Field Engineer’s Report – Valuation Section Washington #5 Northern Pacific Railway – September 23, 1917

Field Engineer’s Report – Valuation Section Washington #5 Northern Pacific Railway – September 23, 1917

[This was written describing the Northern Pacific Line between Tenino and Lakeview (near Tacoma)]

The entire country covered by this Valuation Section ass indicated above as gravelly flat, the soil is so stony and the country so dry that there is but little productive farming country along the line.  While there are several streams on this Valuation Section they are fed by glaciers from Mt. Rainier and the drainage of the west slope of the Cascades Mountains.  The district is covered with a growth of small pine and fir trees but not completely, the timber being more or less scattered.

The classification on this section consists almost wholly of cement gravel, taking a loose rock classification, loose gravel and boulders, the latter taking a percent of solid rock. . . .

The farming industry from a traffic point of view amounts to very little or nothing.  The main traffic along the line is lumbering and this is on the wane on timber immediately accessible from this district mostly been cut.

Forest School News 1914-15

Yelm Community Schools

The entertainment given recently by the pupils of the Forest school at McKenna and witnessed by quite a few people from this town was a big success, netting the school $18.50 to be applied on the purchase of piano and giving the attendants a most pleasant evening.

Washington Standard   May 8, 1914

A literary society was organized last Friday evening at the Forest school.  A short program was rendered and there was a debate between Mr. J. C. Conine, R. F. King, and Mr. Peters and R. S. Smith.  The subject discussed was, “Resolved, Tat the United States should own and maintain a merchant marine.”  This was enjoyed by everyone present.   There literary meeting will be held every two weeks and promises to be both instructive and entertaining and should have the co-operation of everyone in the district.

Washington Standard   October 12, 1915

Miss Eide, the primary teacher of the Forest school, was a week-end visitor with her parents in Tacoma.

Washington Standard  November 19, 1915

Horrible Double Murder at Rainier July 14, 1911

Horrible Double Murder at Rainier

Washington Standard July 14, 1911

Archie Coble and wife, aged respectively 25 and 16 years, were murdered in cold blood at Rainier some time Monday night or on early Tuesday morning. The bodies at least were not found till the evening of that day, when some neighbors not seeing either Mr. or Mrs. Coble during the day called to discover the cause, and were horrified by the terrible tragedy. The murderous deed had been done with an ax, both skulls having been cloven in twain as they slept in bed, probably without either awakening to realize the horrible act. As no valuables were taken the object could not have been robbery, and as the young couple were universally loved and highly respected, the motive suspected can only be of jealousy, as all other incentives to the horrible deed are wholly lacking, and it is expected that a clue will be discovered in that direction.

They had been married only a year.

The people of Rainier are horror-stricken over the terrible crime committed within the town limits where dozens of people were sleeping and within easy call.

Suspicion now rests on a man who is wanted in Portland for a like crime, murder of the Cowing family, similar in detail, and to add to the horror it is now discovered that both the dead women had been assaulted after death. The Oregon police are engaged in an effort to run down “the missing section hand.” The bodies of the Rainier victims lie at Sticklin’s undertaking parlors, awaiting the arrival of a brother from Missouri.

Rainier Monster July 28, 1911

The Rainier Monster

Washington Standard July 28, 1911

After many days of diligent search for clues and preliminary trials of suspects, for the murderer of the Coble family at Rainier, there seems to be good reason to believe that the confession of G.H. Wilson, now held for the crime is, in the main, true. Although an effort is being made to show that mental worry has led him to fabricate the story he tells. He says that he is a sexual pervert, and that while “admitting” that he did the deed while totally oblivious of his acts, it is in evidence that he inquired whether an insane person could be held responsible and was told that he could not, and this, it is thought may constitute the groundwork of his defense, there seems to be too much “method” in his madness to be the emanation of a mind wholly distrait.

