From Historic Resource Study 1983 Olympic National Park
By Gail E. H. Evans and T. Allan Comp
Cultural Resources Division
National Park Service

Information from the above source on the mining history of Olympic National Park can be found by clicking on the following link.

Scroll down for the inforemation.


Placer Minning
Man seek their fortune at this early 1920s gold mining operation on the Pacific Ocean beacn north of Kalaloch Creek. (Photo by A. Curtis, courtesy of Washington State Historical Society)
spacer Minning Cabin
A mining claim cabin still stands in 1983 in the Little River drainage of Olympic National Park. (Photo by M. Stupich, courtesy of National Park Service, Pacific Northwest Region)

The mining tailings from the Black and White Mine remain as a testament to the perserving efforts of hard rock miners who sought to extract "paying" quantities of manganese and copper from the mountain side above the North Fork Skokomish River. Recent fire destroyed timber in the area. (Photo by R. Keatts, courtesy of Robert Keatts)

From: Historic Mining Properties in National Park Service Units in the Pacific Northwest
National Park Service
Furnished by Paul Gleeson
Cultural Resource Management
Olympic National Park

Page 11

A brief excitement over beach placers on Washington's Olympic Peninsula might qualify as the region's last gold rush. In 1894, a report spread that pay sand could be found almost anywhere along the Olympic Coast from Cape Flattery to Gray's Harbor. Gold-seekers rushed to the coast and staked most of the sand beaches for a length of sixty to seventy miles. Successful operations were limited to three claims -at Shi Shi Beach, Yellow Banks, and a point about two miles south of the mouth of the Ozette River. Miners worked these claims by sluicing primarily, water being taken from nearby streams and conveyed by wooden flume to the sluice boxes, or by rocker where the water supply was limited. By 1905 an estimated $15,000 in gold had been extracted from the beach sands"

These rushes were like earlier rushes in that miners needed little more than a grubstake and some simple tools to work the gold out of the earth. By contrast, deep placer and lode mining required more sophisticated technology and much larger investments of capital.

Page 17

The history of manganese mining in the Olympics is more complicated. The existence of iron, copper, and manganese deposits was known as early as 1880, but the familiar problems of transportation and supply inhibited development for many years. Even when the market for manganese expanded after World War I, mining development remained sporadic. Interest in the manganese deposits was heightened during World War II; however, the areas in which the claims occurred were now within the Olympic National Park (established 1938), creating a dubious administrative environment for mining exploration and development.59

The manganese deposits were found in a horseshoe-shaped mineral belt around the east, north, and west sides of the Olympic Mountains. Prospecting and mining focused on four areas: the Elwha River Valley, the Little River/Hurricane Ridge area, the Lake Crescent area, and the North Fork of the Skokomish River Valley. Of the four, the latter included the earliest mines (developed in the late 1880s or early 1890s) and the most persistent operations (into the 1940s). Details on the history of these various operations may be found in Historic Resource Study: Olympic National Park Washington (1983) by Gail E. H. Evans and T. Allan Comp.

Pages 58 - 62


Residents of the Olympic Peninsula long suspected that the Olympic Mountains contained rich deposits of gold and other precious minerals. As early as 1859 and 1861, settlers reported traces of gold in the rivers draining out of the mountains both to the north and south, and by 1877 fairly reliable reports were published on the likelihood that gold would be found on the North Fork of the Skokomish River. Even more than in the North Cascades, however, difficulties of terrain in the Olympic Mountains inhibited exploration and development. As a result, the park has a long history of prospecting and a comparatively short history of mine development and extraction. Much of the prospecting and mining in the Olympic Mountains occurred under the stimulus of the two world wars and focused on manganese. Reference 237

The manganiferous deposits occur in a mineral belt along the outer slopes of the Olympic Mountains on the north, south, and east. Generally they are found in heavily timbered country below an altitude of 4,000 feet. At two locations - near Humptulips and around Lake Crescent - the deposits occur at somewhat lower elevations. These conditions made prospecting unusually difficult, for travel through the dense forests was arduous and the search for outcrops was encumbered by a thick carpet of moss covering nearly everything. Not surprisingly, one of the earliest discoveries in this mineral belt was made in a bum near Lake Crescent where rock outcroppings had been laid bare. Reference 238

While prospectors swarmed all over the Olympic Peninsula toward the end of the 19th century, actual mining claims were confined primarily to five areas within what is now Olympic National Park: two on the north, one on the southeast, one on the south, and one along the park's coastal strip where beach placers were found.

