Park History

Ferndale: A Brief History

The site of the City of Ferndale was originally known to the Lummi Indians as Te-tas-um. Early white settlers called the area near the Nooksack River the .lower crossing. to distinguish it from the principal crossing of the river at Everson.

Billy Clark, a Texan who came to the northwest during the Gold Rush, was the first resident of Ferndale. He lived here with his wife and family for over a decade.

When Billy sought to prove the ownership of his property, he was stunned to learn that he could not. Some years earlier, he had relinquished his American citizenship in order to be employed at the Hudson Bay Company at Fort Langley, Canada. Therefore, because he was now an English citizen, Billy Clark was not eligible to claim title to the property. He sought help from an old friend, Darius Rogers, who was employed at the Bellingham Coal Mine. Rogers promptly filed claim to the 174 acre site, which made him the first legal owner of the property. Billy Clark eventually left and built a new homestead at East Sound on Orcas Island.

When Rogers secured his claim in 1882, there were only a few white neighbors; Thomas Barrett, who lived by the lake that bears his name, Thomas Wynn and John Tennant, both with Native American wives, and perhaps a dozen other settlers in the area.

John Tennant helped. to organize the first school and establish the first church. Thomas Wynn established the first blacksmith shop and brought in the first wagon to the area. The settlement was now referred to as .Jam. during this time due to a large log jam on the Nooksack River.

Most of the settlers of the area in the 1870s based their operations at locations near the river. There were no roads; meandering, muddy trails wound through the woods, and the people used the river as their highway.

The strength of resources for fishing and lumbering brought early settlers, many from Scandinavia. A multitude of small mills were built along the Nooksack and gradually the forests receded to reveal the fertile soil beneath. Agriculture soon became an important industry and has remained key to the area.

In 1884, the Northwest Diagonal Road was opened up to Ferndale, and connected up with a road that ran through Custer to Blaine. Wooden plank roads were also developed to aid in travel through the muddy terrain. In 1886, the Guide Meridian Road was opened, but Whatcom County remained rustic and isolated until 1893, when the Great Northern built its railway line across the western part of the County, through Ferndale, to Blaine, and on to Vancouver, British Columbia.

The city of Ferndale was also shaped by a number of other outside events. The Treaty of 1846, fixing the boundary between American and English soil, brought a large crew to survey the 49th parallel, clearing a 40 foot gap along the line. The San Francisco fire caused the price of lumber to skyrocket, which resulted in the building of the first sawmill in Bellingham. The Fraser River gold Rush of 1858 brought thousands of prospectors through the area, on what they hoped would be the road to wealth. The race to build a telegraph line to Europe via Seattle, Alaska, the Bering Sea and Asia dragged a trail across the County and left fragments of the Telegraph Road that still remain today. A generation ago, it was almost impossible to foresee that Ferndale would house the location of two large oil refineries, which process oil from Alaska and other continents. No less remarkable, is the fact that the shipment of Alumina from Australia brought Intalco Aluminum, once the County’s largest employer.

Ferndale began its existence as a “town” under Washington law when it was incorporated in 1907.

Ferndale’s 1998 population was 7,620, making it the 3rd largest community in Whatcom County and 68th among Washington’s 278 incorporated municipalities.

The Whatcom Old Settlers Association

The origins of Pioneer Park are interconnected with the creation of the Old Settlers Association in 1895. The Old Settlers Association is a Western Washington social organization with roots in the families of early settlers in the Nooksack River valley. The Old Settlers Association was born out of a widely held sense, at the turn of the 19th century, that an important time in Pacific Northwest history was coming to an end. The organization defined its purpose in the preface to its articles of incorporation.

The time seems ripe for the recording of historical facts of the pioneers of Whatcom County. In order to preserve the history of this county, and maintain an accurate record of the men and women who braved every danger and withstood the vicissitudes incident with pioneer life, the officers and members of the Old Settlers Association of Whatcom County, Washington bequeath this legacy and trust, that future generations will preserve it intact..

The proximity of Whatcom County to British Columbia, Canada heightened the organization’s interests in American historical events and associations such as passages over the Oregon Trail, engagement in the Pig War fought between the U.S. and Britain and post Hudson’s Bay Company settlement. It did not however, assume the same intense patriotism as Chapters of the Daughter of the American Revolution or Civil War Veteran organizations did at the time.

