This collection of images depict what life was like near Yukon Harbor in the very early 1900’s. Eighteen of them are from a collection of picture postcards taken and captioned by M. Katherine Gates, wife of Charles Barstow Gates, who raised cows and chickens on the flatlands just north of Long Lake. The couple moved to the western side of Puget Sound from New York about 1900-1905 and raised chickens and cattle.
Mrs. Gates was apparently the photographer who took and printed these, as she makes notations about the imagery. From her captions and notes and facts about her life, we believe she captured these view of her life in the rugged regions of Puget Sound, intending to send them back to acquaintances in New York. They were given to the New Lebanon (New York) Historical Society, who passed them on to us in 2013.
Charles was born in 1858 and Katherine in 1866, both in the New York area, as were their children, Allan Spier (1888) and Elizabeth (1898). Allan was Mrs. Gates’ son from a previous marriage and is listed in the 1910 U.S. Census as Charles’ stepson. The water wheel he is credited with building would indicate that he had ample mechanical aptitude. A nephew, Barstow Forbes, is included in two family photographs.
It is important to note that, while she refers to her home as “Colby” the Gates family actually lived in the Long Lake area. At that time – 1884-1911 — Colby held the only commerce center, steamship dock, and post office in the entire region. Towns like Harper and Manchester were minor communities in comparison to Colby Village, which boasted three stores, a community hall, a warehouse, several blacksmith shops, and the only school within many miles. At the time Long Lake was a scattered collection of ranches and farms.
Because we have multiple views of the ranch and the surrounding terrain, we can deduce that the homestead was probably located near the intersection of today’s Sedgewick and Long Lake Valley Roads and straddled Curley Creek. The thoroughfare she describes as “the Long Lake-Colby road” was undoubtedly the current Locker-Mayvolt trail.
Piecing the Gates family story together was done by carefully examination of the photos and captions, tying that information together with various census records, checking plat and land records, and visiting various sites. We are especially thankful to one of our researchers, JoAnn Grant Lorden, for her extensive investigation into online genealogical data.
The images appear below and include the notations made by Mrs. Gates in italics. Additional photos taken by William Alberts relating to logging have been added, too. Unless otherwise specified, the photographs are provided by the New Lebanon Historical Society. We expect to discover much, much more about these photos and will update this article accordingly.
“A typical Western Washington Ranch. Home of C.B. Gates, Colby, Wash. Little daughter Bessie and her cousin Barstow Forbes in foreground.” View is looking east toward hills of Banner district showing the Gates house, barn, and outbuildings.
”View of ranch from eastern side. Colby, Wash. 1908.” The house (partially hidden by trees) and barn (right) are shown with Curley Creek in the foreground. Note the log footbridge to the left.
This current image provided by Google Maps shows the area where the Gates Ranch was located.
”Skid Road belonging to Curley Creek Logging Co., Colby Wash. Just above our ranch. Mr. Gates is center of picture.” This view of a path specifically built to transport logs along with ease is taken from the bottom of a hill looking up. This could be located along the current Locker Road near the intersection of Garfield.
”Among the Cedars. Road from Colby to Long Lake, Wash.” Note the horse and wagon in the distance. The shadows would seem to indicate that this is an eastward view.
”The Beaten Path. Road from Long Lake to Colby…” This could be an opposite view from the same vantage point shown in the previous photograph.
”Road from Colby to Long Lake, Wash.” This hilly portion of the only road between the Long Lake area and Colby might be the current Mayvolt Avenue, with a view to the west. There is a house on the downhill side, to the left of the road, in the distance.
”Contemplating Current Events. My son, who is nearly 20 years old, in the picture he has a sneer look which is not natural.” Katherine Gates’ son is sitting with one of his dogs on the same footbridge shown in other images.
”My son Allan Douglas Spier with his dogs, ‘Logging Camp Carlo’ and ‘Sport.’” This is probably the front porch of the Gates house. Note the rifle on his lap.
”Little Drops of Water. My son Allan D. Spier made this water wheel at Christmas time. The children in the foreground are my nephew Barstow Forbes of Seattle, aged 15 years, and my daughter Bessie Gates, aged 9 years. Cobly, Wash 1907. (Am sorry this is printed a little too dark, it spoils the water effect.) There has been many exclamations over this picture.”
”Driving the cows home from pasture, crossing Curley Creek. Gates Ranch, Colby, Wash.” A view of the creek looking to the north, with the flow traveling from Long Lake to Puget Sound.
”A few of 400 of Washington’s Best Society. Gates Ranch, Colby…”
Tales of Washington.” Obviously, she could have used the alternate word, “tails.”
”Curley Creek, Gates Ranch.” The ranch had plenty of ducks and chickens.
”Curley Creek, Gates Ranch.” This photo shows the terrain around the family farm.
”Rippling Waters. Curley Creek at foot of lane. Gates Ranch, Colby, Washington.” Another view of the footbridge and creek.
”Where Curley Creek Creeps, Gates Ranch.”
”After Dinner Meditations.” A litter of kittens on the Gates Ranch. One wonders how the cats co-existed with all the chicks.
Wildlife abounded, as this photo attests. A large bear apparently was captured and chained, and the locals were apparently training it or, at the very least, treating it like a pet. From the Jay Blackburn Collection.
This image of a woman posing with a fairly large tree shows some of the rudimentary tools used in preparing everyday firewood. From the Jay Blackburn Collection.
Even in the age of steam driven “donkey” engines (see the article on Curley Creek for a view of one) teams of horses were still essential for hauling timber. From the Jay Blackburn Collection.
The team of horses shown in the previous photograph are shown being harnessed by an unknown logger, probably about 1911-14. From the Jay Blackburn Collection.
Cattle were grown primarily for milk, but occasionally when one no longer produced milk it was slaughtered and shared. In the age before electricity and refrigeration, everyone in town was invited to partake. From the Jay Blackburn Collection.