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

Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle

 

January 17, 2019

The picture on the left with the women is from the late 19th century and the other is from the 1950s. Both trees are between 800 and 1000 years old. Photos are courtesy of Appelo Archives Museum.

After receiving many wonderful comments regarding my last article while out and about preparing for this article, it came to my attention that some clarification is in order. First of all, I have done years of research on this topic and I am only giving you a synopsis. As a younger man I have had the opportunity to fall trees, work in several lumber mills, and as part of a large tree planting crew I planted Douglas firs in Southern Oregon. What I have written can be proven. One of the best sources for material concerning this area does not come from the internet, but from the archives at The Appelo Archives Center.

I have spent many hours there over the years since moving here intently perusing old documents and especially their extensive collection of maps. I was an internship away from receiving my master's degree in museum studies which would have allowed me to run a museum, however, the opportunity to move here could not be ignored. I have seen five maps of the deforestation of the Grays River watershed from 1940 until 1995, and all the giant trees are gone except for isolated pockets scattered in both Pacific and Wahkiakum Counties.

One of the first documented sightings of the giant sequoia redwood tree occurred in the spring of 1852 when Augustus T. Dowd, a hunter who was chasing a bear in the Sierra Nevada mountains, stumbled upon a grove of 92 giant sequoias now known as 'North Grove' in Calaveras State Park. Dowd could not believe his eyes and no one would believe him before first seeing the mammoth trees themselves.

Originally the main purpose of logging companies in mid-19th century Washington was to stock timber for California's Gold Rush and the population growth it caused. All that would change in 1887 when the Northern Pacific railroad opened a direct rail link over the Cascades to Tacoma. Washington and the Pacific Northwest rapidly took up the role of main timber supplier to the nation, partially because Wisconsin and Minnesota had already been astonishingly diminishing by deforestation. Also during the early 19th century many settlers simply ruined the forest. The land to them was worth more than the trees, so many of these forests were simply cleared and burned. It has been estimated that by the end of the 19th century an original volume of 52 trillion board feet of standing timber was reduced to approximately 28 trillion board feet.

At the turn of the 20th century, Frederick Weyerhaeuser purchased a little over 1,400 square miles of prime forest land in Washington from the Northern Pacific Railroad. He then was able to acquire nearly 3,000 square miles of timberland in Washington and Oregon, obtained at about $7.41 per acre.

To get an idea of how much this area has changed, I would like to introduce you to Maurice (Maury) Mooers an 85-year-old man who has lived in Wahkiakum County his entire life. His antique store is located at Alger Creek Station between Cathlamet and Skamakowa. The farm his father built in 1923, and he grew up in 1933 is still there. Maury informed me that his grandfather, George Mooers of Scottish descent, purchased nearly 3,600 acres of prime timber land and established the Mooers Lumber Company. George Mooers brought one of the first steam donkeys into the county just after the turn of the 20th century. He would lose it all as a result of his Astoria bank going under during the Great Depression.

Maury had me look out the window from his antique store north at the hills his family once owned. He explained to me how earlier that spring the entire hill had been completely cleared. He told me that it was the third time since he has been alive that this has occurred. This was also confirmed by two other octogenarians who have also lived their entire lives in the county.

Rather than give you, the readers, too much information, I will continue with two more related stories in later issues.

If you have any questions or comments pertinent to the area, write to me, Darrell Alexander in care of The Wahkiakum County Eagle, 77 Main Street, Cathlamet, WA 98612. I will respond via the Downriver Dispatches with the editor's approval.

Rosburg News:

The Rosburg Store on State Highway 4 is a local gathering place for the community for telling stories, playing games or just sitting while reading The Wahkiakum County Eagle. Their new store hours are 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Sundays. They will also be serving biscuits and gravy all day for $4.95. They are introducing fresh made sandwiches of roast beef, turkey and ham, and BLT's for $6.95. Wahkiakum on the Move makes stops at the store. Call for times.

Appelo Archives Center

The Appelo Archives is located at 1056 State Route 4 Naselle, WA. 98638. Go by and take a look at the history of the area. You will not be disappointed. Help by preserving our local history and donate your time or money to keep this museum open. For information please contact Kelly Shumar at 360-484-7103 or info@appeloarchives.org.

The Archive Café now serves fresh sandwiches every day for $6.50 as well as their homemade soup of the day. Tiffany Coop who cooks and manages the café informed me that they now are serving breakfast. I tried her breakfast and was very satisfied.

 

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