KITTITAS COUNTY HISTORY
1883 Thomas Gamble and Walter Reed buy a quarter section of farm land in
later becomes Cle Elum. Indian name for Cle Elum is Tle-el-um meaning
plats 65 acres of his land into a townsite and builds the Reed Hotel next
the Northern Pacific rail
lines after it reaches Cle Elum in October. His partner, Thomas
Johnson, moves his lumber
mill from Wilsonville in Grant
County to the outskirts
anticipating a building
boom. Two miles to the northwest, the Northern Pacific Coal
opens the No. 1 mine and sends their Vice President, Logan Bullitt, to plat a
town he dubs Roslyn. Walter Reed’s cabin becomes the first school
in Cle Elum and
is used until 1890.
Pacific Railway completes rail service over Stampede Pass
Cle Elum to Seattle, and finishes the
Stampede Tunnel the following year.
incorporates as a city in Washington
Territory. In late July,
a fire starts on
Second Street and burns
the entire business district.
businesses rebuild and the town is reincorporated after Washington gains
A forest fire burns to the edge of Cle Elum, destroying Pennsylvania Avenue’s
No. 1 Mine explodes May 10th and kills 45 miners, becoming the
worst coal mine disaster
in Washington State history. Aid pours in from
communities and from
across the Pacific Northwest. Four months later, the McCarty Gang
robs the Ben Snipes and
Company Bank in Roslyn. They missed the company’s payroll,
some $40,000 in gold
coins that had been stashed in the company store over the weekend,
but none of the five
robbers were ever convicted of the crime.
Pacific Coal Company becomes the Northwest Improvement Company (a
subsidiary of Northern
Pacific Railroad) and build their flagship company store on
Roslyn’s corner of First Street and Pennsylvania Ave.
Balmer, hearing Kittitas
County has more days of
sunshine than any other
region in the state, builds the Balmer
Greenhouse in Cle Elum and operates a
lucrative business for 28 years.
1901 The Northwest Improvement Company (N.W.I.) builds their
store in Cle Elum. Cle
Elum’s first “crank and holler” telephone is installed in the
Mercantile General Store on Pennsylvania
Williams forms the Cle Elum City Band who initially wear green
uniforms, but later
change to maroon and black. The band’s most famous leader, James
Bertello, moves to Cle
Elum in 1905. Under his direction, Bertello’s Band becomes an upper
county icon for nearly 50
Elum is incorporated. N.W.I. General
Manager, B.F. Bush, fronts the money to
build a recreational
center in Roslyn for his employees. The Roslyn Athletic Club (later
the Y.M.C.A.) becomes the
center of Roslyn social activities.
train stops in Cle Elum where 4,000 people gather to see him.
Carpenter opens the Cle Elum State Bank and two years later moves
his enterprise into a new
brick building on First Street.
Roslyn Cle Elum Beneficial Hospital is built on Hospital Hill in Cle Elum. It
burns down in 1909 and
is replaced with a brick structure.
1908 Two carloads of
N.W.I. blasting powder explode during unloading about three
quarters of a mile from downtown Cle
Elum. The wife of one of the miners living
in a nearby tent is killed along with three
N.W.I. employees and four miners.
transcontinental car race from New York to Seattle marks the opening
Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition
(A.Y P.E.).in Seattle.
To the delight of Cle Elum
spectators, the drivers
of the winning car pull up in front of the Cle Elum
State Bank and take a
short nap before heading over Snoqualmie
The No. 4 Mine (better known as “The
Shaft”) explodes Sunday, Oct. 3, killing
10 men doing maintenance work on the
mine. The Roslyn Fire Department,
aided by the Cle Elum Fire Department,
fight several roof fires ignited by
embers from the explosion. The Chicago, Milwaukee, St.
Paul and Pacific Railroad
completes its line over Snoqualmie Pass and through South Cle Elum where
early March, an avalanche rips through the Skookum Copper Mine on the Teanaway
Ridge. A few months earlier, the mine had won
top prizes at the A.Y.P.E. for its high
quality ore. The mine’s outside workings were
destroyed and the mine company later
filed for bankruptcy and never rebuilt. The Roslyn School District
population grows to
approximately 1400 children and the Roslyn High
School is completed. N.W.I. builds its
company store in Ronald.
Cle Elum is incorporated. The federal
government begins its postal savings
program which encourages immigrants to deposit
savings in their local post office
of hiding it under their mattresses. Roslyn soon has the highest savings rate
a city its size in the state.
Roslyn Hotel catches fire, but no one is injured except for the cook who
from the second story window to escape the fire. Roslyn’s Y.M.C.A. also burns
and is replaced by a two-story wood frame
building with double stair entry (which
becomes City Hall in 1918).
begins at the west end of Cle Elum’s Second
Street on the Kittitas
Railway and Power Company
line, a proposed electric railway between Cle Elum and
Salmon La Sac that would
access mines in the Fish
Lake area. A log depot is
Salmon La Sac before
French financiers back out with war threatening in Europe.
electric rail line is
1915 Washington State's second annual Mine Rescue and
First Aid Meet is held in
Cle Elum with 13 teams
competing on Pennsylvania Avenue
and at the ballpark on third
street. Safeway opens a store in Cle Elum.
February storm dumps over five feet of snow, collapsing roofs and shutting down
railroad traffic. Ronald,
Roslyn and Cle Elum are cut off from the rest of the world until
crews dig out rail lines.
starts on Cle Elum's Pennsylvania
Ave. and burns much of the downtown area.
road between Cle Elum and Roslyn is paved after upper county voters approve a
Northwest Bell builds a new brick telephone building on the corner of Cle
Elum's First Street and Wright Ave. The Eagles Temple
and the Episcopalian
Church on Second Street are
also completed. The Cle Elum Echo and
Cascade Miner merge
and become the Miner-Echo, the official newspaper for Upper
3 Mine in Ronald is closed down for three years while N.W.I. modernizes
its operation to make
it competitive in commercial markets.
still underneath Falcon Hall in Ronald explodes, killing the operator and burning
homes. The still was one
of the largest in the state supplying moonshine for many
establishments in Seattle.
1932 The second
annual Pacific Northwest Ski Tournament is held at the Summit Lodge two
miles from town on the
Cle Elum Ridge. Over 3,000 spectators watch ski jumpers
launch from a 75 ft. jump
tower, one of the most challenging in the nation. The Bureau
of Reclamation dam on
Lake Cle Elum is finished and work begins on the canals and
Western Coal Miners’ efforts to supplant the United Mine Workers of America's
upper county leads to a
bitter coal mine strike requiring outside law enforcement to
restore the peace.
1936 Cle Elum builds
a swimming pool and the Miner Echo moves to its new location on the
corner of Second Street and Pennsylvania.
1937 Coal in No. 7
Mine in Cle Elum is exhausted and the mine is closed.
forest fire sweeping the Cle Elum Ridge destroys the Summit Ski Club Lodge and
jump where annual ski
jump tournaments were held in the 1920s and early 1930s.
Knights of Pythias building on Second
Street burns, destroying the Rose
1947 No. 5 Mine
closes due to decreased coal demand.
1955 The N.W.I.
store in Roslyn closes.
1963 The No. 9 Mine
closes, which ends mining in the Roslyn Cle Elum Coal Field.
1966 Cle Elum
switches to automatic dialing, the last telephone office in the Pacific
Northwest Bell Telephone
service area covering Washington, Oregon and Northern Idaho.
Fire destroys the Ronald
sawmill, which employed 50 men and provided the largest payroll in