Cle Elum is incorporated on February 24, 1902.

  • By Jim Kershner
  • Posted 10/11/2013
  • Essay 10647
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On February 24, 1902, the town of Cle Elum in Kittitas County is incorporated. The citizens of the mining-and-railroad town had taken to the polls on February 12, 1902, to vote on whether to incorporate as a municipal corporation of the fourth class. The Kittitas County Board of Commissioners certifies the vote on February 17, 1902. The county certification notes that 145 people voted and that "the majority of the votes cast at said election were for incorporation" (although it fails to note the exact count of the vote). Two years later, residents will vote again, to advance to a city of the third class, available to places with populations above 1,500.  

Incorporation and Growth 

The town was first established in 1883, but had not begun to thrive until coal was discovered in nearby Roslyn in 1884 and the Northern Pacific railroad arrived in 1886. By 1902, coal had been discovered right in Cle Elum itself, and the town was booming. The future looked bright and incorporation seemed to be the next logical step.

During the incorporation election, one of the town's founders, Thomas L. Gamble (1827-1907), was elected Cle Elum's first mayor. Voters also elected the first town council, consisting of M. C. Miller, Robert Thomas, Elijah Kermeen, D. B. Burcham, and Maro P. Kay. Alonzo Emerson was elected the first treasurer. After the county commissioners certified the vote, the Secretary of State made the incorporation official on February 24, 1902.

Meanwhile the town was growing rapidly. So on November 23, 1903, more than 100 citizens petitioned the town council to have the town "advanced to a city of the third class." By this time, Cle Elum met the population standard of at least 1,500 residents for such a designation. On December 8, 1903, the voters approved advancement to a city of the third class. An official census was ordered, which, on January 7, 1904, verified that Cle Elum's population was, indeed, more than 1,500. The advancement became official on April 30, 1904, when it was filed with the Washington Secretary of State's office.

The new city of Cle Elum continued to grow in that first decade. By its first U.S. census in 1910, it had a population of 2,749. Because of the decline of the mining and logging industries, however, this marked the high point of its population. In 2010, Cle Elum would have a population of 1,872.

Sources: "Order of Incorporation of the Town of Cle Elum as City of the Fourth Class," February 24, 1902, Municipal Articles of Incorporation, Records of the Secretary of State, Washington State Archives, Olympia, Washington; "Resolution of Advancement of the Town of Cle Elum to a City of the Third Class," Municipal Articles of Incorporation, Records of the Secretary of State, Washington State Archives; HistoryLink.Org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Cle Elum -- Thumbnail History" (by Jim Kershner), (accessed October 11, 2013).

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