance, $125,000.  Skagit River, navigation project, general investigation, $9,400.

Navigation Project Study $9,400


Road Flooded

As the Skagit River crested late yesterday afternoon, a sheet of water swirled across Francis Road just north of its intersection with Lindgren Road and isolated much of the Nookachamps Valley.  Several hundred acres of low-lying pastures and other farm land in the area was inundated.  A group of chorus spectators can be seen watching the water pour east across the road.  The camera is looking north.


Picture of Nookachamps Flooding


Higher Dikes Plan Hit by Flood Group

The Skagit County Flood Control Council is definitely opposed to building dikes any higher along the Skagit River, Lloyd Johnson, county flood control coordinator, said today that the group feels such action, because of the built up underlayments of sand, logs and general debris, would only mislead public trust and possibly end in a major break-through by the river at a weak point.  Following the council’s planning session at the courthouse yesterday, Johnson said the organization will not endorse any one of the particular flood control plans, but will vigorously oppose the higher dikes thinking.  . . .  Johnson said that the Faber Dam proposal is recognized as an ideal solution to the flood control problem.  However, such an undertaking would require from 300 to 400 million dollars, and the complete cooperation of people in the affected upriver area, and the sanction of the state fisheries department.  . . .  Another plan that warrants strong consideration is the proposed spillway near Avon to the bay.  Johnson said that such a channel would completely eliminated flood dangers from Sedro-Woolley south.  Above that point, he felt the condition could be controlled with dikes.  The county flood control coordinator pointed out that the threat of floods is hampering the Valley’s economic growth.  He said that it has been indicated that several large businesses have rejected sites here because of the danger.  Johnson said that the Riverside Bend area which has been zoned for commercial development is very poorly protected against rising waters because the dikes are as high as practical on such shifty underfooting.

Higher Levees Opposed


Higher levees would lead to a false sense of security.




Endorsed Faber Dam proposal and Avon By-Pass.




Riverside Bend area very poorly protected against floods.


Legislator Backs Upriver Dredging

State Senator Fred J. Martin today disclosed he has written a letter supporting the dredging of the Skagit River as far east as Concrete to permit the stream’s use by shallow draft vessels and barges.  . . .  IN HIS letter, Sen. Martin listed five reasons for his support of the dredging proposal.  They are as follows: 1. Dredging will “substantially lower the cost of transporting cement from the plant at Concrete to market and enable it to better compete with other plants more centrally located and will perhaps insure that the Lone Star Cement Plant at Concrete can operate full time, which it is unable to do at the present time because of the handicap of high freight rates.”  2. Dredging will “make feasible and profitable the transportation of lime rock from the large deposits in the Upper Skagit Valley to various other cement plants in the state.”  3. “It will make profitable the mining and transportation of marble, silca, talc, olivine and other non-metallic ores of which there are large deposits in the Upper Skagit Valley.”  4. “It will lower the cost of transporting alder, cottonwood, maple and other pulpwood varieties from the Upper Skagit Valley to markets.”  5. “The dredging of the Skagit River channel would have immense value for flood control as it would greatly reduce stream-bank erosion above Sedro-Woolley and thereby substantially reduce siltation of the river bed from Sedro-Woolley to its mouth.”

Dredging Proposal Supported



“The dredging of the Skagit River channel would have immense value for flood control as it would greatly reduce stream-bank erosion above Sedro-Woolley and thereby substantially reduce siltation of the river bed from Sedro-Woolley to its mouth.”


Martin Cites Reasons for Skagit Dredging to U.S. Congressmen

            Additional support for dredging the Skagit River east to Concrete to facilitate shallow barge transportation has been voiced by Senator Fred Martin.  . . .  The Senator’s letters follows:

“I believe that a proposal has been made to you that the Skagit River be dredged as far as Concrete, Washington, to permit the use of shallow draft vessels and barges.  This proposal has a great deal of merit for many reasons which I list as follows:  “It will substantially lower the cost of transporting cement from the plant at Concrete to market . . . “It will also make feasible and profitable the transportation of lime rock . . . “It will make profitable the mining the transportation of marble, silica, tale, olivine and other non-metallic ores . . . “It will lower the cost of transporting alder, cottonwood, maple and other pulp wood varieties . . . “The dredging of the Skagit River channel would have immense value for flood control as it would greatly reduce stream bank erosion above Sedro-Woolley thereby substantially reduce siltation of the river bed from Sedro-Woolley to its mouth.




Help the mining, timber and cement companies make money.






Stop erosion of river banks.




baker lake level takes up bulk of flood water


The 9.6 inch rainfall on the Baker district on January 14-15 resulted in a seven-foot rise in the water level behind the Upper Baker Dam.  The dam held back about 9.7 billion gallons of water, helping to avert a flood on the Skagit River.  Records show that during the week ending January 20th the run off raised the Upper Baker reservoir 16 feet and the Lower Baker three feet containing a total of about 67,000 acre feet.  The total storage of the two is equivalent to 34,000,000 kwh.

Upper and Lower Baker Dam


January 16, 1961 Flood Event


USGS Concrete 79,000 cfs 30.61; Mt Vernon 76,000 cfs 29.40.  9½ inches of rain in less then 48 hours.  Lower Baker provided at least 3 feet of flood storage


flood control hearing develops little demand in faber high dam

The large courtroom in the courthouse at Mount Vernon was filled to capacity yesterday morning as Col. R. P. Young, District Army Engineer, opened what was to have been an all-day hearing on flood control problems of the Skagit River.  At the last moment, however, the Colonel decided to cut off hearing those present at noon.  . . .  During the morning session only one speaker, representing a diking district, favored the Faber dam as the only solution.  Speakers against the dam included the state game department, fisheries department and commercial fishermen.  Also a number of speakers from the upper valley.  A short but vehement telegram from Senator Fred Martin calling a dam at Faber ridiculous.  Most of the testimony heard was on need for better diking in the lower valley and projects to dredge the river on the lower reaches to give the water a better flow.  . . .  The 1951 estimate on a 300 foot dam at Faber was $218 million, including only $2 million for land purchase.  At this height the dam would back water to Darrington and cover approximately 35,000 acres.  Land in the lower valley considered threatened by floods was estimated at about 60,000 acres.  Thus the cost of building the dam would far outweigh the benefits gained.  On a per-basis the benefit cost ration is figured at 81 or a loss of about $2.5 million per year.  The upper Sauk dam site listed on the report is 9 miles above Darrington and would cost about $48 million.  Here again the balance of benefit makes the dam impractical.

Faber, Sauk, Cascade Dams


Dams not feasible due to cost and environmental impacts.


“In view of the costs and distinct lack of profitable operation, it is not expected that any immediate move will be made to use any of the dam sites in the present flood control program.  It would seem from listening in at the hearing that the concentration will be on diking, dredging and possibly a secondary channel for the river in the lower valley.”




The fuss over Faber dam, we predict, will quickly subside under the light of thought and close scrutiny of the basic facts.  Unfortunately it is down on paper in a government report and will be raised from the file cabinet each time someone asks for a study of the river for many years to come.  We were glad there was a prompt response in the upper valley when the subject appeared in print, but we must admit we were also shocked by the number who believed that our upper valley would be of more benefit to the county under water.  But, as one man put it after a quick study of the original report, “None of us knew what we were talking about.”  The report does not favor a dam at Faber, or Cascade, or Sauk.  It merely states that the sites are there and what would be required to develop them.  The findings on the latter showed none of the projects as sound investments, and most of them as huge debit items unfeasible except in dire emergency or sudden unlimited wealth.  There are more sound and economical ways to end the periodic threat of floods in the lower valley.  The thing is, don’t relax your vigilance in warding off danger to your valley and your homes.  Someone is always ready to offer someone else as a sacrifice.  Until we have more voters than the lower valley, we are expendable.

Charles Dwelley on Faber Dam


Editorial--Our Greatest Asset Needs A Push!

            Recently it was announced that money had been appropriated in Congress for a survey of the Skagit river by Army engineers.  Purpose of the study would be to determine the feasibility of dredging the stream for shallow barge transportation.  To many people the full import of this project may be lost in the present day era when government survey funds are allocated for a multitude of programs ranging from rehabilitating the gooney bird to effecting world-wide birth control.  It should be pointed out, however, that the proposed dredging of the Skagit is not just another crackpot scheme or a ridiculous proposal fostered by dreamers.  On the contrary, the possibility of opening the Skagit for limited navigation is most real, the need most pressing, the potential most exciting and the impact on the economy of this region most promising.  . . .  In the vast regions of its headwaters lie timber, minerals and rock deposits, many of them virgin assets that call for dependable, economical transportation to market before they can be put to use.  . . .  Unlimited deposits of some of the finest limestone rock to be found anywhere in the world are located nearby.  . . .  Transportation by river barge would cut deposit-to-plant costs and mean more business and jobs for Skagit county.  Limestone is but one of the many raw materials that might find its way down the river once the stream was deepened for navigation.  Added flood control and soil conservation could be considered bonus benefits that would automatically ensue.







Help the mining, timber and cement companies make money.




Flood control would be a bonus factor.



Our River:  Keep Navigable!

The Mt. Vernon city council is going to guard the “navigable” status of the Skagit river.  . . .  Councilman James Kean brought up the question after Mayor Don Lindbloom had read the letter, drafted by the county engineer’s office, in which the city would sign in requesting that the old Riverside bridge be declared a fixed span.  On first reading, nearly everyone thought the letter also was asking the engineers to declare the Skagit river to be non-navigable.  But after considerable discussion and careful rereading of the letter, it was concluded the engineers were being invited only to declare the river “non-navigable” for vessels too big to pass under the Riverside and the Great Northern Railway bridges in closed position. 


River declared non-navigable (to big ships).


Left and Right: Seattle Needn’t Worry, Skagit Valley Still Remains On Map

Seattleites may be surprised to learn that Mount Vernon hasn’t yet been washed away . . . a Seattle radio station carried the report over the weekend that the Skagit River was due to crest at 20 feet in Mount Vernon and that flood stage was only 21 feet . . . the report was attributed to the river forecasting division of the Army Corps of Engineers, which either was having a bad weekend on the job . . . flood stage in Mount Vernon is 27 feet . . . and if the river is going to flood, it’s always heartening to realize that all the disc jockeys in Seattle will know it long before the residents do.

Flood Stage at Mt. Vernon


Flood stage 21 feet or 27 feet?


Skagit Bridge Contention Bone In State’s Teeth

The owners of five movable bridges across the Skagit River want to cross them when they come to them.  That’s why the State Highway Commission, Skagit County, the Great Northern Railway and Northern Pacific Railway have asked the Army Engineers for permission to lock the bridges permanently in place.  THE APPLICATIONS were based on the fact that no commercial ships now operate on the river which cannot pass under the spans while they are closed.  In Mount Vernon opposition is shaping up to protest the fixing of the spans.  Members of the industrial development committee and the Chamber of Commerce are actively seeking to navigatable [navigable] depths for commercial vessels, in an effort to further open up the eastern section of the county.  NONE OF the bridges have been opened since 1959.  Two of them haven’t budged for 14 years.  The two Highway Department bridges are in the Mount Vernon area, the Great Northern bridge is near Mount Vernon, the Northern Pacific bridge near Sedro-Woolley, and the Skagit County bridge at Fir.

Railroads Want To “Lock” Moveable Bridges


None of the bridges had been opened since 1959.  Two of them hadn’t been opened for 14 years.


Army Engineers reply to writer

Geasey disputed the report and noted that the rivers flood stage at Mt Vernon actually is 27 feet.  The Army replied today that 21 feet is decidedly a flood stage for the river at their gauge in Mt. Vernon.  They explained the USGS operates another gauge upstream one mile where the zero damage point or crest is 27 feet.  . . . To avoid confusion residents may note that 21 feet on the gauge at Skagit River at Mt Vernon means zero damage, but anything above 21 results in some flood damage.

Difference Between USGS gage and Corps Gage



            The new Baker Lake, promised to be unspoiled and even improved by the new dam, is in danger of becoming a public disgrace. We speak of the driftwood now making the water hazardous to boats and a menace to its usefulness to the public. According to the agreements, the power company is to see that no such condition is allowed to exist. So far they have had a perfunctory contract for sweeping the main debris, but since have ignored sensible suggestions of burning the drift as it please along the shores and low water periods. The lake is now high and the accumulation is at the mercy of the winds. It has been just a year since completion of the dam. We’d hate to see this beautiful lake go the way of Lake Shannon – one reason for all the pre-construction clearing and sweeping agreements. Apparently the public is going to have to get good and mad. Our suggestion is that they do it now, rather than complain periodically over a 30-year period with no results as in the lower lake. The Forest Service has not released the company from their commitments. What is occurring is just plain lack of active compliance. Besides the bad effect on visitors to the lake, condition of the water may cancel Cascade Days plans for boat races. A few well-placed letters might build the necessary fires needed to get immediate action. Delay can mean a long time grind.  * * * 

            The curse of money is a national problem.  The poor are cursed by lack of it, the rich by too much of it, the government by the power of it, the world by our careless use of it.

Charles Dwelley on Baker Lake and The Curse of Money


The Army way is still wrong way

Today, on a whim the Herald began checking gauges.  The Moose Hall gauge showed clearly that flooding would not begin until the water level reached 27 feet.  A query at the County Engineers office disclosed that this is the correct gauge.  County Engineer Frank Gilkey said, “I can’t understand what all the controversy is about.  Normal flooding does not begin in Mt. Vernon until 27 feet.

Gage Argument Continues


Nookachamps an overflow basin.


Volunteers Installing River Gauge for Fisherman

. . . The big black numbers on a white background will be set in place to match the US Engineers gauge located on a piling behind the Moose Hall.  The fishermen’s boatmen’s-river gauge will start at 5 feet, run up to 28 feet, with every fifth foot against a yellow background, and “21”, the engineers official flood stage set against slanting orange lines.  . . .  “Local residents may note that 21 feet on the gauge at Skagit river in Mt. Vernon means zero damage, but anything above 21 results in some flood damage.  Residents would be living with a false sense of security if they believed 27 feet meant zero damage—for a stage of 27 feet on the Moose Hall gauge used by the Corps of Engineers and Skagit county personnel concerned with flood situations, would result in severe flooding and a critical situation in the lower Skagit river.” (Ed.—The zero damage point at 27 feet sometimes heard of is on another gauge, maintained by the US Geological Survey a mile above Mt. Vernon.

And A Historical Note—Last major flood crested at 28.2 feet Feb 2, 1951.  Main street was sandbagged when the water came within six inches of spilling over into the downtown area.  . . .  Two years earlier, in November, 1949, the river surged up to 26.05 feet, gave the valley its first real flood scare in many years.

