The Columbia River and Pateros
The Columbia River (French: fleuve Columbia) is a river situated in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest of the United States. It is the largest river in volume flowing into the Pacific Ocean from the Western Hemisphere, and is the fourth largest by volume in North America behind the Mississippi, the St Lawrence, and the Mackenzie rivers. In rare years, the river's flow may actually exceed that of the Mississippi. The mean total flow is 262,000 ft3/s (7400 m3/s). It is the largest hydroelectric power producing river in North America. From its headwaters to the Pacific Ocean it flows 1,232 miles (2,044 km), and drains 258,000 square miles (415,211 km²). Because of it large water volume, it has the nickname 'the Mighty Columbia.'
Our story starts somewhere around 1885….
Lee Ives and Charles Mansur travelled by horseback and pack horses up from the small store known as Wenatchee. Lee had been living in Ellensburgh and had been through this area before. He had bought 160 acres in Ellensburg for $100 and sold it for $600, making a nice profit. He believed that the mouth of the Methow on the Columbia would be a good place to buy stock and hides. His first home was built of wood caught from the Columbia River. That year he built 3 buildings in all. Two log cabins about 8 feet apart connected only by their roof. This became the first road house with a small store on the banks of the Columbia River. It would be referred to as Ives Landing. He brought his wife, Rena Ives up in 1886. Her health had suffered back in Kansas, so the fresh air and climate here were perfect. Their nearest white neighbors at the time were Mansur, Alec Watson, north of him and W.R. Pasley who lived across the Columbia River. (Pasley, and a man named Smith are believed to be the first orchardists in the area.) Other neighbors included Indians living in about 50 teepees across the Methow River and about 20 Chinese placer miners.
The Miners discovered gold a few miles south of town, years earlier. They built a ditch about nine miles long that stretched up the west side of the Methow. This they used to channel much needed water for their sluice boxes. They made homes in dugouts in the hillside. They would build a fireplace at one end and a bunk along the side. There was usually plenty of wood floating in the river and with this they would roof it over and then pile on grass and dirt. These hard working men left the area around the turn of the century, but their ditch remained. It became part of the Irrigation District and was maintained and used for close to 80 years!
Lee bought furs from the Indians and trappers, while Rena tended the hotel. The second year they were here, Lee bought $24,000 worth of furs, principally beaver, otter, bear, and deer. Twice a year he hauled these to Spokane in a wagon, then shipped them to St. Louis. He would refresh his supplies by pack train from Ellensburg.
The community was growing. Miners, trappers, and cattlemen told others of the beauty of area, and how the land was covered in wildflowers and bunch grass. There was lots of wild game as well as fish. In 1888 the area was made available for homesteaders. A person could get160 acres for very little. Most of the land on the west side of the country was spoken for already, so people were coming in from the West too!
Around 1888-89 the sternwheelers started running the river from Wenatchee to Bridgeport on a fairly regular schedule, the first coming all the way up from Pasco. It was called the City of Ellensburg. Two or three trips a week brought people from all over the world. It was an exciting time for everyone when they heard the whistle blow and could see the mighty boats coming up river!
In 1889, the snow came early and was exceptionally deep. Stock died because no hay had been put up as previous winters had been mild and open with grass obtainable all winter long. This was a tough lesson to learn.
In those early days the work was hard. Long hours were common and everyone, including the kids had chores and work to do. Neighbors traveled miles back and forth to help build cabins or dugouts, work the harvests, and share whatever they had. Money was tight so bartering was common and the way many things were purchased. They were very dependent on one another. The local Indians in the area were also very friendly and helpful.
Knight K. Parker showed up about this time and homesteaded next to the Ives. He was a salesman for an eastern nursery company. His home was built of cut lumber and had the only shade trees in town. He would later build an irrigation ditch that would run down the east side of the Methow River to Pateros. His son, Russell Parker was the first white child born here. His 3 year old daughter, Ella, unfortunately would be the first death in the community.
The large mountain that overlooked the town site was once called Mt. Rena, after Rena Ives. On the 4th of July, 1890, Lee Ives and Judge Chase climbed the mountain and erected a U.S. flag on the top. This remained for several years until the wind finally whipped it to pieces and the pole disappeared too. The name didn’t last long, and somehow the name was changed to “Billy” Goat Mountain.