Paralleling, in a folk cultural way, the notion of historian Fredrick Jackson Turner that the frontier was coming to an end in the west, the Old Settlers Association was agrarian in its historical perspective but broadly rural and urban in its membership and social and educational efforts. It borrowed from the grange movement, revival meetings, church socials and county fairs in its general purpose but added a particular emphasis on regional history, cross generation interaction between old and young and a sense of close community supported by a shared heritage. There was no overriding religious or political principal behind the organization, instead it focused on longstanding social interactions and a common idea of respect for the localized past. The names of the organization’s founding members read like a who’s who of territorial era characters including:

Charles Tawes, son of McKinley and Mary Bird who arrived at the settlement on Bellingham Bay in 1858, Mrs. Tawes being at the time only the fifth woman of non-native descent in the region. Coming from the California gold fields, Tawes worked at the Sehome Coal Mines then homesteaded 160 acres near Ferndale in 1862. McKinley Tawes lived until 1897 and was typical of the early settlers the organization intended to revere.

Victor Roeder, son of Captain Henry Roeder who led the first settlement party to Bellingham Bay in 1853, the same period the Denny Party was settling in Alki Point and in Seattle. He came from one of the most esteemed families in the Pacific Northwest and lead efforts to make written records of pioneer recollections.

John Tarte Jr., who’s family built the first salmon cannery on Semi-ah-moo which later became the massive Alaska Packers Association Puget Sound headquarters and employed the first large numbers of Chinese contract laborers in that industry. John was also the nephew of Captain James Tarte, Northwest coast pilot of the legendary side-wheeled steamer Eliza Anderson that operated on Puget Sound from 1958 until its demise in Alaska during the Klondike gold rush.

John and Thomas Slater, who’s father George had come “around the Horn” in 1853, worked the mines in western Canada and settled in the Nooksack valley in 1873.

John Tennant, a State Legislator who’s family ties with the Nooksack and Lummi people through his native wife brought early native American membership to the Association.

Thomas Wynn a veteran of the Fraser River gold rush in 1858 and ancient long-lived pioneer equaled only by Ezra Meeker in character and life span.

The organization first held meetings in New Whatcom (Bellingham after 1903) and in 1896 originated the notion of large picnics as an occasion for assembling old settlers as special guests. The first picnic was held at Birch Bay near the Canadian border. Within a few years the organization started looking for a permanent picnic location. The summertime social events drew Governors, Native American elders, school children and foreign visitors. By 1900, the outdoor summer events and history collecting.

Endeavors to gain new association members had attracted several hundred people. To become a member, the association required a prospective new member to have 10 years residency and 50 cents.

In 1901, the Old Settler’s purchased 4 acres of uncut cedar on the western bank of the Nooksack River just downstream from the center of Ferndale. The property was of particular interest for its location abutting that of a former storied log jam. The log jam blocked the upper Nooksack River to navigation before 1877. That year John Tennant and a group of local residents used explosives to break up the obstacle and clear the river. The community based at the bend in the river changed its name from Jam to Ferndale as a result.

The $200 purchase of land seeded the ambitions of the organization and it was formally incorporated that same year. The Whatcom County Pioneer Picnic was first held on the property in 1901 and in the following few years both the event and the property were shaped into a tradition. From the very inception, the park was handled as a pocket of untouched landscape with no more complex master plan than the organization’s intent to keep the trees and surroundings as original as possible. The conservation of this landscape is one of the lasting purposes of the Old Settlers Association and it served as a preamble to the Picnic developments to come.

During the pre World War I period, the Pioneer Picnic, held on the last weekend in July, presented speeches from dignitaries, musical programs, footraces and baseball games and the central ceremonial presentation of the Judge Neterer Cup to a recognized pioneer of Washington State. Guests such as Ezra Meeker from Puyallup, surviving Civil War veterans, and pioneering women were honored guests presented with ribbons and commemorative gifts from the Association. The annual meeting of the organization and election of officers was held at the picnic and in the evening a Vaudeville program was presented followed by a dance.

