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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
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History of Brownsville and Bow

Transcribed from Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties, 1906, page 236
      The site of Bow, a thriving young village on the Great Northern, seven miles north of Burlington and on the eastern edge of the Samish region, was homesteaded by William J. Brown in 1869 [actually no earlier than 1871]. In 1899 the Great Northern railway placed a corps of surveyors in this region, who ultimately ran a line from Belleville via Brown's place to the extreme western point of Chuckanut mountain, thence up the shore to Bellingham. This survey was later adopted and in 1901 the railway company began building this "cut-off," finishing it the following year, and soon thereafter abandoning the old route over the mountain further east. [Ed. note: you can see the cut-off today as you drive north on old Hwy 99. The original train tracks went north through Belfast, also profiled in the Journal, and around Friday creek and Lake Samish to Fairhaven along the line of the former Fairhaven & Southern railway.]

(Howard Butler Shingle Co. in Bow)
      Albert S. Howard built this shingle mill near Bow in about 1885, a year after he moved to the territory. He later joined with logger Silas Butler to form the largest timber company in the area. Read about him in this story below. Photo courtesy of the book, Skagit Settlers, which is still for sale at the Historical Museum in LaConner.

      To furnish the Samish district, recognized as one of the richest sections of the county, with a new station in place of the one abandoned, the company established Bow. It erected a station building in the fall of 1902, and appointed Henry Christianson, resident agent. From the establishment of this station the real existence of the village dates.
      However, before the building of the railroad there had been a small settlement near Bow, known locally as Brownsville. It resulted from the building of a saw-mill on the Brown place in 1892 by the Howard-Butler Company [see the Silas Butler story], and the erection the same year of a school-house nearby. Several logging camps in the surrounding region contributed to the stability of the settlement, and gradually the number of ranchmen in the district increased. The post office did not come until July, 1901, or until after the railroad had been assured, and the service did not commence until just one year later, when E.E. Heusted [some sources spell the name Hustead] assumed the duties of postmaster. The post office and station were named Bow, at the suggestion of Mr. Brown, after the great Bow railroad station of London, England.
      The same year the post office was opened, Ben Gardner built the Bow hotel, first known as the Gardner house. The next spring, McDougall & Brown built a saloon and that summer, W. Nelson Crenshaw established the Bow department store in a shake house. At that time, also, the Winner Shingle Company built a shingle mill on the Brown farm, thus giving the town proper its first industry.
      By 1904, Mr. Brown concluded that the time was ripe for the formal institution of a town, so platted twelve acres of his ranch into the town site of Bow. E. E. Heusted opened a grocery store, a saloon was built, George McMillan erected a blacksmith shop and Shadel & Smith placed their meat market in service, all before the close of the year 1904.
      Since the first of the present year [1906], Bow has added to its business establishments another general store, a public hall, a restaurant and a bicycle shop, besides securing two rural free delivery routes attached to the post office. As it is the only railroad station between Burlington and Whatcom county, naturally its shipping and traffic are of considerable magnitude. The town has connection by stage twice a day with Edison, which lies three miles west, almost on the bay.
      A summary of the business houses of Bow would include the following: General stores, W. [Nelson] Crenshaw, W. H. Benson; grocery and post office, E. E. Heusted; hotel and livery stables, John Peterson; restaurant, Mrs. T. D. Welch; blacksmith shop, George McMillan; meat market, Shadel & Smith; barber shop, bicycle store, Christianson [possibly Henry Christianson family]; two saloons, also the shingle mill of the Winner Shingle Company, capacity eighty thousand a day, Alexander McGaskill, manager. Patrick McCoy's large logging camp lies only a mile south.
      Aside from its strategic location as a business and shipping point, Bow has a rich tributary farming country, which, however, is not very extensively improved at the present time.

Albert S. Howard and Harriet Kalloch
      When we studied the Kalloch family, we learned that Harriet Kalloch married Albert S. Howard at Edison in 1888. Harriet was the niece of the former mayor of San Francisco, the famous Isaac S. Kalloch, who accompanied her and other family members on a steamboat to Skagit County at Christmastime in 1883. Mr. Howard came to this area at the age of 23, by rail from North Carolina to Portland, Oregon., then by a small railroad line to Tacoma, then by boat to Seattle and to Edison after seeing an ad for a contract to get out shingle bolts there. He landed at Edison in 1884 and spent most of his life in the timber business as a logger and lumberman in the Bow-Edison area. They lived in Stanwood for several decades at the end of their lives. You can read more about Howard's early logging days in our story about Silas Butler.

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Story posted on Dec. 25, 2003
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