Everson incorporates on May 4, 1929.

  • By Kathleen Moles
  • Posted 4/22/2014
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 10776
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On May 4, 1929, the Whatcom County town of Everson incorporates. Located on the banks of the Nooksack River, about 15 miles northeast of the county seat of Bellingham, the town was founded on the site of a major traditional village of the Nooksack Indian Tribe and owes its beginnings in part to a community of pioneers who had settled less than a mile west at a river crossing and moved to Everson after the coming of the railroad in 1891. In its prime, thriving as a provider of lumber, agricultural produce, and dairy products for the region, the nation, and overseas, Everson will reach its height of distribution via rail shortly before the time of its incorporation, after which technological advances significantly impact its two major industries. The town will remain an important supplier of locally sourced native and specialty produce, and by 2013 will have an estimated population of 2,550.

The Crossing

A river crossing, a gold rush, forests, fertile land, and the railroad all contributed to the formation and development of Everson. Situated on the banks of the Nooksack River near the point where fording was most reliable, a community of homesteaders grew up on a site long used by the Nooksack Indian Tribe for transport and trade. This area, known as The Crossing (also Nooksack Crossing), was a strategic point for river transport, the most dependable method of travel before the extension of the Whatcom Trail and the coming of the railroad. By the 1870s, The Crossing resembled many northwestern frontier towns, with its own trading post, drug store, hotel, post office, and schoolhouse, in addition to a ferry that was first built to provide passage to gold prospectors and their equipment across and north during the short-lived Fraser River Gold Rush of 1858-1859. More than a decade later, the scow ferried goods and livestock to nearby businesses and homesteads.

After the gold rush, agriculture became a prime focus for the new settlers. By 1880, most of the viable agricultural plots were settled, including the area nearly one mile east of The Crossing, where Norwegian logger and rancher Ever Everson (1842-1915) had staked his homestead claim in 1871 on the site of a traditional Indian village. Eight years later, most Nooksack Indians who were allowed to homestead after refusing to relocate to the Lummi Reservation had left their settlements in advance of the land rush that preceded the coming of the Bellingham Bay and British Columbia railroad. With the arrival of the rail line in 1891, the residents of The Crossing moved east to the town of Everson, newly platted on its namesake's land, and the town began its steady growth in population and industry. 


If not for a clerical error, Everson may have been named "Iverson," as the deed claim of the area's first settler misspelled his surname. He kept the new spelling, and so did the new town.

Everson was platted on September 26, 1892, and by the turn of the twentieth century was well on its way to becoming a thriving town at the center of two industries. During the span of years between 1900 and 1905, a cannery and a condensery were established in Everson by different local groups, and both quickly expanded to the extent that they provided the majority of jobs in town and shipped products via railroad to regions well beyond Whatcom County.

By the late 1920s, the increased use of machinery in processing coupled with technological advances in refrigeration and freezing signaled the start of the decline of Everson’s two major industries. The C. S. Kale Cannery continued to can and ship produce for another generation until it closed in the 1960s; at the condensery production had peaked in 1920, and despite a transition from work by hand to machine, the condensing work slowly faded.

While Everson had boasted many attributes of a small city since the early 1900s, with its newspapers (the Everson Eagle began publishing in 1904 and the Everson Valley Home in 1906), paved roads (since 1917), and other hallmarks of a thriving municipality, it did not formally incorporate until the relatively late year of 1929. In contrast, its neighbor one mile east, Nooksack, was platted in 1865 and incorporated in 1912. Perhaps the close proximity of an incorporated city was enough for Everson as it flourished with its own early industries, and once those essential companies began to wane, Everson citizens may have seen the value in incorporating.  

Whatever the reason, after local voters approved incorporation, Everson formally became a town of the fourth class on May 4, 1929 (it would change to being a code city on March 17, 1971), and its first city council meeting was held two days later on May 6.

Sources: William Farrand Prosser, A History of the Puget Sound Country (New York: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1903), 175-176, 247-248, 522; Lottie Roeder Roth, History of Whatcom County, Vol. 1 (Chicago: Pioneer Historical Publishing Company, 1926), 428, 813-817, 944; Verna Walker, "Our Little Corner of the Valley," Nooksack Valley Heritage collection, Washington Rural Heritage website accessed April 4, 2014 (http://www.washingtonruralheritage.org/cdm/ref/collection/nooksack/id/249); David G. Tremaine, Indian and Pioneer Settlement of the Nooksack Lowland, Washington, to 1890, Occasional Paper No. 4 (Bellingham: Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Western Washington State College, 1975), 43-50, 72-83; "The Kale Ranch," Nooksack Reporter, October 13, 1911, p. 1; Marian W. Smith, "The Nooksack, Chilliwack, and Middle Fraser," Pacific Northwest Quarterly, October 1950, pp. 330-341; Lelah Jackson Edson, The Fourth Corner: Highlights from the Early Northwest (Bellingham: Whatcom Museum of History & Art, 1968), 78, 149-150, 240; P. R. Jeffcott, Nooksack Tales and Trails (Ferndale: P. R. Jeffcott, 1949), 300-310, Allan Richardson and Brent Galloway, Nooksack Place Names: Geography, Culture, and Language (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2012), 90-95; "Demographics," Bellingham-Whatcom County website accessed April 4, 2014 (http://www.bellingham.org/download/resource_sheets/Demographics.pdf); "Dates of Incorporation ... of Washington Cities and Towns," Municipal Research and Services Center website accessed April 22, 2014 (http://www.mrsc.org/subjects/governance/inctable.aspx); "Title Info: Everson City Council, Minutes, 1929-2009," Washington State Archives -- Digital Archives website accessed April 22, 2014 (http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov/Collections/TitleInfo/1183).

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