The spring of 1894 stayed late. Then the snows melted rapidly and there was a great flood. Many lives along with homes were lost. In the Ives Landing area, only the homes built on the hills were saved. Some reported the river to be as much as 70 feet above low water mark. Almost anything could be seen floating down the river at this time including entire houses, wagons, boats, barrels and even a haystack with a crowing rooster on top! As the waters started to recede, the stern-wheelers were able to go farther into the Methow taking advantage of the high water, delivering their freight along the banks.
The water came into the Ives’ log cabin. They put up a tent and board shelter on higher ground, for several weeks to feed the traveling public. It was after the flood, that the Ives Hotel was built with wood brought in from Everett. It was a majestic building with lots of rooms and a large dining room. Travelers were always welcome to a hot meal or a place to sleep at the hotel, whether they had the means to pay or not, and Rena Ives was gaining a reputation for her wonderful hot meals.
That was also the year of the crickets. They were basically eating every green thing! Kids and hired help dug ditches around the crops, 17 inches deep and 15 inches wide with sides that sloped out at the bottom. Every 10 or 15 feet they would dig a deeper hole for the ditches to empty into. The crickets would not jump the ditch but fall in and would eat each other as they were so hungry. Rena Ives fed them to her chickens. In places the crickets were so thick that the wagon wheels became wet and muddy when passing over them. Within a year or so they mysteriously disappeared.
The post office was established December 7th, 1895 and was briefly called NERA, probably a misspelling of Rena Ives name. It was then changed to IVES April 27th, 1896 and finally PATEROS June 21, 1900. Previous to this, mail went to Waterville, and could easily take three weeks to a month to get to the right person. Inland it still travelled by horseback or wagon. With the advent of the sternwheelers, mail could go out several times weekly until the river froze.
Locally, horseback was the main mode of transportation at this time. If you needed to get across the river, before the bridge was built, you usually swam the horses across. Wagons could travel on the ferry east of town at Central Ferry Canyon (half way between Pateros and Virginia City later called Brewster). This was the way to Bridgeport or Waterville before the sternwheelers. The Indians had 2 large canoes, 35 feet long and 2 ½ feet wide. Each manned with two men with paddles. To get the wagons across, two wheels were put in each of the canoes, and they crossed the Methow River this way.
The only way to get heavy loads to the area were by sternwheeler or up through Waterville and down Central Ferry Canyon. From Wenatchee there were few roads. They had large rocks (boulders) or deep sand, and followed canyons or ridges and were virtually impassable in a wagon. The ships ran the Columbia two or three times a week until ice stopped them in the winter months. The trip from Wenatchee to Pateros travelled through several rapids and the boats would have to be hand lined up through them. This could take several hours at each one, making the 60 mile trip well over 18 hours some days.
Around 1900 things in this little community of Ives Landing really started to take off. There were some real visionaries in control of the community, and they had great big plans!
In 1899-1900, a Spanish-American War veteran that had served in the Philippines named Charles Ed Nosler came to Pateros with his family and single sister, Ella Nosler. (Charles was interested in mining, was an attorney and notary public. He represented his sister in most of her legal matters). We know very little about Ella.
About this time, Lee Ives sold Charles Nosler the homestead land for $8,000. Charles renamed the community PATEROS (pronounced Pu-TARE-us) after a village he had known in the Philippines. The name is derived from the word “PATO”, the duck that lays the eggs for balut making, and “SAPATERO” meaning shoemakers, both the main industries in the Philippine Pateros. A few old timers objected to the name change at first, but it fit well and stuck.
We are not sure how she did it but Ella Nosler acquired most of the downtown area including the Hotel Plaza (where the Ives Landing Hotel sat) and 76 lots, equal to about 3 acres in size. We don’t know if Charles gave her a section of it or how she got it, but we do know on July 23, 1900 Ella had it recorded and platted as a town site. She dedicated the streets and alleys to the public. On June 25th, 1900, Ella took out a loan on this property for $1850 through the Pennsylvania Mortgage Investment Company.
Still not done with all the wheeling and dealing, December 15, 1900, Ella Nosler sold the Hotel Plaza and remaining 76 lots (3 acres) back to Rena Ives for $2500, making a tidy profit in a short period of time! Again, we don’t know if Lee sold the property by accident, or had a change of heart.