Elwha River/Little River/Hurricane Ridge:

In 1897 or 1898, Ward Sanders and Will and Martin Humes found prospects on a ledge about 325 feet above the Elwha River, west of Hurricane Hill. Other prospectors located claims in the same area. When the newly proclaimed Olympic Forest Reserve was surveyed at the turn of the century, the U.S. Geological Survey report noted mining activity in the Hurricane Ridge area. In the early 1900s, M. J. Gregory opened a mine in the Little River drainage southwest of Mount Angeles. By 1917, Gregory's mine consisted of four tunnels ranging from 40 to 210 feet in length. Reference 239

During the next few years, several lode claims were made west of Mount Angeles in what was known as the Little River or Hurricane Mining District. These claims centered on the manganese belt. A 1934 survey by a state mining engineer recorded some 26 claims in the district, clustered on Hutton Ridge at an elevation of 4,200 to 5,000 feet above sea level. Some claims were developed with adits. Reference 240

Access to the district was by pack trail. During World War II, the mineral claimants apparently asked the state to survey a mine-to-market road but the cost was prohibitive. The difficulty of transporting the ore was never surmounted and one by one the claims were abandoned.

Little physical remains are left. At least two miner's cabins were located in the district, one on "Whistler Flat" at an elevation of 3,200 feet, as recorded by the state mining engineer in 1934; the second located on the Elwha River approximately 4 miles from the Little River trailhead. The latter cabin, called the Skookum Mining Claim Cabin, was inventoried in 1983. Reference 241

Lake Crescent:

Theodore F. Rixon, Caroline Rixon, and Charles Anderson located three manganese lode claims on the south slope of Mount Muller about 1.25 miles west of Lake Crescent in September 1923. A partnership called Jamison and Peacock of Duluth, Minnesota leased the claims and developed the mine between 1924 and 1926. Ore production began in 1924 and amounted to 11,000 tons by September 1925. Most of the ore went by railroad to Port Angeles and then by ship via the Panama Canal to Philadelphia where it was used in making steel. Reference 242

Underground workings of the Crescent Mine consisted of four adits at descending elevations on the slope of Mount Muller, with raises and slopes between the adits. The ore body formed a nearly vertical tabular mass from 6 to 14 feet thick with a maximum pitch length of 180 feet and a maximum stope length of 120 feet. The main stope was situated above the No. 3 adit and was almost completely worked out by September 1925. Reference 243

From the main adit, No. 3, at an elevation of about 1,800 feet, the ore was transferred to a bin at the foot of the slope, 750 feet below, via a single-span aerial tramway 1,400 feet in length. From the bin the ore was loaded directly onto railroad cars. The railroad, known as the Lyon & Hill Railway when the mine was producing in the 1920s, was formerly operated by the U.S. Army's Spruce Production Division. Other surface structures at the Crescent Mine included wood frame cabins, blacksmith shop, powder house, and compressor house. Reference 244

Peacock and Jamison suspended operations in 1926 and the property passed to the Washington Manganese Corporation. In 1929, the U.S. Bureau of Mines conducted exploratory deep drilling at the site as part of its strategic mineral inventory. Reference 245

World War II caused renewed interest in the manganese deposits in the Olympic Mountains, and the Crescent Mine entered another period of production. The Sunshine Mining Company leased the property in 1941 and produced more than 10,000 tons of ore by 1945. A report in 1942 stated that the lowest level in the mine had 2,900 feet of drifts and crosscuts, largely in basalt. Reference 246. The mine was still producing as late as 1960, but in 1983 "two readily visible tunnels, mining tailings, and three or four collapsed and deteriorating buildings [were] the only remaining evidence of the once robust manganese mining operation." Reference 247

