By George Iman
(Secured by D. A. Brown for the Skamania County
"The first school that we went to was a log house someone
had built. It was called the Minter cabin. It did not have
any windows and only the ground for a floor. There were six
scholars: my brother, T. C. Iman, Henry Shepard, Ellen
Nelson, Mary Ann Nelson and Flora A. Iman. The teachers were
Stark and J. A. Bull. The schoolhouse stood near the Lyndes
planing mill. Mr. Nelson lived above Nelson Creek bridge and
the place has been called Nelson place ever since. The
Shepard family owned the donation claim where Stevenson now
stands. My father lived on the west side of Rock Creek near
what was once the Iman sawmill, and I remember when my
father felled a large tree across the creek to make a foot
bridge so we could cross on it going to school. It was near
the first bridge on Rock Creek built by John Brazee during
the early 70's. The foot bridge was constructed by holes
beings bored ever so f ar apart in the log, and standards
put in with rails on them to make it more safe. My father
then adzed it off until it was about two feet in width and
it made us a good foot bridge.
"My father was a skilled workman, and one who dared to
tackle most any kind of a structure. He built and owned the
third and fourth sawmills in this country. The first was
built just below the 20 foot falls on Rock Creek, near the
L. F. Iman place but was later carried away by a heavy flood
in the creek. It stood the heavy strain of the angry water
for about 24 hours, when it disappeared in the heavy
Columbia. At first the mill was what is known as a sash saw
mill and very much unlike the saw mills of today. The
carriage ran on slides that were kept well oiled and I dare
say, there are not many persons of today who have seen the
sash mill in operation.
"The next mill was first a water-power mill and was
driven by what is known as a center discharge wheel. it was
afterwards driven by what is known as the overshot wheel. It
was five feet on the face and twenty-nine feet in diameter.
At last the mill was driven by a steam engine of the
Houston, Stanwood and Gamble pattern.
"My father always had a large number of men employed
while operating the Mill., including the tie makers and wood
cutters. The logs were all taken to the mill by the old
fashioned ox teams.
"My father aided in the construction of the blockhouse at
the Upper Cascades, built in 1856. About that time there was
a village just this side of the cut where the blockhouse
stood. The name of it being called "Baghdad" at that time.
"The section house at the Cascade Locks was the John
Chipman house on theJohn Chipman donation land claim and was
built in 1855. It is a very good house now and an ancient
piece of carpentry.
"Roger G. Atwell a late pioneer, manufactured the first
matches in the early 50's. He lived Just across the river
from Stevenson. He and my father were partners in one of the
first passenger boats that plied the river from the Cascades
to The Dalles. The people called it the big float. It was
huge , it's beam being about 12 or 14 feet and it's length
about 40 feet. It was built of slabs, the edges of which
were made straight and sized down on the bark side to fit
the timbers, the sawed side out.
"Isaac H. Bush built a hospital near the blockhouse for
the benefit of the sick emigrants who crossed the pioneer
trail to help build our country.
"The first railroad at the Cascades ran near the I. H.
Bush house; its cars were drawn by mules. I have some of the
wood taken from it. It was built about 1850 or 1851. It was
owned by Bradford and Company.
"There was also a mule road on the Oregon side of the
river, owned by Colonel Ruckle. It extended from Cascade
Locks down to Eagle Creek.
"At the time those roads were in operation the first
steam craft came upon these waters to ply between the
Cascades and The Dalles. She was an iron hull boat about 50
feet long with a propeller. Her name was Allen. Her
Captain's name was Gladwell. She was wrecked on a bar near
Hood River. The next boat was the Mary and the third the
Wasco., built by my father during the year 1854.
"On one of the small islands known as the Sullivan
Islands, also called "Lower Memaloose Island" was once a
burying ground for the Indians. Their mode of putting away
the dead was to take them out to the Island and put them in
what was known as "dead houses". I well remember just how
this dead house looked as I have visited this island many
times. A hole dug in the ground, four or five feet deep and
the size on the ground they wished it to be. They then put
some pieces on the ground around the top of the basement.,
afterwards building a house with walls and roof.
"They would take the "Memaloosed" party down in the
basement and put it next to the wall; then stack them as
they died., one on top of the other, till the house was
filled. The boxes used for burial were of most any length;
it mattered not what the size of the person might be. The
boxes were covered with most any kind of calico so long as
it had red in the color. All of their belongings were put in
with them. Another mode of burial was to put the corpses up
into trees on shelves, also hang them by the neck to pins or
beams in a house. Those who were hanged for participating in
the war of 1856 were buried on the river bottom. Most all of
the trees they were hanged on were washed away by the high
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To the Americas
Columbia River Gorge