It seems like almost every picture of the early Eatonville High Schoolbasketball teams seems to be of a championship team. These players rocked in the house during the 1920-21 season and came away as Pierce County champions.
1920 was a big year for sports.
• The Boston Red Socks sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. Ruth hit 54 home runs and asked for his salary to be doubled to $20,000.
• A young boy approached Shoeless Joe Jackson, one of the eight White Sox players accused of throwing the 1919 World Series, and pleads, “Say it ain’t so, Joe.”
Pictured here are the first busses that ran from the Tacoma Eastern Depot in Ashford to Mt. Rainier.
People could also get a good look at the mountain from the air too. The first airplane flights over the park and around the Mountain were made in July 1920. Three planes circled the mountain and the third then “bravely flew over the summit”. (The Big Fact Book About Mount Rainier)
It wouldn’t be until 1923 when Eatonville had the champion basketball team that made headlines and put Eatonville on the map. But in 1920-21, the team was honing its skills. This group of guys were the Pierce County champions that year.
Guest blogger Bob Walter gives us some background on Eatonville’s early settlers, Pete and Maren Christensen.
N.P. (Nels “Pete”) Christensen and Maren Pedersen, both born in Denmark, met in the United States and were married in Neenah, Wisconsin in 1889. Awhile after reaching Tacoma in 1890, they walked all the way to Ohop Lake, N.P. carrying their baby, Katie,in his arms. They settled there but found they were on railroad land, so had to relocate; they moved several times before buying property in the town of Eatonville, where they remained. They raised five children, Katie, Anne (Haynes), Henry, Edward and Dan.
In 1912 Mr. Christensen bought the fledgling Mashell Telephone Company from Dye and Biggs; the Christensen family and descendents have been primary owners of the communications company ever since. It is now called Rainier Connect. There were about 30 telephones in Eatonville when he purchased the two-year-old company.
Pete Christensen was a key figure in the early days of Eatonville Schools, building the first school building with a furnace in it, then building another of the exact same design when the first one burned down barely a year after it was built. Pete was also a member of the school board that hired B.W. Lyon.
They were determined to have a school system second to none. Pete was on the school board from 1911 to 1917, and was re-elected to the board in 1936. He was a volunteer fireman and was part of the team pulling the hose cart to fires in 1920, at around 50 years of age.
Pete liked to drink one shot of whiskey each evening and smoke on his cigar. Maren sent him outside for that ritual.
It was a big transition to move from horse to tractor. Here are pictures of Pete Peterson plowing in Ohop Valley first with his horses, and later with a 1920’s Case tractor.
My grandfather (Louie Mettler Sr. ) used to talk about having to hook the team of horses up to the tractor at times.
Tractor Wars During 1923 a so-called Tractor war ensued, a four-way struggle between Ford, John Deere, Case, and IHC. Ford, with a massive advantage in manufacturing capacity and distribution, had the upper hand, producing an estimated 73% of all American tractors, with Case-IHC in a far away second place at 9%, and several other companies sharing the rest of the percentages. (per Wikipedia)
“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.
Is it just me, or is this picture a little creepy? I’m sure if I’d attended the exhibit held in the Eatonville Gym with all my friends, it would have been a blast. It looks like many of the classes exhibited, including the 1st grade.
If anyone has any information on the exhibit, please chime in.
It’s hard to imagine Rainier Connecttelling you today, “We don’t have lines out where you live. But, if you put them in yourself and rent our technology, we’ll make sure to take some off your phone bill.”
But back in the early days of telephone, that’s more or less what happened. Per the History of Southeastern Pierce County, the Silver Lake Telephone Company installed two lines in 1912. They were 10 miles apart and serviced 23 people. The first home to get hooked up was owner N. P. Christensen’s. And early officers in the fledgling company were John Kipper and Frank Krones.
Farmers Want to get Connected
It was too expensive for the private company to build additional lines for farmers and other living miles from the two main lines. So what did the farmers do? They banded together and put in their own lines and rented a switchboard in exchange for a reasonable rate. (I hope they got some discount!)
Ever wondered what Old Alder looked like, when it was a working town — before the dam? Here’s a shot of the town taken around 1920.
The sawmill is in operation and the Alder School (the 2nd) is the white building to the right of the house in the background.
Here’s an excerpt from the 1909 “Auditor’s Annual Exhibit of Finance, Pierce County, Wash.” The third paragraph is particularly descriptive.
Forty-one miles southeast of Tacoma, on the Tacoma, on the Tacoma Eastern Railway,in an extensive timber and mineral area, is situated the beautiflu town of Alder. The soil of the country surrounding is varied and very productive. The giants of the forest are a marvel, and to the great lumber indstury the people of Alder look for the future usefulness and wealth. Diversified farming is successfully followed and yeilds splendid returns.
Alder was platted by Martin Holes and wife, from a part of their homesetaed, on December 19th, 1905. The name is taken from the wealth of alder trees on the hills and valleys surrounding.
The town as grown steadily and now has a population of two hundred, two general stores, two hotels, livery stable, fraternal hall, church, rural telephone, one saw-and-shingle mill and two logging camps, and has surrounding it enough undeveloped resources to support a large city. The hills are covered with fine virgin forest and underlying this wealth of timber is a vast deposit of excellent quality of coal and other minerals.
Just wanted to let everyone know that this weekend at the Eatonville Art Festival there are two history booths.
Eatonville Historical Society At the Eatonville Historical Society booth you will find:
• lots of artifacts
• books to buy written by local authors Abbi Wonacottand Donald Johnstone
• membership applications, and
• someone to answer any questions — like me if you’re there Saturday morning.
The Eatonville Project At the far end of the Art festival will be the Eatonville Project booth, that is raising money to produce “You are Here” historical materials for Eatonville School District students. They have calendars and postcards for sale, like this one. (Which, by the way, were created by Chris Bivins.)
Come on down and look around, and if you’re in the mood, support your local history groups!