Thursday, November 17, 2016

Railroads of Sumas_Part 3 of 3_Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad (SLS&E)

Railroads of Sumas...part 3 of 3...Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad (SLS&E)

The second U.S. owned railroad in Sumas was the Sumas, Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad
(SLS & E). 

"The SLS&E was conceived and founded (April 28, 1885 in Seattle, Washington) by Seattle business interests in response to Villard of NP selecting Seattles intense rival Tacoma as its transcontinental western terminus.  The original scheme for the SLS&E was connecting with an intercontinental RR somewhere, while building north and east from Seattle."...Wikipedia, "Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway"...

The SLS&E ran their original track (completed in 1889) from Seattle (Ballard) though Bothell, Woodinville to Sallah Prairie (near Snoqualmie Pass) with the intention of connecting to the NP. 

After that plan changed they used some of this original line to complete the 126 mile line from Seattle to Sumas and a connection to the Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR).  The route started in the Ballard area of Seattle and headed north around Lake Washington, then dropped south and around Lake Sammamish to Issaquah and then headed east to Stampede Pass ( about 15 miles South of Snoqualmie Pass).  The route then turned north to Snohomish then on to Arlington traveling though Skagit County where they skirted on the east side of Lake Whatcom and straight up to Sumas. 

The construction and grading of the roadbed started March 9, 1887.  They started laying the rails and started running their first engine October 25th of the same year.  The work was slowed down due to four rivers, the Snohomish, Stillaguamish, Skagit and Nooksack.  There was very sharp competition between the SLS&E, the BB&BC and the Fairhaven & Southern Railroad (F&S) racing north to reach the great prize of connecting with Canada (and the eastern markets). 

In 1889, Eugene Canfield, who was building the F&S, decided to file an injunction against the SLS&E to prevent them from building a bridge over the Snohomish River.  Mr. Canfield claimed sole right to bridge the river was given to him by Congress when he was awarded a charter for the F&S and demanded $1,000,000 from the SLS&E to allow the bridge to be built. There are several accounts on how this was resolved.  Most of them tell a similar story...
.....historian and author Nard Jones relates how Judge Tom Burk (with LS&E interests in mind) boarded a company locomotive in Seattle and instructed the engineer to unhook the cars and proceed to Snohomish in a hurry.  The judge had spotted the F&S company man who was taking a writ to block the crossing of the Snohomish River waiting for a train in Seattle.  The SLS&E engineer, in great haste, got the judge to Snohomish.  Judge Burk then sought out local Sheriff Billy Whitfield and informed him that a man was bringing a writ to halt the construction.  Burk then asked the sheriff if there wasn't any outlaws in the mountains that needed looking for.  The Sheriff said there were and headed into the hills with his deputies.  It only took three days to finish the bridge while the outmaneuvered F&S man was looking for the missing Sheriff and his deputies and could not deliver the writ in time.... 

The following was the printed in the Bellingham Bay Express, April 5, 1890, p1, c5.

"An express reporter last evening met Mr. A. W.  Mohr who has the contract to slash the right of way and grade twenty-five miles of the above road south from the boundary line to the Samish Summit.  Six hundred men are now hard at work to complete his contract by June 1st.  Mr. Mohr states that the roadbed is comparatively lee, average grade being about six tenth percent.  The heaviest rock cut only being 75  feet long and 37 feet high and one heavy embankment about three-quarters of a mile long, with an average fill of nine feet.

The San Francisco Bridge Co. has the contract to construct the bridges across the Nooksack River at the fork.  About 1,000.000 feet of piling will be required and 500,000 feet of lumber to construct the bridge.  The approaches will require about 500 Feet of trestling on each side.  There will be two Howe Truss spans, the center pier being built upon an island in the river.  Work will commence upon the bridge within three weeks. The plies are now being cut on the upper Nooksack and floated down.

A large number of men are at work on the bridge at the mission where the C.P.R.R, connects with S.L.S. & E.R.R. and B.B. & B.C.R.R. 

