Eatonville Lumber Company

Postcard to John J. Falk (1911)

Falk Postcard 1911 (front)
Falk Postcard 1911 (front)

This postcard was sent to John J. Falk back in 1911 from Sweden.

Translation: Wish you a happy and good Pentecost. I am well and of good health. Lots of greetings with this card. To you from your friend. M.A. Waiting for response.

Mr. Falk written up briefly in the town’s history:

“During April 1913 various plans for an electric light system were discussed and a survey made to determine [a] number of possible users: also possibility of [the] town procuring free fuel from the Eatonville Lumber Company for a steam power electric lighting plant. In June, the committee met with John Falk for the purpose of securing [a] site for a dam and power house on Lynch Creek for municipal light and power plant.

In July they met to consider steps in the construction of a hydro-electric light and power plant . . . Mr. Snow had secured pledges amour to $39,900 [$975,000 by today’s standards]  in a partial canvass of the town, this being based on the purchase of the site at Lynch Creek and the construction of a transmission line to LaGrande for current.

Footnote: 1954. The site was purchased and is still owned by the town, but the dam and power house were not built. The town owns and maintina its own distribution lines from LaGrande and pays the City of Tacoma for electricity used each month, the town in turn collecting from users.”   (History of Southeastern Pierce County)

Falk Postcard 1911 (back)
Falk Postcard 1911 (back)

Photo courtesy of Diane Mettler. Translation by Venke Lyngsnes.

Click on images to enlarge.

Eatonville Lumber Company Checks

Eatonville Lumber Company Checks
Eatonville Lumber Company Checks

Dan Hamilton shared these checks. He says, “Some old paperwork found in the Mill building in the 1960s, under the sawdust bunk.”

Like that they were drawn on the Eatonville State Bank too.

Dan’s family had chicken farm on the old mill site, so they came across a lot of cool stuff.
Image courtesy of Dan Hamilton.
Click on image to enlarge.

Reinventing a Town (1953)

Center Street in the 1950s
Center Street in the 1950s

In 1953 the Eatonville Lumber Company closed. People were scared. Would the town survive without the major business? What could they do to save Eatonville?

The community banded together to find answers in a way they never had before, and called it Operation Bootstrap.

One Operation Bootstrap group looked at what potential industries might be a good fit. Eatonville seemed to be an ideal location because it offered affordable power and water, transportation, and great sites inside Eatonville and all the way up the line.

Straight from the Operation Bootstrap Industrial Report, are some of the ideas considered.

Clay Industry. Clay City was producing and there appeared to be no shortage of clay, it would make sense to build on that. A couple options included the inactive Bean Brick and Tile Company at Clear Lake, and other possibilities up the line.

Mashell Ave. & Red and White Store - ca. 1955
Mashell Ave. & Red and White Store – ca. 1955

Coal Distillation. A plant in Renton was to be built. If that worked, it might work for Eatonville. Coal samples were being gathered from the Ashford and Ladd mines.

Cement-Mixing Plant. The Eatonville area could benefit from a cement plant because it cost so much to ship from Tacoma. (Washed sand and gravel in Eatonville was $4.50 a yard and only $2.75 in Tacoma.)

Charcoal. A charcoal plant made sense because “The basic material in charcoal is wood, of which we have an unlimited supply on our logged-off lands. A mixture of Alder and Fir seems to make the best charcoal.”

Wood Related Plants. Other wood ideas considered were a Wood Briqueting Machine, an Evergreen Processing Plant “to produce Christmas decorations prior to Christmas” and a Pole Treating Plant for utility uses.

Cabinet Shop. The Red Men Hall in town was suggested as the right size building to handle a cabinet operation.

Mashell Ave ca 1946
Mashell Ave ca 1946

Laundry. A laundry was considered, but a modern sewer system was needed.

Paint Rock. Paint rock in the Mashell River contains pigment for paint. Mining and grinding of this rock was an Eatonville industry in the 1920s, but it was determined not to be viable in the 1950s.

Crude Drugs and Condiments.  Copy the “crude drug collection and packaging” done in Southern Washington, where farmers and individuals bring in peppermint, spearmint and wintergreen oils to be packaged. The bootstrap committee looked also at medicinal dandelion, tansy oil, digitalis, Oregon grape and more.

Printing Plant. Printing plants in large metropolitan centers were interested in moving to smaller communities. More study was going to be done.

Sport and Recreation Equipment. The manufacturing of fishing tackle, archery equipment and small boats would tie in well with our current recreations.

Rumors. There was a section called rumors. “The Industry Committee was unable to verify several rumors that continue to circulate . . . a glove factory that was chased out of town, a chemical plant that was refused a building site, and a spool factory that could not buy raw materials.”

Every one of these ideas was researched and Operation Bootstrap was an amazing testament to teamwork. A big industry didn’t come to town, but Eatonville found out when times were tough they could work together.

