Communication from Birdsview
Birdsview, May 31, 1886

      The most beautiful summer weather now gladdens the hearts of the people of this vicinity, of which the farmers are making good use to extend their clearings and putting in crops. A delightful breeze from the ocean blows up the river nearly everyday. This assists the ascending boatman in his voyage up the stream, and makes the atmosphere more congenial and pleasant to the residents of the valley. There seems to be health, vigor and elasticity in this ocean breeze as it intermingles with the more dense and heated atmosphere of the valleys, caressing in its course the fleecy mountain torrent, the stately fir of commerce, the graceful maple groves, and the clear winding river, as it glides sparklingly to the sea over its bed of many-colored, smooth, shining stones, which it has so far admirably fashioned for itself. Indeed, in the long bright months this is a beautiful valley for those who have an eye for the beautiful in Nature. Here great oval-shaped mountains, clothed from summit to base with fir and cedar of green and somber hues, raise their massive heads five thousand feet above the winding river at its base. And yonder, in the rear, stands the rugged granite snowcapped peaks, where our rivers head in towering waterfalls, bright cascades, tiny rivulets and cool, sparkling springs. There are dark canyons, high table lands with grassy flats, bright lucid pools and shady groves, the hunter's paradise. High frowning granite crags of dome and spire, and rugged wall and glacier inaccessible stand in grand and awe-inspiring juxtaposition, while the fertile valley of the Skagit for seventy-five miles bears westward to the sea.
      Here in this valley have we built our cabins and made our homes. Here our pilgrimage from the States has ended, and life's dream has assumed the forms of reality. I always longed to live in a land of mountains, valleys, streams and woods, and here they may be found in magnificent profusion. But here, as elsewhere, he that would enjoy the many natural benefits and beauties of the land must labor with a will and purpose, for however rich the soil, or healthful the climate, or large and sure the crops, or fine the timber, it takes earnest, careful and well-directed toil to build a home or gain a competency. Land must be cleared of trees, roads built, streams bridged, schools and churches started and social intercourse developed. These things are not created by magic, as all settlers in new countries can testify. Yet strong hands and willing minds, inspired by the knowledge that a profuse and willing Nature is waiting to assist them, can, and will, full soon, create them. All the materials for the making of good homes and a fine country are here. The entire valley for the most part will make the best of farming or grazing lands. The people are for the most part educated and very industrious, being inspired by a knowledge that good and desirable homes can be built here. We are glad to note as we pass up and down the valley that the farmers are pressing forward in the extension of their farms with untiring energy and this, with the arrival at short intervals of families from the States, to settle here, and most welcomely assist in the prosperity of the community, causes us the more to feel that the future prosperity of the valley is assured.
      But to return to local events. The saw-mill at this place will start up immediately under the supervision of George Savage. We have also a new ferry-boat for crossing teams, which will be a convenience to the settlers here. A Sunday-school has been inaugurated here with prospects of success. Johnny Hamilton seems to give good satisfaction as postmaster and teamster at Birdsview. E. Behrens is clearing, fencing and building in his usual energetic manner, making success a foregone conclusion. The Pressentins are extending their farms and raising stock. And by the way, I might remark that in the opinion of many of our settlers stock raising will yet become one of the principle occupations and a source of income in the near future in our valley, as clover and timothy yield abundantly, and pure running water is plentiful. S.R.

End Note:
      When L.A. Boyd stepped off the boat in Mount Vernon, in the Skagit valley that October 1882, one of the first things he said as he was traveling up-river to a new home and life in the Birdsview area was, "this surely is Gods country." At the time he didn't think he'd ever leave the area. This communication from the same time period by a peer of brother in-laws, Alex Boyd and George Savage is one of the best descriptions I've read that captures the awe inspiring and breathtaking beauty of the Skagit valley, which was still a time before Washington became a state in 1889. Hence the overtures to the settlers coming from the States.
      This article - courtesy of Deanna Ammons - from an issue of the Skagit News dated 31 May 1886 came in an early form of community news which continued on in up-river papers from Sedro-Woolleys Courier Times to the Concrete Herald in Concrete, which finally closed its presses in the early 1990's, but the paper saw community news (in this form) to the end.
      The article was written -very descriptively - by someone with the initials S.R. I looked through the census returns for Skagit, Washington Territory in 1885 and 1887. The only contemporary who lived close by the Boyd family was in Sterling 1887 (the family left Birdsview late 1886 after Norman Boyds birth) went by the name of S.J. Reckord of German decent and a teamster. Whether this is the author of the piece, I'm not sure of yet?
      Mentioned was made of E. Behrens, who was either one of two brothers, German decent and farmers, Aldoph and Herman. Aldoph was actually the person carrying mail up-river from Mount Vernon for up-river settlers. Alex Boyd, his two sons Archie and Jim followed Aldoph that October 1882 to find the home of the waiting Savage family.