Rails will begin to be laid about August 1st, being brought to the front as far as the Nooksack River over the line of the C.P.R.R.  Co. Rails will be  brought over the lines of the S.L.S. & E.R.R.  to Sedro on the Skagit River, then transferred to the tracks of the Fairhaven & Southern and delivered to the B.B. & B.C. R.R.  and forwarded by the latter company to the Nooksack River thereby keeping the work progressing from all quarters.

The express predicts that on the 1st of November, 1890, the connecting link that previously prevented  a traveler making a complete circle around the outer edge of the North American continent, by rail, will be completed and in successful operation."

May, 1890 saw the first SLS&E stock sold to the NP.

The SLS&E tracks arrived at the South Fork of the Nooksack River around 1st December, 1890.  There was plans to build a branch up to the Wardner Coal Mine at Blue Canyon on Lake Whatcom in the spring.  Although the Wardner branch was publicized it did not come to pass.

So...ultimately the SLS&E lost the race to Sumas and the lucrative CPR connection by arriving in town 48 hours after the triumphant BB&BC.

By 1892 the SLS&E was operating as a portion of the NP, was placed in receivership 23 June, 1893 and was sold July 28th, 1896 mostly to NP representatives.

picture 1
SLS&E Stock Certificate
this image from

picture 2
"SLS&E's engine #2, the D.H.Gilman, 4 July, 1892.  Photograph taken at Columbia St. Station on Railroad Ave., Bellingham"
this picture from

Monday, October 10, 2016

Railroads of Sumas_Part 2 of 3_Bellingham Bay and British Columbia Railroad (BB & BC RR)

Railroads of Sumas...Part 2 of 3...Bellingham Bay and British Columbia (BB&BC)

Over 125 years ago, 1 March, 1891, the BB &BC Railroad arrived in Sumas with its tracks. It was a day of great celebration for the local community as Sumas was no longer isolated.

BB&BC Railroad was incorporated in California in June 21, 1883, headed by Pierre B. Cornwall. (Cornwall Park and Cornwall Avenue in Bellingham was named after him). The company was incorporated after the Northern Pacific Railroad selected Tacoma instead of Whatcom. The BB&BC was capitalized for $10,000,000, with its original goal to build a line from Whatcom (Bellingham) to Burrard Inlet (Vancouver, British Columbia). The company started construction in 1884 and headed toward Sumas.

The BB&BC Railroad was taken over in 1912 by the Bellingham and Northern Railroad and later by Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad in 1918.

"The Whatcom Reveille issue of March 6, 1891, had noted, "The BB&BC road arrived at Sumas at 1:00 p.m., Sunday (Mar.1st) amid great rejoicing. Col. Barker was threatened with a spasm, while many went wild. Johnson, Leitch and Walsh, all townsite proprietors, kept open house and let out considerable good cheer....The SLS & E road is expected to arrive Wednesday (Mar. 11th) when another big time will occur."

At the first of these celebrations, the townsite people were jubilant. Lots were selling like hotcakes. Some of the early settlers left their claims for a time and constructed board and tent shelters and hung out a "Hotel" sign to help take care of the fast arriving populace. Saloons and gambling houses mushroomed. There were plenty of partners at two bits a swing for the men at dance halls and nearby rooming houses flourished.

The townsite men set the pattern. They organized a brass band and furnished free beer at their offices. With construction crews from three railroad and newcomers arriving everyday, by work train and stage, money flowed freely, and accommodations were short but headaches were plentiful."

from Boundary Town, by Roy Franklin Jones

"The B.B. & B.C. Railroad crews reached Sumas with its track on March 1, 1891, seven years after the first efforts were initiated. The 23-mile line served Van Wyck, Wahl, Goshen, Central, Everson, Clearbrook, and Sumas. Along the road was a brickyard that contracted for sixty-three cars to haul its product to New Whatcom and one logging camp with 30,000,000 feet of logs for Bellingham Bay. Roth 1:301; Whatcom Reveillie, March 6, 1891.
Trying to keep pace with he extension of the railroad were crews installing telegraph lines beside the tracks. it was reported on May 5:
The telegraph line on the Bellingham Bay and British Columbia Railroad Company's line has reached Everson and is one mile beyond that town. a total distance of sixteen miles. Trains are running daily to Sumas City The line from Mission to Sumas is rapidly nearing completion. The tracks will be running by 15th of May. Fairhaven Herald, May 5, 1891, p7, c1"
from Railroad History of Bellingham Bay, Washington by Neill D. Mullen

