Monroe Historical Archives
Memories of Long Ago
Moving the Post Office (Part 7 of 14)
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Moving the Post Office
Part 7 of 14: Memories of Long Ago
by Hiram Ellsworth Pearsall
In the year of 1889, many things of importance happened in the Territory of Washington. Washington Territory was admitted to the Union and was soon to become one of the great states of the Union. The then little city of Seattle burned down and was soon rebuilt to grow into the great city of today.
The Seattle and International Railroad had crossed Snohomish County and the two counties to the north and connected with the CPR, and trains were running between British Columbia and Seattle. The population of the state, and Snohomish County in particular, began to increase by thousands. There were many rumors that the Great Northern Railway was crossing the Cascade Mountains and coming down the Skykomish Valley, heading for tide water. They began to talk of a great city. Everett started to build. Some claimed when the GNR arrived, Everett would exceed Seattle in population. That golden dream long has vanished. And Monroe got a post office at Park Place.*
John Vanasdlen and Bob Tosh came to Park Place in 1889. They put up a building and started a general store and post office, which we found was much handier than going to Snohomish for our mail and groceries. Vanasdlen petitioned the post office department for a post office at Park Place. The petition was returned, stating that owing to a ruling in the post office department, there would be no new post offices with double names. Vanasdlen said as our state was named after a president, we should have a post office named after a president. He sent in the name of Monroe, which was accepted, and he was appointed postmaster of Monroe at Park Place.
About that time, the rumor of the railroad coming down the Skykomish Valley became a reality. The preliminary survey crossed Woods Creek, ran westward until it struck the county road. The surveyor followed the county road to the point where the bridge crosses the Snohomish River above Snohomish, setting the preliminary stake by the side of the road between Snohomish and Woods Creek.
The citizens of Monroe at Park Place became excited. The railroad was coming right by their door. They would start a city. They platted a small tract which was recorded as Monroe, and Monroe at Park Place began to boom. In a short time, they had a post office, two stores, a saloon, hotel, hall, blacksmith shop, meat market, and a new school building, all in Monroe at Park Place. That golden dream soon vanished. When the railroad made its permanent survey, it came across Woods Creek, crossed the county road, then started for the point where the railroad would cross the Snohomish River. That left Monroe at Park Place a mile from the railroad.
My memory returns to a story as told at that time: When the Great Northern started to build the bridge across the Snohomish River, many of the citizens of Snohomish were very much interested in watching its progress. As the bridge progressed, an old pioneer of Snohomish had the nerve to tell the engineer in charge that the bridge wouldn’t stand; it would go out with the first flood water. He got for his information, a laugh from the engineer and a remark, “Did he think he had built bridges from the Mississippi River through the great mountains of the west and didn’t know enough to build a bridge across that little salmon creek?” Soon the fall rains came, a great flood was coming, carrying with it the millions of feet of logs on their way from the many logging camps along the Snoqualmie and Skykomish rivers. The engineer, seeing the danger, put his crew to work to help the logs through the bridge. It was no use, the logs began to pile up by the thousands. The bridge could stand no more and with a crash the first Great Northern bridge built over the Snohomish River went down, and with the thousands of logs, was on its way to the sea.
Well, things didn’t look so good in Monroe at Park Place. The railroad had passed them up. John Vanasdlen and John F. Stretch employed George James, a civil engineer, to plat the 40-acre tract that was Jack Stretch’s homestead. I was employed as axe man and made and drove the stakes. The 40 acres was platted and recorded as Tye City. Tye City is that part of Monroe lying east of Ferry Street.
The first business to start in Tye City was in a tent operated as a saloon by Dolloff and Gowan. Dolloff and Gowan had a very novel way of advertising their business. With a pail of paint and a paint brush they walked up and down the road and when they found a log, a stump or a fence rail that suited, they would write in large white letters: 500 men wanted at Tye City to unload a few schooners. It had the desired affect, as many would enter the tent and unload a few schooners of beer. Hundreds of men were passing through Tye City on their way up the valley to work on the Great Northern railroad. Tye City was started north of the railroad tracks that was later occupied by the Carnation Milk Company. Tye City soon had a hotel, restaurant, saloon. J.E. Dolloff quit the saloon business and put up a building and ran a grocery store. Tye City was in close competition with the little town of Monroe at Park Place, one mile away.
About this time, E.L. Sawyer, with associates, arrived on the scene looking for a chance to help boom a town. E.L Sawyer and Company bought the property between Tye City and Monroe at Park Place, and again the same engineer was employed to plat the town. Again I had the job of making and driving all stakes. The tract was recorded as the Monroe Land and Improvement Company, Monroe. Many wonder why Main Street in Monroe runs on an angle through town. Starting in the middle of the county road at Park Place they ran a straight line to the middle of the county road where it crosses Tye City. The county road was platted as Main Street.