East of the Crescent Mine the ledge was traced to the end of the Mount Muller ridge at the bend in Lake Crescent. Geologist J. T. Pardee reported four lode claims, the Peggy, Charles G., Charles A., and Mother Lode, on outcroppings along the ledge at points east, in 1927. All were on the same south-facing slope, but at lower elevations. Outcroppings of the manganiferous deposit were located at points west of the Crescent Mine, too, but these sites lie outside the park boundary. Reference 248

State geologist Stephen H. Green described a slightly different complex of claims in a 1945 report. According to Green, the Peggy claim was located about 1,300 feet northeast of the Crescent mine entrance, the Daisy claims were situated in the southwest comer of Section 19 (Township 30-9W) at an elevation of about 2,100 feet. The Daddy and Mother claims were located side by side above the county road to Ovington, with the common discovery post located "67 feet east and 7 feet north of the southwest comer of lot 4, sec. 30 (30-9W)." Reference 249

Green listed two other sites in the Aurora Ridge area within the park boundary. He noted three manganese deposits on the North Slope of the ridge at approximately 4,200 feet elevation. One ore body was exposed for an estimated vertical distance of 175 feet on the face of a high bluff. And just below the crest of Aurora Ridge, about 1 1/2 miles west of Lizard Head Peak, lay the Bertha claim. Reference 250

North Fork Skokomish River:

Some 400 mineral claims were located in the North Fork of the Skokomish River between 1890 and about 1940, but little remains of these workings today.

Prospectors discovered rich iron deposits on the North Fork of the Skokomish River as early as 1871, and manganese deposits had been reported by 1880. With the discovery of copper ore in the late 1880s, interest in the area grew. In 1890, the Mason County Mining and Development Company led by F. H. Whitworth of Seattle began to develop a copper and iron mine in the area. A writer for the Mason County Journal reported in August 1890 that a "gang of men...[were] hard at work blasting and working out the rich red ore." By then another company headed by John S. Soule of Grays Harbor had located seven other claims and was pushing development. When members of the Joseph G. Weil expedition passed through the area that year they found a substantial trail and mining camp. Reference 251

Meanwhile, prospectors had staked other claims higher on the North Fork near the mouth of Seven Stream. This venture was known as the Darky Mine because its operators were mostly African-American. Smith Keller, Joseph Moss, and George Thomas were three of the most persistent developers, apparently returning to the mine each summer for a period of weeks over a span of several decades. In 1935 or 1936, Joseph Moss formed the North Fork Mining Company with five partners and filed 17 claims near the mouth of Nine Stream Creek. In the 1940s, the original Darky Mine was also known as the Smith Keller or Lucky Wednesday mine. Reference 252

A short distance up the river from the Darky Mine, on the east side, a man named Chris Hammer had a cabin and several claims. Hammer came to the valley from Alaska in 1909. He sold two claims for SIO to Erie S. Snyder in 1912, and continued to work his other claims for eight more years. When he died in his cabin in 1920 he had six claims. These were acquired by the State of Washington in 1923 in probate court for unpaid taxes. Reference 253

The Brown Mule Mine was operated by the Triple Trip Mining Company sometime prior to 1915. It was located on Copper Creek about 1/4 mile from' the North Fork. Some adits are all that remained of the mine in 1980. Reference 254

Another long-lived but ultimately unsuccessful mine was the Black and White. In 1907, Wilhelm F. Nelson located two claims called the Kuger and Three Friends at about 4,000 feet elevation on the East Side of the North Fork drainage. Later that year Nels C. Christiansen filed two nearby claims, the Three-in-One and Peerless, while George B. Conway and Frank B. Standard located a fifth claim, the Arkansas Traveler. These five claims comprised what became known as the Black and White Mine. The developers of the mine pinned their hopes on the copper values in the ore, but the mine's inaccessibility high above the river valley prevented them from ever attracting a large investment. Reference 255

