Eatonville Lumber Company

Earthquakes Rock Eatonville

Eatonville Grade School
Eatonville Grade School

Eatonville is no stranger to earthquakes. One that left lasting memories shook the place up on April 13, 1949. At 11:52 am the town started rocking and rolling.

Many recall the cement streets rolling like waves. Margit Thorvaldson says she was in the grocery store at the time and it took her a moment to realize what was happening. She remembers a woman more “earthquake savvy” than herself move to a doorway as items fell from the shelves.

School & Town Take hit
Although over a dozen chimneys fell, the Hotes building (100 S. Mashell) had damage and the wood reservoir feeding the Eatonville Lumber company engine had to be replaced. It was the high school, however, that got the worst of it.

Louie Mettler says he was eating in the cafeteria when it hit. “I remember they were serving peaches, because peaches were flying all over.  We were jumping out the windows and hauling others out.”

Washington Earthquakes (
Washington Earthquakes (

The auditorium and cafeteria were out of the commission for the rest of the year and engineers from Tacoma came and attached steel rods and shored things up.

It could have been much worse. The Dispatch reported that the entire student body has been scheduled to be in the auditorium from 11 to 12. Luckily, the assembly had been let out a little early that day — minutes before the quake hit.

The Lighter Side
Roy Swanson, an eighth grader at the time, remembers he and Kenny Hamilton walking downtown and seeing all the smashed bottles at the liquor store. The manager later gave out corks to many of the regular customers.

And Mrs. Otto Haynes told the Dispatch that the quake fixed the clock in their car. No one had been able to fix it for two years and the experts in Seattle said it was beyond repair. “It started right after the quake and has run fine every since.”

Continual Quakes
This was hardly the last of it. Since then, we’ve weathered the following:

• a 3.6 tremor in 1979.
• a 4.1 earthquake in 1995, which caused little damage, but got the town council looking into an emergency plan
• a damaging 6.8 quake that lasted 40 seconds in February, 2001. Despite the fact that the quake happened 30 miles under ground, it still caused cracks in the gymnasium wall and tennis court. It was also reported that the water tower of Dow Ridge moved 4 inches off its cement resting pad. This time around though, the liquor store only lost two bottles.

(Much of the information comes from Timber Town and Later by Edith Erickson and the Dispatch.)





Lumberman’s Hospital (ca 1920s)

Lumberman's Hospital
Lumberman's Hospital

Recognize this building? It’s the home across from the high school on Mashell, only back in the day it was the Lumberman’s Hospital.

Insurance for Loggers
Dr. A. W. Bridge has a contract with the Eatonville Lumber Company employees where each employee paid $1.00 per month for medical care. Dr. Bridge also had doctors in Kapowsin, Minaerl, Ashford and Morton. (There were no shortage of patients will all the logging taking place.)

In 1923 Dr. Bridge opened offices in Tacoma and in 1926 opened the Bridge Clinic in Tacoma specializing in surgery.

Lumberman's Hospital (across from high school)
Lumberman's Hospital (across from high school)

He continued the hospital in Eatonville until 1932 and had doctors in town until 1946 — the year he retired. All the Bridge Clinic contracts with industrial concerned expired the last week of May, 1946, and the local union signed up with the Pierce County medical Bureau.  (History of Tacoma Eastern Area)

Photos courtesy of Debbie and Gary Saint.

Click on images to enlarge.

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.

Scenic Four Lake Loop Drive

Four Lake Loop Map
Four Lake Loop Map

Sometime in the 50s there was a petition to create a scenic loop drive between four lakes — Kapowsin, Ohop Lake, Tanwax and Clear Lake.

By adding just 2.1 miles of road construction, people could cut off 11 miles of driving time, improve fire protection, increase school bus service and better postal delivery. Who could argue with that?

The petition makes a good argument. And the map is fabulous.

(I’m making the assumption that this was a 1950s petition, based on the map that states the Eatonville Lumber Company is putting out 200,000 ft. daily, and that the petition states Harry Sprinker is our Commissioner. If you have more information, please share!)

Scenic Four Lake Loop Petition
Scenic Four Lake Loop Petition

Eatonville Supports WWII

Add that ran in the Eatonville Dispatch in 1943

It was 1943 and the world was at war. Even in the tiny town on Eatonville, far from the front lines, the impact the war was having on the country was obvious.

Articles of the Time
In a September ’43 issue of the Dispatch, articles about the new women’s athletic club and an episode at the pool hall ran alongside articles like this:

• Dim-Out. Eatonville’s “Dim-Out” regulations were easing up. Dim-out regulations were in effect along many coastal area roads to reduce light, and make it hard for enemy aircraft to identify target locations. The regulations required homes to pull shades and businesses to turn off signs and marquees.

• Ration Board Needs Volunteers. The Eatonville War Price and Rationing Board was scheduled to open in August and would service LaGrand, Silver Lake, Alder, Elbe, and Ashford, among others. The call was out for volunteers.

Rationing scarce resources and goods, such as gasoline, tires, sugar, meat, silk, shoes, and nylon, was commonplace in 1943 and the Dispatch was anticipating a run on canning sugar.

The 2nd War Loan Drive. The Eatonville Lumber Company ran an ad to promote the sale of war bonds.

According to Duke University, the War Finance Committees, in charge of the loan drives, sold a total of $185.7 billion in securities. “This incredible mass selling achievement (for helping to finance the war) has not been matched, before or since. By the end of World War II, over 85 million Americans had invested in War Bonds, a number unmatched by any other country.”

• War Stats. The Dispatch also ran information on Eatonville men involved in the war, from where they were stationed to who had been lost.

The paper also reported interesting facts, such as “Two dollars a day from the pockets of every man, every woman, every child in the United States! That’s what it is costing the U.S. to win this war — $260,000,000 a day.”

On a brighter note, the Roxy Theater was doing great business and playing 5 movies a week, including Wings and the Woman, the story of one of the first women in uniform.