Monday, March 31, 2014

International Boundary markers @ Sumas (Part 1 of 4)

Photograph #1, credited to the Reach Gallery Museum, Abbotsford, B.C.
 This is great photograph from the Reach Gallery Museum showing the old Boundary Marker which signified the International Boundary between the United States and Canada, at Sumas.

The following information is found on the International Boundary Commission website
"The International Boundary Commission was established 4 June, 1908 by a treaty signed between the United States and Great Britain.  (Great Britain acted on behalf of Canada).  The two countries, at that time, appointed geographers/surveyors to act as Commissioners.  Their purpose was to accurately define and mark the border between Canada and the United States.  The Commissioners were expected to refer any disputes regarding the boundary to the American and Canadian governments.
In 1925, another treaty ratified the agreement between Canada and the United States empowering the Commissioner's to maintain the boundary. They were charged with keeping the boundary clear of vegetation in a 20' wide swath and building identification markers.   This is still the longest shared border between two countries. It runs from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from the Pacific up to the Artic. (According to Wikipedia, the terrestrial boundary is 5,525 miles long which includes 1,538 miles of border along the Alaska/Yukon frontier).  Canada's official motto seems quite appropriate..."A Mari usque Ad Mari!" ("From Sea to Sea!")

 Photo #2...taken by Deborah Morgan, 28 March, 2014

Photo #2 shows a wonderful antique, porcelain plate (from my personal collection) commemorating the first Sumas International boundary marker.  The image on the plate depicts the same boundary marker that is in photograph #1.   This plate is dated by appearance and style to be circa 1910 to 1915.  The only mark on the back reads "Made in Germany"  .
Photograph #3 taken by Deborah Morgan, 28 March, 2014
 This is a close-up of the image on the plate shown in Photo #2. 
Thank you for visiting my blog.  The next post will concern the stone marker currently in place @ Sumas/Huntington.  

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Third U.S. Border Station (part 3.2 of 3 )

Photograph taken by Burl B. Beane, November 1990, facing SW on a cloudy (rainy?) day.  The southern, wooded slope Moe's Hill is on the right.  The new 4th US Border Station is on left, rear. 
I intended to do a posting about the history of the border markers along the border.  However, another picture surfaced that needed to be shared regarding the moving of the 3rd Border Station, this time with the building elevated on the moving dollies.  Interesting!  It is truly amazing that they managed to move the brick building and keep it intact!  The story of the moving of this wonderful, historical building can be found in my post "Sumas Border Station (Part 3 of 3), 24th Mar, 2014".  The building weighed 714 tons on the wheeled carriage!  It would have been really something to see. 
My next post will involve the present and past International border markers.  Thanks for visiting my blog.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

3rd Sumas U.S. Border Station (part 3.1 of 3)

Posted from the Morgan family collection.
Just when I thought I have posted all I could regarding the 3rd U.S. border station, a local resident, purchased this great photograph of the building and asked to contribute it to my blog.  This photograph is looking NW with Canada Customs in the distance.  From the age of the cars this appears to have been taken sometime in 1969 or later on a mostly cloudy, wind free day.  
Tomorrow I will post regarding the earliest and the current official International boundary markers here in sunny Sumas.   Thanks for visiting my blog!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sumas, WA - July 1982 - an aerial view of the northern part of Sumas.

 Scanned with permission of and from the collection of Mr. B. Bromley.
Photograph #1 is a wonderful aerial view of Sumas, WA, as it was in July, 1982 oriented NNW.  Photograph #2 identifies the main landmarks and business.
Key photograph
1.  Canadian Border Station
2.  United States Border Station
3.  Maple Leaf Tavern
4.  Elenbaas Feed Store  (The old Gillies Building which was the 2nd Customs Station and O.K.   Garage...(see 30 January, 2014 post)
5.  Norman G. Jensen custom broker
6.  Duty Free Store
7.  "76" gas station
8.  American Legion Hall ( Post #212)
9.  B & B Tavern with Sumas Drug Store at SW corner of building
10.  Unoccupied building (originally the Bowling Alley)
11.  St. Anne's Catholic Church
12. Wee Drop Inn, later known as Desperado's Saloon
13.  Bromley's I.G.A. (2nd store), originally the Sumas Mercantile
14.  Barkerville Tavern
15.  Elenbaas Feed and Seed Mill
16. The eastern slope of  Moe's Hill
I will be referring to this picture in future posts as I highlight the individual businesses and landmarks that help tell the story of Sumas. 
Thanks for visiting my blog. 


