In 1889, W.A. Bolinger came to the little settlement of Squaw Creek, he observed the frenzied activity, saw a need and started a general store.
The Squaw Creek boom ended as fast as it had started, and Bolinger could see that the end was near. He moved his store three miles up the Methow River from the mouth of Squaw Creek to what is now today the town of Methow. The first house that Bolinger homesteaded in 1892 still stands today in the town of Methow. Later he built a house entirely of granite rock. If you drive through the town of Methow today you can view this historical landmark.
(The Big Bend Empire, a weekly newspaper published at Waterville in Douglas County, kept a close eye on mining developments in the Okanogan country and particularly in the Methow Valley. These articles, published in the 1890s, reflect the genuine excitement that prevailed in the Methow at that time.)
Squaw Creek is still in it as can be seen every day by miners coming in droves from all surrounding camps and the outside in general. Mr. Pomeroy, a mining expert, and Mr. Fitzpatrick, a capitalist, made us a visit which will be of great importance to the camp, as they are about to close a deal by purchasing the Hiland Light property. It is supposed to be a sure sale and next the smelter will come.
Then the adjoining mines known as the Lookout, with ninety tons rich ore in the dump, the Mountainview and Methow owned by Thos. Devers and Jack Sommers, than which there is no better property in the district, have well defined veins and an unlimited amount of ore on the dumps.
There are a great many people come in from the outside, go up the hills, look around and come back to camp and say that the country is all staked. Well, such is not the case as was proved by Messrs. Milligan and Perkins finding a very rich strike in Grub Stake Canyon, a two-foot vein almost on the surface and as rich in coarse gold as has been found in the district, it is called the Tiger.
They have increased the force of men on the Nip and Tuck. The manner in which business is being pushed makes people shake their heads and remark, "We are getting there." Bigger, Bailey and Waugh have sunk a sixty-foot shaft at the extension of the Paymaster and Messrs. Barton, Connelly and Washburn have commenced stopping on the Philadelphia, and are getting out ore for treatment.
Now just to reflect and think back two years ago this camp apparently was as desolate and wild as the jungles of Africa, where nothing was visible but the dismal howl of the mountain lion and the smoke of the Indian's camp fire. Now as a substitute we hear the merry voices of the miners coming in for their supplies and going out to their claims with a baked apple smile, as they meditate upon the great expectations that are in store for them. It would actually put a tear in a road agent's eye.
Mr. and Mrs. Hawthorn, the oldest and most respected pioneers of the Methow, have their new and commodious hotel completed and open to the public. They celebrated the occasion by extending a cordial invitation to all the good people to attend the first dance on Squaw Creek, which it is unnecessary to say they all did.
There were a dozen or more ladies as fine looking and nicely dressed as you would meet in a New England city waiting for the word. "Honor your partner," which they did to the queen's taste, and the gentlemen looked wise and all slicked up with their six-bit overalls and hob-nail boots, they would remind you of a lot of Mormon Elders after prayer meeting. The music was furnished by Iceberd Bill from Manitoba, who played the harmonica with his mouth, the violin with his right and the bow with his left hand and came down on the new board floor with his two left feet in accordance with the music. Gilmour's famous band of New York would not be in it.
They whirled until midnight when refreshments were served, and the way us corn-fed prospectors hid our ears in homemade pie would strike terror to the heart of a Mississippi native in watermelon season.
Sourdough Tom led the grand march with his military aspect and prepossessing appearance, spieling the good old-fashioned air: "Jerry, go oil the car." It would remind you of a horse coming home after being beaten. Lookout Jack was master of ceremonies and conducted himself manfully. Senator Washburn favored the audience with a recitation entitled, "The Ups and Downs of Life in Grub Stake Canyon," which was the wind up. Big Bend Empire, Sept. 13, 1894.
The fact that there is a large producing gold mine in the Methow district is not generally known, The Red Shirt Mine, 3 ½ miles from Silver, which town is about 35 miles up the Methow Valley, is the one referred to. No doubt exists as to the quality of the ore, and while it is low grade it concentrates readily, and repeated shipments have demonstrated its value as a money-maker.
It is approximately 1,000 feet above the Methow River. The ledge is four to seven feet wide with clear and well-defined walls. The ore is somewhat decomposed quartz, carrying values of $10 and upward of gold to the ton. It concentrates readily, about 30 tons of ore making one of concentrates.
Quite extensive development work has been done on the property and the present owner gave a most thorough expert examination before the purchase. The upper tunnel has now been driven in over the vein for a distance of 300 feet, at which point the vein forks and two drifts have been run north and south for a distance of about 100 feet each, all in good ore, with the lead several feet wide. In the south drift the vein dipped downward, and a tunnel was run to strike it, which was done at a distance of 550 feet.
The present output is about 35 tons of ore daily, which is expected to be nearly doubled in the future, as the mill has a capacity of treating a largely increased amount of ore. The mill is about two and a half miles from the mine by wagon road and has they are shipped via the steamer Ellensburg to Wenatchee and are then sent by rail over the Great Northern to the Everett smelter.
A ditch from Beaver Creek, about two and a half miles in length furnishes water for the mill. Steam power will be used when the ditch freezes in the winter. About fifty-five men are now employed forty at the mine and fifteen at the mill. Wages are $2.75 for miners and $2.25 for other workmen and board is 75 cents a day.
A Scotch syndicate is the owner of the mine and Jack Stewart, formerly of Wenatchee, is the general manager. F.C. Farham is the superintendent at the mine and Mr. Hill presides at the mill. Big Bend Empire, May 20, 1897.
But A Year Later:
On the Methow a great deal of assessment work is in progress but little development work is going on aside from that. That section, like all the rest, awaits capital to make it profitable. The district just now suffers on account of the Republic boom, which occupies the public mind to the exclusion of all other mining camps in this part of the state, and which owes its prominence largely to the fact that it is cheaper to develop than is the Okanogan country. Big Bend Empire, July 7, 1898.