The caption that went with this photo was “First tree cut in Eatonville location near Depot”. Judging by the trees that have been felled around it, it wasn’t the first. But it was definitely a big one and one of the first.
The photo below shows the same spot and the Depot in 1918 — not too many years later.
The Depot is no longer standing, but Pat Van Eaton tells me it stood on the corner of Madison Ave. and Center Street (then Groe), across the street from where Arrow Lumber is now.
Photos courtesy of Gary Henricksen and Pat Van Eaton.
In 1935 a timberworker’s strike was called and all the mills and camps around Eatonville closed down.
Mineralwas a hotbed of uncompromising striking and a man was shot on Main Street during a bitter demonstration against workers of the North Fork Logging Company.
Someone put dynamite in Russell Krones’ car on August 6. The blast tore holes through the roof of the garage. Krones was employed at the Wheeler-Osgood Mill and folks believed the strikers were the ones who bombed his car.
After the strike was over, the Tacoma Lumber and Sawmill Workers Union refused to be associated with anyone guilty of terrorism, vandalism or intimidation committed during the strike. Although the mills started operating August 15, they were still picketed. (History of Southeastern Pierce County.)
It’s a snapshot of Eatonville in 1954 — not much in the way of housing developments and the mill is in operation at the end of town.
The school is the centerpiece and there is open farmland where today’s elementary and middle school stand.
What was taking place in 1954?
• A guy named Elvis Presleywas recording a 10 minute demo in Nashville.
• The first nuclear-powered submarine is launched .
• They were breaking ground in California for a little place called Disneyland.
When the Eatonville mill closed its doors in the 1950s, people worried that town might not survive. Operation Bootstrap began — a community effort to keep the doors open. One of things that came out of Bootstrap was Robin Hood Days. The idea was to create an event that would bring people to Eatonville.
This is the program of one of the Robin Hood Days celebrations. The event didn’t survive, but not for lack of effort. Included were:
• archery events, like shooting from the saddle
• archery vaudeville
• shooting fish in a barrel (I’m curious if that was done with a bow and arrow)
• bow versus guns — Washington state archers versus the Pierce County Sheriff
• a street dance
• a pageant of “Robin Hood and his Merry Men”
Great Ads The ads are also fun to look at. Many of the businesses are long since gone or changed, like Barney’s Cafe & Tavern —along with their 5-digit phone numbers.
Even thought this picture was taken in 1913, you can see see the outline of the town it is today. And that odd intersection by the bank.
If you click on the image and enlarge you case see lots of detail. Like on the left hand side is T.C. Van Eaton’s store (now a parking lot next to Kirk’s Pharmacy).
The bank hasn’t been built yet, but there seems to be a open space on the corner just waiting for it to be built.
The clump of buildings (center right) is the Snow Hotel is where the Eatonville Manor stands today. The tiny building in the back looks to be T.C. Van Eaton’s original cabin, which was moved to the Milltown park.
Nathan Williams, aged 83 years, was stricken at his home in Eatonville suddenly Friday morning, and passed away within a few minutes. For the three days preceding he had complained of “not feeling well” but was up and around till the time of his death. Sunday he was laid to rest at Eatonville cemetery, with no other services than brief graveside ceremony, as he had requested.
Trapper, hunter, prospector, house mover, mason, miner, horse trader, trailer breaker — these are but some of the pursuits followed by the remarkable man.
He was born in Indiana 83 years ago, the son of a potter and one of a family of four, all long since gone to rest. When he was 5 years old, the family moved to Iowa. When but a lad, he had a perchant for the drum, and ran away to join the army as a drummer in the ranks of the North, then engaged in the Civil War. He was caught, and brought back home.
The restless spirit of adventure was in his blood, and when 18 he joined a bull train in the rush to the Black Hills for gold. After that, he spent years on the plains, sometimes having to very quietly fold up his tent to escape from the braves of the Sioux, Cheyenne and Crow tribes.
He married Sarah Elizabeth Van Eaton, a sister to T.C. Van Eaton. It was at the Pine Ridge Agency, south of the Sioux reservation, that his first children were born.
His sons are Charles, Tom and Clyde, all living in Eatonville.
His companion on his expeditions on the plains was Jim Richy, a very unusual character, adventurous and exceedingly religious. Mr. Richy, by the way, after not seeing Mr. Williams for some 30 years, suddenly popped up in Eatonville and took a homestead in Ashford, which he provide up on and went back east. He was in Eatonville to see his old trail companion last spring.
Williams and Richy hunted antelope for the Omaha market together, and not infrequently saw the last remnants of the once great buffalo herds.
Mr. Williams’ life was one full of wanderings and one lived in the outdoors. It reads like a western thriller. He was in the Alaskan gold rush, and prospected and “sniped” for gold on the 70-Mile River, 120 miles below Dawson, for two summers. He was one of those hardy spirits who helped build the old Skagway Trail, near where the notorious Soapy Smith ran his gambling hall. He knew Soapy, and frequently talked with him, although he managed to steer clear of playing with him. He distinctly remembered the high excitement when Soapy made his exit from the world with his boots on. It was a rough, hard life, but one that Mr. Williams loved and was adapted for. While he never made a strike, he made good wages.
Before leaving for the gold fields he and T. C. Van Eaton moved to where Eatonville now stands, and he had taken a homestead where Olaf Malcom’s place now is, and built a large log house for his family, before he learned that it was not government land, but railroad land, he was on. He had to move off, and the railroad men burned down his house.
He was unable to get a boat for Washington from Alaska, and had to take one from San Francisco. Scurvy broke out on the boat, and two burials were held on the Bering Sea. When the ship docked 32 were so sick they were unable to walk ashore. Mr. Williams was attacked, but refused to stay off his feet.
Built Observation Tower
After he lost his homestead he worked for some time in Tacoma as a longshoreman, then returned and put his hand to whatever turned up. It was he who built the stone house at Anvil Rock, 10,060 feet high, above Paradise. It took him 31 days to do. He never went back to see it, but it still stands and is used as a government observation tower.
It will be remembered that after the Tison murder at Friendly Inn, when the call went out for someone to stay at the deserted house till the investigation was complete, it was old Nate Williams who was the only one who volunteered for the eerie vigil, swearing he never feared man, god nor the devil.
Eatonville’s Roxy theater in town was built by A.G. Pecchia back in 1942. It was just one of many.
Mr. Pecchia came into the movie business by accident. Around 1920, a man who was renting Pecchia’s building owed Pecchia money. Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on how you look at the story) the man had no money and paid Pecchia with a theater in Orting.
Mr. Pecchia, who hadn’t even seen a “rolling movie” learned about the industry quickly. In 1922 he opened a theater in Kapowsin and bought the the theater in Eatonville. In 1925 he purchased the Morton theater and then took over Randle’s in 1937.
Timber Town and Later, the Story of Eatonville, written by Edith E. Erickson is a great read but should also be in inspiration to budding historians.
Edith, born 1914, moved to Eatonville in 1990. She couldn’t find much information on her new community and started researching. Her research become this book.
She says in the intro, “Being a relative newcomer to the Eatonville area, I had no knowledge of my own concerning its development or history. Jeannette M. Hlavin wrote a very complete book of the area from 1889 to 1953. After reading it, I thought that a history of the last fifty year should be d to what she had written.”