Monday, March 24, 2014

Third US Border Station - (part 3 of 3)

Photograph by Deborah G. Morgan, March 23, 2014
This is a contemporary view of the 3rd Sumas Border Station taken looking NE.  The front entrance faces west and is located 1 1/2 blocks S of the international boundary.  The light blue building that can just be made out behind the hedge on the extreme left side of the picture is the American Legion (Post #212).

January 1988 brought forth rumors of major change to the scenery at the border crossing at Sumas.  It was announced that the grand old Border Station was no longer adequate to house the federal offices.  There simply was not enough space to accommodate the growing traffic and activities at the Sumas crossing.  A decision was made to raze the neighboring Maple Leaf Tavern, the Elenbaas Feed Store across the street (which was, from 1914 to 1932 the 2nd Border Station and OK Garage...see post for 30 Jan, 2014 ) and Norman Jenson's Broker Office.   The City was given an opportunity to move the 3rd Border Station as it was listed on the Register of Historic Places.  

Plan was to sell the station for $1 to the city of Sumas and move it to the City Park on Third Street between Cherry Street and Sumas Avenue.   The ground floor was to be turned into the city library and the top floor would consist of meeting rooms for the City.  However, the cost for the moving and building conversion was beyond what the city could afford.   A new foundation for the building would cost $90,000 and the federal General Services Administration, who were giving away the building, by law could not spend money on non-federal property. So suddenly everything came to a standstill.  The GSA determined that the only option was to tear down the old building.

This developed into a desperate attempt to save the building.  However, a little bird saved the day.  The Vaux's Swift is an unique, local little bird that prefers hollow Douglas Fir trees and other forest snags to roost for the night.   Unfortunately much of their habitat has been lost and in response they seek out shelter in urban brick chimneys.   They roost on the vertical rough surfaces of the brickwork.  There are not many places available for the little birds and the Sumas old Border Station is one of their sites.

There was an outcry from the Audubon Society and then the Sierra Legal Defense Fund stepped in and threatened to sue if GSA continued forwards with the demolition of the old building.  There was a lot of support to save the old building and the roosting place for the little birds.

Finally Clifford Moon, of Moon Construction from Seattle stepped forward and was determined to save the building.  He was the lowest bidder for either tearing down the building or moving it.   He decided to do the right thing. 

According to the Sumas Astonisher: 
  "The move was of epic proportions!  The building was placed on eight dollies front and rear.  Each dolly had eight wheels which made a total of 128 tires.   The building weighed 714 tons.  The power to move the building came from a heavy oil-rig truck which was cabled to the building and its brace trucks via eight pulleys.
    On the journey to the building's current location, the lead 16 wheels sunk a foot or more into the soft soil at the edge of the road and ruptured the water main to the American Legion Hall.  The next morning, the movers, J.W. Dent and Co. of Seattle, saved the day by hydraulically retracting the sunken wheels and placing steel plates underneath, then re-extending the wheels."

The beautiful building stills stands in its final location and has numerous office spaces for rent. Her vintage good looks have been nicely restored. Consider visiting this wonderful historic building at 115 Harrison Street, Sumas, WA., halfway between Sumas Avenue and Cherry Street.

Photograph taken by Deborah G. Morgan, March 23, 2014
A front on photograph looking east at the 3rd Sumas Border Station.
Photograph taken by Deborah G. Morgan, March 23, 2014.
This is the buildings dedication plaque. It is visible in the above picture under the right hand window.
 Photograph taken by Deborah G. Morgan, March 23, 2014
The architectural detail on the beautiful windows on the west side of the building.
Thank you for visiting my blog today.  Tomorrow, a cool aerial view of north Sumas from July 1982!. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

3rd Sumas Border Station (part 2 of 3)

 Photograph taken by Burl Brooks Beane (circa 1970) from a location on the International boundary, looking S.  The building behind and to the left of the Border Station is the Maple Leaf Tavern that faced E onto Cherry St.