Mt. Vernon River Gage







1951—USGS—36.85—Moose Hall—28.2


1949—USGS—34.2—Moose Hall—26.05


NOTE:  Is this due to an 8 ft fall in elevation or different datum?  If the answer is elevation we could now determine at about what level the river was during 1917, 1921 floods when levees broke which would be about 31 feet.


power production

Puget Sound Power and Light’s 285 foot Lower Baker River Dam near Concrete has been in operation since 1924, when it was the seventh highest dam in the country.  . . .  Puget Power officials say the Baker River is the first major river in the state to have its water resources comprehensively developed for multiple use of power, flood control, domestic and industrial water supply, fish preservation, and recreation.  Lake Shannon is formed by the dam and is nine and one-half miles long.

Lower Baker Dam Picture


In 1961 flood control provided by Upper Baker only was minimal. 


skagit river still tops for steelhead fishing

            The Skagit River still fed all streams in the state for steelhead last season.  Although the catch for the entire state showed a decrease of 21 per cent from the 1959-60 season, a total of 117,750 fish were reported through the punch card returns.  The Skagit River produced 12,566 steelhead, according to the figures reported back by the sportsmen.  Next highest stream was the Green River, which had a total of 8,448.  Last season the Skagit showed a total of 18,568 fish caught.

Steelhead Fish Issue


12,566 fish caught.  18,568 the year before.



            Along the Skagit River in these parts, there is a comic opera feud raging between the ‘revenooers’ and the ‘natives’ over salmon fishing.  Local fishermen contend that they are being discriminated against by being denied the right to catch a salmon at their door step on hook and line, while at the entrance of the river commercial fishermen catch more in a single night than all the fishermen up here would catch in a whole season.  On the other hand the fisheries men feel that a salmon feel that a salmon who has escaped the nets and the lures of down-river should be home free when they reach here.  There is also a difference of opinion on whether or not it is legal to play a salmon on sports tackle if it is turned loose without being harmed.  Big fines are sought for law-breakers over the loud protest of those who are hauled into court.  The result is a break-down in respect for law on one side and sportsmen on the other.  It seems to us that the situation calls for a sensible get together at a public meeting where all angles can be discussed and a compromise reached that will give local anglers some fishing and still keep the fisheries men happy.  To continue the feud merely widens the gap of discontent over a bad law.  And bad laws are those that can not be enforced with fairness.

Charles Dwelley on Fishing and Bad Laws


Old Log Jam Dike Rebuilt

Nearing completion this week is a mile and a quarter of bank protection and dike bolstering that should mean “we won’t ever have to worry” about a flood, to quote one commissioner of Dike District No. 1 . . .  The extensive project extends from Edgewater park in West Mt Vernon to Penn road.  . . .  The downstream half of the improvement is at a sharp bend in the river, site of the tremendous log jam that kept the stream impassable for years after the settling of Mt. Vernon.  The jam was removed by blasting and much hand labor.   . . .  To Commissioner Helde, dike work and concern about the river are remembered back to his childhood, including the big floods of 1909 and 1917.  At his parents home, next to his own on Jungquist road, he recalls watching flood waters creep upward “one step away from being in the house.”

Dike 1 never has to worry about floods.


Site of old log jam.



Jam removed by blasting.


NOTE:  If we could find Helde residence on Jungquist Road we could determine how deep the flood waters were in 1909 and 1917.


Salmon run record seen

A record breaking silver salmon run is in the making on the Skagit River with 11,434 silvers counted at the Lower Baker Dam to date this year.  In the record year of 1935, only 4,307 silvers had been counted on this same date, and a total of 19,000 were counted for the entire season.  . . .  Sockeyes, 450 slightly below average.  Puget Sound Power has maintained fish count records since 1929.

Fish Issue

Record year for silvers. 


rockport bridge dedication at 2:00 saturday

All roads will lead to Rockport this coming Saturday, as that little community plays host to the entire county, and as many from outside as want to come, at the dedication of the new Rockport bridge.  When the ribbon is cut following the ceremonies at 2:00 P.M., the Rockport ferry, which has provided transportation across the river since 1903, will no longer be needed.  The people at Rockport feel this calls for a celebration and they intend to provide one.  The opening of traffic across the bridge ends an era that once saw eighteen current-operated ferries in operation on the Skagit River.  There were crossings at Skagit City, Burlington, Mount Vernon, Sedro-Woolley, Skiyou, Lyman, Day Creek, Hamilton, Birdsview, Pressentin, … Concrete, East Concrete, Van Horn, Faber, Sauk City, Rockport, O’Brien’s and Marblemount.  County Engineer Frank Gilkey once estimated that to maintain those same ferries today would cost the county at least a quarter of a million dollars a year.  The new Rockport bridge contract was let for $258,433.00 to Croy Construction Co., just a little above what could been a year’s ferry costs. 

Rockport Bridge

Skagit Ferry

“Actually the first ferry in operation at Rockport was built in 1903 by Ed Carniele, valley carpenter.  It was first used to bring children across the river to school and was operated by Skagit Bill Pressentin.  After the ferry had proved it’s value, the county aided in the operation by paying the magnificent salary of $12 a month to the operator.”



25 Year Flood Plan Said Favorable

A 25 year flood protection program for the Skagit Valley appears practical, through diking improvements, the Skagit County Flood Control council was told in Mt. Vernon.  Ray Scrinde, Stanwood Army Engineer reserve colonel reporting on progress of the engineers’ restudy of the Skagit, said a longer flood protection program, such as 50 to 100 years, would involve major works such as a bypass channel or a storage dam upstream.



25 year flood plan.


rancher jim ovenell tells historical society of early days on the skagit flats

            A good crowd turned out on Tuesday evening for the Skagit Historical meeting to hear Jim Ovenell tell of the early days as he remembered them.  He spoke briefly of his grandparents and of the trip his grandmother’s family made from Connecticut around the Horn to the west coast which took six months and ten days.  His grandfather came to Whidbey Island in 1858 from England.  Nelson Ovenell, Jim’s father, was born in 1861 on Whidbey and came with the family to Skagit County in 1866, settling on what was later known as the Downey farm.

Local Pioneer Tells of Family Journey


river makes 20 foot crest, begins to drop

The Skagit River, high and muddy almost a week as the result of heavy winter rains, crested last night in Mt. Vernon at 20 feet and began dropping.  . . .  Johnson said the Skagit River had crested at 25.7 feet at Concrete early yesterday.



forest service pleased with work of clearing ross lake, recently completed by city light

Satisfactory completion of the creation of Ross Lake, begun 25 years ago, was acknowledged this week by the United States Forest Service.  The announcement that the 24-mile-long lake behind Seattle City Light’s Ross Dam had met strict Forest Service requirements was made jointly by Mt. Baker National Forest Supervisor H.C. Chriswell and City Light superintendent Paul J. Raver.  “As a result of your cooperation we now have a 24-mile lake which helps produce electric power provides a beautiful recreational area with excellent sports fishing and also aids in controlling floods.  . . .  Raver explained that preliminary clearing began in 1937 with start of construction on the dam.  “The clearing operation began in earnest in 1943.  Logging was completed in 1955, and the clearing of debris was completed in 1961.  Cost of the clearing operation to City Light was over $3 million.”

Ross Dam


Preliminary clearing began in 1937 with start of construction on the dam.  “The clearing operation began in earnest in 1943.  Logging was completed in 1955, and the clearing of debris was completed in 1961. 


shredded gill net draped at city hall monday morning warns of battle over river fishing

It remained for colorful Concrete to provide the incident in the present controversy over Indians gill netting steelhead in the Skagit.  . . .  Game man. Ole Eide said at present there are eight Indians setting nets between Sedro-Woolley and Loretta Creek and that last week they landed 256 fish.  They are selling the fish for about 25¢ a pound.  Until the rights of the Indian to fish freely is changed by federal laws, Eide said nothing can be done to stop the netting.  . . .  The big complaint on the Skagit is that this year the steelhead run is 30 per cent above normal due to an extended planting program paid for by game fishing licenses, and there is a belief that the run can be killed completely in a few years if the river is fished commercially with nets.  In their visit here the Game Department officials warned the local sportsmen not to create an out-and-out war against the nets as evidenced by the city hall display, as this could only make negotiations more difficult.  They suggest that each sportsman contact his congressman to ask for immediate federal action to clear up the treaty rights for all time.

Tribal fishing controversy





Local residents believed Tribal fishermen could exterminate steelhead runs by using nets.


Fish Expert Testifies At Indian Trial

Testimony this morning in the trial of Indian fishermen Lawrence Joe and Raymond Boome was confined to the opinions of Edwards Maines, assistant director of Fisheries in the State of Washington.  . . .  He spent part of the morning giving a detailed accounting of the life cycle of the five types of salmon.  Indians claim that there are six types of salmon–classifying the steelhead as the sixth type rather than as a game fish.  . . .  Interrupts  . . .  When Deputy Prosecutor Paul N. Luvera Jr. asked Maines if he felt set nets should be prohibited in order to conserve salmon.  After lengthy arguments Maine was allowed to answer and said “Yes”.  He said that set nets lend themselves to such a variety of construction that it is conceivable that one could be built that would imperil the whole salmon run.

Fish Issue – Indian Trial


Nets in the river could imperil whole salmon runs.


Jury Given Fishermen’s Case Early

The trial of Lawrence Joe and Raymond Boome, who have been charged with violating state fishing regulations by fishing with a set net in the Skagit River, is being heard in Skagit Superior Court.  . . .  Defense attorney Malcolm McLeod, Seattle, called just four witnesses in the Indians’ defense.  He had indicated earlier that approximately 35 would be placed on the stand.  Request Denied  McLeod, known for his dogged determination that the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855 be interpreted in favor of Indians, asked the court to dismiss the charges against his clients on the basis of fishing rights granted them by the Treaty, but it was denied.  . . .  McLeod had Carl Boome, chief of the Upper Skagit Tribe, take the stand and testify that tribal members had always fished the Skagit form the Conway Bridge to the Diablo Dam.  . . .  Final Witness  Raymond Boome, the other defendant, said that the Gilligan Creek location where he was fishing with a set net when game protectors arrested him, is an usual and accustomed fishing place for Indians.  Taken in its broadest interpretation the Treaty states that Indians may fish in their usual and accustomed fishing grounds.  . . .  Second Surprise  This morning the second surprise came.  The state waived its right to rebuttal after the defense had finished presenting its witnesses, so steps were begun to instruct the jury on what it must consider in considering the evidence.  . . .  Each side had prepared instructions and Judge A. H. Ward had selected from each set [of] those instructions that he thought best fitted the circumstances. 

Fish Issue


Upper Skagit Chief testified his tribe had fished the River from Conway to Diablo.


Today Seattle City Light says no fish made it past Newhalem.  Could they be wrong or did the Chief not tell the truth?


Jury Says Fishermen Are Guilty

Two members of the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe were found guilty by a superior court jury Friday night of violating state game laws by net fishing for steelhead on the Skagit River. The two, Lawrence Joe and Raymond Boome, both of Sedro-Woolley, contended they held the right by treaty to fish in the river. . . .  The Chinook gillnet catch in the Skagit through July 20 was 4,500 fish, said Starlund, about the same as in the record low years of 1956 and 1957. He noted, however, that in those years there was no fishing during closed periods, permitting some fish to escape upstream to spawning grounds.

Fish Issue


Tribe members found guilty of netting steelhead.


Indians Ask Fish Rights Conference

A plea to Indian fisherman to observe state laws, made Friday by the director of the State Department of Fisheries, has brought immediate response from the Swinomish Tribe.  Speaking for the tribe, Tandy Wilbur replied to Director George Starlund’s plea today, and announced that the Indian fisherman have agreed to comply with the state request.  Starlund had asked in a telegram made public, that Indian fishermen comply with closed periods and help “provide seed for future runs”.  He said Indian gear has placed the 1962 run in great jeopardy.  Asks Meeting  Wilbur’s reply said that the Indians would like to meet with Starlund and his staff and work out a better understanding of their mutual problems.  “Indian fishermen are greatly outnumbered and so compelled to exercise their treaty fishing rights to gain a livelihood”, he said.  “They should be given exclusive fishing times and grounds.”  . . .  “Hungry People”  Commenting on the contents of the telegram the Swinomish are sending to Starlund, Wilbur said that tribal fishing grounds have been taken away by one means and another during the past 50 years.  “You are dealing with hungry people,” he said.  “Fishing is the Swinomish peoples’ only means of making a living.  They have no year around employment.  They were granted fishing rights and it would seem to me these concessions made in the Treaty should be honored by the white man.”  “The Swinomish are not fishing for selfish reasons.  They have gone into court and claimed fishing rights on the Skagit River because their old fishing grounds on the Swinomish Channel have been destroyed through the years,” Wilbur said.

Fish Issue


Tribes to comply with State law.



“Fishing is the Swinomish peoples’ only means of making a living.  They have no year around employment.  They were granted fishing rights and it would seem to me these concessions made in the Treaty should be honored by the white man.”


Fish ruling to go before state court

The case of Indian fisherman Joe McCoy will come before the State Supreme Court Nov. 19.  The nine man court announced yesterday that the decision of Skagit Superior Curt Judge Charles F. Stafford will be given a hearing in the state high court on that date.  . . .  The unrestricted right to fish is in the nature of a contractual right, reserved by treaty between the Indians and the United States government”, says Bannister.

Fish Issue


indians to police own fishing ban

Swinomish Tribe Indians announced yesterday that the tribe will begin policing its own fishermen and hand out stiff fines to any who fail to observe salmon conservation closures.  . . .  A spokesman for the tribe said, “The Swinomish Indians have agreed to voluntarily close all fisheries for a period of 48 hours during August 3rd and 4th.  However, we have mavericks among us the same as any other group.  We will operate our own patrols and catch the violators.”

Fish Issue


avon canal to control river level

A long-considered flood control project is undergoing new study in the Skagit Valley as probably the most practical means of curbing damage and offering a number of other advantages.  The project is the Avon By-Pass first authorized in 1936, frequently discussed since then and now revived by the Corps of Engineers as the most practicable solution to Skagit River Flood problems.  . . .  “For the 1951 flood the Bypass would have lowered flood stages three to five feet in the Skagit River and two to four feet in the North and South Forks of the Skagit River”, the Engineers noted.