Picture 1
BB & BC Railroad pass, circa 1896

Picture 2

BB & BC Railroad pass, circa 1902

One peculiar sight that became common place on the BB & BC was the McKeen Motor Car #2, named Kulshan , that commuted between Whatcom (Bellingham) and Glacier via Sumas.  From 1905 and 1917, The McKeen Motor Car Company built 152 motor cars.  They were powered by an internal combustion engine and had a narrow, knife edge front end (called a wind splitter) and a rounded rear end.  The passengers looked out of round porthole windows.  The round shape of the windows was intended to provide structural strength. The vehicle was designed to run in either direction.  In order for the car to be reversed, the motorman had to shut down the engine, manually set the camshaft, then restart the engine. Today there is only one operational McKeen Motor Car operating and it resides at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City, Nevada.

According to the McKeen Motor Car Company Historical Society...
The Bellingham Bay and British Columbia Railroad operated one car (the Kulshan) on the Bellingham to Glacier (via Sumas) route, three times daily.  The Kulshan was a 250 H.P., 70' model with a baggage room.  The BB&BC RR equipment list noted a 1906 date of manufacture.  It had room for 64 passengers and weighted 40 tons.
Picture 3
McKeen Motor Car #2, the Kulshan next to the Sumas Railroad Station, circa 1910
(this image from the McKeen Motor Car Historical Society website)

Picture 4

Another view of the Kulshan
next to the Sumas Railroad Station sometime before 1922.
(this image from the McKeen Motor Car Historical Society website)

The Kulshan's  ultimate fate is a mystery.
One source (The McKeen Motor Car Historical Society) lists it as having been retired and sold to the Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad and sent to Chicago (being renumbered 5908). 
Another source (the Bellingham Business Journal, 31 March, 2008) made reference that it was discontinued after suffering a 'collision' at Hampton (between Everson and Sumas) and was retired in 1922.

This posting will be expanded as new information on the BB&BC becomes available.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Railroads of Sumas_Part 1 of 3_Introduction

The Railroads of Sumas..Part 1 of 3...Introduction

This multi-part posting will explore the railroad history of Sumas.

Sumas was incorporated in 1891 in anticipation of the commerce that would follow the railroad routes that were established between Canada and the United States.  The local entrepreneurs and investors held high hopes for the future of our community.

Railroad involvement in Sumas continues to this day...
picture 1
this picture taken 1 January, 2016...looking W. on 2nd St. toward Cherry St., Sumas, WA.
used with kind permission from the blog Railfan in Sumas, WA

Picture 2
...the Railroads of Whatcom County prior to 1920...Mr. J. Linn (minus the Bellingham Bay & British Columbia and Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern)
The railroads radiate out from Sumas like the spokes of a wheel.  Mr. Linn made a point of mentioning that none of the logging railroads were included on his map. 
Visit my blog tomorrow when we will talk about the ceremonious arrival of the first train in Sumas, WA., 1 March, 1891.  

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Wee Drop Inn, a popular eating place in Sumas, WA. Circa 1955 - 1970

Who remembers eating at the Wee Drop Inn?  This is a menu from the Wee Drop Inn which was north of the Sumas City Hall on the west side of Cherry Street.  It was owned and operated by Bob and Lily Breining from approximately 1955 till it's closing in 1970.  The date of this menu is unknown,but you will noticed that the most expensive meal is the T-Bone Steak with a shrimp or crab cocktail for $3.75.

Picture 1
Posted with permission from the Betty Snider Collection

Page 2
Posted with permission from the Betty Snider Collection

Page 3
Posted with permission from the Betty Snider collection

picture 4
Posted with permission of the City of Sumas.

The Wee Drop Inn is visible on the left side of the street in between the City Hall and Bromley's IGA Grocery Store.