Ives was doing very well with the Ives Hotel and makeshift store. But there was a stipulation in the deed between the women stating no intoxicating liquors could be sold on this property until the Town had at least two hundred inhabitants, be incorporated and have ample police protection. So the town was basically dry at this time.
In spite of this, PATEROS was growing and now had the Hotel, Methow Trading Co. store (owned by Guy Waring, a classmate of Theodore Roosevelt), a telephone office, livery stable, school, and 4 or 5 residences along the main street. All the stores were in a single row facing south along the river. Horses were tied up to hitching posts on the river side of the street. The road was fairly straight and ran well over a 1/4 mile up the Methow. This seemed too much of a temptation at times, and horse races were a fairly common occurrence, with the local Indians often involved.
The first telephone connection came in 1901 with the Pacific States Telephone Co. A public station was put in the hotel. The idea of being able to talk to someone miles away was unbelievably exciting!
Ella Nosler was not done with her dealings. In 1902 she deeded a right of way to the Methow Railway and Smelter. They had 2 years to do something with the land or lose the right of way. It appears they did not follow through with the railway.
Three years later, on June 1st, 1903, when PATEROS had grown to four commercial establishments and nine homes. Charles Nosler, complaining of marital problems, sold all of his holdings to C.J. Steiner for $1 and considerations. We don't know what the "considerations" were.
Christian Jensen Steiner was a lay preacher and real estate salesman. He realized Pateros would benefit if they could get water to irrigate. Christian and Knight Parker would be instrumental in the development of the Pateros Irrigation Ditch. C. J. Steiner became a leading citizen and vigorous promoter of the area. For many years Pateros ranked as the principal rail shipping point between Wenatchee and Oroville, largely because of his efforts.
C.J. Steiner deeded some land to the Pateros Water Ditch in 1905. This was to help irrigate the young orchards that were being planted. At that time the fruit were mostly peach and cherry with a few apples.
The city grew to about 400 people in the early 1900's. It had 3 saloons which didn't serve food, but often had a pot of beans on for travelers that were hungry as well as thirsty! There was a new drug store, a school building, and a barber shop in the hotel. There was even a real estate office to help handle the real estate boom taking place. There was now a wooden boardwalk connecting the businesses. This had to be patched every so often because a cow or horse would put their foot through it. The streets were dirt and sand.
In 1908 Rena Ives sold the Ives Hotel and lots to Knight K. Parker for $5,000. He later donated the bench above town to be made into the community cemetery. His young daughter, Ella, was one of the first to be buried there after chocking on a rivet.
In 1909 the town people voted to go dry and shut the three saloons down. The Methodist Church had been built and there was a regular three month session of school being held each year. This was fast becoming a civilized community and drunkenness was not to be entertained!
For amusement there was a lively community literary club and debating society. They held a sheet and pillow case dance at the hotel when it first opened, and many other dances after that. A ventriloquist toured this part of the country for years and would put a show on in the hotel dining room. The lake just out of town was to be named Alta Lake in honor of Mrs. Nosler’s sister, Alta Hines. It was a popular place for recreation. Many Sunday school and school picnics, as well as winter skating parties with roaring bonfires were held there.
By 1909, Charles T. Borg, an attorney from Nebraska and longtime friend of C. J. Steiner, had opened an office and started a promising career. The Village of Pateros had a solid bridge that crossed the Methow River. There was now a drug store, furniture and feed store, ice house, and soon even a theater. Hope was running high that a new irrigation ditch would be built. The Pateros Reporter was printing weekly newspapers, and the people of this community were ready for the next step.
On May 1st, 1913 PATEROS formally incorporated. Petition for the incorporation of the Village of PATEROS as a Municipal Corporation of the Fourth Class was signed by more than 60 qualified male voters. Notice of intent to incorporate was posted in the local weekly newspaper, The Pateros Reporter (A.R. Dodd). 71 voters cast their ballots and elected the first Mayor - Charles T. Borg, Treasurer - O.A. Johnson, and 5 Council Members - C.J. Steiner, H.A. Littlejohn, J.W. Mansfield, E.F. Johnson and W.V. Tukey. The name was changed to TOWN OF PATEROS. Paperwork was signed in Conconully, WA. The first council meeting was held on May 13, 1913 at the office of Charles Borg. George W. Snyder was appointed Clerk at this meeting.
