The Sappho story

Posted by Ken Campbell April 9, 2010 0 Comment 680 views


In 1889, a man named Martin Van Buren Lamoreux left his home in St. John, Kansas, along with 8 of his children, his second wife, and 3 of her kids as well. Quite a cross-country trek it would have been before he ended up in the Pacific Northwest.

When he got to Seattle, Lamoreux briefly considered settling on the shore of Lake Union, but quickly decided that the land there was “worthless,” and so continued on to the Olympic Peninsula.His extended family boarded a coastal steamer and made their way to the Indian settlement at Pysht, then hacked their way through about 20 miles of rainforest to the spot they had chosen to make their claim.

Remember, these were Kansas people. I wonder what they thought about things like rainforests and steamers. And I wonder too, by what complicated system of assessment would waterfront on LakeUnion be of less worth than the place they ended up?

These days, Sappho is an unincorporated community that may seem more like a gas station and a wide spot in the road than a town. Much of the surrounding area has been aggressively logged and the people who once lived here have, most of them, left with the trees. There is beauty here as well, however, and if had one day to spend, I think I’d rather spend it in the hills around Sappho than in the crowded noise of LakeUnion… perhaps Lamoreux had a point.

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