Leavenworth ~ The Early Years



This section starts with a brief history prior to 1929. It's a fascinating account of the very early days of Leavenworth.


Leavenworth    Early 1900's


Taken from "A History of the Famous Wenatchee, Entiat, Chelan and Columbia Valleys"  
Compiled and Edited By: Lindley M. Hull  1929

At the present time Leavenworth and the Icicle Valley are practically one community. But in the early day settlements the bridgeless Wenatchee River was a barrier between two sections. In 1891, F.A. Losekamp started a store on the Icicle and succeeded in establishing a post office (Icicle) with himself as postmaster. In the following year in the wake of the Great Northern Railway construction crews, came many people, among whom were Mr. and Mrs. John Bjork who established a store. Mr. and Mrs. George Hood opened a restaurant. In November, 1892, the first contruction train reached the upper Wenatchee Valley.


In the meantime a town-site company had been organized, the local representatives of which were Steven Tainter and Albert Waddell. Closely associated with them were Lew Bowman and J.W. Arthur. The company was financed principally by Captain Leavenworth, for whom the town was named. The location of this town was on the north side of the Wenatchee River, and in the southwest part of what was the Okanogan County.It was an ideal location for a city. The scenic beauty of the surroundings were unexcelled in the Wenatchee Valley. During the close of 1892 and the beginning of 1893, the town of Icicle moved to the townsite of Leavenworth, and the name of the post office was changed accordingly.


Leavenworth was made the division town of the Great Northern Railway, and the place became a typical railroad town, the resources of the surrounding country having been but slightly developed at the time.


All sorts of people flocked into the new town and it grew rapidly. In 1893, the depot, roundhouse, machine shops, coal bunkers, and offices were built. The Wenatchee Mercantile Company established a general merchandise store on what became the site of the Leavenworth Mercantile Company store. W.H. Merriam and A.J. Clark were proprietors and R.T. Rarey was manager. John Bjork established a store where the Overland Hotel was. Frank Reeves published the first newspaper, the Leavenworth Times, early in the spring 1893. Later in that same year, Maj. A.S. Lindsay published the Leavenworth Journal. Mr. Reeves continued to conduct the Times until October 15, 1898, and shortly prior to this time, Maj. Lindsay discontinued the publication of the Journal and moved to Wenatchee. Leavenworth was then without a local newspaper until January 15, 1904, when Deed H. Mayar began the publication of the Leavenworth Echo.


The first school in Leavenworth was taught by Miss Mary Ralston in an old store buildiing on the railroad right of way, which became the site of the Fireman's hall. The term began May 1, 1893, and continued three months. Adam Emig, George Hood and H. Blinn were the directors of the new district. The first school building was a two story frame, erected in 1895.


In 1893 the Congregational Church people formed an organization and erected a small church building. At first the pulpit was supplied by transient ministers. In 1894, Rev. R.A. Rowley, the first resident minister, built a home here. In 1895, he was succeeded by Rev. J.A. McCroskey. The Ladies Guild of this church was the first ladies' society organized in Leavenworth and was a great help to the church. Mrs. McCroskey was president, Mrs. Sherer, Mrs. R.L. Fuller, Mrs. James Boyle, Mrs. Hood and Mrs. Sarah Buttles were some of the prominent members.


Among the prominent business men were Emil Frank, Carl Christensen, A.A. Tozer, Dr. Hoxey, and James Boyle.Emil Frank was the owner and manager of the first meat market.He also owned and operated a well improved ranch near the mouth of the Chumstick. Dr. Tozer was manager of the Icicle Drug Company's store.He later moved to Everett where he was interested in the drug business. He died in 1923. James Boyle was the pioneer laundryman. He took an active part in the organization of the first church and was interested in the first water works. He died in 1901, leaving a widow and five children.


W.A. Belknap and W.A. Bowser represented the legal fraternity in the new town.Some of the pioneer restaurant keepers were, H.A. Anderson, E.W. Sherwood, George Hood. H. Smith conducted a lodging house. Mr. John Hill was also one of the pioneer hotel men.


In common with all new railroad towns, Leavenworth had many saloons. Mr. Barker established the first water supply by hauling from the Wenatchee River in a wooden tank mounted on wheels. Every family had its water barrel and 25 cents was charged for filling it. Later John Holden operated the water wagon. Such was Leavenworth in pioneer days. Now at the respectable age of 35 years (keep in mind this was written in 1929) she is a beautiful town of 2000 population with many beautiful homes, one catholic and two protestant churches, a school that will compare favorably with any in the state, substantial business houses, an excellent water supply, paved streets, cement walks, electric lights and telephones.


In the late 1920's, the railroad moved it's switching yard to Wenatchee and the Lamb-Davis Lumber Company closed it's doors forever.


This was a double financial whammy that sent poor Leavenworth into a downward spiral and it simply could not recover. Gone were the days as a boom town and Leavenworth struggled with residents moving away and boarding up businesses. Something had to be done to save Leavenworth!


Leavenworth ~ The Later Years


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