In 1912, the Olympian Copper Company requested permission from the Forest Service to use downed timber for the construction of a flume in which the ore would be transported. Although this flume was apparently never built, 5 tons of ore were somehow shipped from the mine to the Tacoma smelter in 1915, and 100 more tons were shipped to the Bilrowe Alloys Company of Tacoma about three years later. In 1919, the developers tried unsuccessfully to sell the property for $150,000. Reference 256

State Mining Engineer Stephen Green visited the property in 1945 and reported that development work at the Black and White Mine consisted of a 200-foot tunnel, a 40-foot shaft, and several pits and open cuts. During the 1950s and 1960s, a miner's cabin at the site saw occasional use by recreational hikers. By the 1970s this cabin had collapsed and by the 1980s only the foundation logs remained. Reference 257

Another mine operation was begun on the Black Queen group of claims, located about 1/4 mile above the mouth of Copper Creek on the West Side of the North Fork. State Mining Engineer Stephen Green reported in 1945 that the site included a shallow shaft and several open cuts. Directly across the river, another group of claims known as the Hi Hopes group were filed in 1940 and an adit was driven 50 feet into the hillside. The latter workings were in disrepair by 1942. Reference 258

Finally, Green noted the Smith Mine a mile southeast of the Black and White. The claims were originally staked in 1914, and Green had no information on the size or content of the lode. Reference 259

North Fork Quinault River:

M. H. and P. A. Mulkey, C. Slough, and M. and V. Oberg owned five gold lode claims on Rustler Creek in Township 25-7W, possibly in Section 31. Access to the property was by road 21 1/2 miles above Quinault Lake and 1 1/2 miles farther by trail. In 1955, development of this property apparently consisted of no more than an open cut. Reference 260

Olympic Beaches:

During a brief gold excitement in 1894, the Olympic beaches were staked for 60 to 70 miles south of Cape Flattery. The productive localities were soon found to be within a 20-mile stretch from Portage Head, about 8 miles south of Cape Flattery, to Cape Johnson, a short distance north of the Quillayute River. The most productive site was Shi Shi Beach, at the north end of this strip. Smaller placers were worked at Ozette Beach and Yellow Banks - the latter by a miner named D. J. Wright who was using a rocker as late as 1917. Perhaps the last locality to be developed was at the mouth of Sunset Creek, 6 miles north of the Quillayute. There a miner named J. M. Starbuck reported in 1917 that he had produced about $5,000 gold and five ounces of crude platinum up to that time. Reference 261

J. T. Pardee's description of the placer deposit at Shi Shi Beach in 1928 is suggestive of the labor involved in extracting the gold:

spacer Platinum and gold are found in a layer of heavy sand and gravel, concentrated by the waves on
spacer the beach at the foot of the sea cliff. At Shi Shi Beach the wave terrace, which forms the
spacer bedrock of the deposit, is cut in sandstone of the older series of rocks, the upper part of
spacer the cliff being composed of Pleistocene gravel and drift. The beach is covered with a layer of
spacer fine gravel and sand from I to 3 feet thick and is strewn with cobbles at the base of the cliff.
spacer The metal-bearing part of this deposit is a thin layer of fine, heavy sand, composed chiefly of
spacer pink garnet and black grains ofilmenite and magnetite, and lies next to the bedrock. During
spacer storms the gravel and sand are shifted back and forth more or less, and some of the workable
spacer deposits may be buried or swept away and others may be uncovered as a result of the shifting.
spacer Part of the gold and platinum has worked down into joints and seams of the bedrock, the top
spacer layer of which, therefore, forms part of the pay streak. Reference 262