Nooksack Nostalgia has lots of exciting news for the upcoming year.  Please check back and learn about what is happening.

Monday, July 4, 2016

A very happy 4th of July in Sumas

In 1910, Bellingham, Washington led the way into prohibition in Whatcom County.  Afterwards, the other communities of the county also followed suit. This meant in many communities, including Lynden, alcohol was not legally available.

Sumas proudly remained  a wet town!  This lasted until the nationwide prohibition laws went into place.  So in making the most of the situation, in 1911 Sumas invited Lynden to come for a 4th of July celebration in which drinking was not illegal.

Picture 1
The Lynden tribune. (Lynden, Wash.), 22 June 1911. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

The next article give the follow up articles of the 4th July celebration in Sumas 1911.
picture 2
The Lynden tribune. (Lynden, Wash.), 06 July 1911. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Monday, May 30, 2016

The first Decoration Day at Sumas City - 1891

The first Decoration Day in Sumas City 1891!  It looks as if the town was having a delightful picnic in the forest to commemorate Decoration Day. Notice on the left hand side of the photograph the musicians seated with their band equipment.  Sumas obviously hasn't been totally logged off yet and was still heavily wooded. 

Decoration Day was first established in 1868  by the Grand Army of the Republic.  It was a time to decorate the  Union Civil War veteran's grave and later convene for community picnics.  It was considered a day of remembering.  Finally by the turn of the 1900s the Confederate descendants merged their own day of remembrance and it became a time to remember all the fallen veterans.

Picture 1
 Picture posted with permission from the Jim West Collection

This photograph is probably the first picture taken of a Sumas town function. there is a penciled notation on the mat of the photograph stating, "The First Decoration Day at Sumas City, 1891".  This would have been taken in may of 1891 and Sumas was formally incorporated in June of 1891.  A truly historical moment! 

Now maybe we can try to identify some of the founding individuals of our town.

Picture 2
Posted with permission from the Jim West Collection

This is a cropped and enlarged section of Picture 1.  It is the far left side in which you can see the band members seated with their instruments.  Also notice the well dressed ladies seated on the bench with their back to the camera.

Picture 3
Posted with permission from the Jim West collection

This is another enlargement from picture 1.  This is also on the left side of the photograph but to the right of the band.  Again, everyone seems to be in their church going clothes.

Picture 4
Posted with permission from the Jim West Collection

Again, cropped from picture 1, a gathering of men and boys on the right side of photograph next to the large stump in the foreground.

Picture 5
Posted with permission from the Jim West collection

The speaker's stump in the foreground of the photograph.  I found a copy of this picture in another collection which labeled the two men as follows: " On the stand, Judge Rysdorph, speaker and Tom Nicklin, Master of ceremonies."

Picture 6
Posted with permission from the Jim West collection

The dapper gentleman on  the far right of the photograph. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Difficulty for law enforcement in Sumas, WA - April 3, 1925

Picture 1

Sumas News, April 3, 1925

Before we complain about the budget restraints of the Sumas Police Department, let review the issues that were at hand in 1925.  Sumas Deputy Gaston didn't even have a car in which to assist him in enforcing the laws.  It must have been a sad sight to see the poor Deputy at the side of the road watching the speeding traffic and unable to do anything about it.  It would be interesting to know what kind of a car finally was provided for Sumas law enforcement.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Roger and Company Millinery Shop Opening in Sumas - 1910

This is a beautiful advertising postcard announces the newly opening Roger and Company Millinery Shop in Sumas, WA.  The shop celebrated it's opening March 16, 1910. This card was sent to Russ Lambert's wife, Carrie and was postmarked March 15, 1910.

Picture 1
 Posted with permission from Mary Lou Yurovchak Jones Collection.
Front side of the postcard.

Picture 2
Posted with permission from Mary Lou Yurovchak Jones's collection.  
reverse side of the postcard.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Playground at Sumas Grade School - 1963

Who remembers playing at the playground at the Sumas Grade School?  Recess was such a special time to enjoy the sunshine and to hang out with our classmates. Of course, I remember enjoying visiting our favorite playground monitor,  Mrs. Straka.

