Mount Baker and the Twin Sisters from Blanchard Mountain             Photo By  Lee Mann

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What is the history of Blanchard Mountain?

 
History of Blanchard and the Surrounding area

 From the book entitled Ghost Camps and Boom Towns, by JoAnn Roe.

 Wesley Whitener and John Gray were two of the first residents at Blanchard, and operated a logging camp as early as 1867 on the Blanchard Slough.  Another early resident was Lyman Cutler, who shot a British pig in his garden on San Juan Island, nearly starting the aptly named “Pig War”.  Cutler also started the area’s first school in 1873.   James McElroy started a horse tram railroad in the 1880’s, then sold it to George and Dudley Blanchard in 1886, and the Blanchards quickly obtained financing from eastern investors to purchase vast quantities of timberland on the Chuckanut mountains.  By 1888, the Blanchards had installed a railroad and had a payroll of about 90 men.  By 1890, 20 million feet of logs were coming out of the Blanchard mill, and the company owned timber rights to 1400 acres of land.  The Blanchards stopped logging right around 1900, and the family left town. 

 By 1903, the Great Northern Railroad had relocated its line to run very near Blanchard, so milling was once again a profitable endeavor.  George Cooper and D.A. McMartin constructed the Hazel Mill on McElroy slough in 1906, and were soon joined by the Samish Bay Logging Company (SBLC).  The SBLC was well-financed, and built another railroad along today’s Chuckanut Drive to Oyster Creek, then up the side of the mountain (In 1915, the State of Washington forced the company to remove its rails so that Chuckanut Drive could be built).  In 1919, SBLC built another incline railroad on the eastern slope of Blanchard Mountain (I assume this is where the Incline Trail now passes), and a work camp was established near Lizard Lake.

 By this time, the town of Blanchard had nearly 1000 people, and had various stores, meat markets, a pool hall, barbershop, Methodist Church, a community hall, and large boarding houses for some workers.  The town was known to be a ‘tough’ place on the weekends, when workers tried to spend their paychecks as fast as possible on cards and booze.  Crime, though, was not a big problem, with the exception of a 1914 train robbery in which three men tried to rob a train as it pulled through Blanchard.  The men shot and killed 3 people, and ended up getting away.    SBLC continued to prosper until the late 1920’s; the company had begun extracting timber from as far away as Lake Samish, but eventually even these timber holdings ran out. Finally, in 1928, the company closed up shop in Blanchard and moved to Panama, and Blanchard, which had already begun to deteriorate, declined rapidly after the loss of timber jobs.  

SBLC continued to prosper until the late 1920’s; the company had begun extracting timber from as far away as Lake Samish, but eventually even these timber holdings ran out.  Finally, in 1928, the company closed up shop in Blanchard and moved to Panama, and Blanchard, which had already begun to deteriorate, declined rapidly after the loss of timber jobs.  

Colony Mountain

 The Equality Colony, a socialist utopian community, was founded in 1897 near Blanchard.  The Equality Colony began on 280 acres of land purchased by Edward Pelton, and started out with several hundred residents.  Soon after the establishment of the colony, about 200 additional people joined (each family was required to pay $160 for the privilege of joining the group).  Equality Colony had its own lumber mill, with approximately 600 employees.  After buildings and requisite facilities had been built, the colonists enjoyed a fair amount of leisure.  However, only 100 persons remained in the colony by 1901.  The decline was partially due to young men leaving for outside jobs that paid more.  In 1905, an anarchist named Alexander Horr moved to the colony, and sought to get the colonists more involved in activism, but Horr proved to be a dividing figure, and the colony was divided into a number of factions.  Eventually, financial chaos developed from the leadership struggle, and a large barn was burned, along with numerous livestock.  The factions accused each other of arson, and the colony was finally dissolved amid legal proceedings in 1907.  Some of the colonists settled in the vicinity, and others simply disappeared.   

How did Blanchard Mountain become a land trust?

From the Skagit Valley Herald.

"About one-third of the state trust lands, including Blanchard Mountain, were acquired in the 1920s and 1930s from county governments, which had seized them from the owners for nonpayment of property taxes.The counties transferred the lands to the state, which was better able  to manage them. The transfer lands are overseen by the Forest Board,  which includes the state Superintendent of Public Instruction and other representatives of agencies benefiting from timber harvest revenues. Unlike state trust land, whose timber money goes to the state, the
revenue from forest board lands goes into local coffers. That includes  the county general fund, local hospitals, cemeteries, and schools..."
 

Edward R. Murrow lived in Blanchard.
From The Planet- Living in the Shadow- Sarah Loehndorf

Edware R. Murrow  moved to Blanchard when he was 6 and lived in Blanchard from 1913-1925. While working at CBS, Murrow often said he would trade it all to sit on the dike at Blanchard with a gun, waiting for a duck to fly by.