Inquiry of Week: Where was Camp Bide-A-Wee?

Exit 42 from Google Maps.

Fifteen Mile Crossing was the first fording over the Snoqualmie River after leaving North Bend going over Snoqualmie Pass. It is located about 15 miles east of North Bend.

James Beard became one of the toll collectors when the Snoqualmie Pass Wagon Road became a toll road in 1883. Beard built a cabin at the 15 mile crossing about 1890 and he ferried travelers across the river for an additional fee. Later he built a toll bridge over the river and named it Fifteen Mile Bridge.

A few years later, Beard built some log cabins for tired travelers and called the new camp “Bide A Wee”. This rest stop served weary travelers for many years.

In 1893, the County took over the wagon road and it became County Road No. 353 and all tolls were removed.

Cynthia Joyner, Louis Knight, Carrie Scheuchzer on road to 15 Mile Bridge. May 1908. Siegrist Photo. Snoqualmie Valley Museum Collection PO.751.0075.

According to Fred Schechzer’s obituary “In 1907 he saw the first automobile come over Snoqualmie Pass on its own wheels- a White Steamer that gave its last dying wheeze near the 15 mile crossing and was towed ignominiously to North Bend by a contemptuous freighter.  But it was the forerunner of the unending stream of motor vehicles that now streak across the old homestead on the broad ribbon of concrete that has supplanted the old rutted wagon trail.”

In 1915, when the Sunset Highway was completed. The crossing at 15 mile was bypassed by the new highway that remained on the north side of the river toward the summit. Bide A Wee continued to flourish with travelers going over the mountain and campers who came in from Seattle for a relaxing weekend.

In the early 1920’s, M. C. Mason purchased the camp from Beard and renamed it Camp Mason. He soon built better cabins, a restaurant and grocery store next to the Sunset Highway. The camp lasted until the 1950’s, when the property was purchased by the State Highway Dept.

The camp was then bulldozed to make way for the new 4 lane highway. Nothing remains of the once vibrant camp and rest stop. At north side of location of Exit 42.


Deo Reing told a story about going to James Beard’s to purchase a colt about 1891 or 1892:

“It was some time in the 1890’s, when I was quite young. I was at the Hop Ranch (now the Meadowbrook farm) watching a band of horses passing by. They had just come over the mountains from Eastern Washington. One of the men who was driving them rode over to where I was standing and told me that they had left a fine colt at the Toll Bridge. (This was also called the 15-mile crossing because it was 15 miles east of North Bend.) He said that it had come from fine stock and that I could buy it from the keeper there for two or three dollars.

The next day I took my brother Eddie’s donkey and five dollars and left quite early as the road in the mountains was very rough and hilly, and I didn’t know what kind of horse I would bring back. When I arrived there and looked the colt over, I decided to take it. It was a bay filly some six or seven months old and was played out and could not go any further.

The keeper, whose name was Beard, said he would have to have five dollars for it. I agreed and after giving him the money we tried to catch her. She never had a halter on and knew nothing about leading. After a lot of chasing we caught her and put the halter on. I put the rope around the horn of the saddle and started to pull. Mr. Beard took a stick to get the colt to move, but she only pulled back harder. There was quite a steep hill we had to go up right at the start and I never thought we would make it. The little donkey pulled with all his might, and when we got near the top the colt seemed to give up and ran right to the side of the donkey and stayed close by the rest of the way home. I surely felt relieved.

When we got home I rode up to the house to show the new little horse to my mother and the rest of the family. My mother soon found that the young one was covered with lice, so she melted some lard and mixed it with kerosene and I applied it over most of her body. I put our other horses in the pasture and kept the filly in the barnyard. When the other horses were gone the new one stayed right by my side. When I left to go to the house she ran up and down along the fence and whinnied with all her might. I went back several times to calm her, and she was fine as long as I stayed with her. It surprised me to learn that a colt could be tamed in such a short time. The next day when she saw me she came running up to me. I always had a little feed for her.

After my horse was about two years old I rode her just a little. I also hitched her to our two-wheel cart. After she was three I could drive her hitched to the cart, or ride her. She was never afraid of anything. I used to hitch her to the cart in the evening and drive to the road by the Hop Ranch where the ground was level and smooth. It was easy to see that the colt had come from good stock, the way that horse stepped out. She could trot faster than any horse around. The cowboy had told me the truth when he spoke to me about that colt.

We had seven horses at the time and my father said we had to get rid of some. Since I had two, I thought I should sell one of mine, so I sold my young mare for $75 to some one else. I never saw her again. I had named her Flora.”

– Deo Reing, Grandpa Tell Me A Story