In his 1955 report on gold in Washington, Marshall T. Huntting provided a list of gold-bearing Olympic beaches and brief notes on each. Reference 263. From north to south, these were as follows:

spacer 01. Shi Shi Beach a.k.a. Lovelace Placer. Located between Portage Head and Point of Arches in
spacer Sections 18, 19, and 30 (32-15W). Accessed by road from Neah Bay to top of sea cliff.
spacer 02. Ozette Beach, Ozette Beach Placers. Located two miles north of the mouth of the Ozette River in
spacer Section 12 (31 -16W). Accessed by trail from Lake Ozette.
spacer 03. Little Wink Placer, a.k.a. Japanese, Sand Point placers. Located at the mouth of Little Wink Creek in
spacer Section 1 (30-16W)) and accessed by trail.
spacer 04. Morgan Placer, a.k.a. Big Wink Creek Placer. Located 125 feet northwest of the mouth of Big Wink
spacer Creek in Section 12 (30-16W), and accessed by trail. Development consisted of a pit 30 feet long by 15
spacer feet wide by 6 feet deep.
spacer 05. Morrow Placer. Located in SWI/4 SW 1/4 of Section 18 (30-15W) at high-tide level. An area 50 feet
spacer by 25 feet was worked from 1932 to 1940 and reportedly produced as much as $1,678 in one year.
spacer 06. Yellow Banks Placer. Located two miles south of Sand Point in SW 1/4 Section 18 (30-15W).
spacer Accessed by biking along beach south from Ozette Beach or north from La Push.
spacer 07. Main and Bartnes Placer. Located in NW 1/4 NW 1/4 of Section 19 (30-15W) near a small stream.
spacer Accessed by trail. Development consisted of an irregular pit 30 feet long by 15 feet wide and
spacer 6 feet deep, and a flume 150 feet long.
spacer 08. Johnson Point Placer. Located in NW 1/4 of Section 15 (28-15W) at Johnson Point, or Cape Johnson.
spacer Accessed by hiking along beach from La Push.
spacer 09. Starbuck Placer, a.k.a. Cedar Creek Placer. Located near mouth of Cedar Creek in E 1/2 Section 18
spacer (29-15W). Accessed by hiking along beach from La Push.
spacer 10. Sunset Creek Placer. Located in Section 19 (29-15W).
spacer 11. Ruby Beach Placer. Located in E 1/2 NE 1/4 of Section 31 (26-13W) on tombolo between Abbey
spacer Island and Ruby Beach. The Ruby Beach Mining Company built a gold recovery plant in 1916 but
spacer never operated it.

Summary: Mining in the Olympic Mountains and on the Olympic Coast took a variety of forms, from placer mining on the beaches to extensive prospecting and mine development on the North Fork of the Skokomish River to World War II-era mining for manganese near Lake Crescent. The mining industry on the Olympic Peninsula developed relatively late and had little effect on the region's settlement pattern or transportation systems.

More detailed information can be found in:
Historic Resource Study
Olympic National Park Washington
By: Gail E.H. Evans
1983 Cultural Resources Division
National Park Service - Available from Inter-Library Loan

Return to ONP History Menu




Light patches on the sloping ridges on the right side of this 1940s photograph, indicate new growth on logged areas above the north shore of Lake Crescent. Barnes Point is in the lower foreground. (Courtesy of Ellis Studio and Post Card Co.)
Logging on the Peninsula was advanced by logging trucks such as the one pictured here in the late 1910s. New primitive roads provided access to untouched strands of timber, and gradually logging operations moved further inland. (Courtesy of Olympic National Park)

In the mid 1920s, two men split spruce shakes on Fred Fisher's Hoh River farm, located about a mile outside the present Park boundary. (Photo by A. Curtis, courtesy of Washington State Historical Society)
The Colony Shingle Mill at Dry Creek, located about four miles north of the present park boundary, was typical of several milling operations located around the periphery of the Olympic Peninsula, in the late nineteenth century. (Courtesy of Olympic National Park)

In 1918, a contingent of the U.S. Army Spruce Production Division labored to construct a railroad on the north shore of Lake Crescent. (Photo by A. Curtis, courtesy of Washington State Historical Society)
Dynamite, used liberally by the U.S. Army Spruce Railroad Production Division to construct the Spruce Railroad No. 1, blasted through rock on the north shore of Lake Crescent, in 1917. (Photo by A. Curtis, courtesy of Washington State Historical Society)

