Farm Industry Pervades Yelm (1910)

Thriving Little City Is Set in heart of Rich Dairy Industry

Stock Raisers Profit

Lumber Production Also Aids to Activity of Established Community in Good Hunting


The Tacoma Daily Ledger July 17, 1910

Yelm, July 16 – Freight cars today hide a part of Yelm from the view of passengers of trains on the Northern Pacific tracks, which run through the place. These cars, forming several trains, were being loaded with telegraph poles, piles, hewed ties and posts. All except the ties were products of the Whitlach mill, Yelm’s main industrial plant, which cuts about 40,000 feet of lumber a day. The poles, piles, ties and posts covered the ground for a block extending from the railroad tracks. They were being shipped to various points in Washington and Oregon, especially in this state, where railroad building is just now causing larger exports from the sawmills.

The railroad ties are exports hewed from timber that is cut down just outside Yelm and are hauled to the railroad station in big wagons, which are coming and going constantly. The ties are being brought in so fast that there was today a great pile of them awaiting shipment. The piles and telegraph poles are also turned out by the mill workers faster than they can be handled by the railroad men, so that the first view of Yelm that the stranger gets is one that reminds him of a big lumber plant itself.

Located 24 miles south of Tacoma, Yelm is purely a village, never having been incorporated. It has about 200 people that it calls all its own, but the mill workers, farmers and others in the immediate surrounding country, who make this their trading and shipping point, would more than double that figure. Though it has never taken to expansion through boom methods, it has gone along contentedly, its business people being successful and its troubles being few. ….

Named After Indian Chief

How the name of the settlement came to be selected is a matter that will probably interest a large number of the people who travel on the railroad to points beyond this place. The brakeman’s yell of “Yelm” generally nettles the person who has not heard the name before, and repeated yells of the station’s title do not enlighten the puzzled listener, who doesn’t succeed in clearing the mystery until he reads the name painted in big white letters on the little red depot. It has happened here just like it has in many more of the towns of Washington at the settling time—the Indian titles were drawn upon to fittingly designate the community. The old chief who held forth in this vicinity was called Yelm Jim. It was decided by the settlers to take for a title the first end of this name so the place became Yelm.

This section is chiefly noted for cattle raising and dairying, though there is quite a large area of the productive prairie land here devoted to the growing of grain. The wheat runs from 20 to 25 bushels to the acre and oats from 30 to 40 bushels. The dairy interests are the larger and the success of those there is room for a great increase in this district. Only cream is being shipped away from here, and some days the shipments go as high as 200 gallons.

Stock Raising Profitable

Stock raising is very profitable. Owing to the climatic conditions the cattle graze the year round. During but a few weeks do they require stall feeding, and that is only in exceptionally rainy weather. The stock is of a very high standard, too. Of the numerous stock raisers, L. N. Rice is one of the leaders. He had 400 head of sheep alone in the spring, when he disposed of half of them. There is a great need for a creamery here, which would undoubtedly prove very successful, owing to the immediate supply and the ever waiting market in the larger cities to the north and south.

As a pleasure spot the country about Yelm is especially attractive. Shooting and fishing parties are constantly making their way hitherward during the open seasons. Only a couple of miles from the railroad station are the finest of fishing streams. Lawrence lake, Clear lake and the Des Chutes river team with trout, which the sportsman with rod seeks out generally with success. Along the prairies, marches and open timber the man with gun finds China pheasants, bob white and native quail and snipe, while late in the season the river and lakes swarm with mallard, teal and other choice ducks.

On Main Wagon Road

Yelm’s main thoroughfare is the road from Tacoma to Olympia that is used by auto owners, and it is a dull day in the buzz-wagon line when the machines that whiz through the place do not number two score. This road is kept in good condition in this vicinity.

Being under country control, Yelm is a “dry” town, and since the change by which its

two saloons were closed came about, there has ceased talk of voting on the question of incorporating the settlement as a fourth class city. “now that there are no saloons there is no need to incorporate, for we get along all right and don’t need any special revenues,” said one of the settlers.

The Northern Pacific depot here is one of the few on the line that has a woman operator.

She is Mrs. N. B. Mullin and her hours of work are during the daytime. It is a novel sight

to watch this alert woman at her responsible task, and she makes an interesting picture as she darts out of the station and to the tracks, where she places offers in the hands of a train hand as a freight goes by without hardly hesitating.

Two young women who are popular here are daughters of the postmaster. They are misses Edna and Alice Hughes. Both assist their father in distributing among the Yelm’s people the many letters sent here, and in preparing missives for the outgoing mails.

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