Imagine yourself on a slow – moving steamboat plying the waters of Puget Sound and as you are passing through the South Pass of the Stillaguamish River you look out to see the cluster of buildings in the banner photograph (above). This photograph was adapted for our new SAHS website banner and is an edited digital copy of one of the earliest photographs of Stanwood taken by Gilbert Horton from his Palace Floating Gallery. Horton was among a few itinerant photographers who was taking photographs in early Washington State at the time. (Read more about Horton here on Historylink…)
The photograph was taken in 1886 showing the waterfront and wharf with its earliest commercial buildings. At this time the main channel of the Stillaguamish River flowed past what is now Stanwood’s historic waterfront (occupied currently by Twin City Foods and several other businesses). This was before the railroad came through in 1891 and when almost all transportation took place by steamboats.
This view shows the Stanwood Store owned by D. O. Pearson from South Pass, a branch of the Stillaguamish River that emptied into the shallow Port Susan. Steamboats and other shallow bottomed boats could navigate the Stillaguamish River’s West or South Passes on a high tide all the way up to Florence, another growing community upriver. Over the last century (after cleared log jams and several floods) the main channel of the river slowly diverted itself directly south through what was historically known as Hatt Slough to Port Susan.
The photograph was later published in the 1906 “The Illustrated History Skagit and Snohomish County“, a subscription biography and history proudly honoring successful farmers and businessmen who could afford to have their biographies featured as prominent pioneers in this 1000+ page publication.
–Karen Prasse, SAHS volunteer