During the 1920s and into the Depression, the picnic began to grow in attendance as automobiles made it possible for people to come from greater distances. The events of the day expanded to include not only footraces and baseball games but pie eating contests, horseshoe tournaments, candidates debates, storytelling an musical contests. Programs were organized for children to listen to the reminiscing of elders and demonstrations of pioneer activities such as butter churning, shake splitting, and thread spinning. A bandstand was built in the park and the entertainment program was expanded to include orchestra recitals, performing animals, roller skating acts and as a grand finale in 1941, a 60 piece accordion band concert. The outskirts of the park were used for camping and the event dominated summer planning in the lower Nooksack valley. The picnic is considered one of the oldest celebrations of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.

In 1944 and 1945 members purchased an additional 6 1/2 acres of land from Frank Imhoff and developed a half mile race track at the park.

Although somewhat secondary to the social events of the association in the early years, the collection of written history and historical objects began to emerge as a meaningful part of the organization’s activity. The records and archives of the Old Settlers Association have aided in research and publication of several highly regarded books, most notably Nooksack Tales and Trails by former Association president Percival R. Jeffcott, 1949. Other titles are: Sedro-Wolley Courier-Times, A Pioneer’s Search for an Ideal Home by Phoebe Judson, 1955, and The Fourth Corner by Lelah Jackson Edson, 1968, Craftsman Press.

In May 1972, the Old Settlers Association voted more than two to one to turn Pioneer Park over to public ownership. The City of Ferndale became legal owner of the park on June 1, 1972. Since that time a partnership has been actively operating as stewards for the park and its rich historic assets. The social underpinning of Pioneer Park is still revived each July when the Whatcom County Pioneer Picnic is held and remains as vital as ever. In 1999, the Washington Recreation and Park Association recognized the valuable contributions of the Whatcom Old Settlers Association by presenting them with their Organizational Citation of Merit Award. Also in 1999, the park received state and national recognition as the City of Ferndale’s campaign to include Pioneer Park on the Washington State Heritage Register was successful. The park is identified as a historically significant site not only for the collection of cabins and park area a place for social interaction, but also for the early preservation ethic demonstrated by the Whatcom Old Settlers Association. Amid the ancient cedars and the assembly of historic buildings there is a sense that a century later, the original goals are continuing to be met.

The Ferndale Heritage Society

The Ferndale Heritage Society is another community group interwoven with the Whatcom Old Settlers Association and actively involved in the management and operation of Pioneer Park. The Ferndale Heritage Society was established in March of 1993. It is made up of citizens seeking to help preserve Pioneer Park, the log cabins and the Heritage of the early settlers of Whatcom County. Some of the goals of the organization are: 1). Improve the maintenance of the park, cabins and displays inside the cabins. 2.) Catalog the collection of antiques. 3.) Create educational programs, workshops and working exhibits. 4.) Promote tourism. 5.) Bring together people who are interested in the community to collectively explore the past and improve the future of Whatcom County’s history.

In 1993, the Heritage Society began the Pioneer Park Education Program. Every spring and fall costumed volunteers lead the education program which allows third graders the opportunity to participate in hands on pioneer activities including: splitting wood, making candles, writing with a quill, and baking bread.

To expand the educational opportunities the park affords, and to help increase awareness of the park, the Heritage Society markets and conducts costumed tours of the cabins at Pioneer Park. The park averages 2,000 visitors a year.

The Heritage Society also coordinates the “Old fashioned Christmas” at Pioneer Park. This December event features horse drawn carriage rides, Caroling, traditional Christmas decorations throughout the park, Santa Claus, costumed guides, hot cider and fresh baked bread. They are also co-sponsors of the Mystery in the Park. A September dinner theatre mystery which involves audience participation to figure out .who done it..

One of the larger tasks of the Heritage Society is the cleaning and maintenance of the cabin interiors. Originally, when the monumental task of cleaning and organizing the artifacts was undertaken, artifacts were stored in boxes or sometimes strewn about in the cabins. Members are continually researching, identifying, organizing and cataloging artifacts and updating the displays in the cabins. This is an ongoing process as new artifacts are continually discovered and donated to the park. (Please Note: Donations of artifacts and period antiques is welcomed and encouraged, however, due to limited storage space please contact us in writing first, prior to donating, via our Old Settlers Association P.O. Box listed elsewhere on this website. We are also always looking for new cabins too, to add to our existing collection already in the park. Locating new cabins to move into the park is an on going mission carried out by several individuals in the membership. Once cabins, such as the ones in the park are gone, we will never see them again due to the old growth timber and lost methods used to make them. If you know the whereabouts of such a cabin that needs to be rescued please contact us).