Picture 1
 Sumas News , September 12, 1963
Posted with permission from the Betty Snider Collection.

Sumas Roundup presentation given to the Whatcom Historical Society. March 11, 2016

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Cigar factory in Sumas - 1929

This is an intriguing article announcing the opening of a Cigar Factory in Sumas, WA.   It would be interesting to find out if this business venture was successful.  Soon afterward, the depression struck our country and impacted many business.  Whether or not the cigar factory survived is not known. 

Picture 1

Sumas News, Sept 20, 1929

Look for another posting tomorrow as I have much to share about Sumas history.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Sumas News article - First new car owned in Sumas.

This article was published in the October 27th, 1949 issue of the Sumas News. The article is reminiscing about the first car owned in Sumas, WA.  According to the Sumas News, the automobile was  purchased by J. A. Lochbaum in 1910 for about $1000.00. A princely sum for the days.

Picture 1
Article posted with permission from the Betty Snyder collection.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Snowy Sumas - 1950 - Part 2 of 2

 More snowy Sumas Pictures from Mr. John Linn.  These were taken by his father, proprietor of the Linn Hardware Stare,  Vern Linn.  The first two pictures were believed to be taken in 1950 but the last photograph was probably taken in 1952. 
 picture 1
 Posted with permission from the John Linn Collection.  Photograph taken by Vern Linn.
A truly snowy Sumas looking north up Cherry Street towards the Canadian border.  This is taken from in the middle of the block between First Street and Garfield Street.  You can see on the west (left) side of the street a cafĂ© with a well lit Darigold Ice Cream sign.  On down the street is Post's Cash Grocery located where Bromely's parking lot currently is. On the east (right ) side of the street is the Grand Hotel  which has the International Drug Store and the Caribou Tavern on the ground floor.  

Picture 2
Posted with permission from the John Linn Collection.  Photograph taken by Vern Linn.
This view is looking south down Cherry Street taken from the Northeast corner of the Cherry and First Street.  You can see the Lapp Store behind the post on the west (right) side of the street.  Further on down you can see the Sumas Bank which is now the WOW Hair Salon also on the west side of the Street.  This picture is taken from the front of Linn's Hardware and Groceries under the protection of the overhang that is attached to the front of the store.

Picture 3

posted with permission from the John Linn Collection.  Photograph taken by Vern Linn. 
This picture was probably taken in 1952.  The photograph  was taken from the middle of the intersection of First and Cherry Street.  Linn's Store was located on the Northeast corner of First and Cherry St.   This location is now a parking lot of a small strip mall.  You can see the Grand Hotel next to Linn's Store.

Again, thanks to Mr. John Linn for his generous sharing of some awesome photographs.

Snowy Sumas - 1950 - part 1 of 2

 These two photograph of the 1950 blizzard were generously shared by former Sumas resident, Mr. John Linn. 

Picture 1

Posted with permission from the John Linn collection. Photograph taken by Larry Linn.
According to Mr. John Linn, this photograph was taken looking east towards Vedder Mountain and Cultus Lake between Hillview Dairy and Floyd Anderson's Farm.  This was located on the Hillview Road. The man next to the panel truck was John Linn's father, Vern Linn.  (Vern Linn was the proprietor of  Linn's Hardware Store in Sumas).

Picture 2

Photograph posted with permission from the John Linn Collection. Photograph taken by Vern Linn.
This picture is looking northwest up the valley towards Chilliwack in Canada.  John Linn's brother, Lawrence Linn is standing on top of a snow drift.  Floyd Anderson's roof is visible under the snow. 

Picture 3
Illustration using Google Earth to put the location in context.

Thank you Mr. Linn for reminding us about the strong blizzards we used to get in Sumas that used to bring everything to a halt.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Snowy Sumas - 1980

Another set of snowy Sumas pictures.  These were taken in 1980  by Ivan Miesuk on his commute into town to the Border Chevron which he owned and worked.  

