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(Seattle & Northern 1890)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Subscribers Edition Stories & Photos
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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More Skagit county mining history
— Albert G. Mosier

      Ed. note: Albert G. Mosier was one of the many emigrants from southeast Iowa who formed the background of early Sedro in the 1890s. His impact countywide was significant, especially in the upper Skagit river region. He platted both the towns of Sedro and Woolley and the town of Sauk City on the south shore of the Skagit near the Sauk river. He was also a surveyor and engineer for Skagit County and served as part-time engineer for the city of Sedro-Woolley for nearly fifty years. He was also the longest lived of any of the original pioneers of Sedro. You can read his biography at and extensive profiles of his brother-in-law Harry L. Devin and his father, Cyrus Mosier., who was largely responsible for the national park around Mount Rainier. Trained as an engineer at Iowa State University, Mosier always made mining his highest interest and he spent many years in Alaska, administering mining operations there. Although his sentences were sometimes as long as his arm, his insistence that "Mining is about the only business on the earth that increases the wealth of the world without robbing or infringing on the rights of others" seems a bit quaint in hindsight, and the promotion of asbestos in his famous 1891 map has proven a hundred years later to be questionable in light of modern science, his research was back then very sound. Spelling corrections and additional notes and updates are provided in brackets: [ ].

Mining resources attract
earliest Skagit pioneers

By Albert G. Mosier, Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, June 29, 1939
      Mining, according to the late Cecil Rhodes of African fame, has been the foundation of the world's wealth from the beginning of time. Mining is about the only business on the earth that increases the wealth of the world without robbing or infringing on the rights of others. Without mining the present development of mankind and the industries, including agriculture would be impossible, as production, transportation and communication depend upon the products of the mine for their very existence.
      The early history of Skagit County is replete with pioneers prospecting for minerals. Among the very first of those pioneers we find Otto [Klement, misspelled as Clement] and Charles [von] Pressentin. Luckily Mr. Klement kept a diary and we can glean some of the early history from his records with some accuracy. Rumors of gold led this pair to organize an expedition to visit the Methow Valley and in 1877 they crossed the Cascade Pass with Indian guides and visited Lake Chelan and the Methow, without finding gold, but enraptured with the natural beauty of lakes, mountains and flowers, and learning from an old Indian, of gold on a tributary of the Skagit, determined to explore it. Some gold was found and another expedition was planned to make further explorations.
      It was in 1879 that our explorers reached Ruby creek and gave it the name because of the rubies in the sands of the creek. [Ed. note: actually Klement noted in his diary that the miners mistook relatively worthless jasper stones in the creek as being rubies.] Granite and [Canyon] creeks were explored and some gold recovered, the news leaking out caused a stampede of large proportions in early 1880. On the Fourth of July [that year], the first "prospectors and miners" meeting was held at Ruby City, at the junction of Granite and Ruby creeks. Four thousand attended and made reports from the various districts and patriotic speeches appropriate to the occasion.
      Since then, the discoveries of Lode Claims have accumulated until in 1897 the state listed 3,787 for this county. In the early years, considerable development work was done in spite of the handicaps, but lack of roads into these districts has kept them locked up. With the discovery of gold in the [Klondike, he spelled it Klondyke, which was an alternative spelling in the early days], our region was virtually deserted for the appeal of the rich strike of the north was irresistible.

Coking coal and other minerals replace gold fever
      Interest in mining lagged until within the last ten years, although a few mines in the state were consistent producers n a substantial scale. In speaking of mines, we generally have in mind the metals, gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc and iron, but we must no overlook coal, which at one time was an important industry at Cokedale [the mines and briefly a town of that name four miles northeast of Woolley].
      Several hundred miners were employed for years and a fair grade of coke from a nest of sixty ovens was produced. Any time this locality needs a real coal mine it can be had by sinking a deep shaft near the foot of Cokedale hill [that site east of the Northern State Hospital campus today shows no trace of the town or mine except for the blocked shaft]. For a long time the Concrete cement plant secured its coal supply from here. A wrong system of mining caused the abandonment of the mine.
      The total mineral production of the state from 1860 to 1937 was $430,518, 523.00 and including the non-metallics is estimated at over three quarters of a billion dollars. The increase in value of gold and silver has spurred the prospector and mines to greater activity, with a decided growth and increase in production, and renewal of interest of the public, and a resurrection of the many locations of early years, which as mentioned before amounted to 3,787 in Skagit County alone. Ninety-one of those were patented and twenty more surveyed.
      Recent years have added more minerals for our daily use such as nickel, chromium, Molybdenum, tungsten, aluminum and the latest, magnesium, all of which can be had in commercial quantities in this county. There is no reason to doubt the properties near Mount Vernon will produce gold and nickel, or that the chrome of the Nooksack, the molybdenum of Baker and upper Skagit, will come in with the advent of transportation facilities [significant paved roads were not laid in the upper Skagit area until the Depression years of the mid 1930s]. The lead silver mines [galena] of the Cascade, when our mine-to-market road is built, which we are now assured will be a reality soon [now Hwy 20, not opened until 1972].
      Talc deposits from Sedro-Woolley east will supply all demands for all time to come. The silica of upper Skagit quartz deposits will supply glass works and build pulp burr stones for the pulp industry. Then if we get down to clays we have desirable clay beds for tile and pottery. The dunite [consisting of olivine and magnesium] of the Twin Sisters and Nooksack may be made into refractory brick. The only known jade in situ is in our back yard, to be more in the spotlight when the China war is settled [the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, which was not settled until the end of World War II, right around the corner].
      I was surprised to learn recently that the assay return on many cars of Hamilton iron ore, shipped to the cement company, ran well above 50 percent, some 55 and even over 60 percent. With the advent of surplus Seattle Light and Coulee power this ore should, with the perfection of new processes, be used.
      The most outstanding development in the state is the Howe sound, which made $1.1 million profit last year with only the last quarter year in full production of 2,000 tons per day. This was done with $6.75 ore, about half gold and half copper. On the whole a healthy growth is taking place in the mining industry.
      This county, in my opinion, has three kinds of gold: yellow, black and white. You will admit the first and last varieties and time and the drill will prove the other is here.
      State investigations show there are 29 metallic and 49 non-metallic mineral substances found within the state, and we have a majority of them within this county, therefore we have a bright future for the mining industry.

See a list of many more mining stories and profiles

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Story posted on June 20, 2004, and last updated on Feb. 21, 2006
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