Photograph taken by Burl Brooks Beane (circa 1968) from a location just south of the International boundary looking SW.  The building on the right side of the picture is the Elenbass Feed & Seed Mill.  Behind the mill can be seen the south slope of Moe' Hill.
 The skiers still wanted to cross the border even when the roads were impassible.  
Photograph taken by Burl Brooks Beane (circa 1972) from a location looking NW at the Border Station toward Canada.  Vehicle under inspection by Customs Officer and K-9.
The Sumas Border Station (built 1932, see 19 March Post) was a landmark building in Sumas for many years.  It served as the office for the U.S. Customs and Immigrations personnel.  This building was witness to many travelers heading to the United States from Canada. 
Arthur J. Moe (of Moe's hill fame) was Deputy Collector In Charge from 1927 until late 1960.  He witnessed many changes to the local border crossing.  During Arthur's time, Border Station I and II(see 31 Jan Post) were in use.   Burl Brooks Beane replaced Arthur as Deputy Collector in Charge starting in 1961. In 1965, the top job title changed to Port Director.  Burl was involved during the Hippie Era and the drug culture which grew from it.  When Burl retired in 1976, Daryl Barnes took over as Port Director.
The end of World War 2 brought many changes to the port.  The Alaska Highway had been constructed by the U.S. Army and was joined by the John Hart Highway in Northern British Columbia with an improved highway in the Fraser Canyon.  This construction provided a direct route between the west coast and Alaska with the Port of Sumas being the logical crossing. 
'Lynden Transport, a local firm, pioneered a trucking service to Alaska and soon secured contracts which included the U.S. mail.' (pers. comm. B. Beane, 1976)
June 1, 1949 , the Sumas Border Station, which was previously closed daily from midnight to 8am, became a 24 hour port. 
The construction of Ross Dam between 1937 and 1949 (approximately 60 miles E of Sumas) brought a growth of traffic through the port
Customs Guards were designated Port Patrol Officers in 1947 and given more opportunities for search and seizure. This resulted in a sharp increase in the discovery of both illicit drugs and merchandise.
The 1960s and 70s brought an increase to the drug culture and smuggling was prevalent.  These times brought protests, rock festivals and free spirits.  For the Customs and Immigration Officers this presented a whole new set of challenges.
"The second floor of the Border station used to be the office (for support staff) with holding area (jail cells) first by the U.S. Customs Patrol and then by Customs and Immigration.  The basement had a large walk in safe.   Outside in the back of the building next to the car impound garage was an incinerator where they burned seized items." (pers.comm. H. Stokes, retired Sumas Customs Officer)   
As a child I remember visiting my father (Burl Beane) at the office.   I remember that when entering the front door, his office was to the right.   To the left was the immigration office.   I also remember the yellow insignia by the front door designating the building as a fallout shelter in case of nuclear war. 
In the next posting we will discuss the community's fight to save the grand old building, it's ultimate fate and the 'swallows that return to Sumas'. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Construction of the 3rd U.S. Border Station (1932). Part 1 0f 3)

 -photograph scanned with permission from private collection-

The above photograph is dated, 1 March, 1932 and shows the laying of the foundation for the third Customs building.  We are looking NE from a location in what is now the traffic exit lanes just south of the current (fourth) US Customs building and the International boundary (on the north edge of Sumas, WA).  On the left of the picture are dwellings in Huntington, B.C., Canada.  The brick structure with the three brightly framed windows on the right is the Gillies building housing the OK Garage and the soon to be replaced, second Customs house (as seen in my 30 January post).
-photograph scanned with permission from private collection- 
The above picture, dated 1 June,1932, is looking west towards the familiar Sumas landmark, Moe's Hill.  Moe's Hill is the location of many seemingly aerial views of both Sumas, WA and Huntingdon, B.C beginning as early as 1896.  The International boundary runs across the top of the hill. 
 According to Burl Beane (Sumas Customs Port Director 1961-1976) the fine bricks for the Customs house were made by the Kilgard Brick Plant located at Kilgard, B.C. (about 6 miles to the NE).
-photograph scanned with permission from private collection-

The bottom photograph is facing SW, dated 1 August, 1932, shows the US Border Station from a location in front of the Gillies building seen in photo two.  There are signs to the left of the cool car advertising the AAA and Lions Clubs.

