Winter 2011 (last article)
In preparation of Redmond’s upcoming centennial, this issue of “View from History” invites you to harken back to the time when Redmond boasted an active logging industry.
Starting in the 1860’s, logging was the principal industry in the area that would one day become the City of Redmond. This industry had a major effect in transforming Redmond --from logging town with agriculture as a secondary industry to its current position as home to a diverse and growing economic base including several major technology firms.
The mechanics of the local logging industry started out very simple. A logger would use a belt and rope to maneuver up a tree while cutting each limb. A crew then used sharp axes and eight to ten foot long saws to fell the tree, taking about three to four hours.
The transportation to move the trees evolved the most over the years. Initial techniques included up to 12 oxen dragging logs up to 17 feet in length and eight to ten feet in diameter on a greased skid road. It was not until the use of the steam donkey engine that logging practices transformed, increasing accessibility to more trees by railroad and thus increasing logging profits. Upon reaching an appropriately sized waterbody such as the Sammamish River, logs were floated to mills for processing.
Some logging companies were established to cut a specified number of board feet of lumber. Camps established on Novelty and Union Hills cut approximately 25,000 board feet of lumber and were then decommissioned. Donkey engines pulled log cars filled by a crane situated on spur tracks extending from the mainline. Upon completing each logging effort, the company abandoned the spur track and established another spur to the next logging site.
Logging brought progress to Redmond, prompting the opening of local trading posts, hotels, dance halls, saloons and a boot shop catering to logging employees.
Due to deforestation, logging petered out in the 1920’s, causing loggers and sawmills to move elsewhere for more lumber. Those who decided to stay turned to road building or farming instead.
Today, logging stumps are still visible in several parks including Farrel-McWhirter Park, the Redmond Watershed and along the trail between Westside Park and Marymoor.
Check back again during 2012 to learn more about Redmond’s historical aspects and significant changes during the past 100 years.
Contributors and Sources: Zapata, Hitzroth, Llanos, Parks; “A Hidden Past: An Exploration of Eastside History” by the Seattle Times; “Images of America: Redmond Washington” by Georgeann Malowney; and “Our Town Redmond” by Nancy Way. Images(1903 & 1918): provided to Redmond Historical Society by Darius Kinsey