Overview of Pioneer Park

Park map

Pioneer Park was created from 4 acres of land purchased in 1901 from Mary and R. Clinton Smith. The property was graced with a grove of healthy Western Red Cedar trees and it was determined that they would be retained along with the other larger trees as a reminder of the native landscape. Because the river bottomland is excellent for agriculture, most of the land in the lower Nooksack valley, unlike the park site, had been cleared for farming by 1900. Early settlers often selected the old growth cedar groves along the river bottom that bore specific names as sheltered native fishing camps or as home sites, such as the park. But once roads and wagons replaced footpaths and river travel, the farmsteads grew in size and complexity. The groves were either logged off or thinned back and the original rustic houses were replaced or relocated to make room for a house and barn compound oriented toward a section road or highway.

Because the Pioneer Park parcel was owned and developed by a social organization rather than a public agency or municipality, it was shaped by volunteers and groups of workers in barn-raising fashion. Some thinning of smaller trees was done around the ancient cedars and the land was cleared, overlain with topsoil as needed and planted with grass. The grove was maintained by occasional topping of the big trees over the years and by the addition of several Big Leaf Maples, Sitka Spruce and Grand Fir specimens.

The original grandstand was built in the park using the stump of one of the cedar trees. It was later replaced by a formal grandstand/outdoor stage building. In 1940 a skating rink was also built on the northern edge of the park. The grandstand was eventually replaced with the current grandstand. The original skating rink burned in 1967 and was replaced by the current building which houses the Ferndale Boy’s and Girls Club (It was used as a skating rink prior to being used by the Boy’s and Girls Club). The organization also constructed a meeting/dance hall and restroom building in 1925. The restroom building was demolished in the mid-1970s but the hall, called the Tillicum House is still in good condition and used for Old Settlers Association meetings. In 1925 the Old Settlers Association also constructed a log “Headquarters Building”, just south of the Tillicum House. The Headquarters building currently serves as office space for park/association staff and for registration during the Pioneer Picnic in July. This small cabin was constructed of round logs, which bore no resemblance in style to the split log cabins that now reside in the park. However, it launched an idea of using the grove of trees in the park for a back drop to house cabins built of architecture of a bygone era.

About 1935, the Foster House, originally constructed in l895 near Squalicum Lake about 15 miles away, was moved to the park. It was a somewhat crude example of split-cedar log house construction but its 24-inch thick log walls and two-story height amply demonstrated the general size of regional pioneer log houses. The building was dismantled and carried to the park as a log truckload. The logs were reassembled into a dovetailed pen on a slab concrete pad and a new frame roof and cedar shingles were added.

The Old Settlers Association and other historic interests such as author Percival Jeffcott began to realize that as farms and rural landowners expanded and improved their agricultural operations, early pioneer buildings were being lost. The large sturdy slab cedar houses were being replaced by stick-frame farmhouses and large nearby barns. The older structures were cut apart into bolts for making cedar shakes or relocated as tool and feed sheds. Some were relegated to use as machinery garages. Others were simply disassembled and stacked up for firewood or burned on site. Because the massive split-cedar parts of a house or cabin could be disassembled so easily, they were readily moved around a farm or across a road to accommodate divided property and changing life and times. The split-cedar buildings proved remarkably durable and resilient to rot setting in, poor foundations and bad roofs, barring of course that they didn’t catch fire and burn.

