Young President Narrowly Avoids Avian Assault

Theodore Roosevelt’s Parrots

President Theodore Roosevelt and his family were avid animal lovers. In their lifetimes they owned or were gifted many animals, from the exotic to the mundane. Falling somewhere in the middle of that scale are 2 parrots. (AKA Winged Demons)

One parrot was named Loretta, and was praised by Roosevelt for being both “sociable and intelligent.” She was also apparently a bit feisty as the Washington Post labelled her as “loud-mouthed.” Her vocalization was put to good use though and she could often be heard saying “Hurrah for Roosevelt!”

The other parrot is likely the macaw parrot, Eli Yale. Roosevelt found parrots to be fascinating birds, along with other wild life native to rain forests.

Little did he know just how dangerous they could be.

“Theodore Roosevelt Jr. With His Parrot “Eli Yale”

Emperor Norton Welcomes European Immigrants

Proclamation of Norton I, San Francisco Examiner, 8 November 1867, p.3. For the full page, click here. Source:

Labor Two-Pence Per Day, and Labor Two Dollars

Know all whom it may concern, that we, Norton I., Emperor, desire and do hereby command, having possession of lands on this continent both in North and South America, belonging to and owned by Joshua Norton of the Cape of Good Hope, or Norton I., Emperor, that they appropriate suitable amounts of money for relief of poor persons in Europe desiring to emigrate to this continent – more especially paying attention to the present reported distress in England and France; thereby relieving parties there to our own benefit.

Norton I

Biker Saves Miner

Biker Saves Miner

A Kittitas County miner lay in an Ellensburg, WA hospital with blood poisoning, and foul weather grounded aircraft that could bring a serum that might heal the man.

Instead, it was a Seattle motorcycle courier who made the run across Snoqualmie Pass in what was then record time to deliver the serum.

The story begins with Frank Walter Sagar who was working in gold mines in Liberty, WA.

Sagar was caught in a mine collapse on Nov. 4, 1929, which crushed his leg. In addition to the broken bones, he also developed a severe form of blood poisoning. Dr. William A. Taylor at Ellensburg General Hospital requested a serum to treat the poisoning from a Seattle pharmacy.

But heavy fog precluded getting the medicine to Ellensburg by air, and rail service would not get the serum there until at least the next day. Sagar, it was said, would not live that long without the treatment.

It was decided to have a courier deliver it by motorcycle.

Clifford Amsbury, a 25-year-old pharmacy messenger was given the assignment to get the medicine to Ellensburg that day. Bear in mind, this was in the days before the Interstate Highway System, which meant a longer trip on rougher roads than we’re used to today.

To aid him in his run, King County Sheriff Claude Bannick deputized Amsbury, giving him the legal authority to travel with all possible speed and not stop for anything, according to the Seattle Star. Bannick also called ahead to make sure authorities along Amsbury’s route would keep the road clear for him.

Amsbury was also given a state patrolman’s badge in case anyone tried to stop him.

Amsbury hit the road at noon and, with speeds reaching 70 mph, made it to Ellensburg in a record-setting two hours and 45 minutes.

Newspapers in Seattle and Ellensburg touted Amsbury as a hero. “It cannot take rank with the historic dog team dash to Nome with the diphtheria antitoxin, but it is unusual enough to attract attention,” the Seattle Daily Times noted.

Ellensburg newspapers reported days later that Sagar’s health was improving, both because of the medicine Amsbury delivered, as well as an amputation of Sagar’s leg.

Unfortunately, Sagar was eventually succumb to blood poisoning, on Nov. 20, and he was buried in 1930 — after the ground thawed.


A mid 1930's Indian Scout The Vintagent | Vintage motorcycle photos, Indian motorcycle, Vintage motorcycles

This is not Clifford Amsbury


Roslyn, WA Coal Mine Disaster

Worst coal-mine disaster in Washington history kills 45 miners at Roslyn on May 10, 1892.

At 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10, 1892, an explosion and fire killed 45 miners in the Northern Pacific Coal Company’s No. 1 mine at Roslyn, located in the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Central Washington. It will prove to be the worst coal-mine disaster in Washington state history.

Kittitas County Coal

In May 1886, surveyors from the Northern Pacific Railroad found coal deposits on railroad land east of its new station at Cle Elum. The railroad needed coal to fuel its locomotives as it worked to complete the line across the Cascades through Stampede Pass. Workers immediately began to construct a rail line from Cle Elum to the new settlement of Roslyn, along with houses and mine works.