Picture 1
 Photograph posted with permission from photographer, Ivan Miesuk.
Photograph taken in 1980. This is the old route into Sumas. We are looking east on West Front Street towards where the road crosses the railroad tracks and turns on Cherry Street.  

Picture 2
Photograph posted with permission from photographer, Ivan Miesuk.
Downtown Sumas during a northeaster!  This is taken from the SE corner of  1st Street looking south down Cherry Street. You can see the brick building in the background that is currently the WOW Hair Salon.  At the left is Lo's Garden Chinese Restaurant. This was taken during the 1980 storm.

Picture 3
 Photograph posted with permission from photographer, Ivan Miesuk.
Looking south down a snowy Cherry Street from the front of  the Border Chevron Station.  The gas station was located at 608 Cherry Street on the SE corner where it  intersects with 2nd Street.

Picture 4
 Photograph posted with permission from photographer, Ivan Miesuk.
 A snowy Border Chevron Gas Station and Garage!.  It was located at 608 Cherry Street which was on the SE corner where Cherry and 2nd Street intersect..  This is looking NE where you can barely see the steeple of the old Methodist Church behind garage.   

Monday, January 11, 2016

Icy Sumas - January 1975

The silver thaws that use to hit the Sumas region was always an awesome and dangerous sight.  Often accompanied by downed power lines and broken limbs, the  simmering surreal landscape was a beautiful to look at.  However, driving or walking was nearly impossible as all surfaces were encased in ice.  One could hear the snapping of the branches and the tinkle of the ice as they broke and fell to the ground.  

Picture 1
 Photograph posted with permission from photographer, Ivan Miesuk
Photograph taken in January of 1975.

This is looking north up Cherry Street towards the border.  The left side of the street is where the Pay and Run Gas Station currently is located.   At this time there was no business there and the trees lined the street.   Every few years the city would trim the tree back so they would be trunks with hardly any branches.  

Picture 2
Photograph posted with permission from photographer, Ivan Miesuk. 
 Photograph taken in January 1975.

Looking the opposite direction from picture 1. This is looking south on Cherry Street towards the end of the town.. Today Pay and Run Gas Station is on the right side of the street and the Sumas Drug Store is just pass it.  The trees and vacant lots are long gone.

Tomorrow I will be posting more winter wonderland pictures of Sumas.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Snowy Sumas - January 1969

As we are enjoying beautiful sunny days here in Sumas this week it is interesting to remember the storms of days gone by.  I am sure many of us remember the blizzard of January 1969.   The Arctic wind blowing down the Fraser Canyon and dumping it's snow in our town. The sound of the wind howling and blowing under the door.  Many housewives were busy trying to insulate the gaps with towels to hold the warmth in the their homes.  Of course there was power outages as well.  The lucky families had generators that provided light.  The school children were delighted to have an unexpected school break.

Picture 1
Photograph posted with permission from the Rev. Carl Crouse's Collection.  
Photograph taken in January 1969, Looking east on the East Badger Road. This picture was taken about 4 miles southeast of Sumas, WA.

Picture 2
Posted with permission from the Rev. Carl Crouse's Collection
Photograph taken January 1969, looking east from the Schuett Road towards the mountains. The large barn on the right is still standing on East Badger Road by Garrison Road.  The highway has been redirected and Schuett Road is now an extension of East Badger Road. 

Picture 3
Photograph posted with permission of Rev. Carl Crouse
Photograph taken January 1969, of the Nooksack Valley High School with snow drifts obstructing the front entrances.  This is looking east from the parking lot in front of the school. The High School is located on the corner of East Badger Road and Nooksack Road.

Photograph 4
Photograph posted with permission from the Rev. Carl Crouse's collection.
Photograph taken January 1969 of the Sumas Elementary School on the corner of Lawson and Mitchell Street.  Rev. Earl Crouse posing in front of the school where the road was freshly plowed.

Photograph 5

Photograph posted with permission from the Rev. Carl Crouse's collection.  
Photograph  taken January 1969 after the storms were over. The snow drifts became dirty and and muddy.  The exact location near Sumas of this photograph is not known.

I would love to see some stories of the blizzards that used to be common here in Sumas.  Please share what you remember!