The Monroe Land and Improvement Co. let the job of clearing the street, which was a little over a mile, to a Mr. Grimes. He removed all brush and logs, cut the stumps to the ground, leveled and graded a roadbed in the center. Vanasdlen gave me the job of clearing the street from Ferry Street to the railroad tracks across Tye City. The Monroe Land Company started to boom the town by building a hotel at the corner of Main and Blakeley streets. (The hotel burned down a few years later). They put a building at the corner of Main and Lewis streets. (After the fire in 1900 [actually 1901] it was used as a post office by R.J. Stapleton, postmaster.) A little building was put up on North Lewis Street and used as a creamery. It also burned down. The residence of E.L. Sawyer on South Lewis Street still stands.
The company built the first bridge across the Skykomish River at the foot of Lewis Street. (It was nearly two years before the county accepted it as a county bridge and built the approaches to the bridge.) Well, by that time things in Monroe at Park Place began to look pretty blue. Vanasdlen began to think the post office was a long way out of town. The only thing to do was to move the post office of Monroe at Park Place to Tye City.
Crowe and McChane were loggers across the Skykomish River. They had six yoke of oxen which Mr. McChane, who was the teamster, said could haul the post office to Tye City if they could put it on runners. The postmaster thought that looked pretty good. He employed me to put the post office on runners. Whitfield’s History of Snohomish County stating the post office was moved on rollers was a mistake. Up the hill from where the state reformatory now stands, we found a couple of nice little sapling fir trees about 16 inches at the stump. After being felled, they were peeled of their bark and snipped up like a sled runner. They were ready when the post office was jacked up, the logs were put under like sled runners and we were ready for the oxen.
Early the next morning, McChane was there with his six yoke of oxen. He allowed the post office would be in Tye City that night. Everything was ready. The oxen were hitched on and away went the post office for Tye City with two men on each side to carry skids ahead for a skidroad under each runner. The oxen went about 50 feet then stopped. The bullpuncher let the oxen puff a little then tried it again, but it was no go. The oxen had made up their minds it couldn’t be done. At any rate, the teamster, after using the stick on the oxen and trying a lot of cursing, said it was no use but thought if we could lighten the load it would help. Well, we rolled the post office, which was in a large safe, out onto a sled and left it by the roadside. We moved all the heavy stuff out of the storeroom. The oxen could try it again. The teamster talked very gently to the oxen for a while, getting them into line and tightening them in their yokes, then he began to holler, curse and swear and run along the string of six yokes of oxen. At about 20 feet, they stopped again. The oxen were puffing and groaning while the bullpuncher was wiping the sweat from his face. He turned and looked back. He looked at the building and said, “Cut the d_______ thing in two.”
Vanasdlen and Tosh had built a two-story building about 20 feet square. When business improved, they put on an addition on the rear end the same size. Well, we pried the two halves apart, sawed the two logs we had for runners in two and were ready for the oxen the next morning. In about two weeks of cursing by the bullpuncher, we had the building together at the corner of Main and Ferry streets in the City of Tye, but the post office was on the sled at Park Place. Vanasdlen had a team of horses that we took down and hitched onto the sled and that night we rolled the post office into the building. Then the Monroe post office was in Tye City.
Things were looking bad in Monroe at Park Place. The post office was gone and others were thinking of moving. The Odd Fellows bought the hall and moved it up and put it in the middle of the block south of Main Street between Lewis and Ferry streets. It burned with the block October 16, 1900 [actually Sept. 16, 1901]. The R.J. Stretch building is now on the lot. The Johnson Hotel followed and was located on North Lewis Street, operated as the Elk Saloon. It is gone now. The blacksmith shop followed and was placed at the corner of South Lewis Street and Fremont Street. It was removed when the new building now used as a garage was constructed. The saloon soon followed. It was located in Tye City on East Main Street and is now occupied by the Sunset Tavern and Susie’s Restaurant. That building and the school building that followed are all that are left at the once thriving little village of Monroe at Park Place. All the buildings mentioned were moved on rollers.
Things did not look so good for business in Tye City north of the railroad track. They began to move. J.E. Dolloff rolled his building across the railroad track down the street to Monroe and located at the corner of Main and Lewis streets. There was a change in the administration and Dolloff was appointed postmaster. The building with the post office burned down in the fire that destroyed the only solid block in town. After the fire the post office was moved to the corner now occupied by the Monroe Mercantile Company. After the exodus of Monroe from Park Place, and Tye City moved in, Monroe became quite a thriving little village. The post office was moved in the fall of 1892. Nearly all followed the next year. *Park place had a post office earlier when Salem Woods was appointed on Jan. 5, 1877, as postmaster at Park Place, Washington Territory. He was replaced on Jan. 21, 1880, by Henry McClurg, but that post office and the tavern that went with it were abandoned by 1883.
–transcribed from the 1944 Monroe Monitor by Nellie Robertson
Hiram Ellsworth Pearsall, left, with George Walters