In December 1886, the first coal was shipped out of the Roslyn No. 1 mine. Roslyn — named by Northern Pacific Vice President Logan M. Bullitt either for a town in Delaware, the birthplace of a sweetheart, or for a town in New York, the residence of a friend — grew to more than 1,200 residents including many immigrants and African Americans. Roslyn No. 1 mine was followed by three more Northern Pacific mines in the area.

Conditions in the Mine

By 1892, Roslyn No. 1 mine had expanded to seven levels and a depth of 2,700 feet below the town. Eleven furnaces burned around the clock to create drafts to ventilate the mine and disperse dangerous methane gas (called at the time firedamp). But the main airway did not extend below the fourth level. A passage cut into the slope below the fourth level provided some ventilation. Miners were in the process of connecting the airway from the fifth level to the sixth level and downward when the volatile gas detonated.

Mine officials started a recovery effort, but many miners were reluctant to go back down into the mine. The first day, workers removed 14 bodies. All 45 bodies were removed by Thursday afternoon. The victims were buried in local cemeteries, one for whites and one for African Americans. These coal-mine workers were some of the 50,000 coal miners killed on the job in the United States between 1870 and 1914.


Two committees, one of mine officials, one of miners, as well as a State Coal Mine Inspector, First District Coal Mine Inspector David Edmunds, launched investigations. The miners’ committee differed on the seat of the explosion. The company committee set the location at the airway being driven between the fifth and sixth levels and stated that the explosion was touched off by blasting powder used to break the rock. The State Inspector of Mines believed that the mining blast opened a crack to a pocket of gas and that a miner’s lamp on the slope side set off the explosion.

Most miners worked with the help of light from open flames attached to their hats. The miners on the airway side used gauze safety lamps. Coal itself contains methane and in a dusty mine an explosion immediately distills more gas from the coal dust, fueling the fire. Later coal mines were sprinkled with water to control dust, and later still they were rock-dusted (usually with powdered limestone), to dilute the highly combustible coal dust. Sprinkling or rock-dusting greatly reduces the danger of explosion and fire, but this was before that time.

At Roslyn No. 1, workers not killed by the explosion itself were quickly asphyxiated. The coroner’s jury established that “the death was cause by an explosion of gas caused by “deficient ventilation” (Inspector of Mines, 15).

The disaster created 29 widows and 91 orphans. Some families filed suit against the Northern Pacific Coal Co. The parties settled with $1,000 going to each widow except where there was a working age son and then the payment was $500.

The last Roslyn coal mine closed in 1962.

The Victims

The 45 killed miners were:

  • Joseph Bennett
  • Dominio Bianco
  • John Bowen
  • Thomas Brennan
  • George Brooks
  • Joseph Browitt
  • Henry Campbell
  • Tobias Cooper
  • Joseph Cusworth, Jr.
  • Joseph Cusworth, Sr.
  • Herman Daister
  • Phillip D. Davis
  • Andrew Erlandson
  • George Forsythe
  • Richard Forsythe
  • John Foster
  • Scott Giles
  • Robert Graham
  • William Hague
  • Mitchell Hale
  • Frank Haney
  • John Hodgson
  • Thomas Holmes
  • James Huston
  • Elisha Jackson
  • John Lafferty
  • J. D. Lewis
  • Preston Loving
  • John Mattias
  • Daniel McLellan
  • James Morgan
  • George Moses
  • Benjamin Ostliff
  • William Palmer
  • William Penhall
  • Leslie Pollard
  • David Rees
  • Thomas Rees
  • William Robinson
  • Mitchell Ronald
  • Robert Spotts
  • Winyard Steele
  • Jacob Weatherley
  • G. M. Williams
  • Sydney Wright


“Fifty Probably Killed,” The New York Times, May 11, 1892, p. 5; “The Dead at Roslyn Mine,” Ibid., May 12, 1892, p. 5; John C. Shideler, Coal Towns in the Cascades: A Centennial History of Roslyn and Cle Elum, Washington; (Spokane: Melior Publications, 1986); Annual Report of the Coal Mine Inspectors of the State of Washington, 1892, 1893, 1894 (Olympia: State of Washington, 1894), 8-16; Priscilla Long, Where the Sun Never Shines: A History of America’s Bloody Coal Industry (New York: Paragon House, 1989), 24-51.

Errant Airplanes



Flight of the Unmanned Aircraft

An exceptional event took place in 1949 when an unmanned aircraft took off from the Grays Army Airfield and landed near Ellensburg.

