From the Collection: 1893 Fires

Mount Si from North Bend, c 1900.

This past summer huge fires have burned out of control throughout the West, and it is worth remembering that the Snoqualmie Valley is as vulnerable as areas in Eastern Washington, Oregon and California.  Many of the early accounts of Valley life mention sweeping fires, and the photograph above records just one of the many fires that burned the face of Mount Si. The trees we see on the mountain today are only about eighty years old. 

The story below is a composite of two newspaper articles describing the great fire of 1893.  The first account appeared in the September 3 issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, while the second was published in the Washington Standard of Olympia on September 9.

A special from Snoqualmie says: Forest fires are raging south of Preston.  They started on D. J. Graham’s slashing Thursday night, and spread over a large tract of country, destroying a vast amount of timber.  No houses were destroyed.  One barn and several tons of hay belonging to D. H. Graham were burned.  Crops and orchards were badly scorched. 

The trail between Preston & Kennedy’s coal mines was blocked for two miles.  Only two families were driven out – those of A. Reek and T. Anderson, who went to Falls City.  The smoke settled so thickly around their houses that they barely escaped being suffocated.  Miss Susie Cook, the teacher at the Echo Lake school, who was at Anderson’s, went to Monohan to get out of the smoke, but will return on Monday.  The fire there is rapidly dying out. 

Forest fires are raging north of Snoqualmie and south and east of North Bend.  Hugh Cameron, a rancher 10 miles north of Snoqualmie, escaped being roasted only by digging a hole in the ground.  His cabin was burned, also that of L. W. Gore and A. L. Rutherford. A great many others have likely shared the same fate. 

Fire on the south and middle forks of the Snoqualmie River are playing havoc with the timber.  North of the town of North Bend the flames broke out in the scrub timber and brush on the side of Mount Si, and at night they could be seen leaping from one batch of timber and brush to another.  They extend far into the north and middle forks of the river, and Timothy Niles, from the middle fork of the Snoqualmie, reports fires having swept each side of the river for ten miles, destroying at least 60,000,000 feet of cedar alone.  The fire is still burning, and the whole valley is enveloped in smoke.

Further along the south fork fires are raging and the wagon road over the pass is blocked and many teams are delayed near the summit.  O. D. Guilfoil’s logging camp and skid roads were damaged to the amount of $1000.