Snowline History



From the Snowline Historical Committee. . .


Our Snowline Lodge was placed on the Washington State Registry of Historic Places in November of 1988. We began the process for consideration of State or National status in 198? and we are very pleased with the results. This honor recognizes the importance of the Snowline Lodge in the history of Washington State but does not restrict us in any way from making changes. It also does not become a public site but retains our private position. National Registry was not granted because of necessary additions, which have kept it a vital, useful building in modern times. We can reapply for that recognition in a few years if we wish.

Properties locally with National Historic status are the Glacier Ranger Station and the Nooksack Falls Power Plant. Others that might qualify are Graham's Store and the 1900 era summer cottage of Jean Clough on the hillock across from Graham's.

We want to thank members of the Snowline Board for their support and cooperation over four years. We also thank Doug Hamilton, Tom Fuller, Donna Edgett, Rhonda Nolan and Andy Anderson for their help in securing this honor. Our appreciation is also extended to former owners and residents of Glacier: Newton Baker, Sharkey Leavitt, Charlotte Bourn Kvisted, Dolly Brown, Jan Eskola, and Glen Traylor for graciously sharing information with us. Also, special thanks to Leonard Garfield from the State Office of Historic Preservation for his enthusiasm and encouragement, and admiration of the Lodge and its history.

Our research revealed some interesting facts. The Snowline property was deeded to the Sampson family in 1907 by the Federal Government as part of the Homestead Act that encouraged settlement of virgin land.

The Sampson's daughter Nellie sold the property to her sister-in-law, Mrs. Hinton, in 1947. Mrs. Hinton sold it to Newton Baker in 1953 for $20,000. Newt sold to Sharkey Leavitt in 1959 for $48,000, and Sharkey (as "Jongsma and Leavitt") sold to Griffin Brothers in 1968 for $120,000. Your estimate of the current value of our 290 lots, 180 cabins, and our community property is as good as ours! An item of interest is that Oliver Lynn, a coal miner and father-in-law of country singer Loretta Lynn, helped Newton Baker repair the building and was responsible for much of the excavation of the basement. The digging was actually started with a tablespoon!

We are reprinting our application for your interest. This covers the History of Snowline up to 1968. The Sampson Cabin is a significant example of early 20th century log construction in eastern Whatcom County, Washington and an important surviving remnant of the early years of travel and tourism along the route to Mount Baker. Built In 1917, the cabin was a favorite stopping place for visitors to the mountain, arriving first by railroad and later by automobile. It is the only surviving example of the inns, restaurants, and hostelries in the Glacier area built during the period.

The community of Glacier was a small settlement at the edge of the Mount Baker forest, a service center for the remote logging, mining, and agricultural districts in the vicinity. Although settlers were few, and transportation difficult in the Mountainous terrain, the area began to attract an increasing number of outdoors enthusiasts and tourists at the turn of the century lured by the recreational opportunities of the Mount Baker vicinity.

The growth in tourism directly reflected the growth of roads and improvements in transportation. Aware of that connection, Glacier residents and others began to promote a trans-mountain road through the region, and in the 1890s the state legislature appropriated monies for the Cascade State Wagon Road. In 1904, the Bellingham Bay and British Columbia Railroad terminated at Glacier, bringing more travelers. In 1912, the township of Glacier voted a special bond to assist in the construction of a trail up Glacier Creek to Heliotrope Ridge. But the most important stimulus to tourism came in 1923, when the Mount Baker Highway was opened, making the once-remote area accessible to the motoring public.

Harry and Haney Sampson first settled on their land east of Glacier in the early 20th century, establishing a small subsistence farm in the forested area. In 1906, the federal government awarded deeds to squatters within the forest, and the following year the Sampson family built a house on the site. But within the decade, the house was destroyed by fire, and in 1917, the Sampson family rebuilt in log and frame. The family also donated five acres of their land for use as a community cemetery.

The new house was considerably larger than the first, and provided ample living and dining areas on the first floor. Its proximity to Glacier and its location along the main road to the mountains, made the house an ideal site to food and accommodate travelers to -the region. The Sampsons specialized in chicken dinners, made with fresh ingredients raised on the farm and served family style at their large table in the kitchen. The family also rented bedrooms for overnight guests. Their hospitality was well known, and the Sampson Chicken House (as the guesthouse came to be known) was a popular spot for travelers as late as the 1940s, with Nancy's daughter Nellie in charge of the kitchen.