As we had mentioned before, the sternwheelers were very instrumental in the settlement of the Pateros area. Before they came,the Okanogan had been described as being almost as inaccessible as the wilds of Africa. But if it hadn’t been for the miners in our area, the boats may not have come as early or at all! By the mid 1880’s the miners were desperate to get their heavy equipment and supplies into the Okanogan County. The Ellensburgh,Big Bend and Salmon Mines Transportation Company paid for the first sternwheeler to be built and the president of the company was one of the passengers aboard that first trip.
Captain W.P. Gray brought the first steamer, the City of Ellensburgh, up from Pasco, on July 26, 1888. This was an under powered ship, and not real big, 120 feet long, 22 foot beam and drew four feet when loaded. It could carry about 75 tons of cargo, but only hauled 45 ton and several passengers that maiden voyage. It took 2 days just to get through the Priest Rapids and still had the Entiat, Chelan, and Methow (below Pateros) rapids to go through. They finally struck bottom 6 miles up the Okanogan River. (Later Captain Gray’s brother, Captain Al Gray did the daily runs).
It was said that on that very first voyage, people along the river were so excited to see the boat that they came out to the river banks, waving hats, bonnets and firing guns and pistols! One woman was reported as standing on the bank with a shotgun firing and reloading as the sternwheeler went by!
In 1891 the Great Northern Railroad came into Wenatchee, and this then became the terminal for the upper Columbia shipping, as the Priest and Rock Island rapids were just too difficult to navigate. In 1892 the City of Ellensburgh was renovated at a cost of about $9,000. She could then handle all the rapids easily.
By the early 1900 they were plying the Columbia River regularly. There were several areas on the Columbia River between Wenatchee and Pateros were the river was very rough with rapids to navigate. This would require hand-lining to get them through. In low water approximately a mile down river from Pateros, it was necessary to do just that. Several ship hands would go ashore with a large rope, sometimes pulling the boat up river by hand when the short stretch of water was not too swift. When there was low swift water, the rope was taken ashore and threaded through a ring attached to a large boulder (there were three of these below Pateros). Other deckhands would use large bars inserted in the rim of the upright winch, and turn the drum of the winch by hand, thereby hauling the sternwheeler up river against the strong current. This could literally take hours to get the boats through the rapids.
Captain Alexander Griggs formed the Columbia and Okanogan Steamboat Company in 1893 and dominated the upper Columbia River traffic until the Great Northern Railroad was finally completed up the valley. Eventually there were a whole fleet of C. & O. steamers running back and forth. These steamers had names like the Selkirk (machinery originally from the City of Ellensburgh), Chelan, North Star, Gerome, Alexander Griggs, and the Enterprise.
The Enterprise was built to very rigid specifications for Frank Read and Charles Ostenberg. The two men owned the Alma Fouring Mills and needed a way to take their wheat to the mill. The Enterprise, when full had a draw of only about 12-14 inches, and was quite speedy compared to the others. In 1907 it was reported that this boat alone brought up eleven tons of canning jars in one trip. The housewives of the county were obviously planning on doing some major canning!
The Blue Star was used mainly to transport gasoline, dynamite, powder, acids and fireworks at the same time. This run usually only happened every few months, and was not done with any of the other boats. There were reports that on one occasion the boat was up against the rapids, so they were pitching wood and coal oil for several hours trying to hold the steam steady. The steamer caught fire from cinders and red hot smoke pipes several times and the heat became so intense that the glycerin oozed out of the dynamite and spread over the deck like molasses. They stayed with it as the only options were to lose steam and break up on the rapids, or take a chance and either blow up or steam up.
The sternwheelers used driftwood, coal oil and cut cord wood to fire the furnaces. But there is more than one account of the crew using lard, bacon slabs, or anything else that would burn rapidly when needed. A cord of wood sold for $3.50 in 1905.
