Edward R. Murrow’s West End Connection

Editor’s note …Several months ago while new Forks Timber Museum Bryon Monohon was familiarizing himself with the many donated items at the Museum he ran across an amazing find. At some point in time several letters had been donated to the museum. Those letters were written by Edward R. Murrow to his mother living at a logging camp in the West End.

After some discussion with the Timber Museum board, it was decided that copies of the letters would be made for the museum and the originals would be donated to WSU where Murrow attended college.

On Thursday, August 11, from 5:30-7 p.m., there will be a Presentation and Museum Open House at the Forks Timber Museum, 1421 S. Forks Ave., with Special Guest Bruce Pinkleton, Dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University

Light dinner refreshments will be provided by Self’s Catering. Former WSU students and Cougar fans are encouraged to attend! Youth and Children are welcome and encouraged to attend. This is a free event.

Contact Museum Director Bryon Monohon (360) 374-9663 with any questions.

Edward R. Murrow’s West End Connection

By Christi Baron

Summertime is a time when many college students look for temporary employment. Many times they return to the place their parents reside and in a lot of instances find a job in an industry that one of their parents is involved in. Such was the case for one young man in the summers of 1925 to 1927. This young man’s father was employed in the timber industry and the young man would go on to make an impression on those he met and worked with just for only a short time. He would later go on to make a name for himself, and his name was Edward R. Murrow.

Murrow’s parents were residing at Tyee, having moved from Skagit County. His father Roscoe was working for Blodell-Donavan Timber Company as a fireman, the person that gets the fire going for the logging train boiler that makes the steam, and was later promoted to engineer of the logging train called “Climax.”

Roscoe was a big man, who many described as rather difficult to get along with but was admired as a hard worker. His tremendous drive as a worker also spilled over into his desire for his three sons to achieve a college education, which was not an easy goal during the depression era.

When Murrow returned to the West End for those three summers he was “running chain” for Ken Meredith’s survey crew, and making a daily wage of four dollars. Those who roomed with “Ed” as they called him at the old Beaver Camp remembered him as very nice, he was also remembered as one who did not indulge in bunkhouse horseplay and cards, spending any free time studying and not paying too much attention to women even though the girls were crazy about him.

Murrow was majoring in speech at Washington State College, today’s Washington State University.

For the McDonald family of Beaver, Murrow served as a babysitter for their son Wally taking him to swim at the Heinz campground at Lake Pleasant. Murrow’s influence later inspired Wally to major in communications at the University of Washington.

The Murrow family home was the first house in the second row of company houses behind the “Beaver Grocery” which is now Beaver Grocery Store. When Murrow had graduated college and was reporting from London many in the neighborhood who had no radio came to the Murrow’s porch to listen to his broadcasts.

Even after Murrow became well known on the radio he stayed in contact with many people he had met in Beaver including the McDonald’s and the Orr family.

When Murrow’s parents moved out of the Bloedel-Donovan company house and moved to Bellingham my Grandparents, Ralph and Ada Pedersen moved into the home. It was at some point that my Aunt Betty Bernier can remember Murrow himself coming to find their family bible which contained his birth certificate; my grandmother had found it in the attic and was happy to return it to him.

Of course, Murrow went on to report from Europe in World War II flying along with combat missions, he was the first reporter at Buchenwald, he had a distinguished carrier in radio and television, and then sadly succumbed to lung cancer at the age of fifty-seven.

In April of 1965 when Murrow died the residents from Beaver that had known him described him as a devoted son, with a no-nonsense attitude, with a magnetic personality, he was handsome and had an amazing speaking voice.

But the one thing they all agreed upon was that he was a hard worker and that is the most sincere compliment that logging folk can give.