This Month in Edmonds History: Edmonds’ last shingle mill closes

    Quality Shingle Mill, previously "Big Swede," in 1947.

    My Edmonds News is proud to present a monthly look at Edmonds history, straight from the archives of the Edmonds Historical Museum. For the month of June, we’ll revisit 1951.

    June 1, 1951 marked the end of an era in Edmonds. It was the day Quality Shingle Mill closed its doors, extinguishing the last of the smokestacks that had been a symbol of Edmonds’ waterfront industry for more than 60 years.

    Early pioneers took advantage of the abundance of trees surrounding Edmonds in the late 1800s. Logging camps and mills were an essential industry before the town was even officially founded. Trees were cut and hauled out by teams of oxen and horses and then pulled to the waterfront on logging roads or skid roads. In 1889, pioneer George Brackett opened the first saw mill and leased it to Owen and Fish. Others soon followed, and by 1909 — just 20 years after the city was incorporated — the Edmonds Tribune reported that 12 manufacturing plants, including 10 mills were running at full capacity, and most of them were manufacturing shingles. In all, they represented $2.2 million invested capital.

    Edmonds’ last remaining mill, Quality Shingle Mill, had a long history on the waterfront. Built in 1907, the “Big Swede” mill was sold to C.L. Wiley and Son a year later, and in 1913 the mill was purchased by two Everett shingle-weavers and named the Quality Shingle Mill. That July, it shipped 60,000 shingles to Alaska. In 1921, the mill was destroyed by fire, but was rebuilt and reopened six months later.

    Only five shingle mills were operating by 1923, and although lumber supplies decreased with every passing year, the shingle industry remained the main source of local income in Edmonds throughout the 1920s.

    Throughout the years, fire and decreasing inventory led to the demise of many mills in Edmonds.  By 1950, only one smokestack could be seen along the waterfront.  Quality Shingle Mill extinguished its last fire on June 1, 1951, officially ending the shingle era in Edmonds.

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