The Charles Bureau was named after the Captain and builder of the boat. It was built of pine and tamarack, eighty feet in length and 18 feet wide, much on the style of a scow and propelled by a stern wheel. At 20 tons of cargo she could still navigate in only 14 inches of water. This earned her a nickname of “Mudhen.” The interesting part of her story is that Captain Bureau was illiterate. He reportedly could not read or write, but could build anything he set his mind to, including a sternwheeler.
Oh, and the restrooms on these vessels were just forward of the paddlewheel. It was an enclosed room and similar to a two-hole privy (outhouse with two seats), but instead of the pit below the seat, there was nothing but churning water, which splashed your undersides as you sat there. This might have been fine in the summer months, but as things cooled off it was less than favorable.
The sternwheeler, Bridgeport was actually built right in Pateros. It ran the river for a few years before dying a sad lonesome death right on the bank east of Pateros. Many of these boats crashed on the rapids, some sold, and a few burned at the dock after they were taken off the run.
The coming of the boat was always exciting, as it brought mail, cargo and passengers from all over. In Pateros, you could see the boat coming, but would sometimes wait hours as it worked its way through the rapids.
In 1912 the village of Pateros was on the verge of becoming an incorporated town. As such, a bank would be needed to help finance the growth of the community. Oscar Johnson, and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Borg organized the Methow Valley Bank of Pateros. It was capitalized originally at $10,000. Deposits at the end of the first year totaled $10,000, and by 1926 had grown to $150,000.
Getting water to drink and use in your home was a bit tricky at this time. The folks that lived in town would go down to the new bridge and lower pails one at a time to the river below by means of a rope and pulley. It was difficult getting them to fill in the swift current. A couple of entrepreneurs named LeCornu and Rogers, hauled water from the Methow by means of barrels placed on a “stone boat” hauled by horses. People paid 50 cents a barrel for the water.
Some people had an ice box in their home to keep items cold. Refrigerators had not come to this neck of the woods yet. Large chunks of ice were cut from the river bank and stored in a building cut into the ground. The ice would then be stored in sawdust, to use throughout the warmer months. There was an ice house in town that you could buy ice from when needed. But obviously, if you had your own ice house you would be money ahead. Eventually a new ice plant, the Columbia Ice Plant #4, was built across the river south of town. It had a machine that made big squares of ice all the same size. This saved lots of time and space. The ice was used in the box cars which hauled the fruit. This plant handled most of the cars going up river as well as down.
The Nixon-Kimmel Company installed a small water-powered electric generating plant a few miles up the Methow River from Pateros about 1913 or so. Electricity was available at 14 cents a kilo-watt. Small wattage light bulbs were used sparingly at such rates, but the area was fast becoming modernized.
The Great Northern Railroad came to Pateros with much fan fair in 1914. It had been built up from Wenatchee, and down from Oroville. There was a big dinner held to celebrate its completion. The meeting at Pateros was a moment of pride for this small community. Mayor John Hatch drove the golden spike in the crossing where the railroads met. On July 1st 1914, the first regularly scheduled trains traveled between Oroville and Wenatchee carrying freight, mail, and passengers. Once the railroad came to the area, the sternwheelers were basically no more. Thus ending one era, and beginning another.
Pateros now had businesses going up on two streets, and a business district was developing. The Pateros ferry just east of town was put in to help get people across the Columbia River to Dyer Hill. This was still an active route to Bridgeport, Waterville and further.
A drought hit the area around 1915-16 and lasted for eleven years. Average yearly precipitation dropped to about 5 inches a year. The Pateros Irrigation Ditch that ran from the Methow down through the back side of the town was owned by William Sexsmith, who furnished water to the land owners for $100 an acre with a maintenance fee of $2.50 an acre for the irrigation season. There would eventually be several irrigation districts up and down the valleys, as the orchard industry started to grow and water became more precious.
W. R. Pasley won prizes for his apples back in 1903, at the Spokane Interstate Fair and Idaho State Fair in Lewiston, proving that quality apples could be grown here. The apple varieties planted in those days were mainly Winesaps, Jonathons, and Spitzenbergs, as they needed to be good “keepers”. Sometimes, in the early years, the crops could not be shipped out until the spring when the boats could get up river, so they had to keep over the winter.
