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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. An evolving history dedicated to the principle of committing random acts of historical kindness
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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Territorial Daughters History of Edison

This is an undated manuscript from the scrapbooks of Chapter 1, Territorial Daughters of Washington
from the online subscribers edition of the
Skagit River Journal of History & Folklore

(Lindquist Blacksmith shop, Edison)
Lindquist Blacksmith shop, Edison

      The Samish valley consists of a belt of tide lands skirting the river, slough, bay and island all bearing the same name. The chief town of the region and the oldest is Edison, located in this far-famed valley in Skagit County.
      Edison, which derives its name from that of the "Wizard of Menlo Park" [Thomas Alva Edison], is located upon both sides of the branch (north) of the Samish river, which is also called Edison slough. It is about a mile from the bay and, at high tide, is accessible to steamers of medium draught.
      Immediately around the town is the reclaimed tide land, while rising slightly above these lands is a belt of fertile valley densely timbered in its native state, hut cleared first by the hands of loggers and they by farmers, now a rich farming region. A few miles to the south of it lies the picturesque Bay View ridge, and to the northward may be seen the green heights of the Chuckanut hills. Far to the eastward, dominating the entire landscape, tower the majestic peaks of the Cascade Mountains.
      Edison's beginning may be said to date from the year 1869 [when] several settlers took up their abode on the tide-swept flats and began reclaiming them from the sea. Among these men were Ben Samson, who took the claim upon which the townsite of Edison was later platted. A year later came Edward McTaggart who settled immediately northwest of Samson and adjoining him. Gradually others gathered around this nucleus until the settlement became so large that a post office was demanded. To further this project Mr. McTaggart called a meeting for the consideration of the matter. It was held at the McTaggart place [on] March 26, 1876, forty-six settlers being present, and a petition drawn and signed, asking for the creation of Edison post-office with Edward McTaggart as postmaster, he suggesting the name of Edison in honor of the celebrated electrician.
      The office was established the following June with Swen Johnson as the first mail carrier. For a long time the office was kept in the house of D. P. Thomas, situated on the northwest side of the slough. There were at that time four mails a week; three from Samish Island and one from Prairie. The mail from Prairie was carried on horseback and that from Samish by rowboat across the bay, a distance of about five miles. Later in 1886 D.P. Thomas was acting justice of the peace and also postmaster. The opening of the post office naturally led to the establishing of a trading post for the convenience of those on the flats, the honor of being the pioneer merchant belonging to Captain A.J. Edwards, a sloop trader. His little store was opened about the year 1889, directly on the slough occupying a small tract of land donated for the purpose by Mr. McTaggart.
      The first hotel was built by Dan Dingwall in 1882 on his property adjoining the store on the McTaggart claim. Not long after this, through failure, his property passed in to the hands of Colonel Granville O. Haller, the well-known Coupeville pioneer, who also at the same time came into possession of Samson's claim. Upon a part of that property Colonel Haller, in 1886 platted the original Edison townsite, consisting of only four acres.
      Settlement in those early years progressed slowly as the reclamation of the flats and the densely timbered bench lands was expensive. All travel was done in canoes, row boats and flat boats as the flats were so badly cut up by sloughs and the ground was so slimy and spongy that land traveling was an impossibility. In 1881 the settlers built a bridge across the north Samish near Edison. William Dean did the pile driving. This bridge proved a valuable improvement indeed. A dike was early completed across the flats to Samish island, affording the interior easy connection with the Seattle-Whatcom steamers.

      This section was the model for the sections we will eventually share about every town in Skagit county. We will share more versions about Edison from different writers. You will find links to three different stories about Edison from Ray Jordan, the 1906 Illustrated History book, the Territorial Daughters and the Puget Sound Phonograph newspaper. This feature originally appeared in our separate online Subscribers-paid magazine.

Story posted on April 23, 2002 and last updated on Feb. 15, 2004
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