The successful reconstruction of the Foster House displayed the possibility of saving the buildings in a meaningful way and the credibility of the Old Settlers Association gave the buildings value and historical importance two generations before Washington State historic preservation programs even existed. In 1950, the Old Settlers Association, with encouragement from Jeffcott, purchased the Conrad Shields house from owners who planned to replace it with a modern home. Like the Foster House, it was relocated to Pioneer Park but unlike the other cedar buildings, this house was a crafted paragon of the slab cedar vernacular. The large two-story residence built with .T. shaped floor plan displayed every flourish an 1885 hand built cedar structure might offer. The compound dovetailing was uniformly fitted at each corner. There were mortise and tennon wall joints and covered porches front and rear. Interior walls were planed and filled to accommodate fine wallpaper and detailed window and door casings and frames. Built entirely with hand tools, the building displays the craftsmanship of a fine sailing vessel or furniture piece and it set the stage for the assembly of buildings that followed.

In 1968, the Zion Congregational Church building was reassembled at the park. This building was constructed on California Creek near Blaine in 1876 and was assembled with the most basic of tools (as were most), an ax, a whipsaw and an adz. It was relocated and converted into a house about 1900, then abandoned until being moved into the park by sponsors, for reconstruction. In the 1970s, during the celebration of the American bicentennial, three more slab cedar buildings were moved to the park. They include the following: the Grandview Rogers House (l877), the Granary (circa. 1875) and the Parker House (1879). During the 1980s the Holeman House (1890), the Jenni House (1873) and the Barrett House (1874) were added. In 1990 the Lopas House (1879) was moved to the park. The Van Buren Post Office (1870) was moved to the park in 1994 after standing at Berthusen Park in Lynden for many years following its removal from its original site in the north of Whatcom County. The two newest additions to Pioneer Park are the Barr Barn and Lynden Jail, which were both introduced to the park in 1996.

Overview of Slab Cedar Buildings

The broad Nooksack River valley, which flows into Puget Sound between Bellingham, Washington and the Canadian border, is spotted with a fading number of log buildings which date from the last half of the 19th century. Among the scattering of early pioneer structures is a largely overlooked and unstudied type of unique rustic building. They are shelters crafted from exceptionally large sections of evergreen trees and in both their making and material, they are unique to only the native range of the Western Red Cedar. The most important assemblage of this style of buildings is shaded by a riverside grove of ancient cedars in Pioneer Park.

Marking the first homesteads and farms in the region are about forty known slab cedar houses and rural buildings that display a distinctive regional style of architecture. The buildings blend traditional elements of European and American log cabins with the recognized form and scale of earlier Hudson Bay Company and Russian American Company fur trade fortifications and blockhouses. The style also included elements of local architecture employed for centuries by Coastal Salish peoples of Puget Sound and the first nations people as far North as the Aleutians Islands. The deceptively simple, yet functional and durable pioneer structures represent a unique type of early building in the Pacific Northwest.

From the earliest era of white settlement through the mid 1890s, builders and craftsmen followed the native Salish people’s lead in using Western Red Cedar as a preferred, almost exclusive, material for permanent shelter. Red cedar was long ago discovered by natives to have natural qualities such as straight grain for true splitting and warp resistance, a natural insecticide fragrance which kept the enclosure redolent under the most crowded circumstances, and a very efficient temperature and humidity insulation value.

The Euro-American settlers readily adopted the local wood and adapted it into their own building techniques and technologies. The earliest results were very crude but functional notched corner log-pens, which could be built by one strong person using only an ax. As skills and available tools improved, refinements were quickly made and the overall scale of the buildings and the size of the log parts increased dramatically. By the late 1870s, giant slabs of cedar, weighing a ton or more, were wedge-split from the massive trees much like stone is quarried. Slabs a foot thick, up to three feet high and up to 40 feet in length were dovetailed at the corners and then stacked into the walls of buildings that often were two stories in height. The roof shakes, roof frame, door and window trim, flooring and even ornamentation was crafted from split cedar. In some cases an entire building was shaped from a single ancient tree.

In Whatcom County, a dwindling number of early cedar buildings continue to exhibit their endurance on the fertile farmland around Ferndale, Lynden and Sumas but as their functional value recedes they are being either forgotten, neglected or destroyed. The single coherent effort being made to preserve these buildings is at Pioneer Park in Ferndale, where, over a seventy year period, threatened slab cedar buildings have been relocated to a grove of first growth red cedars.

