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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
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The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit

Covers from British Columbia to Puget Sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, Snohomish & BC. An evolving history dedicated to committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Northwest Skagit Advocate, Oct. 10, 1908

Edison and its people,
historical and local

Click on these thumbnail photos to see the full-sized photos of a Fourth of July, 1910,
downtown Edison parade and the same scene on Halloween 2005

(1910 Parade-1)
(1910 Parade-2)
(1910 Parade-3)
(Halloween 2005 parade)
Upper left, Upper right, Lower left: Three views of the 4th of July Edison parade route, 1910. We are looking west on McTaggart Ave., downtown Edison. Those in the parade will march west to east route. Lower right. Halloween 2005 parade, same route, photo by Jean Sherrard. The parade was photographed in conjunction with a book with Sherrard's photos and Paul Dorpat's text in their book published in 2007, Washington Then and Now.

Inaugural Issue, Part 3 of 4
Bow, Oct. 10, 1908, Vol. 1, No. 1, B.M Frederick, Publisher
(Tom Cain)
Oddly, Thomas Cain, the early saloon and store-owner of Edison, is barely mentioned, although buildings of his Cain Court still stand downtown in Edison. Read about him here.

      Edison, located in the far famed Samish valley, is for size and population one of the richest towns in the county, containing among its citizens several of the heaviest taxpayers in this part of the state. It is located in the center of one of the richest farming sections of Skagit county and is the principal trading point for a vast community of well-to-do farmers, orchardists and dairymen. The shingle mill industry is also well represented.
      No prettier site for a town can be found anywhere. It is situated on both sides of the north branch of the Samish river, about one mile from Puget Sound and accessible to steamers of medium draught. Immediately around the town is the reclaimed tide land — the richest on earth — while rising slightly above these lands is a belt of fertile land cleared first by loggers, then by farmers, and now a rich farming region. Thousands of acres of good land yet await the homeseeker who is not afraid of the work or clearing.
      A few miles to the south of Edison lies the picturesque Bayview ridge and town of that name, and at an equal distance northward may be seen the green heights of the Chuckanut hills. Two miles east is the town of Bow on the Great Northern railroad, thickly settled between, and two lines of stages. Far to the eastward, dominating the entire beautiful landscape, tower the majestic peaks of the Cascade mountains. All this famous country will be accommodated ere the dawn of another year by the Whatcom-Skagit Interurban Electric Railway, financed by Eastern capitalists, who have already secured the right of way and completed the surveys. [See this entire Journal section about Pacific Northwest Traction and the Interurban.]
      Edison is among the pioneer towns of this part of the state. In 1869, several settlers took up their abode on the flats and began reclaiming them from the waters of Puget Sound. At the [Edward] McTaggart place in March 1876, forty-six settlers met and signed a petition for a postoffice, with Edward McTaggart as postmaster, and in that same year the Bellingham Bay Mail [April 27, 1878] speaks well of the place and a few years later on the Skagit News [Feb. 9, 1886] mentions the place as a "lively little town, beautifully situated on Edison slough." [Journal ed. note: McTaggart was a Scotsman who came to the Skagit Valley in 1869 via Anaheim, California. We plan to profile him in Issue 35. He is related by marriage to the equally famous Washington pioneer families of Goodell and Judson.]
      The first store was opened by A.J. Edwards, a sloop trader, in 1880, and the first hotel was built in 1882 by Dan Dingwall. In 1886 the original townsite of Edison was platted by Colonel G.O. Haller, a well known pioneer citizen of Puget Sound. [Journal ed. note: Granville O. Haller was a native of Pennsylvania who was assigned to Washington Territory in 1853 and became an important leader and businessman in several counties around Puget Sound. He will also be profiled in Issue 35.]. In 1884, Thomas Cain's saloon and Boyce & Churchill's store were erected and in 1886, Mr. Gilmore of Seattle became a leading merchant. [Journal ed. note: Cain was a native of Canada who arrived in Washington Territory in 1876 and opened a store and then a saloon in Edison, starting in 1884. Read more about him at this site about Edison.]
      From this year on, the town began to grow and many changes have taken place. A disastrous fire in 1893 entailed a loss of $20,000 to the business interests of the town. Warehouses belonging to Colonel Haller, Orrin Smith and John Doser, the Loomis drug store, Tom Cain's saloon and J.A. Jonak's harness shop were destroyed.
      During the years following the foundation period of which we have spoken, Edison has steadily improved, corresponding to the growth of the rich country tributary, until now it has a good bank, three general merchandise stores, butcher shop, drug store, two livery stables, a blacksmith shop, barber shop, harness shop, hotel, restaurant, billiard parlor, stationery and confectionery, etc. There is a good graded and high school and three churches, the Catholic, Lutheran and Congregational. Fraternal societies are represented by Edison Lodge No. 45, I.O.O.F., and the Fraternal Union No. 154.
      In conclusion, we desire to say to the homeseeker that no more desirable community can be found than the town of Edison, where every opportunity is offered the industrious man of moderate means.

Edison in 1908

(1909 flood)
      Early settlers in Edison had to build dikes by hand to protect against flooding from the Samish River. The bay itself was very shallow and sometimes goods would be delivered by steamer or sternwheeler far out on the mud, depending on the tides. This photo, courtesy of Paul Dorpat, is of the 1909 flood that ravaged the whole valley, the worst between 1897 and 1921. We are looking north, along the same roadway that still leads into town. The photo is identified as being by Darius Kinsey, which is surprising because he had moved after Christmas 1905 to Seattle.

(Edison 1955)
These two photos from the Nov. 27, 1955 issue of the Bellingham Herald show the original pioneer buildings of Edison, at Cain Court and elsew
      Whitney and Benner will soon begin the erection of a new building adjoining their present place of business. The new structure will be 54x100 feet and will contain, when completed, a stage for shows, bowling alley, pool room and a dancing floor, in addition to sufficient space to accommodate their extensive line of confectionery, tobaccos, cigars and stationery. They are the live wires of Edison and nothing is too modern for them.
      Iddins Bros. are among the earliest settlers in Edison, the firm name appearing prominently in the [1906 book, Illustrated History of Skagit & Snohomish Counties]. They are heavy dealers in general merchandise and, like all other successful businessmen of the town, have an abiding faith in its future. To anyone who has surveyed its surroundings this is but natural, as it is a magnificent grain, dairy and orchard region.
      George Halloran, the popular druggist, is the only one engaged in his line of business in Edison. In addition to a large stock of drugs, he carries an assortment of confectionery, stationery, etc. A pioneer in the place, his trade is extensive and constantly expanding.
      George McKernan, the painter and decorator who for five weeks was a very sick man, is now much improved in health and is again at work, being fully able to attend to all contracts entrusted to him.
      Lamaster's stage line from Edison to Bow makes regular trips twice a day [corrected elsewhere to four times] and is well patronized. Traffic is increasing at a healthy rate, which speaks well for the growth of the community.
      We are indebted to Mr. Stump for a wagon ride from Bow to Edison. A little kindness now and then is relished by the worst of men.

Edison Notes

Links, background reading and sources
Links to the other three parts of this newspaper issue in Issue 33 that were originally shared with subscribers:
Other background links:

(Halloween 2005-2)
The goblins that sent shivers up the spines of Edisonians on Halloween 2005
when Jean Sherrard came armed only with his camera and lenses. [Shudder]

Story posted on April 13, 2006, last updated Dec. 26, 2007 . . . Please report any broken links so we can update them
This article originally appeared in Issue 33 of our Subscribers-paid Journal online magazine

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