On February 14, 1949, Lieutenant Herbert A. Winters (1928-1995), a supply officer who needed time in the air to maintain his certification, checked out a light observation aircraft, a L-16A Aeronca, for his flight. A corporal in his office asked to come along. Corporal William G. Kaiser (b. 1926) would sit in the rear seat during the short flight. Winters and Kaiser boarded the plane with Winters setting the throttle at idle. He then stepped out of the plane to spin the propeller by hand. The engine started, he went to the door to board, and Corporal Kaiser, reaching forward to open the door, accidentally pushed the throttle forward to full open.  

The L-16 leaped forward and the tail struck Winters knocking him, uninjured, to the runway. Lt. Winters watched helpless as the plane taxied down the runway. In panic Cpl. Kaiser jumped out of the plane. The plane rose into the overcast. Soon, the pilotless aircraft was heard over American Lake and then Tacoma. Efforts to locate the plane failed, it was assumed to run out of gas after three hours and crashed.

The next day Bob Krouskop (1911-1986) found the wild plane in deep snow on his pasture one-and-one-half miles east of Kittitas (near Ellensburg, some 90 air miles from GAAF). The plane had crossed the Cascade Mountains without a pilot, and made a landing without major damage. A recovery team returned the plane on a truck. Following minor repairs the L-16A returned to service and one year later sent to Korea, where it functioned as a forward air control role.

Estimated Flight Path 

In Memoriam of the Ellensburg “H”

on April 5, 1894, An innocent “H” was struck from this earth.

ON WHAT is to be assumed As a BEAUTIFUL and windy Spring DAY,



Though valiant in heR efforts to defend her given name, ellensburgh fell that day.

the death blow, delivered by the postmaster, forever removed the “H” from Ellensburgh.

in her fire-kissed ashes the beautiful BOROUGH was born again as Ellensburg.

Mary Ellen shoudy’s contributions to this community are not unremembered. Her namesake, however spelled, proudly TREASURErs her memory.

WE will NEVER FORGET THE BRAVE H THAT was struck down in the name of beaucracy and the Time lost for the sake of EXPEDIENCY.

Whalebone Tree

Ellensburg’s Well Hung Tree

     You might call it a whale of a mystery, and it has plenty of folks in this central Washington town stumped. How did the jawbone of a titanic whale become embedded in an elm tree in the arid Kittitas Valley, 100 miles from the ocean? The bone forms a weathered gray arch from the tree trunk to the ground in the front yard of a house built as a parsonage in 1887. Some people, including whaling history experts, believe a sea captain once stayed in the house and displayed the jawbones of a catch in the front yard. Over time, the tree has enveloped a section of the bone.

     The whalebone tree briefly became a national curiosity in the late 1990s, when it was mentioned on Art Bell’s “Coast to Coast AM” syndicated radio show by Mel Waters, the namesake for “Mel’s Hole,” an alleged bottomless hole located somewhere in the mountains west of Ellensburg.  Waters explained to Bell that an old Basque had once told him that the whale bone was a marker left behind by Basque whalers. No explanation was provided, however, as to why Basque whalers would be wandering the streets of Ellensburg…

Mel’s Hole

Ellensburg’s Bottomless Pit

     The legend of the bottomless hole began in February of 1997, when a man identifying himself as Mel Waters appeared as a guest on Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell. Waters claimed that he owned rural property nine miles west of Ellensburg, Washington that contained a mysterious hole. According to Waters, the hole had an unknown depth of at least 80,000 feet. He claimed to have measured its depth using fishing line and a weight, although he still had not hit bottom by the time 80,000 feet of line had been used. He also claimed that his neighbor’s dead dog had been seen alive sometime after it was thrown into the hole. According to Waters, the hole’s magical properties prompted US federal agents to seize the land and fund his relocation to Australia.

     Waters made guest appearances on Bell’s show in 1997, 2000, and 2002. The exact location of the hole was unspecified, yet several people claimed to have seen it,  such as Gerald R. Osborne, who used the ceremonial name Red Elk, who described himself as an “intertribal medicine man…half-breed Native American / white”, and who told reporters in 2012 he visited the hole many times since 1961 and claimed the US government maintained a top secret base there where “alien activity” occurs. But in 2002, Osborne was unable to find the hole on an expedition of 30 people he was leading. This author also claims to know the exact location of Mel’s hole, it being just to the east of the Kittitas Valley Wind Farm near the Rock N’ Tomahawk Ranch.

     Mel's Hole


We are members of an Ancient and Honorable Order,


A Fraternal Organization, which, although ancient in origin, reached its peak during the Tumultuous Days of the Great California Gold Rush.

The latter-day members of this organization attempt to uphold these traditions of fellowship, good spirits, and fun. 

Like their fore-bearers, these modern Men are dedicated to the care and protection of the Widow and the Orphan.

Especially the widow.