The Significance of Pioneer Park

The slab cedar houses at Pioneer Park have all been relocated from their original sites of construction at various locations around Wbatcom County. The original locations have largely been cleared and converted to agricultural land since the 19th century. In most cases, removal was the only preservation alternative since the practical needs of modern farming began to displace unused rural pioneer buildings such as houses and barns in the 1920s and 30s. During this period, many if not most of the early slab cedar buildings were relocated from their original locations, to permit new primary farmhouses with modern fixtures and amenities.

Slab cedar houses, particularly the larger examples, were usually built very near the primary source of building material, Western Red Cedar groves. As the land and forests were cleared, the original context was lost and the buildings became lone markers on a dramatically changed landscape. At the time of relocation to Pioneer Park, most of the buildings displayed little, if any, connection with their original surroundings. More than half of the buildings had already been moved from their original locations prior to being relocated to Pioneer Park.

As the 20th Century has come to an end the 4 acre site at Pioneer Park can be considered one of the very few first-growth Red Cedar groves remaining within the populated areas of Whatcom County. The park is dominated by the presence of 48 towering Western Red Cedar trees, the oldest being about 300 years old. This historical and botanical context is an important element in the physical logic and interpretation of the Pioneer Park collection of slab cedar houses. The relationship to the Nooksack River is an additional asset to the meaning of the site in terms of historical settlement patterns and natural history. The opportunity to understand and observe living, mature Western Cedars in immediate proximity to the buildings is an invaluable and unique asset of the park and an important contribution to its historic significance.

The central focus of the park is the assembly of slab cedar houses, all of which are set on concrete slab foundations. In the variety of scale, date of construction and sophistication of craftsmanship, they are a catalog of this distinct regional rustic style. In a contemporary description of how cedar houses were built in the discrete range of the Western Red Cedar Enoch Hawley wrote this account of constructing a store.

On February 1st 1882, we started clearing this land. As soon as enough of these tall trees were burned down, which stood close to buildings to be dangerous in a high wind, plans were made for a store building twenty four by forty feet with two stories and a basement. Hewed logs were used for this building, which were six inches thick, by twelve to twenty four inches in width. The trees were hewed in the woods just were they fell, and then one was loaded on the ox sled, with the other end dragging on the ground.

Rafters were made from fir poles about five inches in diameter, hewn on one side, over which, was laid sheeting of split cedar. The shingles were made by hand; and an experienced man used to the work could turn out about a thousand a day. After the building was up, the hardest work started, as openings had to be cut through for doors and windows, and the frames made for them. The floor was of split fir, one and a half inches thick, all “vertical” grained and tongue and grooved by hand. Counters and shelves were made of split cedar. The whole building, with the exception of the upper flooring was made by hand. This lumber (for the second floor) was shipped from Seattle and brought up the river in canoes.

The basic method for constructing a building from slab cedar varied little in its basic approach. Small to mid sized cedar buildings could easily be constructed entirely from one tree using split cedar planks for flooring and framing, split beams for the roof frame and cedar shakes for the roof. A building of this type could be assembled by two or three people with a minimum of tools beyond an ax. As time, manpower, tools and craftsmanship allowed, very large two story houses and buildings were built. The sill or base slabs were telltale indications of building size and the skill of the builder. The largest slabs were at the base to reduce lifting, resist dry rot and carry overall weight. The notching and planing on the base logs required very fine tolerances to set the square of the building and hold the “log pen” tightly at the base. Sill logs could be 12 to 16 inches in wall thickness, up to 36 inches in height and in at least one case almost fifty feet long. They could weigh several tons apiece.

The notching of the logs at the corners was a primary indication of builder skill and ethnic influence. Massive red cedar logs were by necessity split down into workable, naturally formed squared slabs by driving metal wedges into the butts of logs as required to obtain the desired thickness of slab (of course today, instead of splitting, we “rip” saw logs to make dimensional lumber. Additionally, most modern trees don’t have near fine enough grain/growth rings and uninterrupted straight length to be accurately split like old growth trees did. Some old growth trees had growth rings as small as 1/32 of an inch or less). These square slab pieces could not be saddle notched like smaller round logs in order to hold the walls together. Instead the massive weight of the members and the flat facing surfaces between logs kept them in place. Early Hudson Bay NPS Company buildings and southern European settlers employed square notches that did not interlock so the building could be disassembled and moved with ease. Russian American trappers and later Northern European builders brought with them the technique of dovetailing the corner notches so that once the building was assembled it was interlocked at the corners. In the northwest’s rainy climate however dovetail notches drained water on the narrow section of the dovetailed tendon creating a weakness even in moisture resistant cedar. As a result, the most carefully constructed slab cedar buildings employ a compound dovetail that drained water away from the corner notching.