Although the Sampson ranch was not the only or the largest guest house on the road to Mount Baker, it is the only one that survives in the Glacier area. Other inns built at about the same time included the Dearborn Lodge, built for a hiking club in the early 1900s, which burned in the 1950s; the Mount Baker Inn at Glacier, which burned in 1950; the Nabob Inn, with dormitory style rooms and steak dinners, which burned in 1950; and the Glacier House, an old school converted to an inn in the 1940s, which burned in the 1960s. Even the celebrated Mount Baker Lodge, opened on the mountain in 1927, burned in 1931.

In 1953, the Sampson family sold the house to Newton Baker who operated it as Church Mountain Lodge. It was sold again in 1964, and finally purchased in 1969 by the Griffin Brothers, who developed the property as a residential community, with the Sampson Cabin serving as an Office for the development.

Log construction, in the foothills of the Cascades was a common form of construction through the early 20th century. Because homesteads in this remote area were not large, and often not long-lived, few substantial frame house were constructed. Instead, the typical house was log and, according to a survey of early residences in the area, the Sampson house was one of the largest. Some alterations to the building have been made, with the addition of a small side wing and carport, although the use of materials has remained the same. The property remains in a forested location, although summer homes have been built on the surrounding land.

Located one mile east of Glacier on the Mount Baker Highway, the Sampson Cabin is a two story house, built in 1917, near the base of Church Mountain on the western slope of the North Cascades. The cabin is constructed of rounded logs on the lower story, a timber frame with cedar shingles on the upper story, and a steeply pitched side gable roof. Shed roof dormers project from each slope of the gable, and a full width porch spans the facade. Surrounded by the Mount Baker forest and the North Cascade mountains, the cabin retains much of its original historical character, although it now sits in the center of a private residential community and serves as the office and residence of the community manager.

The Sampson cabin measures approximately 45 feet by 45 feet. The walls of the first story are constructed of cedar logs, peeled and left rounded, and joined at the corners with saddle notches. The interstices between the logs are filled with mortar chinking, covered with plaster. The upper floor is frame construction, sided with cedar shingles. The roof eaves have exposed rafter tails, are trimmed with plain fascia boards, and are underscored by brackets. The roof has been reshingled several times since the original construction.

The front (south) facade of the cabin is symmetrically oriented with a central, single-leaf plank door, and paired double hung wood sash windows, with one-over-one lights, to either side. The front porch is composed of cedar posts with a cedar railing. The dormer window on the front facade 13 lighted by four double hung, one-over-one, wood sash windows.

The west side of the cabin has two oblong wood sash windows on the lower story, two double hung. twoover-two, wood sash windows On the second story, and a wood frame attic window in the upper gable end.

Original fenestration on the east side is obscured because of the addition of a gabled log annex constructed in the 1960s to serve as a dressing room. The addition is recessed from the front facade and harmonizes with the original construction. In 1984, a low, gabled log carport was constructed along the east side. The rear (north) elevation features a shed roof extension, faced in cedar boards and battens and resting on a log foundation. The shed was enclosed sometime shortly after the original construction, and is lighted by large wood frame window. The shed roof dormer which projects from the rear slope of the main gable is lighted by one-over-one wood sash windows. A central chimney rises from the center of the cottage near the gable ridge.

The interior of the cabin features a full width living area inside the front door, with a kitchen and other rooms to the rear. The rounded log walls are exposed in the living hall, and the hall is dominated by a large limestone fireplace and hearth. A stairwell in the eastern corner or the living room leads to the five second floor bathrooms and to two bedrooms on the attic level. Flooring throughout the house is fir tongue and groove (now covered with carpeting and vinyl on the lower level).

A split rail fence encircles the house, but no other historic structures from the Sampson homestead survive, and the house is now situated near modern houses, with a community swimming pool and tennis court in the rear. Nonetheless, the dense forests and steep mountains continue to provide a backdrop for the log cabin.

The Sampson Ranch in Glacier, Washington was entered in the Washington State Register of Historic Places on November 18, 1988.