Avon By-Pass


Cost of the By-Pass put at $19,000,000


Bypass Could Produce New Skagit Fish Runs—Start in 1964  Is Possibility

Development of new fish runs and of a several-mile length of excellent boating-swimming water are important by-products of the revived “Avon By-Pass” flood control plan for the Skagit valley that are being seriously studied.  . . .  “The experts say near-ideal conditions could be provided for natural fish propagation and it is possible completely new runs of fish could be produced.”  . . .  Johnson said it was possible the engineers could proceed with final design and construction as early as 1964.

Avon By-Pass


To start construction in 1964.


Revised Flood Plan Eyed

The Avon By-Pass…is being revised as a solution to flood control here by the Corps of Engineers. . . .  Proposed by the US Engineers in 1936, the original by-pass plan was dropped because of local costs involved and because of strong objections based on the farm lands it would have taken out of production and feared effects on adjoining lands.  Now the engineers propose a 340 instead of a 1600 foot wide channel.  . . .  About four million of the total nineteen million dollar estimated cost of the project would have to raised by the county…The by-pass plan would protect the valley from a “30-year” flood, the engineers believe.  . . .  The by-pass could have lowered the Skagit river flood stages three to five feet and the river level from two to four feet in the North and South forks in the 1951 flood, which broke dikes on Fir Island, at Conway, and lapped the top of dikes elsewhere up and down the river.

Avon By-Pass



30 year flood protection, 340 ft wide channel instead of 1600 ft channel.



Bypass would have lowered 1951 flood 3 to 5 feet.


Avon By-pass Pushed

            The Avon By-Pass has again been proposed to Skagit County by the Corps of Army Engineers as the most practical means of additional flood control.  Many miscellaneous other uses of this by-pass other than flood control are under study, such as fish farming, recreation, drainage, irrigation and water transportation.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife consider fish farming conditions in the upper part of the by-pass as very good and they are reporting as being enthusiastic about the prospects.  The Skagit River water temperatures are near ideal for fish farming.  Plans for swimming, boating and other recreation will be utilized to everyone’s advantage.

. . .       Flood damages for a flood larger than that of 1951 have been estimated at over six million dollars at today’s prices and with our present development.  . . .  The by-pass channel as authorized in 1936 contemplated a shallow channel approximately 1,600 feet wide.  The channel now proposed has been deepened and narrowed to a 340 foot bottom with 3 to 1 side slopes.  . . .  Protection for about a 10-year flood is provided by the present levee system.  With the by-pass constructed the area below the intake would have protection for about a 30-year flood.  For the 1951 flood the by-pass would have lowered flood stages 3 to 5 feet in the Skagit River and 2 to 4 feet in the North and South Forks of the Skagit River.  . . .  Consideration is being given to additional flood protection by upstream storage.  Complete protection from storage alone is not feasible because suitable storage sites are limited.  The best sites for multiple purpose storage have been developed for single purpose uses.










Flood damages over 6 million with present development.

340 feet wide vs 1,600 ft wide.



30 year flood protection



Dam storage.


ross dam was able to hold much flood water

City Light last week released a report of the work of the Skagit projects during the flood situation on November 19th.  Ross Dam was shut down from early Monday evening, Nov. 29th, at 9:30 p.m. and not reopened until 2:00 on Tuesday to hold back some of the abnormal river flow.  The power was replaced on an interchange basis from Bonneville and Pries Rapids dams which furnished 639,000 and 264,000 kw, respectively.  The Ross station showed a rainfall of 4.41 inches from 8:00 a.m. to midnight Monday.  The Dalles gauge registered a stream flow of 114,000 cfs per second from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Tuesday.  A flow of 90,000 cfs is the point at which Ross Powerhouse operators are alerted to flood control action.

Ross Dam and Rainfall

November 20, 1962 Flood Event


USGS Concrete 35.73 114,000 cfs; Mt. Vernon 30.44, 83,200 cfs.  4.41 inches of rain at Ross in 16 hours.


Ross was “shut down” for 16.5 hours.


Flood Study Boosted

For Skagit county civil works, the budget asks $120,000 for dredging the Swinomish channel and revetment repairs, and $70,000 for continuance of the Skagit flood survey.  . . .  “Apparently, the Corps has decided a point of no return has been reached,” Westland explained.  “Otherwise, the survey would have been discontinued.  Only the possibility of a favorable benefit-cost ratio would warrant expansion and continuance of the survey from the original $135,000 to $275,000 now.


More money to study the Skagit.

1/31/63 Argus

Flood By-Pass Route Revised—Project Given State Commissioners Backing

The Washington Association of County Commissioners and Engineers…passed a resolution requested by the Washington State Flood Control association asking the legislature and the state highway department to cooperate in the by-pass project.

. . .  The new route will follow the line between Drainage Dist. No. 19 and Dike and Drainage Dist No. 8



New route for by-pass.


flood ditch plan moves from avon

The Avon Bypass – a big ditch that is supposed to carry flood waters from the Skagit River to Padilla Bay – is no longer destined to be located at Avon.  Ray Skrinde of the Corps of Engineers told a gathering of county people yesterday that redesigning has placed the bypass nearer to Burlington, and extended its length to approximately 8 miles.  Compensating for the added length, however, is the fact that plans for the proposed ditch have narrowed it from 1,600 feet to 500 feet.  . . .  If the Avon Bypass is to be realized, it will require local financing of about $4 million and federal financing of $15 million.

Avon By-Pass


Intake moved from Avon to Burlington and reduced in width from 1,600 feet to 500 feet.


avon—Burlington bypass

Picture of new location of By-Pass


Skagit River By-pass Explained At Meeting

            The name of the water diversion channel is now a misnomer, but came about as a result of earlier plans for a similar plan to control the river during flood stages.  Under the previous plan the river would have been diverted at Avon and flood water taken by a shallow ditch 1,600 feet wide and dumped into Padilla Bay.  Recent plans call for changes in the intake location of the ditch and a width of only 340 at the bottom but deeper than originally proposed.  The intake of the channel has been relocated to utilize Gages Slough south of Burlington and follow the hillside north of the valley keeping to a minimum the amount of valuable farmland required.  Cost of the structure estimated at $19,000,000 with the Federal Government paying $15 million of the cost.  Average annual benefits from the project are said to be $1,000,000.  . . .  The plans call for levee extension and improvement west of Burlington.  . . .  Protection for about a 10-year flood is provided by the present levee system.  With the by-pass, the area below the intake would have protection for about a 30-year flood.  The Army Engineer said river flow up to 200,000 second feet of water could be controlled under the plan.




Intake relocated to utilize Gages Slough.






Cost $19,000,000, local cost $4,000,000.


Levees in Sterling.


Would control floods up to 200,000 cfs.


developers will support avon bypass

Members of the Skagit County Development Association last night went on record as favoring and supporting the proposed Avon Bypass. 

Avon By-Pass


avon bypass foes speak at hearing

Opponents of the Avon Bypass flood control plan last night expressed doubts the proposed project will offer a long-rang solution to the Skagit River’s major overflows.  . . .  Not all the 50 or more persons attending last night’s session were against the Bypass.  . . .  Several opponents leveled criticism and questions at Skrinde’s estimate that the Bypass will produce a million dollars in annual benefits for the Skagit Valley, largely by eliminating losses resulting from floods.  . . . Another opponent said Skagit River flood waters had actually made his farmland more productive.  . . .  Asked last night about a time-table for the project, Skrinde said the Army Engineers hope to start design work and detailed layouts for the Bypass by July 1, 1964.  . . .  Skrinde told his audience last night the Bypass probably will have to be used only once every five or ten years when a major flood threatens the Skagit Valley.

Avon By-Pass


One opponent termed a $19,000,000 insurance policy against floods foolhardy.


legislative study of avon bypass resolution okayed

A resolution calling for a legislative-interim study of the proposed Skagit River bypass at Avon has been passed by the State Senate, the 40th District delegation announced today.  Representatives Don Eldridge and Duane Berentson introduced the measure in the House and pushed it through to final passage.

State Legislature Approves of Avon Bypass


big river boats once were main skagit transportation – skagit river boats had mining heyday

Now that there is considerable talk being broadcast about the possibilities of the Skagit River being dredged and improved so as to again make it as navigable as it used to be for many years in the past, it might be worth while to give the people of today a summary of the business, and the boats, and activities that were everyday events on the river in the early 80’s and 90’s.  To begin with we will name the first stern wheel steam boats that started operating on the Skagit in the spring of 1880 in the freight and passenger business, which was brought on by the discovery of placer gold by Otto Klement, Jack (John) Rowley, Charles Pressentin St. and another man.  . . .  There was the Josephine, Chehalis, Fanny Lake Lily, Nellie, Glide, Lady of the Lake, all loaded trip after trip with passengers and freight bound for Ruby Creek.  A few boats made runs up as far as Durand’s Riffle, which is about one mile down river from Marblemount, but most got no further than the present site of Rockport, and some not that far.  . . .  The beginning of 1882 saw the finish of the gold stampede so many of the first boats named sought other runs and another crop of boats took over.  The Queen, Henry Bailey, Bob Irwin, Monte Christo, Indiana, Cascade, Mamie of Snohomish, The Skagit Chief, W.F. McDonald, Black Prince, and the T.C. Reed.  The T.C. Reed was the largest of the lot and Mamie of Snohomish was the midget, being only sixty-five feet long.  The Queen, Indiana, and Monte Christo served more years than any others except the Black Prince.  . . .  The Indiana was built, owned, and captained by John Hamilton, son of Wm. Hamilton, the founder of the Town of Hamilton.  . . .  The boats would land at any camp or any homesteaders place along the river.  From 1889 to 1903 there was little business for steamers on the river.  Then in 1904 there started up a little towing business with very small gas engine powered boats.  By 1906 there were larger and more powerful tug boats built and put on the river and the steamers, Black Prince, the W.F. McDonald and the F.C. Reed joined the fleet of gas powered tugs in developing the business of log-towing.  Then for 40 years the towing business continued.  Hundreds of million of board feet of logs were towed down the Skagit. 

Old Steamboats on the Skagit.


This wonderful piece of history documents the “paddle wheelers” or steamboats on the Skagit River.  The article goes on to discount the infamous “race between the boats” once glamorized by Corps of Engineer annual reports.


This article was authored by Otto K. von Pressentin.


Some of what is reported in this article is in direct conflict with early Corps of Engineers annual reports.  “By 1890 there were four steamboats plying the Skagit River waters.  They were the Henry Bailey 209 tons; W.F. Munro, 100 tons; Cascade, 63 tons; and the Indiana, 82 tons.  The first three ran from Seattle to Mt. Vernon.  The Indiana went from Mt. Vernon to Sauk City and was dubbed the “mail boat”.  (Source:  Report of E.H. Jefferson, Asst. Engineer in charge of the Skagit, Corps of Engineers, June 17, 1890)

The Corps reports document “log towing” in 1897.  ((Source:  Report of Capt. Harry Taylor,  Corps of Engineers, December 11, 1897)



avon bypass could be fishing paradise

The proposed Avon Bypass for Skagit River waters may well prove to be a trout fisherman’s paradise when it becomes a reality.  Recent discussions over recreational users of the proposed bypass have been focused on its development as a virtual eight mile lake containing an endless supply of trout….

Avon ByPass Fisherman’s Paradise


Channel to Concrete (Editorial)

A new campaign in the continuing war between conservationists and proponents of industrial development is threatening to break out on the Skagit River.  The focus of developing controversy is the proposed dredging of a 100-foot wide channel, six feet deep, to Concrete.  The channel would open the river to tug and barge traffic and connect valley towns to salt water.  With a stagnant economy, Skagit County sorely needs to strengthen existing payrolls and to develop new employment opportunities.  Initially the navigable channel would create new activity at Lone Star Cement Company’s upriver limestone quarry.  . . .  Alarmed that fish spawning grounds will be disturbed, the state Game and Fisheries Department has made an official protest, pointing out that roughly a third of Skagit River’s Chinook Salmon are spawned in the area of the proposed dredged channel.  . . .  We don’t pretend that a dredged channel will not have some small effect on fish spawning despite adequate safeguards.  There has to be a reasonable amount of compromise on the part of fish conservationists in order for Skagit County to enjoy vitally necessary economic growth.  The conflicts that may seem to exist can most certainly be resolved by calm and constructive approach to the problem by all concerned interests.

Editor Endorses Dredging Skagit


Dredging good for local economy.  Would have “small effect on fish spawning”.


Fisheries Study Promised by U.S. Engineers

As to flood control, Col. Garbacz pointed out that while the proposed Avon By-Pass would provide “partial protection,” the US Engineers felt this and existing levees would not give all the flood protection needed in the lower areas of the Skagit.  The “ultimate solution” he said, “is to provide some type of reservoir upstream from the lower valley areas.  Sauk Site Considered—Later in the interview the engineers spokesman said superficial examinations had been made on the Sauk river about seven miles upstream from the Skagit as a possible dam site.  He called it “premature to say that site is a good site.”  Dredging—The engineer did not duck the issue of potential damage to fish life from the proposed dredging of the Skagit channel between Mt. Vernon and Concrete for barge navigation.  Sports groups have voiced great concern that such channel work would ruin spawning grounds and wipe out steelhead and salmon runs in the river.  Fish Studies Promised--…”we are very much aware of the problem that dredging in that stretch of the river might cause to fishing” and promised that “we will have the fisheries experts of the state and federal agencies go into it a little bit later on.  . . .  Present thinking of the engineers is to have a river channel four to six feet deep and about 100 feet wide.  “Dredging alone doesn’t bother the run so much as it does the spawning of the sea-run fish.  This is the particular concern I think that the sportsmen out there have and so does the Corps.”

Fish Issue




Sauk River Dam







Fish Study Promised


Flood Project Study: Report due in fall

An early-fall target date has been set by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials for completion of reports to be presented to Congress on year-long study of the Avon Bypass flood control proposal.  . . .  Authorized In 1936  Johnson, working with the federal engineers as flood control coordinator for Skagit County, explained that the Avon Bypass project was first authorized by Congress in 1936.  It has been frequently discussed since that time and was revived in the spring of 1962 by the Corps of Army Engineers as the most practicable solution to Skagit River flood problems.  As outlined earlier by corps officials, the bypass would consist of a channel 340 feet wide at its bottom extending from the Skagit River to Padilla Bay.  From an intake structure south of Burlington, the proposed canal would run eight miles almost directly west to Padilla Bay.  Excess flood waters could be diverted into the channel during high water and emptied into the bay.  Cost $19 Million  . . .  Cost of the bypass has been estimated at $19 million.  Federal aid would provide about $15 million of this total, with local financing from Skagit County, the state, diking districts and possibly flood control zones financing right of way costs and construction of highway bridges made necessary by the project. 

Avon By-Pass Study



Cost 19 million dollars.