Even were it possible to verify the main statement that he committed the crime, and that he is subject to such aberrations, it is the plain duty of executors of the law to place him under such restraint as that he may never be able to repeat the crime, whether opportunity is afforded by liberty now or leniency hereafter. No pardon nor discharge as cured is safe, nor should be tolerated, unless present conditions are changed. It is said that when his wife discovered traces of blood in the tent where he slept and called attention to it, he replied, “Shut up and say nothing,” which would seem to indicate that his memory was not wholly blank. Even were the crime committed with full consciousness it may be that the enormity of the act has completely upset his mental equilibrium, and implanted the one idea of a “confession” as the dernier resort for escape from consequences.

It is hoped that neither vindictiveness nor a maudlin sympathy be allowed to have any part in decision of this important matter, but that some course will be adopted that will restore the public mind to its ordinary tranquility and confidence.

Five Rousing Meetings October 25, 1912

Five Rousing Meetings

Washington Standard October 25, 1912

Continuing their plans of reaching every precinct in the county at least once before the close of the campaign, the Democratic county candidates will have covered five precincts by tomorrow night. Next week they propose to devote to a rushing wind-up to the most vigorous campaign they have conducted for years, with several meetings of importance in Olympia.

Monday night Candidates Schomber, Wall, Brown, Lyda and Frisch addressed an excellent meeting at Bucoda. The Saturday night before another delegation of candidates had journeyed to Grand Mound, where they were greeted with a rousing meeting.

The best meeting at Rochester of any party during the campaign was the Democratic meeting Wednesday night, when H.T. Jones of the state board of control, and Candidates Lynch, Schomber, Brown Ouellette, Dufault, Kagy, Dover and McClelland and E.N. Steele, were present.

Thursday night the candidates met with another rousing reception at Gate, tonight they return to Grand Mound and Saturday night they will address a meeting at Yelm.

The aggressiveness of the Democratic candidates had aroused much alarm among the Republicans, strikingly illustrated this week by the fact that the latter held a meeting at Hunter’s Point, the first time they had troubled themselves about that district for years. The Democrats had visited the Point last Friday.

Yelm in the Early 20th Century (From: A Guide to Historic Resources of Yelm)

Yelm in the Early 20th Century

(From:  A Guide to Historic Resources of Yelm, Washington

Yelm greeted the twentieth century with the creation, in 1901, of three plats that formally established the blocks, lots and streets of the town.  These included the Yelm Addition, situated immediately to the northwest of the railroad tracks near Yelm Avenue, and two filed by John McKenzie which platted his land southeast of the tracks. Ten years later Ole Solberg purchased the old George Edwards claim and, in 1916, platted a portion of it as Solberg’s First Addition. This land was located northwest of the railroad tracks. With Solberg’s filing of a second addition in 1923, the historic town of Yelm was complete.

The first quarter of the twentieth century was a period of growth, development and re-development when fires plagued the town in 1908, 1913 and 1924. In the process its population grew from 50 (by 1908) to 400 (1926). The business district acquired all the trappings of a small town emporium designed to serve the loggers, lumbermen and farmers living nearby. Close friendships were formed with McKenna and Roy, Pierce County neighbors situated north of Yelm along the northern Pacific line. (A listing of Yelm businesses is provided at the end of this history.) The agricultural development of Yelm during this time was related closely to lumbering operations. Many settlers were employees of the McKenna Lumber Company. This firm, in acquiring land for a power site also obtained land on the Yelm Prairie. “Officials of the company encouraged their employees to purchase tracts and to build homes of their own. They believed that such a policy was to the advantage of the employees [and would] promote a more stable labor supply for their lumbering operations.” (WSU, 1943) The land was divided into five to fifteen acre tracts, and was offered to mill employees at reasonable terms. The company provided an agriculturalist to give advice and a home demonstration agent to help the farm-working wives. In this way lumber workers could “increase their earnings through producing a part of their food.” By 1912, when the Northern Pacific Railroad elevated Yelm to official station status, the town had assumed the form still visible today. Businesses, as they had since 1874, concentrated along the rail line and Yelm Avenue, centering at the crossing of these two routes. Surrounding this district were the residential neighborhoods whose architecture reflected the vernacular styles popular in the builder’s manuals and design catalogs of the day. Later, some houses were prefabricated at the Gruber and Docherty Mill, located near Yelm. Some were imported logging camp bunkhouses modified to meet family needs. Others were constructed by local carpenters, such as Charles  Mittge. The first quarter century also saw the creation of one of Western Washington’s few irrigation districts. The impetus for this project came in 1910 when a few prairie farmers viewed irrigation as a way to increase productivity, and to invite more families to settle in the area. The Yelm Irrigation Company was organized, issued stock, and began construction. On June 16, 1916, the project was completed. The Yelm Ditch, as it was popularly called, was the product of an enthusiasm rising from the pre-World War I agricultural boom in the United States. Farm prices were good, demand for produce was high.

