Trains used to roll through Eatonville daily. In fact, ” . . . in 1913, the railroad had three passenger trains a day going through Eatonville, with observation cars. The tourist special was taken off in September, 1924, competition from busses and automobiles having interfered. The railroad also carried the mail until July 1, 1928.” (History of South Eastern Pierce County.) If you were catching the train, the depot was on Madison, off Center street.
One of the great things about this shot are the roaming chickens. Between 1911 and 1913 Eatonville passed, repealed and passed an ordinance curtailing chickens from “running at large”. Chickens at the time of this shot were still on the loose.
This picture taken around 1913 looks down Center Street from just above the Mashell Ave./Center Street intersection. To the right you can see the well house in front of the hotel. And on the other side of the street is the New Mashell Restaurant.
The ornate street lamp (to the right of the men and in the center of the shot) stands out amongst the wooden poles.
Gas lights Judging by the tank at the bottom, this was probably a gas-powered street lamp, which would have been common back then. Below is an excerpt about gas lights from International Good Guys:
“Gas street lighting remained under development into the 1930s and electric street lighting was introduced piecemeal, the gas lamps were already in place throughout the towns and the big arc lights were cumbersome and difficult to maintain. The incandescent bulb became a viable street lighting option about the time of the First World War but this involved laying cables and making new light fittings to avoid people being electrocuted on the metal lamp posts. The bulbs themselves were neither terribly bright nor very reliable.”
Growing up, I was confused about May Day. Why did some people call it Community Day and others May Day? Why did only our town celebrate it? And what was with the Maypole?
Now that I’ve read up on it, the confusion is understandable. The short version is that Community Day or May Day is a combination of events. The longer version is . . .
Cleaning up the Town Community Day got its start in 1913 writes B. W. Lyon. At that time, the town was 800 people, a few saloons and stores and a wood schoolhouse. “The children were careless about marking, and the buildings were marred and streets and vacant lots and much of the residence property was strewn with rubbish,” says Lyon in 1954.
The kids cleaned up the school grounds and got so excited they went to Mayor Nettletonand suggested a “town clean up day” to remove the graffiti. The residents got into the event and rubbish was soon going up in smoke. What couldn’t be burned was hauled away — and community day was born.
The following Community Day included a baseball game and socializing. “We made the Community Day a time when old timers could come back and meet many of their old friends,” says Lyon.
Tacoma Eastern Fair In 1914 the Tacoma Eastern Fairstarted up and was soon incorporated into Community Day. In 1917 people could exhibit and win one or more of the 1,450 prizes handed out. Directors of the Fair were from all the communities — from Kapowsin to Ashford — and Lyon as president.
As the years progressed the popular Community Day programs were “varied and elaborate”. In 1926 over 3,000 people attended (based on the population that would be 8,000+ today). It took two days to build the booths and the highlight that year was laying the cornerstone of the Masonic Lodge.
Royal Court A May Fete, or royal court, was started in 1919, by Bertha Mahaffie. It was its own event and held on May Day, until 1926 when it too was combined with Community Day. The first Community Day royalty were Queen Faye Williams and King Bill Smith.
By about 1936 Community Day had become mostly a May Fete celebration — grade school children “participated with folk dances before the floral throne of the king and queen”, and there were also track events, a school baseball game, a senior play in the evening, and displays by different grades and school departments.
Fast forward 75 years to the first Friday in May. Eatonville still celebrates Community Day . . . or May Day.
Here are a few things you might know about the Eatonville Lumber Company, which operated in Eatonville from 1907 until 1954.
• Tacoma Eastern/Chicago Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad arrived in 1904 — followed by the opening of the mill in 1907.
• T. S. Galbraith(Tom) took over ELCO in the fall of 1909.
• John Galbraith(Tom’s son) took over from his dad in 1930. He was also mayor of Eatonville for 22 years and chairman of the school board for numerous terms.
• The mill employed 200 employees at its height.
• Wages in 1912 – $.17/hr., and an employee worked six, eight-hour days a week.
• Wages in 1952 – $1.85/hr., and employees worked five, eight-hour days a week.
• ELCO storewas built in 1908
• ELCO office was built in 1910
• ELCO station and auto repair shop was built in 1907
• T. S. Galbraith built his homein 1925 and it’s still used today.
• T. S. Galbraith built 22 company-owned homes. Most were built in 1910 and were located next to the company store, and some are still family homes.
• The houses on Prospect Street were built in 1913 and the houses on Washington street were built in 1923.
• The mill burned in 1932 and was rebuilt over a number of years. It finally reopened September 22, 1936.
• Galbraith sold the mill to G. E. Karlen in 1941.
Photos courtesy of Pat Van Eaton, the Parnel family and the University of Washington. Facts courtesy of The Eatonville History Project.
If you were wondering what your child would be learning when they started school in 1912 — this outline would help you out. This was taken straight from the 1912-1913 EHSSchool Catalog.
I think that it’s interesting that science included “hygiene” one day of week through 7th grade and bumped up to 2 days when you reached 8th grade. Also, that one of the core classes in 9th grade was agriculture.