Cost Big Factor in Bypass Protests

Warren Good and Norman Dahlstedt, farmers and truckers, and Ray Billups, custom carpet expert who lives in the bypass area, presided at the head table…Dahlstedt said he and others seriously questioned whether the flood overflow channel proposal would give adequate protection and would justify its $19  million estimated cost.  He also said there was doubt that this would be found the final maximum cost by possibly many more millions of dollars.  . . .  Dahlstedt said the questions were whether “we can afford this” and whether “we want this or something else.”  . . .  Jim Hulbert, longtime LaConner farmer, said he had seen “water from Stanwood to Edison” and warned “you are going to have some more floods someday.”  The Avon bypass is “the only thing they have ever recommended,” Hulbert went on.  “It would be very foolish to laugh this off…to turn it down.”

Avon By-Pass Protest





Can we afford it?


swinomish close fish trap at state request

As soon as Starlund’s request was received Monday, Wilbur called a meeting of all Tribal Community officers to discuss it.  They immediately halted operation of the trial trap from Monday through Thursday this week and next.  In addition, individual gillnet fishermen who are tribal members agreed to halt fishing from Friday morning to Sunday night during the next two weeks.

Fish Issue


Tribe agrees to halt fishing on weekends.


Editorial: Avon By-Pass… Boon or Boondoggle?

From what we have seen and read, to date, we are unable to determine whether the misnamed Avon By-Pass would be a bonafide boon to our area or just another bureaucratic boondoggle. According to a recent release by Congressman Jack Westland the Corps is considering construction of the by-pass, strengthening of levees and building of a water storage facility as parts of a long-range flood control plan for the Skagit. The informational bulletin makes it plain that the bypass project itself is not intended to be up for discussion at the Nov. 22 hearing. A plan of “uniforming” the Skagit river levee system from Mount Vernon in combination with minor channel widening, and the addition of recreations and fisheries as added purposes to the Avon By-Pass will be the subjects that will be discussed, We do not know if this means the Corps has already been “sold” on the by-pass or not.

At any rate, we did not know the Corps was in the business of “selling” anything. We always thought their function was to take over when a need was expressed, justification determined, and funds provided. Maybe it wasn’t intended that way, but the informational bulletin mentioned above strikes us as a first class promotional piece as far as the recreation and fisheries aspects of the by-pass are concerned. We are presented with sketches of ducklings in the rushes, fishermen netting fish out of a boat, canoeing, bird and duck hunters prowling in the banks, beach balls and beach scenes, picnickers and even overnight campers in tents.  . . .  With the levee improvements cited, and the addition of the by-pass, the engineers say we would be able to control flows of up to 180,000 c.f.s. from Burlington downstream, and would increase the level of flood protection in presently diked areas to 30-year frequency. Under this plan, the river would carry 120,000 c.f.s. and the by-pass 60,000.  . . .  The fact remains, however, that the river has exceeded 180,000 c.f.s. five times in its recorded history – 185,000 in Nov. 1896, 190,000 in November 1897, 220,000 in November 1906, 195,000 in December 1917, and 210,000 in December 1921. We’re certainly no experts on rivers but it’s reasonable to presume these excessive flows could occur again under the right circumstances. If they did, we would all get our feet wet, by-pass or no by-pass.

On the other hand there have been no disastrous floods in the lower Skagit Valley since the completion of the Ross Dam in 1949. During flood periods, the Ross Plant has been shut down, sometimes entirely, to hold back the greatest possible amount of water. In 1949, 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 50,000 cubic feet of water was impounded every second. Although the dam was built primarily for power production, it had appreciably reduced the flood threat in the lower Skagit.  . . .  We are not convinced either that the by-pass would tend to impair the free flow of people and traffic across the valley. This barrier could work a hardship on business, industry and agriculture. From a strictly selfish viewpoint we can see the City of Burlington and surrounding area locked in by the river on one side and the artificial moat on the other. It would appear that the Burlington Cut-Off would be a more appropriate name for the project than the Avon By-Pass. Before this thing blossoms into reality sufficient thought should be given to the possible consequences.   



The Beginning of the End





Corps “selling” the concept.


















How Stewart’s figures impact flood control projects.




No disastrous floods since the building of Ross Dam.


hearing nov. 22 for Skagit uniform flood control plan

A plan for uniform flood control along the Skagit River south of Burlington will be the subject of a hearing Nov. 22 at the Elks Lodge in Mt. Vernon.  . . .  Spokesmen for the Corps of Engineers said the Avon Bypass is the subject of one of three separate studies now under way which are not of direct concern at the Nov. 22 hearing.  The other two are a study of Skagit River navigation from Concrete to the mouth and a study of upstream storage along the Sauk River and other tributaries.  . . .  Of major concern at the Nov 22 hearing will be plans to provide uniform levee protection along the Skagit from its mouth to Mt. Vernon; strengthening of the levee system, and widening of the channel at some points to remove restrictions.

New Plan For The Skagit


Dredge navigation channel, dam on the Sauk and uniform levees.


2 Flood Plans Held “Must”

…Primary subjects of Friday’s hearing are the Engineers plan to bolster dikes and widen channel of the river below Mt Vernon and their addition of recreational features to the revised Avon Bypass plan originally authorized by Congress in the 1930’s.  “We would not recommend the lower river work without the by-pass,” Robert Gedney, chief of basin planning branch, Seattle engineer district, told the special meeting group.  He explained that as now diked lands along the lower river have from two to seven year flood protection.  . . .  Also brought out at the meeting was that the State fisheries department within the last two months had asked the Engineers to consider use of part of the Avon bypass channel for migratory fish propagation.



Engineers Point To Beneficial Possibilities Of Avon Bypass

Highly favorable benefit-to-cost ratio for the Skagit River flood-control and Avon Bypass project is announced by Colonel Ernest L. Perry, Seattle Army District Engineer,  . . .  Under present conditions, the safe channel capacity of the Skagit River downstream from the proposed Bypass is only 90,000 to 120,000 cubic feet per second (c.f.s.). With the improvements on levees, a save capacity of 120,000 c.f.s. with 2 feet of freeboard would be obtained. All levees would be widened and strengthened to provide a minimum 12-foot top width. 



Safe channel capacity 90-120,000 cfs.  Would be raised to uniform 120,000 cfs.  Benefit to cost ratio 3.6 to 1 with recreation as added feature.



The state Supreme Court has given the state the right to restrict Indian net fishing, reversing a previous decision that treaty rights still held.  As always, past agreements have a way of becoming unworkable when carried beyond the era for which they were inscribed.  More and more the theory of law is “what is good for us now.”

Charles Dwelley on Fish Issue


State had right to restrict Indian fishing.


Mayor Backs Flood Control Plan

 -- Rescheduled U.S. Engineer Hearing Here Friday Given Letter

The city of Mount Vernon is on record with the U.S. Corps of Engineers as endorsing flood control plans recommended by the Engineers. . . .  The mayor said he had consulted with City Engr. Denny LeGro and written the approval letter prior to the original hearing date, Nov. 22, canceled by the President’s death.  The letter declares the Engineers’ proposals for levee and channel improvements “reasonable and practical, . . . assuming that the costs . . . are economically feasible and that suitable and equitable financial arrangements can be achieved . . .” . . .  “If we hadn’t had the dike break below us we’d have had it,” LeGro commented, as to the 1951 flood.  RECALLS 1951 FLOOD—             Mount Vernon residents clearly remember the date of Feb. 10, 1951.  The record book shows that on this date the Skagit river reached a flood flow peak of 150,000 c.f.s. (cubic feet per second).  But to Mount Vernon residents and the City of Mount Vernon’s officials, the peak flood flow of 150,000 cfs. was no immediate concern through that long night and the following early morning hours of the next day.  What our Mount Vernon officials do remember is that the Skagit river filled their banks completely in Mount Vernon and that the flood crest rose until the water level had completely covered our revetment area and was lapping at the gutter line of Main street at the Myrtle street intersection.  Another six or nine inches would have required sandbags to keep the Skagit river from spilling over into our downtown commercial area.  STORE OWNERS PREPARE—“The city of Mount Vernon, with full knowledge of what a flood flow of 150,000 cfs means to our city, hereby congratulates the Corps of Engineers for their comprehensive and forward-thinking flood prevention plan.  UPSTREAM STORAGE

--“And in conclusion, with the achievement of all the plans presently under consideration for flood control on the Skagit river, that the comprehensive development of upstream storages on the various tributaries of the Skagit river, can give our fertile valley a virtual freedom from the danger of floods – and possibly in our lifetime.







Dike break at Fir Island saved Mt. Vernon in 1951 flood.











Mt. Vernon congratulates Corps.






More dams would give freedom from flooding events.


Bypass Termed First Flood Control Step

The Avon Bypass is the “first essential step in obtaining flood control in the Skagit River Basin,” Col. Ernest L. Perry, district head of the United States Army Corps of Engineers told persons attending a public hearing today on flood control. . . .  DISTRICTS APPROVE Just prior to today’s hearing, the Skagit Valley Herald learned all seven Skagit Valley diking districts affected by the proposed levee improvement and channel widening program have generally approved. Confirmation came from George Dynes, president, Skagit County Flood Control Council. Dynes added that all 16 of the county’s diking districts, except one, generally favor the plan. The single exception objects to only some parts of it, he noted. . . .  Col. Perry told newsmen this morning the levee improvement project is linked to the proposed bypass in corps planning because the bypass strengthens and justifies the cost-benefit ratio of the levee job. Without the bypass as an adjunct, the levee system would lack sufficient “life expectancy” to warrant federal expenditures, he said.

Avon By-Pass


7 Dike Districts impacted approved plan.  One of the 16 Districts did not approve.  Testimony shows that this was Dike District 12.


Outline Flood Control Plans at MV Hearing

More than 300 persons turned out Friday for a hearing in Mount Vernon on flood control proposals affecting the Skagit River.  But most of them came to listen rather than to speak.  . . .  Army Engineers’ proposals for strengthening the existing levee system along the lower Skagit River met with practically no dissent from anybody who spoke Friday.  Objections were voiced however to both the proposed Avon Bypass and to recreational use of the bypass, whose major purpose will be to divert high water from the Skagit River.  . . .  Valley Divided  Friday’s testimony disclosed the Skagit Valley still is evidently divided in feeling over the Avon Bypass.  Much of the opposition to the bypass came Friday from the Burlington-Bay View area.  . . .  At the hearing’s outset, Hastings asked his Skagit listeners “do we continue ineffectual and inefficient methods . . . or improve our program?”  He said $3,660,000 had been spent so far in this century in the Skagit Valley on flood control measures.  He also reported the Skagit Valley is the biggest user of state flood control funds.  . . .  Support for levee improvements and recreational developments in the bypass came from the Skagit County Board of Commissioners, represented at heating by First District Commissioner Scott Richards.  Representatives of a number of central county diking and drainage districts also offered official support.  . . .  Recalls 1951 Flood  In a statement prepared by Mount Vernon Mayor Herman Hanson, that city’s engineer, C. D. LeGro, strongly supported the Corps’ proposals.  LeGro recalled the 1951 flood which almost swept into Mount Vernon’s downtown area.

300+ People Attend Flood Meeting


Speakers endorsed strengthening existing levee program but many spoke against Avon By-Pass.




Burlington and Bay-View residents opposed Avon By-Pass.


Over 3.5 million dollars had been spent in 64 years on flood control projects in Skagit County.


Avon Bypass is crux

The Avon Bypass is the focal point in the Corps of Engineers $30 million flood control plan for the Skagit River. The official attitude of the engineers is that improvements to the levees of the lower Skagit River would not be worth the estimated $7 million cost unless the $23 million bypass is built. . . .  A substantial number of Skagit County residents prefer, in fact, that the flood control program be restricted to levee improvements. On the other hand, the Avon Bypass is highly charged with controversy. It is an 8-mile lake that would run from Burlington to Padilla Bay at Bay View and would require extensive bridging where it cuts through state and county roads and highways. . . .  When engineering is sufficiently advanced that costs can be reasonably ascertained, the Skagit County Commissioners will be faced with attempting to raise an estimated $4 million that represents the portion of the costs of construction at this time thought to be Skagit County’s share.

Avon By-Pass


Local residents wanted levee improvements instead.


Fir Island Had Leap Year Flood

Saturday, Leap Year Day, occurring only every fourth year, but 32 years ago for the residents of Fir Island it rather passed by without much thought being given to the quadrennial significance of the date.  . . .  The Skagit River was on a flooding rampage and had not reached its peak in the early hours of Feb. 28th when, due to large rotted log under original dike, a breakthrough occurred on the west bank of the South Fork at the Iverson Farms and completely submerged hundreds of acres and caused much damage especially to properties of Iver Iverson and his son Phil Iverson.  Two breaks the year previously on west side of the island from Dry Slough branch had caused much damage and now this major one was to make it a day long remembered – 3 floods in 2 years.  . . .  However, this large volume of flow from river had the usual effect of lower pressure on other area dikes, such as the Conway District directly across stream, and possibly saved the day for their hard pressed levies.  . . .  This sudden and unexpected breakthrough of 32 years ago was at east side of Polson Road which today is highly considered a future location of a new highway to North Fork Bridge and LaConner with the new planned South Fork Bridge to occupy the exact site of the bursting levee of 1932.

1932 Leap Year Fir Island Flood Recalled


Fir Island…3 floods in 2 years.



The eventual role of the upper Skagit seems to be that of a recreation area.  At least in our time we see no huge developments in minerals, such as the crowd here in the 1890’s envisioned.  Someday, maybe, but not until there is a need greater than that now projected for folks with idle time on their hands.  Our highway over the mountain is going to swell traffic of those who come to see.  Most will want to come back again for a longer, closer look.  Our potential in parks and camp grounds is a long way from fulfillment.  The field of commercial food and lodging is almost untouched.  Encouragement of more and better roads, development of our forest camps, and some way to interest capital in investment in tourist facilities will be the booster activity needed in the next few years.

Charles Dwelley on Upriver Development as Recreational Area


rainmakers hope they have added to skagit

A six-month experiment designed to drench the Skagit Valley and make its river work harder will end this week.  It will be another six months before state officials know how much extra effort they got from the stream.  Stuart Shumway, weather-modification supervisor for the conservation department, has been in the Upper Skagit River basin since October, directing a dozen rain-making machines.  The rain makers are ground-based generators that spray silver iodide solution into passing storm clouds.  The silver-iodide particles have the effect of ice crystals, causing water vapor to gather around them and descend as rain.  “We hope we’ve increased the water runoff in the valley by 15 per cent,” Truman Price, conservation’s supervisor of power resources said yesterday.  “But we won’t know for certain until the runoff is finished next fall.”

