This pictures ran in a 1989 edition of the Dispatch. The caption reads:
Logging quickly became the main industry in the area, supporting a number of mills in Eatonville,Alder, Elbe, Ashford,Nationaland many other more short-lived communities. When this photo was taken trees were felled without the benefit of chainsaws and forests were cleared wtihout the aid of builldozers or logging trucks. These men worked in an industry where injury was a common acquaintance and death no stranger.
On that last note, you can see why so many were injured. Safety equipment had yet to be developed.
It turns out (see Randy’s comments) only the basement level remains. The school building burned down around 1959 and the basement was remodeled becoming the Highlander Tavern and Cafe. It is still there today and has an abundance of old photos of the area.
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)
Here’s and excerpt: “IT WAS COOL and wet on June 1, the day the A-Y-P opened. Fairgoers arrived by trolley, train, boat and foot — only a few had cars — and began pouring through the turnstiles at 8 a.m.: 50 cents for adults, 25 cents for children (11 cents for everyone at night).
Frederick & Nelson department store gave its employees the day off. Standard Furniture Co. offered A-Y-P bargains: $1.65 kitchen chairs and $17.85 davenports. Credit, of course!”
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.
If you were headed up to Paradise years ago, you might have stopped by “The Logs” for the evening. Below is what was printed on the back of their postcard, and it sounds like a great time. I don’t know if there are many hotels with trout ponds any more.
The Logs — Resort Motel and Restaurant “One the Road to Paradise”
Mount Rainier’s most distinctive hostelry specializing in fine foods and comfortable accommodations. A stay at THE LOGS is an experience you’ll long remember. Swimming pool, trout pond, shuffle board and gift shop. Three dimensional color pictures of Mount Rainier and the Pacific Northwest shown on screen nightly to our guests. For reservations phone Ashford 5201 or write Ashford, Washington.
Recommended by AAA and United Motor Courts.
If you have information about The Logs, please feel free to share.
In 1953 it was obvious Eatonville’s lumber mill, the town’s main industry, was shutting down. Hundreds of people had already left and residents were depressed and worried about the town’s survival.
No one wanted to see Eatonville disappear like other logging towns, and with the help of the University of Washington’s Jack Wright and John Mills, townsfolk set out to make Eatonville “a better town. . . and an improved, more prosperous area.”
Operation Bootstrap was born.
Forging Ahead It was ambitious project from the start and described as, “A program to get everyone in the community to take hold of the rope and pull in the same direction.”
On October 4, 1953 the News Tribune ran an editorial on the project, when 513 people out of the 1,048 residents turned out for the launch of Operation Bootstrap.
“The citizens and their town are acting as guinea pigs in the first movement in the county of the University of Washington Community Development Plan. It is not a short course, but is scheduled to go on for half a year, during which all manner of questions from religion to recreation will be discussed . . . in an effort to make Eatonville a better place to live, and an outstanding example of a cooperative, democratic society.”
Committees Are Formed Residents didn’t just get involved — they jumped in with both feet. Committees were formed on every topic — population, church, government, library, history, health, recreation, economic development, education, and more. Each area was examined and all kinds of suggestions were made for improvements, from how to be more friendly to newcomers to the need for a library.
Community spirit ran high through 1953 and 1954. People not only made many positive changes to the town, they took their message to the airwaves and made T.V. appearances. They also created a large festival called Robin Hood Daysthat included archery events, a street dance and a pageant.
Success for Failure In the end no new businesses set up shop in Eatonville and some say Operation Bootstrapfailed. Others, like Margit Thorvaldson, executive secretary for movement, who documented the countless hours people put into their committees saw another side, “It was successful in that the community got together to get insight on the problem.” And people who may never have socialized worked together.
Almost 60 years later, people are still benefiting from Operation Bootstrap. For example, if you like these history articles, thank Bootstrap’s history committee, which produced the two volume History of Tacoma Eastern Area. It covered not just Eatonville, but Ohop Valley, Ashford, National, Elbe, Alder and La Grande. It’s a priceless record of our history and without it these articles wouldn’t be possible.
This postcard was mailed out of Ashford, Wash., on February 4, 1911, at 6 a.m. The postmaster was Cara J. Ashford, and she held that position from the time the post office opened, Nov. 16, 1894. until Dec., 19, 1938.
The front of the card shows the Mesler place. “The Meslers’ was another stopping place for rouists. Mr. Mesler had one of the early sawmills on his place. A water wheel was used for power. Mr. and Mrs. Mesler were the parents of one son, Alexander and three daughters, Clara, Belle and Bess.” (Per History of Southeastern Pierce County)
People are probably more familiar tpdau with the Alexander Country Inn, in Ashford. It was built by Alexander Mesler in 1912, a year after this postcard was mailed.
He built the 10,000 square foot building and opened it as a roadhouse, catering to tourists coming up to see the newly-establisehd Mount Rainier National Park. Alexander’s siblings helped run the inn.
For an interesting time timeline of the Inn’s history, just click here.