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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Subscribers Edition Stories & Photos
(Seattle & Northern 1890)
Covers from British Columbia to Puget sound. Counties covered:
Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan. An evolving history dedicated
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Noel V. Bourasaw, editor 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Talc Mining in Skagit county

      Ed. note: with the help of readers Dan Howard and Brenda Jensen, we have been researching the talc mines of Skagit county for some time. Strains is a researcher and writer who is preparing an extended study of the industry and Jensen, who heads the staff of congressman Rick Larsen, is the descendant of miners and investors in the talc mines near Clear lake. We also note that the historic H. Bean Hardware building in Sedro-Woolley was originally cobbled together around a shack at Reed and State streets that originally housed the business office for a talc company after the turn of the 20th century. We will soon publish and overview of the results of our combined research, but meanwhile, here is an article from 1939 that highlights one of the talc companies. We hope that a reader will know more about what transpired of this company's plans or more about the industry in general.

Skagit Talc mine is a big industry
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, June 29, 1939
      Considerable development of talc deposits along the Skagit has gone on for years, but one of the most successful operators is that of the mien belonging to Skagit Talc Co. Inc., which was discovered July 29, 1929, by J.B. McLean of Sedro-Woolley, its present manager, and Bill Pooler, Warren Beaver and W.P. Stockdale. The property is located eight miles west of Newhalem on the south side of the Skagit river.
      The company was organized in December 1929, and in 1931, George Benz and Sons, St. Paul capitalists, bought out all the partners except McLean, who retained his interest and has remained here as Pacific coast manager, mine superintendent and head salesman for the organization. At present the company's biggest product consists of furnace blocks used for recovery smelters in [craft] paper mills throughout the nation. One company alone, the Longview Fibre Co., has spent $65,000 for these blocks. Mills in Louisiana, Florida and other states buy from the Skagit Talc.
      It is planned to install a grinding mill some day, as the ground talc has a wide variety of uses. A new development is the making of steel workers' crayons out of pencil talc that has been recently opened up. Talc dishes and novelties of all kinds have been made from talc from this mine.
      Approximately $75,000 has been spent in developing this mine and equipment, including a $10,000, 135-horsepower diesel engine. An unlimited supply of talc assures permanent operation. The ledge is one hundred and fifty feet wide, as far as it has been traced. Slabs of talc sixteen feet long and fifteen-by-eighteen inches square are mined and cut into blocks for shipment. Shipping is done over the Great Northern [railroad] after hauling the product across the river on a bridge. Orders now on hand will keep the plant busy several months. It now has eight employees and McLean maybe double the crew later.
      McLean is a real pioneer as he came to Washington with his parents in a wagon from Ponca, Nebraska, in 1882, landing at Walla Walla. He returned later to Nebraska but returned to Washington in 1904. His brother, C.E. McLean, located the famous Azurite mine; another brother is a mine broker, and another, "Hungry" McLean, is an old forest fire boss at Winthrop, famous for his big industries.

Story posted on June 20, 2004
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