Rain Makers


“Rain makers” were in operation from October 1963 until the end of April 1964.  During that time frame there were two recorded small flood events. 

10/22/63 – 73,800 cfs (29.8) Concrete

11/27/63 – 84,200 cfs (31.4) Concrete

No indication rain makers were responsible.


Cloud Seeding Worries ‘Hysteria’

 -- says State Aide’s Reply; Eldridge Says Letter Contradictory

            Effects and costs of a cloud seeding experiment the state conducted in the upper Skagit river basin this past winter still remained uncertain after State Rep. Don Eldridge this week had received a reply to an inquiry he made late in May. . . . “The choice of this (upper Skagit basin) area was assured only by the complete wilderness nature of the area to be affected,” Price explained.  “We were aware of the hysteria brought on by cloud seeding operations in western Washington and, even though we were secure in the belief that a project operated in the middle of Seattle would not endanger the public, we wanted to avoid the anxiety that is usually concomitant with the incomprehensible . . . It is simply ridiculous to expect the layman, or for that matter the expert, to observe merely the effect of cloud seeding without benefit of an appropriate sixth sense.  The fact that cloud seeding has been conducted throughout the world since its inception in 1946 without positive and irrefutable evidence of success attests to the difficulty of evaluation.” . . . “Nothing in this letter gives proof that the precipitation in the Skagit valley has not been in part due to this program,” Eldridge declared.




Cloud seeding blamed for extra precipitation.


flood waters held back for skagit

Ross dam spillways on upper Skagit river were dry Sunday, holding back water to level off late spring runoff for lower valley, when group of newspaper folk toured Seattle City Light’s project.  Joe DeLeon, City Light public relations director, above, told Mrs. Stephen Mergler of The Argus, and others, that water level behind this dam was about 40 feet below overflow point, to provide storage in case of heavy warm rains that could bring flood threat.  Excess water was being spilled from lower Diablo and Gorge dams as necessary to maintain the emergency storage in Ross lake, which extends north of Canadian border.



No flood event recorded for 1964 in USGS records.


protection from floods is seen in this scale model of project

Pictures of Proposed Avon By-Pass Plan


Black Prince Sailed Skagit

Through half a century has passed, nostalgic twinges grip the writer at times as he seems to hear the melodious whistle, faint and far away, of the old sternwheeler Black Prince as she boils up the Skagit with cool-headed Captain Forrest Elwell at the wheel.  . . .  Dimensions  Dimensions of the Black Prince were: Hull, 93 feet: overall length, 112 feet; beam, 19 feet; depth of hold, 5 feet; tonnage measurement was 159 gross tons, according to the captain.  .  . .  “After completion, the Prince came back to Everett under her own power and then went to the Skagit to tow logs and piling,” Elwell wrote.  . . .  Loads  “On July 7, 1903, loaded 50 tons of machinery at Mount Vernon designated for the old Talc Mine about 12 miles above Marblemount.  . . .  This trip took three days to get up the river and unload,” the captain continued.  To negotiate Sticks Riffle (named for the old Indian, Johnny Stick, who lived there) below Bacon Creek, the crew found it necessary to pay out 1200 feet of line and employ the boat’s winch to pull the heavily laden Prince over this shallow, swift piece of water.  . . .  This trip by the Black Prince may have been the farthest upstream penetration by a steamer since the gold rush of 1880.  Reached Portage  One sternwheeler, the Chehalis, is reported to have reached the Portage, a mile or more above the old tale mine, during the gold excitement.  One old-timer, who has lived on the river since 1877, is inclined to believe this.  He says that a river-wise boat captain conceivably could have made it over the riffles above the talc mine during real high water.  He added, however, that most of the gold rush steamers got no farther than Durand Riffle, a mile or so below Marblemount.  “In 1906, the Company operated a logging camp across the Skagit from Birdsview.  The logs were towed to the mouth of the Skagit and later to Utsalady by the Prince,” Elwell wrote.  “The writer well remembers towing from Birdsview, and especially through the Dalles (above Birdsview) which is like the letter “Z.”  If you were lucky, okay, but if the raft broke up, you were in a mess, as logs would be all around and under the Prince, which would almost spin like a top.  . . .  Gets Name  How the Black Prince got her name: Captain [Charles] Wright [a previous owner] had a dream that he had a boat that was all black and called the Black Prince, so that is where her name came from, Elwell recalled. 

History of Sternwheelers On The Skagit



1903 Black Prince carried 50 tons of machinery to Marblemount.  Trip took 3 days.


The Chehalis allegedly made it further upriver.





sauk and cascade dams are urged

Dams on the Sauk and Cascade rivers were again urged by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at a Puget Sound Water Resources Task Force hearing in Anacortes Monday.  Robert Gedney, chief of the planning branch, told the group to continue study of the dams, which he says are needed for 100% flood control on the Skagit River.  . . .  It was also urged that all Skagit flood control projects be coordinated under a master plan so that there would be no overlapping of expenditures in piecemeal work.  The twenty diking and irrigation districts of the county now spend $250,000 a year on Skagit river work.

Sauk and Cascade Dams


Only projects that would provide 100% flood control for the Skagit River.


Flood Control Unit Discusses Project

The proposed Avon Bypass should be under construction by 1968, Skagit County Flood Control Council members learned Wednesday night.  George Dynes, of Mount Vernon, member of a specifically-appointed Avon Bypass Committee of the Council, made a report to the organization as a highlight of the Wednesday session in the Skagit County Courthouse Annex conference room.  Other Bypass Committee members are Tom Shane, Jim Hulbert, Noble Lee, and Jess Knutzen.  . . .  Also included in Dynes’ report was previously-issued information that the Inland Empire Waterways Association recently endorsed the Bypass proposal and that $3,225,000 in federal funds was authorized at the start of 1964 for a study of the proposal.

Avon By-Pass


By-Pass to be “under construction” by 1968.


3 million authorized to “study” the proposal.


Avon Bypass:

Study Authorized, Construction Due in 1968, Flood Council Told

The Avon bypass flood control project should be under construction by 1968, George Dynes told the Skagit County Flood Control council at its annual meeting at the courthouse in Mount Vernon Wednesday night. . . .  Dynes said he understood the U. S. Engineers had tentatively selected a site for the first of two Skagit river tributary dams that at some future time would be built to provide protection against a “100-year” flood.  This site, about two miles from Rockport, would be for a 150-foot high dam across the Sauk river that would back water all the way to Darrington.  The other dam would be on the Cascade river.


Avon By-Pass



Dams proposed on Sauk and Cascade Rivers.


letter tells of trip to diablo in snows of 1907

A trip from Marblemount to Diablo, which was impossible by road a few weeks ago, was not too easy by trail in 1907.  Reading of the Diablo road being closed by snow slides prompted Glee Davis of Sedro-Woolley to dig out a letter written by his mother, which describes a trip home through the snow.  The Davis place was located on the flat just below Diablo – a portion of which is now under the waters of Gorge Lake. 

Life In Skagit County in 1907


This is a fascinating article about how people upriver had to travel in the early days.


mud slide at power house not serious

The mud slide, currently plaguing Puget Power above the lower Baker power house here, is of no real danger, according to Andy Miller, local superintendent.  The trouble is stemming from a mass of clay on the side hill above the powerhouse on the area cleared for the high lines from upper Baker.  Mud started slipping, taking out the quarry road and dumping portions of slippery ooze over the bank and down behind the bulkhead that protects the east wall of the power house.  . . .  The condition of the soil on the hillside has been known since the dam was built and provisions had been made for expected small slides and runoff water from the area.  An old logging road through the section slid out a few years ago.  It was believed that springs and seepage at this point caused the latest trouble.

Lower Baker Dam

Powerhouse Slide Begins


Soil conditions were known since the dam was built.


“Threat of serious damage to the building was deemed remote.”



District 20 Leaders Call Dike Meet

A proposal to dike the entire Nookachamps Valley from Mount Vernon to Sedro-Woolley along the Skagit River will be the subject of a public meeting Wednesday evening.  Dike District No. 20 commissioners, George M. Dynes, John Petter, and Dr. Robert Thompson have issued an invitation to all property owners in the Nookachamps Valley to attend the 8 p.m. meeting at the Clear Lake School gymnasium.  The invitation read: . . .  “With the completion of the Avon By-Pass, it will be possible to dike the Skagit River from near the new bridge at Sedro-Woolley, following the river to Hoag’s Hill just East of the Great Northern Bridge near Mount Vernon.”

Proposal to Dike the Nookachamps


Avon Bypass Proposed Scheduled for Airing by Burlington’s City Council

The City of Burlington had to put two portable pumps into almost continuous last week to keep overflow out of its sanitary sewer lines, Supervisor Frank Screws told Councilmen Tuesday night.  Reporting on measures taken to curb damage resulting from last week’s heavy rains, Screws said the two pumps went into action Thursday.  Screws added he still is accessing street damage caused by rains.  The supervisor also told Councilmen he had arranged for a formal presentation at their Feb. 16 meeting on the proposed Avon Bypass, a flood control channel which has aroused controversy in the Burlington area.  The channel would follow a route starting south of Burlington if it is established.

Avon-By Pass


Group Gives Its Approval of Bypass

Agreeing that the proposed Avon Bypass is essential to a proposed dike extension along the Skagit River from Mount Vernon to Sedro-Woolley, Nookachamps Valley property owners Wednesday night endorsed the Bypass plan.  They also elected a committee of three men to study the dike extension proposal.  More than 50 persons attended a meeting to discuss the diking plan at Clear Lake School Commissioners of Diking District 20 called the meeting to determine feeling in the Nookachamps Valley concerning extension of the district into that area to permit dike expansion.  James G. Smith, District 20 attorney, explained the proposed diking system cannot be built without a municipal corporation like a diking district to sponsor it and deal with federal agencies which help engineer and finance such projects.  Three Elected  Elected to the interim study committee were James C. Christopherson, J. W. Wallace, and Bill Moore, all property owners in the Nookachamps Valley.  It was Skagit County Superior Court Judge A. H. Ward, himself a Nookachamps farmer and property owner, who cited the value of the Avon Bypass plan to any Skagit River diking proposals.  Judge Ward said it would be foolish to consider building any dikes unless an outlet is provided for surplus flood water through the Avon Bypass.  “I feel building of this dike is a good deal if the Avon Bypass is assured,” Judge Ward said.  . . .  Earlier in Wednesday night’s meeting, it had been explained several times that the Nookachamps area has served for years as a “reservoir” for Skagit River flood waters.  Whenever the Skagit rises to near-flood levels, its first high water usually spills over into the rich valley lying northeast of Mount Vernon.  Such a condition long has been considered a natural protection of sorts against much more severe flooding in other areas down river from the Nookachamps region.  Engineers Study  George Dynes, District 20 commissioner, explained Wednesday night that he had taken representatives of the United States Army Corps of Engineers into the Nookachamps Valley 1½ years ago to discuss possibilities of relieving the area of its role as a “reservoir.”  The dike extension scheme was thus developed, Dynes said.

Avon By-Pass


Nookachamp residents endorse By-Pass concept.








Nookachamps serves as a “reservoir”.



With By-Pass Nookachamps could construct levees. 


Nookachamps Group Backs Avon Bypass

Committee to Study Joining Forces With Dike District


. . .  The Dist. 20 commissioners have suggested that the Nookachamps basin be protected against the Skagit river by dikes from near the new bridge at Sedro Woolley to Hoag hill east of the Great Northern bridge north of Mount Vernon.  . . .  The Corps of Engineers will consider making a study of giving the Nookachamps lands flood protection if residents of the area want it and funds can be obtained, the meeting was told by Ray Skrinde, who is directing the Skagit river flood control planning. He said the Engineers hope before next fall to have their plans for the Avon bypass project and bank protection-channel work on the lower river completed.  . . .  Superior Judge A. H. Ward said he would not favor the Nookachamps plan until the Avon bypass is built because, otherwise, the rest of the Skagit valley would be endangered. He made the motion to support the bypass project.



Avon By-Pass




Dikes in Nookachamps


baker powerhouse slide area 24 hour job

In any hill-county location the earth slide is a common hazard.  In most cases the only thing done is clear it away and forget about it.  In the case of the sliding hill above the Puget Power Baker River power station here, it can not be that simple.  Their problem is to get the material that must eventually slide to do so gradually, and then work out a plan of attack to prevent any future sliding.  Continued wet weather has kept the slide area moving for the past month.  In addition to trying to clear away what comes down, the company is now engaged in long range planning of work that will be continued far into the summer to make the hillside safe for future winters.

Lower Baker Dam

Powerhouse Slide Continues



engineer corps to be present

Avon Bypass To Undergo City Council Scrutiny

Discussion of the By-Pass, which has aroused some controversy in Burlington, is expected to attract more than the usual few spectators who attend a routine city council meeting. The 8 p.m. meeting is open to the public.  City Supervisor Frank Screws said this will be the first formal presentation of the project to the Burlington City Council although various members and other city officials have attended other meetings and presentations in the county. 



engineers explain bypass at city council meeting

Approximately 30 interested citizens heard an Army Corp of Engineers’ report on the projected Avon Bypass and later participated in a question and answer period at the Burlington City council meeting Tuesday evening.  . . .  Further explaining that floods run in cycles; in the Skagit’s case 8, 35, and 100 years, Holbrook said that the improved levee and channel would protect against the 8 year cycle floods, the levee, channel, and Avon Bypass together against the 35 year cycle variety, but that an improved and increased upriver storage area would have to be added to these two parts before the basin would have the needed protection against a flood of the 100 year cycle frequency.  . . .  Projected figures show that if the flood of 1921 were to occur in this area with its present state of development an estimated damage of $13,273,000 would occur.  . . .  Gedney placed the cost of the project at $24 million, two to four million of which would have to come from Skagit County. Gedney also explained that local diking commissions have spent $3.5 million dollars on maintenance and improvement since 1947.  The original cost of the project in 1936 was $4 million.



Floods run in 8.35 and 100 year cycles.

Levee improvements protect against 8 year floods, add the By-pass and protection goes to 35 yr protection.  Increased upriver storage (Sauk Dam) would provide 100 yr protection.


If 1921 flood happened damages would be $13,273,000.


Cost of project now $24,000,000.  1936 cost was $4,000,000.