Packing and sorting the apples was a family affair involving the whole family, including the children, as it didn’t take long for the farmer to learn that it was quality not quantity that made money. Small farms started building storage and packing sheds right on their property. By 1913 there was an estimated 1 million fruit trees planted in Okanogan County, and a reputation for quality fruit was being established.
The bumper crop of apples in 1915, as all these trees came to maturity, was a new nightmare growers were faced with. How did they keep all this fruit as it waited to be shipped? Pateros, as well as all the other communities along the rail lines were forced to ship hay bales in to construct short term apple storage, hoping to save the crop from freezing. Many growers unfortunately did lose fruit to freezing. This prompted the formation of the Co-ops, which started to build storage warehouses for this ever growing crop.
The problem of fruit that had traveled over bad roads and bruised was also to be dealt with, thus the formation of road associations. Again, the grass root efforts of the local farmer wanting to get his product to market helped create the roads in our county. These were basic dirt roads, but they were a lot better than the wagon rutted trails they had been using.
Kinder and Fox of Bridgeport secured the contract for building a road through the area south of Pateros in 1915. This area was heavily strewn with immense boulders. Much drilling and blasting of the boulders was necessary. Several wagon teams of horses were used in hauling dirt and gravel. The wagons were filled by a gang of men hand shoveling, to build the grade up over the broken rocks. Water boys were used to haul water up from the Columbia River about ¼ of a mile. They used a shoulder “yoke” with a 5 gallon coal oil pail suspended by a wire at each end. They would carry the water to the dipper equipped pails at various points along the half mile right of way where the men were working. Wages were about 25 cents an hour.
By the 1950's, Pateros had about 850 residents. The main street boasted more than forty businesses that included two grocery stores, Elgin Yeager's Barber Shop, a hardware store, the Pateros Theater, a furnature store, and two lumber yards, Brownson and Wagner. There were several service stations, Meadow's Electric and Ola Robbin's Dry Good Store (with the creaky wooden floor). Residents had three choices for dining, The Billingsley and Robinson's Cafe's along with Wagg's Cafe', which in the 1940's was the town bus stop. Dr. Harold Stout had his office in Pateros and there was Doyle's, where teens met to hangout or play pool. There were two churches, the Methodist and the Church of Christ. Also a liquor store that was established in the early 1950's after much concern by the church folks in town. There was a large railroad yard and a boxcar repair shop in town.Near the main street were two oil distributors, Chevron and Union Oil. The town streets were lined with large shade trees making the town very inviting after a hot trip up from Wenatchee. Several apple sheds were located on both sides of the main highway, with bridges over the roadway that transported apple boxes from one shed to the other.
SCHOOLS ARE THE CENTER OF COMMUNITY LIFE IN RURAL AREAS AND THE PATEROS AREA HAS HAD 17 OF THEM!
In the early 1890's when Tacoma and Seattle were building multi-story brick schools with indoor plumbing and electric lights, Pateros patrons were looking for a log cabin in which to teach newly arrived settlers' children. As recalled by Eudora Adams Miller, the first school district in the Pateros area was formed in 1891. ( Her brother Arthur remembers a later date, around 1895.)
There had been earlier attempts to establish a school but there was a lack of funding. According to U. E. Fries state law required that no state or county money could be used until settlers themselves had supported a school for three months.
The first school met in the Adams upstairs bedroom and was taught by Miss Grace Nixon. Eudora Adams recalled that during the first term there were about a dozen pupils, most of them Adams cousins and an Indian or two. Miss Nellie Galarno then taught in a small frame building (described by some as a little board shack) on Paslay Flat back of Pateros. Pateros children and those from the Watson Settlement attended.
Ed Jennes remembered a very young Nellie riding her saddle pony from Ives Landing to teach at the Hatch School near Alta Lake. After watching her get bucked off he and the Hatch boys saddled other ponies and took her back to the Ives Hotel where she lived. (When telephones came to the area Miss Garlarno switched from teaching to switchboard operator.)
About 1896 a log structure was built by parents to accommodate both Watson Settlement and Ives Landing children. The Log School was used for about four years. Then school was held for a year in a log cabin across the Methow River from Pateros and taught by Nellie Weldy Sexsmith. It was followed by a house in Pateros being "fixed up" for classrooms. Many of the children had to come several miles walking or on horseback. So besides making room for students, shelter needed to be provided for horses. Summer work and winter weather led to a limited schedule of three months in the fall and again in the spring.