(From:  A Guide to Historic Resources of Yelm, Washington 1994)

Yelm News 1923

Nisqually Valley News


One Year of Business

The Neat Garage recently celebrated their first anniversary as agents for the Ford Motor company.  In that year they sold and delivered 65 new Ford cars and 12 new Fordson tractors.  This would make approximately a year’s business of $45,000 on new cars and tractors alone.

In addition to this they have disposed of 35 rebuilt or second hand cars and several saw mills, a hay baler and other equipment.

No check in available on the parts business but a good healthy business is certainly the assured.

This with their repair business is one of the reasons for the splendid business enjoyed locally.

Nisqually Valley News


Lawrence Lake Pavilion

F.M. Edwards has completed his pavilion and it will be christened by the public at his opening dance next Saturday evening.

Lawrence Lake is a beautiful body of water unsurpassed in the Southwest part of Washington for boating, bathing, and fishing and promises to be one of the most popular summer resorts tributary to Olympia and Tacoma in the near future.

Nisqually Valley News


“Balloon Dance”

The Pavilion at Lawrence Lake is fast becoming one of the most popular places in this section of the country.  Mr. Edwards is advertising a balloon dance for Saturday night.  One thing that can be said of this resort that is not applicable to many similar places, no booze or rough stuff goes.  He is keeping it as a place where men may take their families and enjoy themselves with out having to put up with the undesirable features so often encountered at such places.  By doing this the better classes of people are being drawn to Lawrence Lake.

Yelm News 1911

January 2, 1911

Washington Standard

D. R. Hughes, the postmaster at Yelm, drove over to Olympia in his automobile the fore part of this week, on business.

W.J. Lowry, who handled the successful ball given recently by the telegraphers at Yelm, will manage a big dance to be given in Waddel’s hall, Rainier, on the evening of January 31. Smyser’s orchestra of Tacoma will furnish the music and residents of the neighborhood for several miles around are looking forward to a great time.

The following items are taken from the Yelm Times: Work has commenced Wednesday of last week on the garage of Morris & Reichel, and it will be the first building in Yelm to be constructed of corrugated iron. It will be 24×25 feet and will furnish room for from 12 to 15 average sized cars, besides office and show room.

Miss Lola Graybeal, who has been night operator at the Yelm station for some time, suffered a complete nervous breakdown recently and has gone to the hospital at Tacoma for rest and recuperation

Yelm creek has been filled with salmon, the high water having enabled them to pass the falls in the woods and get up on the prairie end of the stream.

[Railroad] Untitled November 3, 1913


November 3, 1913

Washington Standard

Rudolph A. Johnson, Northern Pacific operator at Yelm, committed suicide in the Pierce hotel, 919 South C Street, Tacoma, Sunday night, the remains being found by the hotel proprietor Monday morning. He had fired a bullet into his mouth. The charred remains of a stack of letters written in a woman’s hand were found in his room, leading to the assertion by officers who investigated the case that unrequited love was responsible for the act. A sister living in St. Paul was notified.