Petitioners Oppose Avon Bypass

Petitions opposing the Avon bypass and, in particular, any modifications for other than flood control purposes were filed with the Skagit county commissioners Wednesday by a group calling itself the Citizens Association for Skagit County Improvement.  An accompanying letter said there were 823 signatures on the petitions. It was signed by Norman H. Dahlstedt as chairman and Ray Billups as secretary.  The petition headings “oppose any plans to modify the structure of the Avon Bypass for any purpose other than flood control.” They go on to say the signers “are in fact opposed to the Bypass itself because as presented to us it will not provide protection of major floods.”   . . .  The letter expressed the belief the public was “nearly 100 percent” in favor of lower river (below Mount Vernon) improvement. The Engineers’ plans would increase the downstream capacity by 30,000 cubic feet per second, which the association contended would represent half the bypass’ capacity “for one-quarter the cost.”


Opposition to Avon By-Pass


Slough Area Residents Seek Relief

Owners of property along Gage’s Slough southwest of Burlington are hoping for relief.  For more than five weeks, waters from the slough have been backing up onto fields.  At the farm of J. Lee Lindamood on the McCorquedale Road west of the Interstate 5 freeway, water covers almost eight acres of land.  Nearby, J. Larry Brendle estimates he has five or six acres under water.  . . .  Lindamood has been trying to do something about the water problem.  He is circulating petitions whose aim is to have the city of Burlington provide some kind of relief from the situation.  Lindamood said Burlington now is dumping its drainage overflows into the slough.  Since the slough empties into the Skagit River only through an 18-inch culver, Lindamood said, it is overtaxed.  More water than it can handle is flowing through it, the land owner said.  . . .   Lindamood told the Skagit Valley Herald he believes at least 120 acres altogether are affected by Gage’s Slough overflow.  Once before in recent years, Lindamood recalled, the slough backed up and flooded his property and others.  That was about 1948 when owners of property along the slough dumped earth into its course and blocked it.  Lindamood and others later filed damage claims which were granted by the county’s Superior Court.

Gages Slough Drainage


It is reported that 72% of the City of Burlington has been engineered to drain into Gages Slough.  (Source:  Cascade Mall EIS)


Burlington Will Aid On Flood Trouble

Burlington officially gave assurance Tuesday night of its cooperation in trying to relieve property owners southwest of the community whose lands have been flooded by backed-up water of Gage’s Slough.  . . .  Mayor Adrian Strong appointed a committee of three councilmen to work with Supervisor Frank Screws on the Gage’s Slough problem.  They are William Dynes, Marvin Cannon, and Charles Kramer.  Screws told councilmen the city’s drainage does flow into the slough is legal, Screws said, since it is a public water course.

Gages Slough Drainage


Burlington Supervisor recognized Gages Slough as a “public water course”.


Plans Revealed For Shortened Bypass

An official of the United States Army Corps of Engineers has disclosed the proposed Avon Bypass may be shortened to eliminate three bridges and thereby save construction costs.  Robert Gedney, an engineer with the Corps in Seattle, made the disclosure Monday night at a meeting of the Skagit County Flood Control Council and diking and drainage district commissioners.  Under the new plan, the Bypass, planned as a flood control project, would being just west of Interstate Highway 5, where it passes over the Skagit River north of Mount Vernon.  Such a proposal has been developed because of severe opposition in Burlington to beginning the bypass there, as originally planned, Gedney explained.  Several Plans  . . .  A grant of $30,000 was made by the Corps of Engineers to finance the study.  . . .  Another Plan  In another disclosure made Monday night, Gedney said the Corps is considering a plan which would provide for diking the Nookachamps north east of Mount Vernon and then using Nookachamps Creek as a reservoir after it is diked.  The Corps’ plan would keep low level flood waters from entering the area, Gedney said, but would utilize the creek as a reservoir at high flood peaks.  Earlier Monday night, Col. Charles C. Holbrook, Army Engineers’ commanding officer in the Seattle district, reviewed plans for flood control measures along the Skagit River.  He said the Avon Bypass would increase protection from eight to 35 years, and additional upriver dam storage, planned in the future, would increase protection to 100 years.

Avon By-Pass & Diking Nookachamps


By-pass route shortened. 


$30,000 to “study” new route.



Nookachamps to be “diked” and used as a reservoir.



We wish the state government would stop trying to create the idea that taxes can be directed toward a certain segment of our economy without touching the “common taxpayer”.  . . .  We would appreciate it if the powers that be would for one honest moment admit that they are not the slightest bit interested how much you pay, but only in the methods used to get it away from you.

Charles Dwelley on Taxes


skagit and tributaries in spawning program

The State Fisheries is now conducting a study in which they hope to build the sockeye run in the Skagit River and tributaries by establishing a controlled salmon run incubation channel which would allow them to have a maximum take of eggs from the state fish hatcheries.  The proposed planning would include another artificial spawning beach at upper Baker Lake, to be built this summer.  The department has negotiated with Puget Power for the building of this third spawning beach, which will be the same size as No. 2 now being used and will handle another 1,000 sockeye adults.

Fish Issue

Upper Baker Dam


58 million eggs could be used in Skagit project. 

Need to determine how successful this program was and what is its current status today.


slides wreck baker power house

Massive slides roared down on the Lower Baker Dam at Concrete early today, virtually destroying the power house and causing damage conservatively estimated at more than a million dollars.  . . .  Other slides roared down later and apparently took most of the power house with them.  . . .  Heavy weekend rains probably caused today’s massive slides, company officials said.  . . .  At Burlington, Cleon Cornish, dispatcher for Puget Power, said all reports indicated the slides were “tremendous.”

Slides in Narrow Baker Canyon


Compare what happened here to what is described in the 11/19/1896 Skagit County Times article above.  This is strong evidence that a flood caused by the daming of the “narrow outlet in the Baker Canyon” area by a slide very well could have happened.


whose river? whose future?


An editorial in The Seattle Times Thursday that seemed to land on both sides of the fence raised a serious question as to whether that newspaper be for us or against us here in the Skagit valley.  . . .  Nothing that “Seattle’s City Light objects to inclusion of an 11-mile stretch of the river in the designation because it would rule out construction of a hydroelectric dam (Copper Creek) contemplated in the municipal utility’s long range plans to provide power for its customers,” The Times offered as its “present view” this comment:  “…unless City Light can document a case otherwise, the ‘wilderness river’ concept should take precedence on the Skagit river. Too many of our mountain-stream valleys already have been despoiled of their natural site.”

While The Times was attempting to register as its main point a complaint that determination as to use of and restrictions on natural resources, such as the Skagit, were being left to “outsiders,” meaning the federal government, it seemed both to be taking a slap at its community’s own City Light and at the same time to be ignoring opinion as to the needs of the Skagit valley as to utilization of the Skagit and its tributaries, for power and industrial development, water supply and flood control.


Wild & Scenic River Designation


slide damage

A mudslide from the 300 foot bank behind the Baker River powerplant smashed through the plant carrying part of the structure into the Baker River and causing an estimated $1 million worth of damage. Minor slides continued to rumble all day Tuesday as loose dirt fell from the hillside carrying with it trees and other debris.



Upper Baker Dam



Disaster usually strikes swiftly, dealing its lethal blow and then departing to leave the victims wondering what happened.  Nature seldom gives the kind of performance a great many people were fortunate to witness Tuesday.  Before their eyes a powerful unseen force moved with deliberate menace to destroy what most of us would accept as a strong and durable bit of man’s ingenuity.  Streams of seemingly powdery dirt eroded in a matter of hours what it took many men a great many months to construct.  Here for all to see was a slow-motion demonstration of the ravages by the elements of the puny efforts of man.  No wonder a number of civilizations have vanished from the earth, leaving only buried remnants of buildings to be discovered thousands of years later.  What we saw was a natural phenomena, a demonstration of the irresistible force of many little grains of sand against a firm block of rock-hard material.  The monetary loss will be great in this case, yet due to the whim of timing there was no loss of lives that normally would have added to the tragedy.  People who witnessed Tuesday’s spectacle will talk for many years about “the day time gave the minutes in hours”.

Charles Dwelley on Natural Disasters


overtime editorial

WHAT DO PEOPLE think about when they watch millions of dollars and a familiar place disappear before their eyes, with nothing they can do to prevent it?  A relentless natural force is something that can hold a person’s entire being in a grip that is hard to break.  Some of those who came early Tuesday morning to see “what had happened” remained throughout the day for a sight they will probably never again see – a whole mountain moving and heaving as if alive.

What did they talk about…Keith Hicks, operator on duty, “There was no excitement, just the closing down to be done.  This was all as had been set beforehand.”  George Theodoratus: “I thought it was just another clean-up job for the outside crews.  After getting out in the boat I went home and went to bed.  I came back in the morning to see how it looked and found this.  Dick Gardinier: “I’ve been around the powerhouse for thirty years and I just can’t believe it is gone.  I’ve done a lot of work down there.  My tools are down in that mess somewhere.” 

Spectator: “Why doesn’t the hill stop moving?  It’s eerie the way it creeps along and never stops.”

Charles Dwelley on What People Talk About While Watching A Natural Force At Work


Most universal comment on seeing the destruction for the first time: “Oh, My God!”



sliding destroys baker power house

Earth slides from the unstable hill above the Lower Baker increased in activity due to the heavy weekend rains, and early on Tuesday morning started a series of movements that ended with complete destruction of the multi-million dollar installation.  First warnings came about 3:00 a.m. and soon a gush of mud from the canyon south of the power house piled high against the building.  Working according to a pre-arranged evacuation schedule, men on duty shut down the power operations and were removed to safety by boat.  The last man left the building about 4:00 a.m.  As the Puget Power men anxiously watched, the hill above began to move like an awakening giant, rolling and slipping with increasing violence.  Dirt began to pile up behind the original section of the power station and just before 8:30 the weight of the new slides suddenly broke through the top story walls and sheared off that floor, dropping the roof onto the floor beneath.  A huge cloud of dust and the accompanying roar brought townspeople to the observation post high and out of danger south of the power house.  From there they watched, fascinated by the force of nature, as the continual slides gradually ground the buildings into twisted girders and crumbling bits of concrete.  The process took most of the day, although the old part of the building was completely gone except for the north wall, early in the afternoon.  After that forces seemed to divert themselves to the remaining building and by the cessation of slide activity about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday morning it, too, had been damaged beyond repair, though still standing.

Landslide Destroys Lower Baker Power House


“As the Puget Power men anxiously watched, the hill above began to move like an awakening giant, rolling and slipping with increasing violence.”


“No huge slides came during the morning hours after the first push took the top floor.  It was the continual building up of earth that poured onto and around the damaged building that slowly pushed it out of shape until, with screaming of stretching steel and the sharp cracking of cement walls, a section would topple into the river.  Once the break-through had been made from the rear, earth poured into the building and out through the other side, taking with it equipment, windows, machinery and all moveable material.”


Pictures of slides in baker canyon

Pictures of slide area in Baker Canyon


$30,000 For Avon By-Pass Gets Support

Support for appropriation requests for two Skagit County public works projects was given May 19 by Congressman Lloyd Meeds before the House Appropriation Committee.  Terming the Avon Bypass “essential to the development of the Skagit River Flood Control Project”, Meeds pointed out that it could increase significantly flood protection for the area. The Skagit River Valley has a serious flood protection for the area. The Skagit River Valley has a serious flood on the average of every seven years at present. With the Avon Bypass, protection would be increased so that a serious flood would be expected no more frequently than once in every 35 years on the average.



35 Year Protection


upper baker power is online wednesday

As anticipated, the line crews of Puget Power had the Upper Baker power station on the line Wednesday of last week after the slide had taken out the lines which were brought through the lower power house, destroyed in Tuesday’s big earth movement.  A helicopter was used to carry ropes across the 2,150 foot canyon.  The heavy lines were then pulled across by tractor and strung from the poles high above the power house.  As there was no place for other suspension, the lines cross the entire distance in one span.  Power was turned on at 10:00 p.m. Wednesday.  Operators and crews for the lower Baker powerhouse are now on duty at Baker Lake operating the station there manually.  Previously it had been operated by remote control from the Concrete station.

Upper Baker Dam Power Back Online


work started on baker slide

The transformer from the small sub-station unit was salvaged this week.  Officials are still studying means and methods of removing the earth slides and getting to the job of seeing what can be salvaged from the power house itself.  . . .  Losses to Puget Power in the destruction of their power station and the three huge generators has not been accurately determined.  A $5 million all-risk policy had been carried on the installation.  The $5 million risk was handled by ten insurers and written by D. K. MacDonald & Co.  There is a $100,000 deductible clause.  The loss will probably be the biggest insured loss in Northwest history, eclipsing the $4 million loss paid when the first Tacoma Narrows bridge broke up in a high wind.  The policy was first written in 1960 and renewed each three years since that time.  Coverage is stated to be on a replacement basis.

Largest Insured Loss in Northwest History


much activity on baker river project

Activity at the site of the wrecked Baker Rover power station was progressing in several directions during the past week.  Mud from the slide has been removed up to power house, permitting entry to the building.  A big drag-line scoop has been clearing slide debris from the river, a 170-foot crane was put into action to retrieve twisted metal parts from the river and to start the work of removing the girders from the damaged building, preparatory to wrecking it.  . . .  Soil experts are studying the hill from which the slide emerged and their opinion is that the 20-acre mass of loose earth is sitting in a sloping bowl of rock.  It was felt that the earthquake possibly could have changed the position of the mass to set off the sliding.  Findings of the experts will determine whether or not the power house will be rebuilt in the same location or a complete new installation erected either upstream or down.  At any rate it is expected it will be at least two years before the Lake Shannon water is again producing electric power.

Earthquake Could Have Set Off Slide


Flood Plan For Skagit Sent to D.C.

A July 30 deadline for further comment on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ recommendations for Skagit river flood control was set in an announcement from their Seattle office Wednesday.  . . .  The 124-page report re-outlines the Engineers’ plans for the Skagit and reproduces the testimony given by public officials and interested citizens at the public hearing held in Mount Vernon Jan. 10, 1964.

The Engineers are recommending levee and channel improvements along the river from Sedro-Woolley down and modification of the Avon Bypass flood control channel plan to include fisheries and recreation facilities.