Olympic National Park
By Gail H. E. Evans Author
T. Allan Comp Project Supervisor

The seemingly endless sea of mammoth trees along the Northwest coast always impressed early European and American explorers who sailed through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and explored the numerous bays and coves of the islands and shorelines to the east and north of the Olympic Peninsula. Viewing the heavily forested coastal areas from their seafaring wooden vessels, these voyagers were immediately cognizant of the utility of the erect tall trunks of shoreline coniferous trees. Written narratives of voyages made by Spanish, English and American mariners in the last quarter of the 1700s record the use of native trees for needed ship parts. Mizzen masts, foremasts, fore-top masts, small spars and even planks were fashioned from native shoreline trees by the crews of Captains James Cook, John Meares and George Vancouver. Captain George Vancouver, sailing through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and north through the Gulf of Georgia in 1792, was impressed with the abundance and quality of the forests he observed, noting that the surrounding country was "abounding with materials to which we could resort; having only to make our choice from amongst thousands of the finest spars the world produces" (Meany 1935, 51). In the late 1700s and early 1800s the Northwest coast gained a widespread reputation among the navies of Europe for its abundant source of excellent shipbuilding timber (Meany 1935, 47-51).

Arriving at the mouth of the Columbia River, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, after completing their two-year trans-American trek (1804-1806), wrote in their journal: "The whole neighborhood of the coast is supplied with great quantities of excellent timber. [The species of fir] grows to an immense size, and is very commonly twenty-seven feet in circumference, six feet above the earth's surface: they rise to the height of two hundred and twenty of that height without limb. We have often found them thirty-six feet in circumference" (Horn 1943, 69-70).

The earliest utilization of the Pacific Northwest's forest resources was not long to follow. In 1827 Hudson's Bay Company established the first mill in the Pacific Northwest at Fort Vancouver located on the north bank of the Columbia River. Six years later this Northwest fur trading company began lumbering at their second post, Fort Nisqually, 100 miles north of Fort Vancouver. In the mid 1840s mill machinery was purchased from Hudson's Bay Company by a small group of settlers and in the winter of 1846-1847 the first power mill on Puget Sound was set up near the present site of Olympia, Washington (Meany 1935, 59, 97-98).

The construction of mills around Puget Sound occurred rapidly in ensuing years. With the sharply increased demand for lumber in California during the decades following the gold rush, and as greater numbers of East Coast sailing vessels found their way to the region and spread word of of the immense stands of timber, outside capital was attracted to the Puget Sound area. Within ten years of the first commercial mill establishment, sixteen mills were scattered the length of the sound area. A mill at Port Ludlow was established on the Olympic Peninsula at the north of the Hood Canal around 1853. In 1855 the newly constructed mill at Port Gamble, built by San Francisco capitalists, W. C. Talbot and A. J. Pope, and experienced Maine lumbermen, J. P. Keller and Charles Foster, was producing 40,000 board feet daily (Meany 1935, 103, 121). Located at the mouth of the Hood Canal just opposite the east shore of the Olympic Peninsula, the new Port Gamble mill, known as the Puget Mill Company, produced nearly three times more than any other Puget Sound mill. It was physically the largest mill in the West, measuring fifty-five feet wide and 250 long (Morgan 1955, 62). By the early 1860s, 70,725,000 feet of lumber were produced along the waterways of Puget Sound (Meany 1935, 121-22).

Over the next thirty years, lumbering became a major industry for many coastal settlements on the Olympic Peninsula. In the Puget Sound area nearly all merchantable trees along the hundreds of miles of shoreline were felled and pulled by ox teams across greased skid roads to tidewaters where they were floated to waiting tidewater mills. Skid roads, made by placing logs twelve to eighteen inches in diameter across the trails, seldom extended more than two miles into the woods (Morgan 1955, 65).

