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Upper Skagit Valley Scenes

Seen in May, 2002

 

The August Kemmerich cousins who toured Rasar St. Park on May 18, 2002, had time to visit some of the other towns and scenic areas in the upper Skagit Valley.

We stayed in Concrete, about five miles east of Birdsview, at the North Cascades Inn. Besides comfortable rooms and good food, the Inn has an amazing collection of antique tools, reflecting the logging and farming heritage of the Valley.

 

North Cascades Inn and Restaurant
Concrete, WA

photo by Joe Napier

 

 

 

One thing we quickly discovered--you will not go hungry in the Skagit Valley! Everywhere we ate, the food was tasty and the portions were huge. When I "complained" about the size of the portions, one waitress responded, "Well, we're used to feeding loggers up here, you know!"

The "urban center" of Birdsview is probably much smaller than it would have been in the early decades of the 20th century. Once the home of a federal fish hatchery, and a sawmill, it was always between the larger commercial centers of Hamilton to the west and Concrete to the east.

 

 

 

 

Birdsview was awarded a post office in 1881, but has now relinquished it. The Skagit County Visitors Guide says:

"Birdsview is still, perhaps, one of the best Skagit County places to envision pioneer life. Little seems changed from a century ago. Second growth timber has brought back the big trees and, like more than a century ago, in the Skagit River and up Grandy Creek, salmon and steelhead return for seasonal spawning."

 

 

But what it lacks in quantity, downtown Birdsview makes up in quality, because it is the home of the "Birdsview Burger." And, you can wash down that tasty burger with an old-fashioned milkshake--even hazelnut flavor if you like (and yes, we liked!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Skagit County Visitors Guide describes Concrete as "a unique and historic community." It definitely meets that description! The Superior Portland Cement Plant in Concrete was once the largest in the state and produced more than 40 per cent of the cement used to build Grand Coulee Dam, and also provided the basic material for local dam projects, including the Baker River dam and the two dams on the upper Skagit, Diablo Lake and Ross Lake.

 

These huge empty cement silos still
stand guard at the entrance to the town

 

photo by Joe Napier

 

 

 

 

 

The town also became a living advertisement for concrete--when fire destroyed the first wooden buildings, the replacement buildings were all--yes!--concrete. Some have disguised the basic building material with a facing of wood shakes, or bricks, but if you look carefully, behind every facade you can see concrete.

 

Main Street, Concrete, WA

 

 

 

 

 

The Concrete Theater , built in 1923.
Now restored, and used for little theater productions.
On the Washington Historical Register.

 

photo by Joe Napier

 

 

 

 

Mural on the Concrete Police Station

photo by Joe Napier

 

 

 

 

 

 

Close-up, the mural gives a good picture of the setting
of Concrete, with high Cascade peaks to the north, east, and
south.

The highway to Baker Lake winds through forest for some 25 miles.
Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan are just beyond the lake.

 

 

 

 

 

More history resides in St. Catherine's Catholic Church, situated on a little rise at the west end of the town. Built in 1912, it has lots of company. We counted at least five other churches in this town of less than 780 people.

 

photo by Joe Napier

 

 

 

 

photo by Joe Napier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The former Concrete junior high school held memories for
Pat Napier--who graduated from the school.
The present owner had grandiose ideas for the building--adding castle-like turrets on some corners. But funds apparently ran out, and the building stands, empty and unfinished.

 

photo by Joe Napier

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pat Napier at former Concrete Junior High School.
May 18, 2002

 

photo by Joe Napier

 

 

 

 

The Napier family visiting the Concrete Library
Pat's former schoolmate, Lois Thompson, is a librarian at the library.
L-R: Joe, Roa, Mark and Pat Napier with Lois Thompson

photo by Joe Napier

 

 

 

 

The Concrete Library is respository for the archived copies of
the Concrete Herald newspaper. The weekly paper is
no longer published.

 

 

 

 

 

photo by Joe Napier

 

 

 

 

After touring Rasar St. Park there was time for some car-exploring, following the Skagit River farther east.

A few miles east of Concrete is the small community of Rockport with an outstanding county park, the "Howard Miller Steelhead Park."

Within the park is RV camping space, a boat ramp and some historical exhibits.

Pioneer Log Cabin
photo by Joe Napier

 

 

 

 

One of the many ferries that once plied the Skagit River is permanently moored at Howard Miller Park.

 

photo by Joe Napier

 

 

 

 

 

A cedar dugout canoe is protected from the elements.

photo by Joe Napier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even farther up the Skagit River, the Cascade River joins the Skagit at the hamlet of Marblemount--last vestige of civilization before Highway 20 enters the mountains and North Cascades National Park.

 

 

 

 

Cascade River near end of road

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A forest road follows the Cascade River deep into the mountains, ending up at the trailhead for Cascade Pass, an old Indian trail leading through the mountains to Lake Chelan.

 

Scenery near Cascade Pass trailhead

 

 

 

 

----Barbara Halliday, October, 2002

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

 

To read about the August Kemmerich descendants "walk through time" at Rasar St. Park, click on:
Rasar State Park Tour - May 2002

 

For a story about the first white settlers who crossed Cascade Pass, click on: Cascade Pass Adventure 1877

Two other excellent websites for Skagit Valley history are:

The Skagit Journal, edited by Noel Bourasaw.
Noel is a longtime resident of Sedro-Woolley and his website encompasses the entire Skagit Valley area.


Dan Royal's Stump Ranch. Dan is a descendant of the Boyd family--early pioneers in Birdsview.
Dan lives in Birdsview and is concentrating on the historical heritage of this section of the upper Skagit Valley.

 

 

 

Unless otherwise noted, text and photos are the property of Glenn and Barbara Halliday, © 2002