Big Smile by Hazel Joy Williams (ca. 1920)

Hazel Joy Williams up front
Front: Hazel Joy Williams — Middle: Cecil Williams, Fern Fenton, Fay Williams — Back: Charley Williams, Bill Oxley, Clyde Williams

This may be the cutest picture posted to-date. Just zoom in and tell me you don’t smile.

Rich Williams provides wonderful background on everyone.

“In the front row making the funny face is my father’s (Cecil Williams) youngest sister Hazel Joy Williams. Joy, as she went by, married Cliff Pratt August 3, 1936 and lived most of her life in Gig Harbor.  She taught school at Rosedale Elementary for 36 years. Joy and Cliff had three children; Tom, Joan and Don, who all attended Rosedale Elementary School . While in Joy’s classroom, there was one stipulation — they were never to call her mother during class.  Joy died in 2002 at the age of 90.

“The boy on the left in the middle row is my father Cecil Williams. Dad married my mother Ruth Anderson in 1935 and worked at Eatonville Lumber Company before and after World War II. During the war, he served in the Navy Seabee’s. He was stationed in the Allusion Islands and later on Tinian  in the Mariana Islands. After the war, he had his own electrical business plus he managed the Town of Eatonville electrical department. My folks lived at Clear lake for over 50 years and  Dad passed away in 2003 at the age of 92.

“Center, middle row, is my dad’s cousin, Fern Fenton. Her father, George Fenton, married my grandmother’s sister Merl Duncan. George and my grandfather were best friends.”

“Center right, disgusted with her sister’s antics,  is my father’s older sister Fay Williams. Fay graduated from Eatonville High School in 1926 and was Eatonville’s first May Day Queen. She later married Art Duke. The Duke family homesteaded in the Alder area in the 1890’s.  Art and Fay had two children, Jim and Arlene. Fay worked at Rhodes Department Store for many years and passed away in 2003 at the age of 94.

“In the back row on the left is my grandfather’s older brother Charley Williams. Charley owned and operated the Pioneer Garage in Eatonville.  The building is now the Tall Timber Restaurant.

“Back row, center is a family friend named Bill Oxley.”

“On the right, back row, is my grandfather Clyde Williams. Clyde married Hettie Duncan in 1907. Clyde was a shingle weaver for over thirty years. He worked at Eatonville Lumber Company until the shingle mill closed down then worked at the shingle mill in Mineral until the late 50’s. He retired and lived in Eatonville until 1971. He was determined to be around when Ruthie and I got married August 15, 1971. He died one week later.”

Photo courtesy of Rich and Ruthie Williams.

Click on image to enlarge.

1914 Map of Eatonville

1914 Map of Eatonville - School
1914 Map of Eatonville – School

This 1914 map is broken down into three pieces.

In the first section you can see the Eatonville school, which had just been built. The second section covers downtown and you’ll immediately see Mashell Ave. and Center Street. The third section details the Eatonville Lumber mill. If you look closely, all the buildings are labeled.


Courtesy of Pat Van Eaton and the Historical Society.

Click on images to enlarge.

1914 Map of Eatonville - Downtown
1914 Map of Eatonville – Downtown


1914 Map of Eatonville - Mill
1914 Map of Eatonville – Mill

1936 ELCO Basketball Players

1936 ELCO basketball team
1936 ELCO basketball team

The ELCO (Eatonville Lumber Co.) basketball team of 1936. All I know about the group is that they were the City Champs.

“The basketball player in the center of the back row is Orville Smith,” says Rich Williams. “The person standing on the right with the letterman’s sweater is Bill Smith. The person seated on the left side is John Galbraith.”

Click on image to enlarge.

Photos courtesy of the Smith family.

Eatonville’s Early Lumber Mill

Eatonville Lumber Mill
Eatonville Lumber Mill

Without the Eatonville Lumber Mill there wouldn’t have been an Eatonville. It was the industry that helped build the little community from a settlement to a town and employed up to 200 people.

If you look closely, you can see the rail cars loaded up with product. Also, to the right is the Eatonville Lumber Company store, which was used by everyone on in the community.

It shut down in the 1950s.

Photo Courtesy of Rich and Ruthie Williams.

Click on image to enlarge.

Eatonville Lumber Company Camp (early 1900s)

Eatonville Lumber Company Camp
Eatonville Lumber Company Camp

Lumber camps were common in the early 1900s. Here’s a shot of the Eatonville Lumber Company camp. Some of the trees in this show are bigger around than the smaller rail cars.

If you were a logger you would eat and sleep here. But I hear tell that the food was fabulous. It took a lot of calories (approximately 8,000 per man) to keep everyone going strong.

Photo courtesy of the University of Washington Library, photo collection.

Click on image to enlarge.