Levee and Channel Improvements


Avon By-Pass


Engineer Corps Recommends Federal Funds For By-Pass

Recommendation of flood control and allied improvements in the lower portion of the Skagit River valley by the Federal Government is being reviewed by the Army’s Chief of Engineers for transmittal to the Congress.  . . .  The value of lands and improvements in the Skagit delta area was estimated at more than $113,000,000 in 1962. This flood plain is highly susceptible to flood damage which averages more than $2 million dollars under present levels of development, Col. Holbrook said. . . .  “Finally,” Col. Holbrook said. “we plan to evaluate feasibility of upstream multi-purpose storage in 1966, 1967. This project alone would be planned to control flow of the main river and tributaries so that with all three elements: levees and channel improvement, the Avon Bypass, and upstream storage, 100-year or higher flood protection could be realized for the Skagit River flood plain from Sedro-Woolley downstream.”



flood control study is ready for congress

Recommendation of flood control and other improvements in the lower portion of the Skagit Valley by the Federal Government is being reviewed by the Army’s Chief of Engineers for transmittal to the Congress.  The plan of improvement for the 68,000 acre delta flood plain downstream from Sedro-Woolley was developed by Seattle District of the Corps of Engineers.  Studies indicate that a high level of flood control is needed if that area is to progress.  The project plan going to the Congress is a modification of the present Avon Bypass authorization to permit Federal participation in the construction of recreation facilities.  The value of lands and improvements in the Skagit delta area was estimated at more than $113,000,000 in 1962.  . . .  The improvements would increase flood protection in the delta from present three-year minimum flood frequency protection to an eight-year minimum protection.  . . .  They plan to evaluate feasibility of upstream multi-purpose storage in 1966, 1967 and 1968.  Storage would be planned to control flow of the main river and tributaries so that with all three elements: levees and channel improvement, the Avon Bypass, and upstream storage, 100-year or higher flood protection could be realized.

Flood Control Plan


Value of Skagit Delta in 1962 was $113,000,000.  Today it is valued at over 3 billion dollars.  (Source:  Letter Report , Alternatives for Compensation for Flood Storage Capacity, Upper Baker Reservoir, 22 January 2003 Review Copy )


Engineers Set Conditions For Skagit Flood Control

1.                   Ten conditions to be met by “local interests” have been suggested by the U.S. Corps of Engineers in connection with flood control and allied improvements on the Skagit River basin.  Provide with cost to the United States, all lands, easements and rights-of-way necessary for the construction of the projects.

2.                           Hold and save the United States free from damages due to the construction works.

3.                           Maintain and operate all the works after completion in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Army.

4.                           Provide without cost to the United States all relocations of buildings and utilities, roads, sewers, related and special facilities necessary for construction of the projects.

5.                           Provide assurances that encroachment on improved channels will not be permitted.

6.                           Notify the public annually of the limited flood protection provided by the recommended works subsequent to their construction.

7.                           Secure the water rights necessary for operation of the recommended works for recreational purposes.

8.                           With respect to recreational facilities, provide cash, equivalent work, or lands so that the non-Federal share shall be at least 50 per cent of the total first cost of the development.

9.                           Assure public access for all on equal terms for recreation development.

10.                       Submit plans for any additional recreational development of the Avon Bypass project to the Secretary of the Army for approval and determination of the Federal interest prior to construction.





10 Conditions on local government.


men and machines find going difficult on slide nature moved in day

At the Lower Baker powerhouse site and on the hill above, a million dollars worth of equipment and crews of skilled operators have been at work for several months trying to complete a job done by the forces of nature in just a few hours.  At the shattered power house, crushed into debris by the sliding earth of May 18th, it took a crew of men and two pieces of heavy equipment to pull down the walls left standing.  . . .  The upper hill is now shaping up in a terraced embankment that is expected to prevent any further slippage.  Large drainage ditches go deep into the arrears where water seepage is present.

Slide Area Being Stabilized


river navigation is turned down

The request of a county group for opening of the Skagit River to navigation as far as Concrete, made at a public hearing in Mount Vernon last April, has been given an unfavorable report by the North Pacific Division of the Corps of Army Engineers.  The study made by the engineers was the feasibility of improving the river for navigation by dredging from deep water in Skagit Bay upstream 54 miles to the Baker river at Concrete.  The engineers found that the estimated transportation savings would not be sufficient to warrant expending the amount of money necessary for the project.



Project didn’t meet Corps cost benefit ratio.


Army Crosses Off Skagit As Navigable Stream

The Skagit River is no longer considered a navigable river by the Corps of Engineers, North Pacific Division, Department of the Army.  This is not an overnight decision considering the report released this week read: “Notice is hereby given that the report on Skagit River, Washington, for navigation, authorized by resolution of the Committee on Public Works of the House of Representatives adopted 13 May, 1947, has been completed by the District and Division Engineers. The report is unfavorable to the improvement. A public hearing was held at Mount Vernon, Washington on 12 April 1949.”  At issue was the feasibility of improving Skagit River for navigation by dredging from deep water in Skagit Bay upstream about 54 miles to the vicinity of Concrete.  This week’s report stated that officers engaged on the project find that the estimated transportation savings “would be insufficient to justify the estimated cost of improvements.”



Headline is misleading.  Dredging the river for navigation was found to be infeasible.



Public hearing was in 1949 and they make a decision in 1965. 


puget power is lawsuit winner

The $4,900,000 suit involving insurance claims on the destruction of the Baker River power house here, was decided in favor of the power company by a Seattle jury Monday evening.  After hearing all the evidence presented by both sides during a session that has lasted since May 23rd, the jury found that the insurance claims should be paid in full for the loss.  The insurance companies who had shared the large account had contended that due to a clause in their policies specifying written notice of any dangerous condition on the property, the claims should not be paid.  They held that the company failed to contact them during the time slides had come off the hillside before the big movement destroyed the power house completely on May 18 of 1965.  According to information received here the insurance firms could appeal the decision, but would be liable for $1,000 a day additional payments due to interest and other costs if they should lose the appeal.

Insurance Companies Had To Pay Puget Power $4,900,000


skagit is back on wild river list

The Mount Vernon Argus, a weekly newspaper which does an unusually good job of covering all aspects of affairs concerning the county, last month went deeply into the “Wild River”, proposal now in Congress.  Editor Steve Mergler’s column on the subject gives a complete picture of the situation as it now stands and is herewith reprinted in full:  “Those who viewed with concern the Skagit river and its tributaries as “wild rivers,” whose use and development would be severely limited, breathed some relief when U.S. Senate deleted this basin from its “immediate” list in recently passing S. 1446.  “But, left out of the Senate’s list of six “wild” streams and instead consigned to future study, the Skagit is back in the “immediate” picture in a new bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.  The House bill, H. R. 14922, by Rep. John P. Saylor of Pennsylvania, changes the name of the “don’t touch” streams to “national scenic rivers” and proposes to so classify the Skagit (and tributaries) and 15 others at once.  The Columbia is to be studied within three years for possible addition to the “scenic” system and, within ten years, the Methow, to name only one of the Washington state waters in a long list.

Wild & Scenic River Designation For Skagit River


“A special clause in the House bill would forbid the construction, operation or maintenance of any “dam or other project,” except by special act of Congress, on not only the streams immediately designated as “scenic”, but also those in the listings for future study.  It also would expand (from the Senate “wild rivers” plan) from 300 feet to a mile either side the width of river lands that the federal government could condemn, and from one-quarter to two miles the width from either bank it could put under “scenic easements”.



$100,000 for more study on the Avon By-Pass to provide a spillway for Skagit flood water.  Also in present legislation is nearly six million dollars for flood control and improvements on our river.  Apparently its “wild river” status is going to be plush.

Charles Dwelley on Avon By-Pass


seattle signs ross lake pact

After a number of years of negotiation an agreement has been made between Seattle City Light and the Province of British Columbia over the use of Canadian land flooded by the waters backed up by Ross Dam.  In signing the pact the Seattle light department agrees to pay British Columbia $34,566.21 a year on a 99 year lease.  The Canadians have given the city permission to raise Ross Lake’s elevation to 1,725 feet and put Ross Lake to a point six miles beyond the border.  The project of raising height of Ross Dam is one for the future, but until that time City Light proposes to add 2½ feet to the top of the spillway gates.  This will allow an increase in storage capacity of the lake and furnish about 25,900,000 more kilowatt hours a year.

Ross Dam


Agreement would allow Ross Lake to be raised to 1,725 foot elevation.  Cost $34,500 a year.


$50,000 Approved For Skagit

Congress has approved a $50,000 funding to the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers for a bank protection project on the Skagit River on the South Skagit Highway about four miles upstream from Sedro-Woolley.  . . .  Skagit County commissioners and engineers had applied for the Corps’ aid in the river erosion project.  The river is undermining the highway at the point, a short distance east of where the county is currently repairing damage from Deadman’s Slough erosion.  The Corps’ project requires county participation on a matching basic of an estimated $40,000 in additional funds.  If the project does not run this high, the county money is not expended.  The State Department of Conservation is expected to share about 30 percent of the county’s cost.  . . .  The work would call for substantial reinforcement of the river bank where it bends away from the highway.  The bank is constantly being eroded at that point and eats into the road bed, said Commissioner Howard Miller.

Erosion Control Rip-Rap Project


$50,000 federal expense, possible $40,000 to County taxpayers.


Deadman’s Slough is where Indians used to bury their dead by placing them in canoes and hoisting them up into tree branches.  Same practice in the Nookachamps.  (Source:  Courier Times 10/20/49)


Long-range Flood Plan for Skagit Hold Ramifications

Skagit County officials were given a tool for flood plain management Wednesday at Mount Vernon.  It was the Skagit River Flood Information Report, prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the request of the State Department of Conservation on behalf of the citizens of Skagit County.  Presentation of the report was made to the Skagit Board of County Commissioners by H. Maurice Ahlquist, director of the Department of Conservation and by Gregory M. Hastings, supervisor of the department’s division of flood control.  . . .  While it did not fall as a bombshell, the report, as expected, set forth some long-range requirements for flood control of the Skagit River which would have a profound effect on Skagit County, especially in regard to future planning and development.  . . .  The answer, given by Ahlquist, was also seen as significant, “This report is not God’s word,” he said.  “The Corps has done the best it can with the information available.”  He did not state to what extent the plan might be revised.  . . .  Hastings asked this question, “Is Skagit County being picked on?”  He then answered negatively, stating, “Skagit County has used more state flood control maintenance funds since 1943 than any other county in the state.  It has consistently had a flood control program, which speaks for the county’s interest in a constructive effort. . . .  “The answer is a flood plain management set of rules, and this report is the tool to provide those rules.  It suggests the most wise and beneficent use of the flood plain area,” Hastings stated.  The ultimate of the plan is for 100-year flood control of the Skagit River basin.  “The information, as presented in this Skagit River Report, points out the need for changing our ideas and methods of reducing the recurring flood damage in the county.  It will be largely up to you to assist in bringing about the acceptance of these ideas,” Ahlquist stated at the outset.  . . .  One theme of the meeting was that many residents underestimate the danger of floods and “build and plan as though no hazard exists.”  George Dynes, local land developer long active in water management, said local matching costs of the plan would come to $6 million.  “Without the money for that part, we’d be dead in the water,” he said.  “Right now the state has no money with which to help you,” said Ahlquist.

Floodplain Management Plan





Skagit County has used more state flood control maintenance funds since 1943 than any other county in the state.


“The answer is a flood plain management set of rules, and this report is the tool to provide those rules.  It suggests the most wise and beneficent use of the flood plain area,” Hastings stated. 



One theme of the meeting was that many residents underestimate the danger of floods and “build and plan as though no hazard exists.” 


Clamp on Valley!

State Report Issued Here Wednesday Defines Federal Order Restrictions


A Skagit river information survey that will restrict, guide and control use of virtually all lowlands in the Skagit valley was unveiled in Mount Vernon Wednesday afternoon by Gregory Hastings, state flood control supervisor , and H. Maurice Ahlquist, director of department of conservation.  With the report, Hastings handed out to a crowd of city, port, diking district, county and federal public official’s copies of a presidential order issued last August that is key to the new valley regulations. This order directs all federal executive department agencies to approve constructions, loans, road work and other federal activities in flood plain areas, subject to some exceptions.  . . .  “Controlled use” appears key to the federal order and the Skagit Basin reports.  . . .  “The part of the flood plain subject to inundation every few years could be zoned for agriculture, including buildings necessary for farm operation. Public and commercial activities which can recover quickly from inundation could be allowed, such as parks, playfields, parking lots, and drive-in theaters. A useful method for determining the limits of this zone would be to use the high water mark on one of the larger recorded floods. For example, limits of a Skagit river flood having a frequency of 50 years…”

A 50-year flood is defined as one such as occurred in 1920 when the recorded Skagit stream flow at Sedro-Woolley was 210,000 cubic feet per second. The report’s detailed maps show areas that would be hit by such a flood and also fringe lands beyond that would be affected by a less-frequent 275,000 cubic foot flood. The most severe flood listed from 1896 to date was 220,000 feet in 1909, when the dike broke southeast of Avon and the river flowed southward across the flats along the Avon-Allen road.  The report points out that some areas may be flooded by a 90,000-cubic foot flood, while others would be safe up to 140,000 cubic feet. “Floods of these magnitudes,” it says, are expected to recur at frequencies of three and 14 years, respectively.” It estimates annual flood damages average $2,216,000 at 1963 prices.  . . .  Nothing that “early settlers… had the good judgment to build their homes on the highest available part of their holdings,” and, “as a result, flood damage along many streams has been confined primarily to crops,” the report warns.  “The danger is the promoters of new housing sites, shopping centers, and motels may lack a long-range view point and unintentionally saddle future owners with flood-susceptible, depreciated and hazardous property.”

Floodplain Management














50 year flood defined.





1909 flood listed as most severe.





Dike protection 3 to 14 years.


river holding at flood stage

After a week of warm weather, melting snow in the hills has brought all streams in the valley up and consequently the Skagit has been carrying the run off.  The City Light dams and Upper Baker and Lower Baker dams here managed to hold the run off for the early part of the run, but all are now at capacity and spilling.  The Skagit has been measured at 27.35 at the Dalles gauge, and 26 feet is considered flood stage.  However, although some flooding has occurred at Rockport and at other low points along the river, the main stream has been running bank full and carrying the load well.  Weather in the 80’s on Monday sent the gauge up higher but still not to the point where flood damage can be expected in the lower valley.  With the steady stream flow no emergency is expected unless a storm and warm rains speed up the run-off of snow from the higher altitudes.

June 22, 1967 Flood Event


USGS 72,300 cfs 29.59 Concrete; 72,000 cfs 28.28 Mt. Vernon.