Birdsview-"Stump ranchers"
By Fred Slipper

      "I was visiting with a fellow at the post office and he mentioned how he liked my column. This of course pleased my ego and when talking to him I mentioned I was running out of ideas to write about. He suggested writing something about the stump ranchers in the Birdsview area. So here goes…("Stump ranchers" was his expression)
      Most of the towns in our area were named by the first settlers that came here. Some were named after individuals, like Hamilton. Others after the product associated with them, such as Concrete. Others were a combination, such as Sedro (cedar, or cedar tree) and Woolley (after an individual).
      However, I think Birdsview was unique in acquiring its name. One of the first families in that area was the Minkler family, and Mr. Minkler's first name was Birdsey. So Mr. Minkler decided to call his town "Birdsview."
      One of my first memories of Birdsview was the fish hatchery that was located there. This apparently was one of the first in our part of the state and my folks always took visitors to see it.
      My next impression of Birdsview was associated with school. We had our grade school basketball team and Birdsview had a grade school in those days, so we would go up there to play them. I remember how small the floor was-you could shoot a basket from one end to the other. Birdsview always had good players which later on benefited the Hamilton boys.
      How did it benefit us? When the students graduated from Birdsview grade school they came to high school in Hamilton, so our former opponents became our teammates.
      Among the boys in my era I remember were Walter Gilmore, who was in my class, and his younger brother Milt. Also the Bates brothers, Ad and Mel, and Don Wilson.
      I don't remember just how many boys and girls from Birdsview joined us in high school, but I think it was around an average of about five each class. This may not seem like many, but when you consider the starting freshman class from Hamilton grade school was around twelve students, the Birdsview group was quite an addition.
      Showing that the "stump ranchers" in the Birdsview area raise good gardens, Homer Wyatt was displaying a corn stalk that was thirteen feet high. The first ears on this stalk were six feet from the ground. Homer says he raises them this way so short people will have a difficult time raiding his corn patch…"
Reprinted from Courier Times; Fred Slipper, Slipper's Soliloquies June 1980

Birdsview a Wide Stretch of Road
By Ted Pritchard Sr.

