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Geographical Index > United States > Washington > Snohomish County > Article # 235

Media Article # 235
Article submitted by Richard Noll


Sunday, October 15, 1911

Tells of early days on Sound, F. W. Brown records thrilling experiences in the Northwest....

By Brown F. W.
The Tacoma Daily Ledger


Among the men whose work of a half century ago has gone on gathering impetus, non had a more interesting record that F. W. Brown of Tacoma, who in 1867 began surveying the tangled passes of the Northwest wilderness as a member of the United State Geodetic Survey.....

We left the Saulk river and the Saulk Indians on the 29th of June and followed up the Suiatle River, an eastern branch of the Saulk, twenty miles to the Suiatle Canyon, a curious rift in the volcanic rock not more than 100 feet wide where the river flows between perpendicular walls of black ancient lava near 1,000 feet high and in many places the rock cliffs among the ice fields several thousand feet higher were plainly in view.

Here we mt a party of three Indians and their squaws who had been spearing salmon. They reported to us that they had seen tracks in the sand of the "stetas" and were afraid to go farther and so returned to be in the company with us, as they thought we could kill the "stetats," as we carried good guns.

The "stetats" are fabled monsters in human form supposed to live in any dark canyon in the high mountains. The Indians are so afraid of them that they scarcely ever go alone far into the dark canyons.

They often told us many gruesome stories of how Indian women and children had gone out to pick berries and never returned, and they say they have formed a party to hunt for the lost friends only to find where they were devoured. With the Saulk tribe it is the "statats" with the tribes near Mount Rainier and Boisfort Peak of the south coast range, the name of the monster is Skookum Quash, or in English, Strong terror."

The early white settlers know of instances where white men and children have been killed ad eaten by cougars, panthers and grizzly bears and these animals are proverbial responsible for the Indian belief in monsters.

Tells of Bears.

Two Indians and women who came down from the dark canyon afraid of the monsters returned with us in the morning, July 3 with confidence that we could conquer the monsters. Soon we were in the canyon with perpendicular black walls nearly 1,000 feet high and in places only a narrow strip of sky far above.

Crossing the steam constantly to avoid the perpendicular sides in the dark twilight our progress was very slow. At length day light was seen up the stream and we were past one part of the canyon. By climbing a steep slope 150 feet we were standing on a level bench with the river in a deep gorge cutting the bench in two on which myriads of huckleberries were thickly growing.

Across the stream some 200 feet from us were two monster silver tip grizzly bears so busy picking berries that they had not seen us. They were beautiful animals and so massive, and powerful that we enjoyed watching them some time.

I told Whowatkan that these bears were two of his "stetats," or monsters, the tracks of which the Indians had seen when coming down the river.

The sliver tip grizzly bears are as large as the grizzly of California, but of different and more handsome form. They are vegetarians and have been seldom known to attack men or animal. The coat of hair is dark and very heavy with many coarse hairs one inch longer than the fine hair and the tips of the coarse hairs are white, hence the name silver tip bear.

The bald faced grizzly, the black bear, the woolly bear are all of the species of bear that live in the Cascade mountains.


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