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Pages of the Past

120 Years Ago

Oct. 20, 1893

A Disastrous Fire

Stetson Mill and City

Electric Plant Burned

Again this city has been visited by the fire fiend — this time with greater destruction of property than ever before.

Last Saturday morning about six o’clock, the people of Montesano were startled by hearing the fire alarm sounded. The feeling was intensified when it was seen that the mill of the Stetson Manufacturing company was on fire, and the blaze was well under way, for it was known the water system could be of no service as the mill was outside the limit.

A crowd soon gathered, but it was seen to be useless to attempt to save either the mill or the dry houses, for they were all ablaze before anyone could arrive, and the dense smoke prevented anyone from venturing into the buildings. The only thing that could be done was to attempt to prevent the fire from spreading to all the buildings near and to save as much lumber as possible.

Considerable lumber was saved by being carried out of the reach of the fire, but the contents of the dry house and shipping shed, which were filled with choice lumber for eastern shipment, were entirely destroyed, as well as an unusually large amount in the yard. The mill had been running on several large orders, which were nearly ready for shipment. Mr. Stetson estimates that his loss on lumber and shingles alone was over $7,000, while his total loss was not less than $35,000. The mill property and its contents were insured for $18,000.

The city is also a heavy loser by the fire — its electric light plant being destroyed. There was no insurance on the city’s property, and of course it is a total loss. Perhaps $5,000 would replace the machinery. Although the wire and supplies are left, they are practically useless — and will hardly be used even if another plant is purchased.

• • •

The Legend of The Wishkah

Long years ago, so the legend runs, there dwelt along the banks of this stream a race of giants, who stalked through the forest in search of game, and whose canoes glided swiftly up and down the winding stream. One day, how long ago the legend sayeth not, a mighty bird carried a monster fish from out of the deep to the source of the stream, and there left its rotting carcass to pollute the water, causing a great epidemic that completely annihilated the race of giants.

From that time, the river was called Wishkah, meaning “stinking waters,” and to this day no Indian has ever gone farther than a few miles up the river, and no Siwash now is bold enough to take the dusky maiden in his canoe for a moonlight ride among the bosom of its waters.

Thus runs the legend, and there doubtless lie beneath the waters of the river, and under the mold upon the hills, the bones of many a mighty giant. Certain it is there are some, for only a few days ago, Mr. J.C. Fairchild, while digging up below the surface of the ground and about a hundred feet above the water, discovered the skeletons of two of those giants of so long ago. They were nearly complete. The head was a foot and a half long, and the teeth were set edgewise into the jawbone, which was large enough to fit over the jaw of Mr. W.W. Ravenkield, who brings the news of the find, and who himself is a very large man. He was very desirous to procure one of the skeletons, but Mr. Fairchild would not part with it for any consideration.

100 Years Ago

Oct. 17, 1913

At the hands of the Centralia team last Saturday at the local grounds, the Montesano football team met its third defeat. The final score was 49 to 0. The boys put up a good stiff fight, and some very brilliant playing was done in the last half, especially by Kemp, White and Parsons, the former being the only one to get through the Centralia line and gain any ground. The main difference between the two teams was weight. The Montesano boys were outweighed 20 pounds to the man.

• • •

In view of the danger to children playing on Spruce Street in front of the new school building, as evidenced by the recent miraculous escape of two small boys who were struck by an automobile, the local school board has decided that immediate consideration of the acquisition of grounds for the accommodation of the children must be made. In accordance with this conclusion, a meeting has been called of directors and electors of the school district to convene Saturday, November 1, at the school house at 2:30 p.m., to act upon the purchase of the tract of land, recommended by the committee from the chamber of commerce as being an excellent site for the playgrounds and upon which this committee obtained options and recommended the board to make the purchase.

The tract is contiguous to the school building and offers an d ideal site for the playgrounds.

75 Years Ago

Oct. 20, 1938

It was an exciting few minutes for jailers Jack Thorpe and Ross Fuquay and for Ed Bastain, 17-year-old Indian, at the county jail here Sunday evening. Bastain, who is serving a 30-day jail term for petty larceny imposed by Justice Orville Peebles of Hoquiam, attempted a getaway. He was caught in the act and returned to his cell.

The jailers had a forewarning of the attempted escape, when they found the bolt locking the door between the jail basement and the furnace room had been tampered with. Thorpe made a show of going to his quarters and shutting himself in, while Fuquay lay in wait to nab the boy as he came through. Meanwhile Thorpe had come from the other side and relocked the door, so Bastain had no means of return and had to be caught by Fuquay and returned to jail.

50 Years Ago

Oct. 17, 1963

Montesano’s Bulldogs last Friday night took over undisputed possession of first place in the West Central League with a convincing 19-0 win over the Chehalis Bearcats. The Bearcats had previously undefeated in league play and the Bulldog victory left Montesano on top of the heap as the only undefeated eleven in the conference.

Chehalis, rated seventh best in the state by some Class A pollsters, spent a frustrating evening trying to contain Montesano’s Bob James, who tallied all three of the Bulldog touchdowns.

25 Years Ago

Oct. 20, 1988

Members of the Montesano School Board Tuesday evening unanimously adopted the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program. Beginning next month, when the second quarter of school gets under way, Montesano Police Officer Jerry Nootenboom will take the program into both Beacon and Simpson Avenue Schools to be presented to the kindergarten classes through fifth grade.

10 Years Ago

Oct. 16, 2003

Montesano joined more than 100 communities and cities to denounce the USA Patriot Act as an assault on civil liberties.

The City Council voted unanimously to declare Montesano in belief and support in the rights of its citizens.

“I think it’s against our fundamental right of due process, Councilperson Vini Samuel said at the meeting.

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