According to research of Burl Brooks Beane:
"Construction was started late in 1931. The excavation produced a nightmare of water and mud, due to the hydrostatic pressure which is common in the area. (Sumas has an unlimited supply of excellent water, from artesian wells.)  It was necessary for the builder to add large quantities of reinforcing steel and build on a massive under-ground slab, rather then normal footings.  The station was completed in October of 1932, at what is said to have been a large financial loss to the prime contractor.
Sumas has served another commercial pioneer and while doing so witness interesting changes in construction practices.  A brick company, which is located near-by, in Canada, has developed an impressive variety of building brick, fire brick and other structural clay products.  Numerous designs and sizes of bricks are imported for large building projects on the wisest coast.  
Bricks which are as large as building blocks are popular in schools and other public buildings to avoid additional labor costs of laying small types.
Large hollow bricks which are glazed on one side, in pastel colors, have been widely used to provide the normal outer wall and a finished interior wall in one operation.  In addition to developing advanced designs, the firm is well known for exacting quality control.   The importation of these new commodities have resulted in many classification problems and ruling over the years of there operation."

Look forward to a three part series about this now retired, beautiful building.  It served proudly till 1990 when it was replaced by the current Customs/Immigration facility.  So much has happened during the 82 years it has been a Sumas landmark.

Thanks for supporting my blog.  See you tomorrow.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sumas, WA...Then (1970) and Now (2014)

Photograph taken by Burl Beane ca. 1970

Photograph taken March  16, 2014

'Sumas, WA...Then and Now'
The top photograph was taken here in town by my father ca. 1970 on a beautiful, pre-dawn, winter morning (see the snow).  The bottom photo was taken by me this morning at the same location some 45 years later (in the rain). We are facing SE, standing on the sidewalk, on the east side of Lawson Street (Lawson runs North/South), between 1st and 2nd Streets, some 3 1/2 blocks S of the International Boundary. The pictures were taken in front of the house I grew up in and the view was a source of pride for my father.  He was proud to say that he could see Mount Baker (our local volcano) from his front door.  Mt. Baker is the large mountain peak on the horizon some 40 miles away.

Today the view is somewhat different.  The nearest house and empty lots have been replaced by the large yellow building which is apartment housing for Seniors.  Not visible (behind the Seniors building) is the Sumas Library (built in 1990). The large house in the right background in the original photo is till standing but is also obscured by the apartment complex.  The only thing that is the same in the photograph is the telephone pole.  So much for my father's mountain view. 

This is simply a fascinating study on the changes that occur over time. The empty lot I used to play in is no longer there.  We simply didn't know how lucky we were.

BTW, Hello to all my new readers! See you tomorrow.

Friday, March 14, 2014

A drive down Cherry Street Ca. 1965-1970

 Scanned and posted with permission from the Sumas City Hall.
A delightful drive down memory lane!  This is how I remember Sumas from my childhood. This picture was taken between 1965 to 1970. This is looking north on Cherry Street at the intersection of First Street.  At the left in the foreground (on the N W corner of the intersection) you can see the city hall with the flag on top.  The laundry sign seen above City Hall is actually attached to the front of the Sumas Laundry building on the south side of the intersection! Across the street is the Sumas True Value Hardware Store owned at this time by Richard (Dick) Lloyd  Dickerboom. North of the City Hall you can see the Wee Drop Inn, a tavern/cafĂ©, then owned by Robert and Lily Breining. Further north up Cherry Street, Dick Bromley owned the IGA Grocery Store.  Bob Mitchell owned the drugstore that was on the east side of Cherry Street, across from the IGA store.
Photograph taken by Deborah Morgan, March 14, 2014