Slab cedar buildings did not typically require chinking between logs in the same manner as round log cabins. Attention was usually paid during construction to the planing between log members so that dead weight would provide the walls with a nearly continuous solid thickness. At the seams between logs, oakum and hemp line, lime and plaster, tar or clay-mud was used to create a moisture barrier.

The cedar buildings were originally set with fixed pane or casement windows set in split-cedar frames but as double hung sash became available most houses were retrofit. A variety of methods for refitting windows can be seen in the buildings at Pioneer Park.

The individual cedar houses at Pioneer Park each display variations in age, construction methods, intended use and overall scale. They represent the most significant architectural collection of cedar slab construction in the world.

The Buildings of Pioneer Park


[toggle title=”Sources of Information”]
This information was recompiled and edited for use on this website by Bob Nelson 1/16/05 from: “The Pioneer Park Companion”, originally compiled and edited by David Erickson with input from the following people: Micheal Sullivan, Alice Cyr, Fred Sutcliffe, Donna Pollman, Wayne Sorenson, Chet Speziale, Jim doige, Louise Sager, and many others.

Primary Sources Pioneer Park National Register of Historic Places Application, Artifacts Consulting Inc. Michael Sullivan, 1999 Washington State Archives, Olympia and Bellingham Washington State Library, Olympia (card catalog information) Western Washington University, Northwest Collection Whatcom Museum of History and Art, Bellingham Whatcom Old Settlers Association Archives

Secondary Sources [DeBow, Samuel P. and Pitter, Edward A., ed.] Who’s Who in Religious, Fraternal, Social, Civic, and Commercial Life on the Pacific Coast, Seattle: Searchlight Pub.Co., 1926-27

Dillard, Annie, The Living, 1992. Harper Collins, New York.

Edson, Lelah Jackson. The Fourth Corner, 1968, Craftsman Press Seattle.

Ficken, Robert E., The Forested Land, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1987.

Hawley, Robert Emmett. Skqee Mus, Pioneer Days on the Nooksack, 1945. Miller & Sutherlen Craftsman Press, Seattle.

Jeffcott, Percival, Nooksack Tales and Trails, 1949, Sedro-Wolley Courier-Times.

Judson, Pheobe, A Pioneer’s Search for an Ideal Home, 1955, Washington State Historical Society.

Johnson, Dorothy and Jeffcott, Percival and Sullivan, Michael, John A Tennant Early Pioneer and Preacher, 1978, The Fourth Corner Registry. Bellinham, Washington.

Kirk, Ruth. Exploring Washington’s Past, A Road Guide to History, 1990, University of Washington Press.

Kruckeberg, Arthur R., The Natural History of Puget Sound Country,1991, University of Washington Press.

Meany, Edmond S. History of the State of Washington,1910, MacMillan Company, New York.

Ripley, Thomas Emerson, Green Timber,1968, Palo Alto: American West Pub. Co.

Roth, Lottie Roeder. History of Wlzatcom County, 1926, Pioneer Historical Publishing Company, Chicago.

Schwantes, Carlos A. The Pacific Northwest, An Interpretive History, 1989, University of Nebraska Press.

Snowden, Clinton A. History of Washington: The Rise and Progress of an American State, 1909, Century History Company, New York.

[Washington State Historical Society], The New Washington: A Guide To The Evergreen State, Portland: Binford and Mort, Revised 1950, p. 26 1-277.

[Washington State Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation], Built in Washington, 1989, Pullman: Washington State University Press,.

Woodbridge, Sally B. and Montgomery, Roger, A Guide to Architecture in Washington State, 1980, Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Wright, E. W., ed., Lewis and Drydeu’s Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, 1895, Portland: Lewis and Dryden Printing Co., Superior reprint, 1967.[/toggle]

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