La Grande Nitrogen Plant (ca. 1920)

Nitrogen Plant in La Grande, Wa (ca 1920)
Nitrogen Plant in La Grande, Wa (ca 1920)

La Grande used to be home to a commercial nitrogen plant.

“The American Nitrogen Products Company started producing sodium nitrate pellets in La Grande in 1916. The product is also known as saltpeter and is used in a number of chemical processes and as a component of explosives and as a fertilizer. The La Grande plant was the first commercially viable plant in the country.

This photograph shows both plants one and tow, the electrical service and bags of pellets (bottom left) ready for shipment.” (Per Upper Nisqually Valley)

Many in Eatonville felt the plant was built to create explosives for the war. The plant burned down years ago and there are little signs that it ever existed. But there are still a few who remember it. Martha Parrish (now 99) remembers her dad working there.

Photo courtesy of Pat Van Eaton.

Click on image to enlarge.


Eatonville Schools (ca. 1916)

Eatonville Gym, High School & Grade School (ca. 1916)
Eatonville Gym, High School & Grade School (ca. 1916)

This early shot of the school shows the:
• Gymnasium (on left) built in 1913
• High School (left in the back) built in 1916
• Grade School (on right)  built in 1904

Landscaping hasn’t gone in yet, but kids don’t seem to mind.

Photo courtesy of Rich Williams and the Haynes family.

Click on image to enlarge.

High School Under Construction (1915)

EHS under construction ca. 1915
EHS under construction ca. 1915

The Eatonville high school was under construction in 1915. When it was complete, there was no other school like it in the state. The dedication was huge.

On dedication day, April 29, [1916], E. W. Shimmons wrote, “With Governor Lister, State Superintendent Josephine Preston, President E. O. Holland of the State college and W. H. Paulhamus of Sumner as dedicatory speaker, with the entire population of Eatonvile and vicinity present, the mangificant $45,000 (approximately $975,500 today) high school was formally dedicated.

Photo courtesy of Pat Van Eaton.

Click on image to enlarge.

Fairbairn & Nelson Trading Token

Fairbairn & Nelson Trading Token (front side)
Fairbairn & Nelson Trading Token (front side)

I just won this Fairbairn & Nelson trading token on Ebay. It was good for 25 cents in trade.

However, I don’t know anything about the Fairbairn & Nelson company or the use of trading token in Eatonville. All I could find was that A. U. Fairbairn & Co., proprietors opened a business in Eatonville in 1916.

So, if anyone has any information, PLEASE share.

A little on trading tokens

The information below on trading tokens was taken from the PNNA (Pacific Northwest Numistmatic Association). It doesn’t shed any light on Fairbairn, but it does make you appreciate NW tokens.

Fairbairn & Nelson trading token (side 2)
Fairbairn & Nelson trading token (side 2)

About 1885, merchants all over the United States started using a form of advertising called a trade token (or chit, or bingle, or “good for”). When a customer bought something, they were given a token that resembled a coin. On the obverse, the token gave such information as the name of the business, address, town, state, etc.

On the reverse, something like “good for 5¢ in trade” or “good for 1 cigar” were often used. When the customer returned to the store, they were given credit or their purchase was discounted by the amount stated on the token.

The sizes, shapes and materials that were used to make trade tokens varied widely, ranging from smaller than a dime to larger than a silver dollar. Common shapes were round, square, scalloped, oval and rectangular. (The majority were round.)

Although most tokens were bronze or aluminum, other materials such as paper, fiber, zinc, copper and bi-metals (bronze and aluminum) were also used.

Good for
The merchandise that the token was “good for” would make an interesting collection of its own. Some of the common “good fors” were in trade, in merchandise, in cash, a cigar, a pint or a quart of milk, a tune, a shave, and a drink. Many others such as 1 box of peaches, one card game, 1 pack of cranberries, one manicure and one loaf of bread are known.

Some collectors have assembled interesting collections of the different denominations represented on tokens. The most common would be “good for 5¢ in trade,” with 2½¢, 6¼¢, 10¢, 12½¢, 25¢, 50¢ and $1.00 also reasonably common and easily found.

Hunting for Tokens
Cities such as Tacoma, Seattle or Spokane each have quite a few hundred different tokens and quite large collections of these cities are possible. Other towns such as Ashford, DuPont, Kapowsin, Parkland or Ruston had less tokens and can be harder to find.

Another favorite (and more difficult) topic is tokens from the towns in one or more counties such as Pierce, King or Thurston. Each county in the state might have 10 or 20 or 30 different towns that issued trade tokens. It will be easy to find tokens from some of the towns, but the smaller or extinct towns may prove much more difficult and challenging.

Washington State has about 900 different towns or locations that issued trade tokens. Tokens from many of the towns are easy to find, while others may be difficult or even unique.

Images courtesy of Diane Mettler.

Click on images to enlarge.


Eatonville’s Animal Ordinances

Hotel Snow with cow
Hotel Snow with cow

Eatonville residents often complain that the deer are eating their flowers. It could be worse. A hundred years ago it was cows and horses in your yard. Here are just some of Eatonville’s animal ordinances

Horse & Cow
March 1911 — Eatonville’s Horse and Cow Ordinance is amended “to allow cows to roam at large during the day”.

August, 1911 Mr. Rivers asks the City Council to restrict cows from running at large at night. The cowbells are keeping citizen from getting a good night’s sleep. The Council declares the cows a public nuisance and the Marshall must notify the cow owners.