This is a composite photograph of the same intersection as above. The city hall is still located in the same place, however has a different siding, changing the look of it.  The old Wee Drop Inn building is now functioning as a church building.  The IGA is now being operated by Bob Bromley, the son of  Dick Bromley.  (Bob Bromley is also the current Mayor of the town.)   The drug store moved next to Bromley's store and the old building is currently vacant of businesses.  There is an unoccupied building on the right side (formerly El Nopal restaurant).  In the right foreground, the True Value Hardware store has been torn down and replaced by the Bank of America.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A birds eye view of Huntington and the Hotel Alexandera

Photograph is credited to the Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford, British Columbia

This is a view taken from the top of Moe Hill (just to the west of Huntingdon, B.C./Sumas, WA.) from a position near the international boundary, facing North East. The Reach Museum dates this photograph as from some time between 1910 and 1920.  The view is of early Huntington, British Columbia.  In the foreground running left to right is 'C' St.  In the right foreground can be seen the rear of the famous Hotel Alexandra (as seen in the previous 2 posts).  To the northeast, after the draining of Sumas Lake in 1923, Hops were a major crop cultivated for the Canadian beer industry.
Tomorrow, back to Sumas.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hotel Alexandra and bakery, Huntington, British Columbia - 1915.

Photograph credited to the Reach Gallery Museum, Abbotsford Museum
The description of this photograph according to the Reach Gallery Museum is as follows;
"Hotel Alexandra, C Street (now Sumas Way). Left to right: the dentist, Ruth Murphy, Mrs. Little, Michael Murphy, Hormidas Munroe. Hormidas was French and the "H" in his name was silent so he was often referred to and his name spelled as 'Armidas'. Ruth Murphy was a nurse. She died during the 1918 influenza epidemic while nursing relatives sick with the flu."
Continuing on from the last post, this is the second photograph featuring the Hotel Alexandra.  We are looking west. The buildings are fresh and clean with a fine wooden boardwalk.
According to "One Foot On the Border" published by the Sumas Prairie and Area Historical Society (page 144) :
"Mike Murphy was born near Cork,Ireland in 1870 and immigrated to America, arriving in Seattle in 1886.  After continuing on to British Columbia he took up a pre-emption on the Fraser River and settled where the old Whatcom Trail emerged.  He married Mary Cleary of Mission, British Columbia in 1893.  The couple relocated to Huntington, British Columbia where they started a livery stable and a rooming house. Around 1910, Mike built the Hotel Alexandra which he named after his daughter.  His wife Mary died in 1909 and his daughter Ruth died during the WW1 influenza epidemic while nursing ill relatives.  His daughter Alexandra survived the epidemic, passing away in 1997.  The Hotel Alexandra burned down in 1926. Mike Murphy died during an operation in 1935, two weeks after the death of his second wife. 

Please check in tomorrow for the third in the Hotel Alexandra series showing early life, just north of the border.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Hotel Alexandria - Huntington, British Columbia - Ca. 1915

Photograph credited to the Reach Gallery Museum, Abbotsford, British Columbia.

The photo description from the Reach Gallery Museum is as follows:  "C Street (now Sumas Way) showing businesses lining the street: Home Bakery and Restaurant and the Hotel Alexandria. Michael Murphy and daughter, Alexandra Murphy, standing in front of the hotel. As a railway terminus and border town it was believed that Huntingdon would become the "Chicago of the West" but drainage of Sumas Lake opened the way for improved road transportation and spelled the demise of the rail systems."

This is an interesting photograph taken on the Canadian side of the International Boundary, across the border from Sumas, WA in Huntington, B.C.  We are looking west and can see the familiar Moe's Hill above and behind the hotel. The buildings that make up Hotel Alexander on C St.are festooned with patriotic buntings and flags.  It might be either Dominion Day or Victoria Day.

According to Wikipedia, Huntington was named after Collis P. Huntington, a Union Pacific Railroad executive.  Collis Huntington was working with the Canadian Pacific Railroad with the intention of connecting the U.P.R. and the C.P.R., so there would be a continuous line from Vancouver to Seattle then onto California.  The Union Pacific Railroad, the Northern Pacific Railroad, the Milwaukee Railroad and the Great Northern Railroad built lines to Sumas with hopes of crossing the border to Vancouver.   As it turned out, only the Great Northern Railroad made the connection to the B.C. Electric Railway (and the Canadian Fraser Valley).