26 feet was considered flood stage???


baker project facts outlined

Puget Power’s employee magazine last week carried pictures and the full story on the construction of a new powerhouse at the lower Baker plant in Concrete.  With the story was the project drawing shown here of the construction under way.  Their story, in part:  “Bechtel Engineering Corporation of San Francisco designed the powerhouse and has begun construction on the site at Concrete in Skagit County.  Cost of the project is estimated at $4,750,000.  . . .  Debris from the 1965 landslide remains in the tunnel and in the river bed itself, where it blocks the draft-tube outlet channel.  The tunnel will be cleared, an old underground surge chamber rebuilt, and the river bed dredged for some 1,500 feet below the powerhouse.  . . .  All 23 of the spillway gates on Lower Baker dam will be modified to permit their operation by remote control from the powerhouse.  At present, only three are so equipped.  The others are manually opened and closed.  The reconstructed plant will be designed for remote operation from the Company’s Eastside operation center at Kirkland via the microwave system.

Puget Power Dredged Baker River


“The tunnel will be cleared, an old underground surge chamber rebuilt, and the river bed dredged for some 1,500 feet below the powerhouse.”


This is significant due to the erasing of geologic evidence of old flood events.



permit given to raise ross lake by 2½ ft.

The Federal Power Commission has granted Seattle City Light the right to increase storage on Ross Lake reservoir by some 2½ feet.  The additional storage is now made possible by raising the level of the Ross dam spillway gates by that height.  The increased height will provide about 25-million kilowatt-hours a year in electrical power.  The new lake level is not expected to affect the lake for its use in recreation.  The request was made by City Light following a new agreement signed with British Columbia last January in which the new level of the lake is set for 1725 feet.  This will allow Ross Dam to be raised 125 feet sometime in the future and will fulfill the original plans for adding to the height of the dam.

Ross Dam


Spillway gates raised 2.5 feet.


cement plant to phase out in 1968

Lone Star Cement Corporation will close it’s 61-year old cement plant in Concrete and de-activate the quarry during 1968.  The plant will be down for two months starting January 1st, then reopen to phase out over the balance of the year.  It will be a gradual operation with the quarry first, then the raw end, kilns, grinding and finish end.  Storage and shipping will continue until all finished product is shipped.  . . .  In his statement, Mr. Hutton stated that a formal economic study of the earning capacity of the Concrete plant indicated it did not measure up to the specifications of the program.  He described the plant as “one of oldest ones in the Company’s system that had too many unprofitable years to justify its continued operation.”  . . .  The Concrete mill, which began producing cement in 1906, was acquired by Lone Star from Superior Portland Cement Company in 1957.  One of the oldest plants in Lone Star’s 15-plant system, Concrete’s operating costs are the highest of all the plants.

Lone Star Cement Plant To Close


Plant began producing cement in 1906.


seattle bidder gets lake job

Cascade Northern Company has been awarded the contract from among a dozen bidders for the first phase of Puget Power’s beautification project to clean up Lake Shannon and improve its recreational use.  . . .  “Our goal is to make the lake more useful for fishing and boating,” said Andy Miller, superintendent of the Company’s Baker River power projects.  “At the moment, we’re not sure how much time it is going to take to complete the job or how much it is going to cost, but we do want to do the best we can to make the lake useful for people.”  Miller also announced that as of last Friday, the lower Baker powerhouse reconstruction had reached about 67% completion and that the project is about a month ahead of its scheduled September 1, 1968, start-up time.  The powerhouse building is essentially finished; the erection of the 70,000-kilowatt generator is about 40% completed; the surge shaft and expansion chamber, which handle the back up of water in case of a sudden shut-down at the plant, are about 90% complete; the transmission substation, which will receive power from the generator for delivery to Company lines, is about 10% completed.

Lower Baker Dam

Lake Shannon

Powerhouse Reconstruction


Puget Power wanted to make Lake Shannon “useful for people”.


City Endorses County Flood District

Skagit county commissioners last night received approval of Mount Vernon’s city council to proceed with formation of a countywide flood control zone district.  . . .  The Proposed district, authorized by the last legislature, would enable the county to sponsor flood control projects directly, rather than through smaller, independent districts, LeGro explained.  . . .  The new district would not necessarily mean elimination of present diking and drainage district, LeGro added, in response to a question.  . . .  The advisory council favors the proposed improved diking of the river and channel widening from Sedro-Woolley to the mouth, which would give eight-year flood protection, but has taken no stand on the controversial Avon by-pass, which would protect against a 35-year flood.  . . .  A new flood control development, possibility of having the Puget Sound Power & Light Co. reserve from 22 to 19 feet of its Upper Baker dam storage for flood control use, has been suggested and is now being studied, LeGro divulged.  . . .  This storage could step up flood protection by as much as 12 cycle years, or to 20 if combined with the lower river dike-channel program.  

Countywide Flood Control Zone District





Did not “necessarily” mean elimination of diking and drainage districts.




Upper Baker reserve from 19 to 22 feet of storage being studied.


dams helped in last threat of floods

Flood control benefits of power dams were demonstrated during the weekend of heavy rains the first of the month when Seattle City Light held back part of the flow of the upper Skagit River.  Between midnight Friday, May 31, to 6 a.m., Monday, June 3, City Light held back 112,336 acre-feet of water in Ross Lake because of the near-flooding conditions in the lower Skagit.  Power Manager Cas Bradeen reports that Ross Lake rose 9.8 feet during that period.  At one time Ross reservoir received approximately 25,000 cubic feet per second flow of water from that part of the Skagit River and its tributaries upstream of the dam.  Outflow was kept down to the minimum.

June 3, 1968 Flood Event


USGS Concrete not available; 68,800 cfs 28.09 Mt. Vernon.


2 feet over flood stage if flood stage 26 feet.  See 6/21/67 C.H.  Ross Lake rose almost ten feet in 4 days.


skagit tribe is offered grant

The Upper Skagit Tribe will meet this Saturday, August 31, at Hillcrest Park in Mt. Vernon to discuss and vote on accepting a proposed settlement of $384,471.42 offered the Tribe to settle its claim case against the United States, which has been pending since 1951.  The settlement represents additional compensation for 453,000 acres of land ceded under the Treaty of Pt. Elliott in 1859, and is based on a value of 90 cents per acre at the time of law, such valuations are established on the basis of what the land was worth at the time of the Treaty.  . . .  Charles Boome of Sedro-Woolley is Chairman of the Upper Skagit Tribe and Mrs. Alice Cuthbert is secretary.  They state that this is the most important meeting the Tribe has had.  They emphasize that individuals must be present to vote and urge everyone to attend.

Upper Skagit Tribe


Offered payment for their land that the government took from them.  See 6/21/51 C.H.


skagit indians accept government award

The Upper Skagit Indian Tribe voted to accept the U.S. government’s offer of $348,471.42 in settlement of the tribe’s claim for additional compensation for 453,000 acres of land ceded under the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1859.

Upper Skagit Tribe

See 8/28/68 C.H. and  6/21/51 C.H.


baker power plant back on the line

Kilowatts, which had been flowing past the Lower Baker River Powerhouse since the slide of May 1965 were being collected again this week and put to work on the power grid of Puget Sound Power & Light.  The new powerhouse, which houses the 70,000 kilowatt generator salvaged from the disaster, is now in official operation although testing and the usual shakedown of “bugs” will continue until all equipment is operating efficiently.  . . .  Work on the project was done by the Bechtel Corporation and was started in the spring of 1967.  The cost of the completed project has been set at $4,750,000.  The company has been awarded $5,144,645 from insurance following the destruction of the original plant.  . . .  While the Bechtel Corporation was on the job, the company had them renew all 23 of the spillway gates on the dam.  Eight of them were replaced with steel instead of wood and will be operated by remote control.  The entire powerhouse has been designed for remote control operation from the Redmond Operation Center by solid state microwave units.

Lower Baker Dam Powerhouse


Spillway gates operated by remote control.


It took them almost as long to rebuild the powerhouse as it did to build the dam.


City To Make $4,419 Survey of River

Mount Vernon city councilmen voted four to one last night to make a $4,419 engineering study of the Skagit River to clarify status of the city’s Edgewater park and garbage fill operation.  . . . As agreed on at the Dec. 6 meeting, the suggested cross-section points on the river were outlined on a map prepared by the U.S. Corps of Engineers.  . . .  The study is intended to provide data on which a decision can be made as to how much of the park riverbank should be cut back to provide additional river flow at flood time to make up for high water channel room taken by the garbage fill.


Study to clarify status of Mt. Vernon Edgewater Park (garbage dump).


VI.                Fire Chiefs Urge Flood Preparations


            Six Skagit county fire chiefs called on the county engineer’s office and Joe Cain, county civil defense director, Tuesday night for immediate planning to cope with a possible flood emergency this season.  . . .  Johnson said there was some cause for concern because the latest snow pack report lists the Skagit watershed as 127 per cent above normal. He pointed out that while record floods have tended to come in November or December, the last serious flood in this valley occurred in February, 1951.  . . .  The problem of communications, between the courthouse and the fire stations and to workers on the dikes appears in better shape than in 1951, discussion indicated. 



Snow pack 127% of normal.






Problem with communications between courthouse and fire departments in 1951.


High Water?

Flood Council Decides Dike District Agency it Open Dikes if Necessary


            One of the major agreements the group reached was as to who would have to right to order a dike “blown” to reduce water pressure and hold down flood damage. It was agreed this was the right of the dike district commissioners.  . . .  Other subjects discussed included how to coordinate flood control work, availability of sand bags and pay for help obtained during an emergency. 



Dike Districts have authority to “blow” dikes.


City Pinpoints Profile Of Skagit River Bottom


HOW DEEP THE RIVER? - Sketch above is profile of Skagit river bottom, between Gates street on east and Edgewater park on west, drawn from river depth surveys completed Wednesday by City Engr.  G. D. LeGro’s crew. With river holding at nine-foot level on the gauge, there was 15 feet of water at 100 and 200 feet out from the parking revetment, 9½ feet at the 300-foot point and ten feet at 400 feet. River width at this point is 500 feet. Deepest water directly under the downtown bridge was 24 feet. LeGro calculated river at this point is 500 feet. Deepest water directly under the downtown bridge was 24 feet. LeGro calculated river at this point would carry 120,000 cubic feet per second at 27½ -foot flood height, which is considered between a seven- and nine-year frequency flood. 


Mt. Vernon Sounds River Depths



River about 10 to 15 feet deep.



Deepest point under Riverside Bridge 24 feet.


river widening needed in parts, report reveals

. . . Some 5,396,000 cubic yards of dirt, rocks and gravel would be excavated totally if the project is undertaken.

River Widening would have been in the Mt. Vernon City Dump Area.


VII.             river flood plan offered

            A master plan for future development of the Skagit river channel through downtown Mount Vernon for both flood protection and landfill has been forwarded by city officials to the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Seattle, and the state Department of Water Resources, Olympia.  The state agency, which last year question the city’s continuing to use Blumberg island as a garbage fill, for gradual conversion to Edgewater park, replied in recent days that it would study the report.  Combining Corps of Engineers data on river flood capacity with results of the city’s actual measurement of the river bed at 19 crossings this year, City Engr. Denny LeGro has recommended cutting back the bank of Blumberg island from 44 to 98 feet between the Division street bridge and the downstream tip of the island, across from Kincaid street.  . . .  His letter suggested a plan for a minimum river channel width of 50 feet at ten-foot river level through downtown Mount Vernon, with a flaring out on below to improve the flow of flood waters.  LeGro’s letter declared the proposed plan would “provide the hydraulic needs of the Skagit river through Mount Vernon without materially affecting the flood plain needs of the Skagit river at flood stage.”    


Edgewater Park study completed.








Mt. Vernon city engineer recommends cutting back bank of Edgewater Park from 44 to 98 feet.


salmon anglers!  our pink salmon (humpies) need help

Advertisement from Washington Fisheries informing fishermen to release all pink salmon.


slow runoff perfect for baker river dams

With snow in the hills about gone, river control is the practice at dams both on the Skagit and Baker.  The Skagit River is at about its lowest point in several years, due to the lack of rainfall the past month.  Power potentials have been maintained by holding the water behind the dams to the best advantage.  . . .  Lowest water recorded on the Skagit in August was ’41 when it ran 6,400 cu. ft. 1969 August average was 8,000.  August average over the years is 9,660.  Normal flow in July is 18,000 cu.-ft. per second.  September is considered the low month of the year so another drop is expected unless heavy rains set in.

Upper Baker Dam


Lowest water recorded on the Skagit in August was 1941 when it ran 6,400 cu. ft. 1969 August average was 8,000.  August average over the years is 9,660.  Normal flow in July is 18,000 cu.-ft. per second.


conservation group asks exclusion of skagit as wild river

Letter to USFS from Skagit Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisors

. . .  We question whether the segments of the Skagit River and its tributaries as proposed for study in the Act, meet the requirements as specified in the Act.  The main stream of the Skagit from Bacon Creek to Mt. Vernon is not a free-flowing river since its flow is affected by the existing Skagit River dams.  The Skagit from above Concrete to Mt Vernon flows through alluvial soils which to a large degree have been cleared and are being used for agriculture or have been or are being developed for recreational homesites.  . . .  We believe that the provisions of the Wild Rivers Act would make it difficult, if not impossible, to control the bank erosion and otherwise construct dikes and other flood control works.

SCD Opposed Wild and Scenic Designation




baker area earth shift brings 4.5 earthquake sunday night

The Upper Skagit Valley now has its own earthquake.  The first sign of this phenomenon came at about 11:40 Sunday night when a growing rumble turned into a real, house-shaking 4.5 Richter-scale earthquake that lasted for several seconds.  In a few minutes came another shock of lesser intensity and more of these varying from mere rumbles to definite and disturbing tremors continued through the night until past 3:00 in the morning.  As residents from Diablo down valley to Hamilton turned on the radio and TV sets Monday morning to learn what disaster had struck the state at some distance away it was found that no one on the newscasts had knowledge of the night of tremors.  It was along in mid-morning before the word reached outlying areas, and around noon before word came from the University of Washington seismograph that there WAS an earthquake of strong signal and it was centered in the Mount Baker-Baker Lake area.

Earthquake  --  Epicenter Baker Lake Area


4.5 on Richter-scale.


first batches of sockeye salmon of season start migration to deep water

Over 9,000 small fingerlings slipped into the creek at the north end of Baker Lake last Saturday as Vern Daves, superintendent of the Game Department’s fish hatchery, released the first batch of sockeye for the season.  The tiny silver streaks were about an inch and a half in length and weighed out at 5 fish to 1 gram.  Daves dips the fish in sieves from the trough and weighs them to judge how many he is releasing at a time.  He said that 6¼ million were released last year.  Mortality rate is extremely high with thousands lost over the dam and to birds and other predators in the lake.  Only about one in a thousand survives to hit open water.

Sockeye Salmon Fish Issue


The mortality rate is shocking.  If the figures given in this article are true only 6,250 fish out of 6,250,000 survive to reach the Skagit River.  There has got to be a better way.