Around 1900 the school directors built a two-story school in Pateros. According to Ed Jennes it was the largest building in the county. Lumber sold from the Hatch sawmill in which Jennes had an interest was usually sold for $10 per thousand but schools and churches were charged $9/thousand. After 1916 that building was occupied as the IOOF hall.
Leslie Viancour who attended school in Pateros with the Jess brothers and Lee Cooper remembers that ninth grade was started in 1908. He also said that it was difficult to keep women school teachers because they married the "old" thirty-year-old bachelors after a year or two.
Schools were used for community activities including box socials, dances, the literary society, pot luck dinners, Sunday School, traveling shows and a fine violinist, Miss Lulu Sinclair. Although it was learned that it was illegal to permit dances in the schoolhouse, they continued without interference from higher authorities.
When the two-story school became crowded a second building on Main Street was purchased
for primary grades. Students wanting a high school diploma had to leave the area for their junior and senior years, some going as far away as Spokane and Seattle.
Harold Keeler, a student in 1912-13, wrote in 1966 that superintendent M J Clapp lived in a tent with a board floor. He reportedly dug a basement under his tent where he attempted to raise baby chicks. Mr. Clapp served only one year. Another administrator remembered by Mr. Keeler was Clarence Manke who was an accomplished musician and organized a band which performed around the area. In order to buy an instrument, Keeler secured a job driving team for Frank Spaulding, who was running the Wright orchard near Central Ferry in Douglas County. Wages were $30/month plus board. Up at 6 a.m., he caught the horses from a pasture a half mile away, brought them to the stable, fed and harnessed them. After breakfast he hitched them up and went to work mostly cultivating a new orchard. About 6 p.m.he would unharness the horses, feed them and report to the house for supper where he ate everything put in front of him. Then it was time to take the horses back to pasture and go to bed. On Saturday nights he would borrow a row boat and drift down the Columbia 3 1/2 miles to spend a day with his parents. Sunday evening he rowed against the current to get back to the Wright orchard. All this so he could buy a baritone horn and be part of the band! Instruments were purchased from Mr. Manke's brother who had a store in Bridgeport.
In 1916 Pateros patrons voted to build the brick and tile building a portion of which is still in use today. The building had no central heating for the first two or three years and no indoor plumbing until 1920. Some students had to be shown how to use the flush toilets which replaced the outdoor 3-holer that was in use.
The first class to graduate was a class of one, Louella Moore, in 1920.
In 1922 Miss Pauline Neander, school nurse, found a number of students with throat problems. The school auditorium was converted to a temporary surgery and specialist Dr. E J Widby of Wenatchee was engaged to bring equipment and come to Pateros. He performed treatment of 26 tonsil and adenoids patients at great savings to the parents.
In the 1930's and 40's additions were made to the building including a gym, library and study hall above the gym, additional classroms and a cafeteria. Separate buildings have been added for music, woodshop, ag, and bus garage. With the influx of students from the construction of Wells Dam, an elementary wing was added in1963-64. In 1981-82 major remodel occurred retaining a small portion of the original 1916 building.
There are people in the community today who attended grade school in one of many outlying schools which were consolidated with the Pateros District. Those included Watson Draw, the Hatch school at Alta Lake, Brown school on French Creek, Gold Creek and two Methow schools. The Methow School is used today as a center for community activity - Tuesday morning coffees, pot luck dinners, Pateros School board meetings and other informational and informal gatherings.
Life in the Watson School is described by Betty Shaw Brownlee. In 1912, about the same time the second primary building was acquired in Pateros, a school was built on land donated by pioneer Alex Watson and the Watson School District No. 38 was established. The building was the pride of the Watson Draw community. There was a desk for each pupil, good light from tall windows, blackboards, a cloakroom, book storage/library, entrance with water pail and dipper with water brought from a quarter mile away. A shed was built for the horses for students lucky enough to ride to school. Outdoor games at recesses included ball games with homemade balls, hide and seek, anti-I-over, Fox and Goose, coasting on the county road and skating on the icy meadow in your overshoes. The city kids in their big brick buildings didn't know what they were missing.