In 1878 Eugene Ellicott observed, "The upper part of Puget Sound generally speaking is just about as I imagined it was 100 years ago. It is perfectly wild, just a howling wilderness. It has all been logged over; you see everywhere the remnants of logging roads. The mill companies have taken all the good timber near the shore" (University of California 1878, 9). On the Strait of Juan de Fuca the Port Discovery Bay mill, established inside Discovery Bay in the early 1860s, was a large consumer of logs for many years. Between 1860 and 1890, major logging operations were initiated at Port Angeles, Crescent Bay and Gettysburg on the north Peninsula shoreline. On the Pacific Coast the first commercial logging operations began in the early 1880s at Grays Harbor. In 1885 in an official report given by the governor of Washington Territory, lumbering was listed as one of the principal industries of all of the Olympic Peninsula counties (Report of the Secretary of the Interior 1885, 1091, 1096-1098, 1103-1104). Statewide, the number of mills increased from forty-six in 1870 to 310 in 1890 (Coman and Gibbs 1978, 211). During this early period, three Peninsula logging companies emerged as leading firms in the state: Pope and Talbot based in Port Gamble, Polson Brothers Logging Company in the Grays Harbor area, and Simpson Logging Company located in Shelton.

As logging operations developed around the outer fringes of the Peninsula and more and more readily accessible timber was taken from tidewater rivers and coastal areas, lumbermen began looking inland for a continuing supply of trees. The late 1880s and 1890s were years of interior exploration and survey work. Numerous written accounts of the interior's vast timber reserves were reported in popular literature and government documents alike. An article appearing in an 1896 issue of the National Geographic magazine, authored by the 1889 exploring expedition of the father and son Gilman team described the interior mountains as "gowned with dense, dark evergreen forests, reaching far down into cavernous depths of canyon and ravine" (Gilman and Gilman 1896, 135). After Lieutenant Joseph O'Neil led scouting parties across much of the southern section of the Olympic range in 1890, he reported to the U.S. Congress:

There is a great wealth in this district, and that is its timber. It seems to be inexhaustible. A story was told by a man sitting near me in a dining room. He said that they tried to dissuade him from coming to Grays Harbor, saying that there was nothing there, and elk walked across the mouth of the harbor at low tide without wetting their bellies. "When I came," he remarked, "and found a vessel drawing 17 feet in the harbor and 22 feet on the bar, I concluded that a country that grew timber 12 feet in diameter and elk with legs 22-1/2 feet long was good enough for me" (U.S. Congress 1896, 18-19).

O'Neil continued, "I could not quite agree as to the elk, but I have measured many trees over 40 feet in circumference, and some over 50 feet" (U.S. Congress 1896, 19). O'Neil expedition team member and botanist Louis F. Henderson was, likewise, impressed by the size of the trees encountered in the Olympics, noting that the "western arbor-vitae, called commonly 'cedar' . . . about Lake Cushman, together with the Douglas spruce, are of gigantic proportions, rivaling the famed redwoods of the Californian forests" (Henderson 1907, 163).

The interior expeditions of the Gilmans, O'Neil and others, coincided with the first wave of settlement into the Peninsula's interior river valleys and around the large land-locked lakesCrescent, Quinault, Cushman and Ozette. Homestead claimants, intent on pursuing a life of subsistence agriculture, cleared timber from river bottom lands by felling, slashing and sometimes burning trees and underbrush from selected, relatively small parcels of potential agricultural land. Both the U.S. Homestead Act of 1863 and the Timber and Stone Act of 1878 permitted and encouraged the clearing of land (usually no more than 160 acres), with the latter act specifically designed to allow miners and settlers to obtain timber and building materials from undeveloped lands for construction on their sites (Frome 1962, 37). Some of these small acreages of early cleared land are within the present boundaries of Olympic National Park, principally along the Queets River and in the broad upper Quinault River Valley.

More information on the logging history of Olympic National Park can be found by clicking on the following link.


Return to ONP History Menu