The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Historical society shares stories from Stella's past


September 14, 2017

Diana Zimmerman

Matt Moore demonstrated the art of blacksmithing at the Remnants of the Past event sponsored by the Stella Historical Society with a little assistance from John Lile.

The arts of blacksmithing, wool spinning, candle dipping, and soap making were being practiced by volunteers at the Stella Historical Society's annual Remnants of the Past event on Saturday.

The event raises funds for restoration at the historical site along SR 4, where the forge and post office are located. For safety reasons, a new forge is being built.

Matt Moore, a building inspector by day, was bathed in sweat as he hammered away at a project he was working on in the forge, while explaining the process of blacksmithing and how several tools were used. He had gotten involved in the practice while learning gunsmithing. A left hander, he found it would be a lot easier to forge some of the parts he needed.

Up Germany Creek is the Stella Lutheran Chapel, where people gathered to listen to old time music throughout the day. There was bumbleberry cobbler, which looked delicious, and hot dogs and chili for hungry visitors. MaryAnn Nelson spun wool and spoke to the curious. Other people gathered in the chapel and looked at historical photos and talked to Gaye Richards, a historian who knew all the stories.

According to her daughter, Sue Richards, who knows a few stories herself, the event was first organized in 1977.

Diana Zimmerman

Cindy Faubion was assisted by her grandsons, Cooper Grasseth, left, and Jack Hannah, at right, at Saturday's event. The boys have learned a lot from their grandparents, including how to make lye soap, which Faubion was demonstrating at the event, and hand dipped candles. The two also know how to quilt, sew, can peaches, and make jam, cider, pickled fish, and sauerkraut.

Richards spoke of the small communities that speckled the area, cut off from each other, without easy communication. One young man who had a problem with his father simply moved to another community, and it was as if he had moved to another country.

The population of Stella fluctuated each week as loggers went into the hills to work, and flooded back into town on the weekends to catch a boat into Portland. At the end of the weekend, they would return to work, hungover. The price of beer was the same as the price of water, Richards said. One of the lumber barons, Simon Benson, was a teetotaler, and in order to combat the problem, he introduced water fountains called Benson Bubblers.

The society has many old tools on display, including threshers, adzes, and potato diggers. One of their assets is a moonshine still. Richards had asked a local gentleman for a moonshine recipe, but he refused for fear the "feds" would come after him.

For more information about the Stella Historical Society, call 360-423-3860 or 360-423-8663.


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