It is fascinating to have Huntington, B.C. so close that it feels like a continuation of Sumas, WA.  However, Huntington has it's own history and sense of community.  Even though the two towns are intertwined with a shared history, one cannot forget the International Border which separates us. 

This is the first of three pictures featuring the Hotel Alexandria (and attached bakery).  I will be posting the second in this set tomorrow night.  See you then. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Another view from Moe's Hill - date unknown.

scanned with permission from a private collection

Another panorama shot taken from Moe's Hill.  The photo is looking south east towards the mountains.  The date is uncertain but railroad avenue is still has a few businesses in operation, but  Cherry Street has grown into the main commercial district.  Notice the Mt. Baker Hotel and Grand Hotel on Cherry Street. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sumas street scene in 1898

Photograph credited to the Whatcom Museum Photo Archives, Bellingham, WA.

The description from the Whatcom Museum Archives: " Sumas street scene in 1898 with group of miners and pack horses in front of Schumacher's and Parkinson's Miners' outfitting stores for the Mt. Baker Gold Fields.  Captioned : Railroad Avenue Scene in "98"."

The businesses are focused on provisions for the miner's headed for the Mt. Baker gold fields.  The Mount Baker Gold Rush was active from 1897 until about 1920.  This included the Lone Jack Mine, the Garget mine and many others.

Railroad Avenue was the original business district in Sumas running north and south facing the railroad track.  Later the business district moved one block to the east onto Cherry Street.   We are looking to the east at the buildings which are facing west.  It would be interesting to try to figure out what the gabled barn- like building is behind Schumacher's store.  Also notice on the far right the drug store. 

According to the 1900 census records, George Parkinson and his wife Florence immigrated to the United State's in 1890 from England.  George was born March 1845 and his wife February 1865.  They settled in Sumas and started a dry good store which prospered due to the Mt. Baker Gold Rush. They still had the dry good store in 1920 but by 1930 they were proprietors of the Grand Hotel.  By the 1940s Florence was widowed and still the Proprietor of the Grand Hotel . (To see a picture of the Grand Hotel look at the earlier posting )

Also according to the 1900 census records Anton Schumacher,  an immigrant from Denmark was the owner of the next door dry goods store.  Anton immigrated  in 1879 from Denmark where he was born in 1858.   He maintained his business for many years although it morphed into a men's clothing store and was still mentioned in the 1935 business directory.  I can't find any death records or indications as to where he is buried.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Updated post regarding the first Methodist Church in Sumas and the Sumas Methodist Ladies Aid Society

Photograph is credited to the Reach Gallery Museum, Abbotsford, B.C.

After speculating whether this photograph was of the first Methodist Church in Sumas, WA (See earlier posting ) it was pointed out that the proof might be right in front of us.   It appears that the Sumas Methodist Ladies Aid Society are posed in front of the tall building with plank siding on the right side of the photograph.  You can see the edge of the roof of the smaller building behind it.  
Were the Sumas Methodist Ladies Aid Society formed to help raise funding to build the newer church with the steeple in 1892?  We will probably never know for certain, but the picture looks as if they match.  This would make the picture above the only picture of the original Methodist Church known.

Photo scanned with permission from a private collection.

For more information regarding the ladies refer to the earlier posting.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sumas, WA - 1891

Photograph scanned with permission from original in private collection.
This is Sumas, WA. circa 1891.  The shadows show us it is the late afternoon.  This photograph is facing south-east, taken from on top of Moe's Hill, just south of the international boundary.  The main business road runs north (left) and south (right) following the railroad track.  Notice the railcar parked in front of the false front building.  The building is located facing west on Railroad Avenue and is one block west of the future Cherry Street (the current business district).  
This is the earliest of the photographs I have seen of Sumas from the top of Moe's Hill.  It is the first of a wonderful group all taken from the same general location.