March 1912 — Citizens petition the Council that ranging livestock be prohibited, but the Council votes down their request. Undeterred, Councilman Overmire submits a second ordinance to prohibit “the ranging of horses, cattle and chickens.” This ordinance is also voted down. Finally, Councilman Jackson comes up with an ordinance that applies to only horses and cows and only for those running at night. This ordinance passes, but it’s unclear whether the residents are happy with the compromise.

Groe (now Center) Street  1914
Groe (now Center) Street 1914

March 1911 — A Chicken Ordinance is passed and repealed, but in February 1913, chickens are officially curtailed. The Clerk instructs a notice to appear in an official paper publicizing the date chickens are no longer allowed to run at large.

January 1910 — Ordinance passes limiting the speed of horses “and vehicles of any description” to six miles per hour.

Cow Stench
June 1916 — Mr. Smith goes before the Council and demands steps are taken to improve the sanitary conditions on Groe Street (now Center St.). He is unable to keep tenants because of the stench coming from a local dairy barn.

March 1912 — The Marshal and City Clerk are authorized to shoot any rabbits running at large within the city limits.

Mashell Ave ca 1914
Mashell Ave ca 1914

October 1911 — Chinese Pheasants are destroying vegetable gardens and the Mayor authorizes the Marshal to appoint deputies to kill them. Shooting is allowed from Washington Avenue west to the town limits, and from Railroad Ave. north to the town limits. The deputies receive no pay, but they do get to keep the dead pheasants.

March 1911 — T.C. Van Eatontells the Council something has to be done about the rats. The Council puts a bounty of ten cents (about $2.50 today) on each rat. “When captured they should be presented o the Town Clerk who will draw an order on the Town Treasurer for the amount due.”  (Grim news for the Town Clerk.)

Records show that payments ranged from $1.40 to $13.80. There must have been some success in cleaning up the town. By September 1916, the rat bounty was dropped from the town’s budget.

(Information taken from the History of the Tacoma Eastern Area.)

Photos Courtesy of Pat Van Eaton.

Click on images to enlarge.



Livery Stable on Mashell Ave.

Eatonville livery stable & pool hall, ca. 1900
Eatonville livery stable & pool hall, ca. 1900

Historically, a livery stable was where horses, teams and wagons were for hire. Also privately-owned horses could be boarded there for a short time.

I’m not sure what Eatonville’s livery stable was like, but almost all towns had them, because in addition to providing vital transportation service, it was also a source of hay, grain, coal, and wood.

The downside of a livery stable was the smell, especially one a main street like Mashell Ave. But I’m sure folks were used to it back then.

Based on the writing on the photo, pictured here are Bill McCutcheon and Ed Skewis. Bill and Ed were quite different types. Bill liked to box, and Ed served as both the town’s  councilman and treasurer. Also, in 1916 a new business opened it’s doors — Fredrickson and Skewis confectionery.

Picture courtesy of Pat Van Eaton.

Click on image to enlarge.

The Smith Brothers

The Smith Brothers (Lee, Nathaniel, Milton, Larry, Brown, Noah and Clinton)
The Smith Brothers (Lee, Nathaniel, Milton, Larry, Brown, Noah and Clinton)

Samuel P. and Mary West Smith struck out for the West from North Carolina. They  settled outside Eatonville in an area called Stringtown back in around 1888.

They had eight sons. One remained in N.C., but the others came out west and make their mark.

Pictured here are:
• Lee Smith
• Nathaniel Smith
• Milton Smith
• Larry Smith
• Brown Smith
• Noah (Noteke) Smith
• Clinton Smith

Most of the boys took to the woods, either logging or doing something else in the lumber industry. Larry, however, took a job as the Eatonville school district janitor in 1916 and worked that job until 1946.

Backside of Smith Photos
Backside of Smith Photos

Clint, Larry, S. P., N. W., B. A. and S. L. were among the signers of the petition requesting incorporation of the Town of Eatonville in 1909. Clint Smith was elected Councilman of the first Town election. And S. L. Smith was the Town Marshal in 1912. (History of Southeastern Pierce County.)

Noah also became quite the boxer — some say world famous.

Photo courtesy of the Smith family.

Click on image to enlarge.

Girls Basket Ball — Then and Now (1915 – 2011)

EHS Girl's 1915 Varsity Basketball team
EHS Girl's 1915 Varsity Basketball team

Eatonville High school had girl’s team almost 100 years ago. They outfits have changed quite a bit — who knew you wore hats. Also, tennis shoes were yet to be invented.

Back then, it was mostly six-on-six basketball with three “forwards” and three “guards”.

Girl’s basketball started growing in popularity in the 1970s. Today, nearly all women’s basketball leagues (pro, college, and high school) play by the same basic five-on-five rules.

Photos Courtesy of Rich Williams.

Click on images to enlarge image.









1916 EHS Girl's Basketball Team
1916 EHS Girl's Basketball Team












Recent EHS girl's basketball lineup
Recent EHS girl's basketball lineup



Eatonville Lumber Company, 1916

Eatonville Lumber Co. ca. 1916
Eatonville Lumber Co. ca. 1916

This photo, courtesy of Martha Parrish and Pat Van Eaton, is of the Eatonville Lumber Company store at around 1916.

The Eatonville mill had a good run — in operation from 1896 until it closed up in 1954.

Interesting Fact: The subway systems in New York City used timber from the Eatonville mill.

Although the mill store is gone, there’s still ample evidence of the community. The Eatonville Lumber Company built 22 houses, which they rented for a nominal fee to mill employees. A number of those houses are still standing near Eatonville Millpond Park.