"It was a thriving community and really has some history"
      Ah yes- a wide stretch of road seven road seven miles west of Concrete on Highway 20 and if you blink twice you will miss it. It was a thriving community and really has some history, years back. Old timers say there was a store and hotel by the river where the Birdsview Grange Hall stands, and a few residents, which were washed away in high water.
Transportation
      Of course in those days there were no roads. Stern-wheelers and canoes up the Skagit were the only way of transportation up the valley.
Gar Greens pack horse 1970, from Barb Thompson collection       Later a road replaced trails and eventually a railroad was built up to Concrete and Van Horn, which in early days was much larger than Concrete. Hamilton, of course, was on the route and booming too.
      The stories some f the old-timers tell are wonderful, I only wish I had kept a record and diary of some of the things Gar Green, an old-timer, told me. He had a packhorse and mule string which he used to transport supplies for the Forest Service and others. Good roads in those days were few and far between.
Early Settlers
      The Savages and Pressentins were some of the first early settlers of Birdsview. Ira Savage and Mr.Pressentin had some wonderful tales to tell.
      Mr. Pressentin was a famous water witcher, or doyer, as it was called by some. He would take a forked green tree limb and walk around- finally the big end would point down and supposedly there's where you would dig a well for water. The limb he would use would be like a Y or a slingshot.
      Then there was Nell Wheelock and her sister [Kate] who, in early days, owned and operated the first telephone lines up the valley. Old timers said she would go up a pole, with spurs on, like a squirrel. In her later years Nell lived on a "stump ranch"- that's a farm in Birdsview.
      After I came here in '46 I remember seeing her on her little tractor, a Cub, I believe, heading for Hamilton, or down the road to visit. One rainy afternoon I listened to her for several hours asking questions.
      She spoke of her early years growing up in New York state, breaking oxen to use, for they worked them in some places instead of a team of horses. Their family had salvage rights and tug boats on Lake Shannon.
      Vern Daves related, I believe, to Nell has some good tales, too. He watched the rearing pens up at Baker Lake for years. John Steen was an early day resident and farmed down river between Birdsview and Hamilton. He had one of the first old threshing machines. He showed it to me one time and said he gave it to a museum. He had found an old rusty revolver in one of his fields one time.
      In early days they had an old graveyard at the mouth of Alder Creek east of Hamilton. One-year daughter, Shirley, led a group of local Birdsview kids down and cleaned up all around the graveyard. They cut weeds, and brush, picked up debris and refuse and you could actually see it from the road- imagine it was the first time in years and that's been 20 years or so ago as both our boys were in on it and they are 28 and 30 now.
Filling Station and Store
      Years ago Pat and Jim Jungbluth and brother Walt ran a filling station and small store where now the newer Grandy Creek Store stands. Whitey and Mary Medford built it and saw future of Birdsview becoming a thriving community. Larry and Polly Don and partners ran it for several years and now you can find Larry down at the station on lower end of Birdsview. Grandy Creek Grocery now is operated by Lawrence and Leslie Bates and Robert and Sherry Coggin.
Timber Industry
      Jim Wyatt ran a small saw mill for years, sawing lumber for neighbors. Bon Temple, Jims son in-law, helped some, too, and is quite an old timer. I worked with him years ago up at Art Hanson's steam operated saw mill on Burpee Hill where Lake Tyee is now located.
      He cut all types of lumber and sawed a few shingles. Most of his lumber was trucked down the hill and delivered to its destination by truckers Brookshire brothers, Fred and Roy. He hauled some of it down the hill on his own 6x6 rig by Joe Ashe where it was reloaded on rail cars at Concrete.
      I'd better get back to Birdsview… Homer Wyatt ran a little mill, too, on the side. They had a reload where peeler logs and so forth were loaded out at Birdsview where Iron Mountain Shake and Cedar shingle mill is now located. They have a big log storage started by Dave Phillips, another old timer. My Dad, brother and I operated a small mill, too. We stump ranched on the side for years. The only draw back was you had to work out on another job to keep your stump ranch going.
      Of course some of the old timers just milked cows and shipped milk in 10-gallon cans. Finally that was done away with and they all had to get modern with milkers, pipelines and bulk tanks.
      A lot of old timers like Joe Pinelli, Ralph Dexter, Elmer Ericson and Homer Bossart would marvel at the new ways of handling milk. Most all had to find other ways to make money besides ranching or milking cows.
      Homer later started a saw shop and log weigh station. I bought my first power saw, and old swivel head Tyton, off of Homer and later a new Homelite.
      Back in those days the Grandy Creek fish hatchery was running. A lot of us hated to see it shut down but now there is talk opening it up again. We need more things like that around to keep our valley prosperous and enticing to sportsmen, fishermen, and recreation.
Railroad
      There also is talk of a rail line coming back in up river. Of course they will have to rebuild the railroad tresle crossing at Grandy Creek which was taken out last year when high water jammed and ran a healthy stream clear down to the Shell station and Orlie [and Tom] Royal's place on Highway 20.
      It did this several other years before and was quite a mess. Mrs. Richmeyer who is 76 years young could tell you some tales of early days and the creek coming down by her place on Highway 20. She still goes up to the Senior Center with Mrs. Joy, a good friend.
      Update: Since the 2 floods of 1990 several sections of railroads track were washed out. The rail line was given up because of cost of repair.
reprinted from "Hamilton 100 Years"- which in turn was reprinted from the Concrete Herald by Ted Pritchard, Concrete and Birdsview Resident since 1941. Link is to Ted's Obit at Skagit Valley Herald; Ted unfortunately passed away 27 May 2003.

History of Birdsview School
Dist. #22

by Dan Royal
"At our little Birdsview School, we would line up to salute the flag of our United States of America. Then march into school to the music "Stars and Strips Forever" by John Philip Sousa, played on an Edison Victorolla- hand crank machine with a record around 1/4" thick."
Howard Royal- Birdsview School Alumni
Tour of Rasar Park part 2
by Hazel Rasar
Tour of Rasar Park part 1
by Barbara Kemmerich Halliday


      I've always loved before and after, now and then photos, with this new feature "A Walking Tour of Birdsview", I plan on using history and photos of specific areas in Birdsview, this could also include businesses and people.
      This issues tour comes from Kemmerich & Pressentin descendant Barbara Halliday, who lives in Salem, Ore. Barb comes up to Birdsview regularly though to update her research. Part 2 of the tour of Rasar Park will come from Hazel Rasar in November, she will explain how Dan Rasar & the Rasar family donated the property which became Rasar State Park.



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