After sharing the first installment of Geroge Hopkins’ story about homesteading on the West End, David Hahn contacted me sharing the following story. Hahn’s family now lives on the Hopkins’ homestead.
“In July of 1995, Jeanette and Dean Laxton ( WF Hopkins was the great grandfather of Jeanette) drove down to my mom’s house. I was outside working on a car when they drove up. So as I was getting ready to give her the “can’t you read the signs speech” she waved this storybook at me and started talking. I was hooked into the Hopkins story from that point on. I gave them a tour and we used the pictures in the back to locate some of the sites. It never dawned on me that we have the only pictures and somehow we are keepers of the Hopkins Family photo history.”
So now the Hopkins story has photos to share too, thanks to David.
Six Years on the Soleduck River
By George Hopkins
Another cougar incident occurred a year or two later. I was about twelve years old and had become fairly good in the use of cross-cut saw and ax.
I was about a quarter of a mile from home and possibly a hundred feet up on the hillside from the trail, and was sawing stove wood in an absorbed manner as I watched the saw cut into the big log. Suddenly I felt that something was wrong. I was being watched by something back of me on the hill.
Turning suddenly, I saw the head of a large cougar resting on the top of a log scarcely thirty feet from me. The animal was watching me closely. Without any sign of haste, I stood up, picked up my double-bitted ax and walked down to the trail and home without looking back. The cougar did not follow me. There were a great many cougars in the territory and several children had had similar experiences.
Men were followed along the trail at night. Mr. Franklin, walking home after dark one night, was followed closely by two cougars, one on either side of the trail. He did not even have a lantern.
My brother Elmer, bringing his pack horses over the Pysht trail, was followed persistently one night by a cougar. Occasionally, as the moonlight hit the trail behind him, he could see the cougar following closely. He kept close to the horses and was not otherwise bothered.
Another little incident must be noted, too: Mr. Gorder, who was youthful and spry in spite of his long red beard, was cruising out his claim one day with his big 44 strapped to his side. With his mind on anything but bear, he came to a waist-high windfall and vaulted over it. Imagine his surprise and consternation when he came down astride a good-sized black bear! The bear was as much surprised as Gorder was, and cleared out of there at once. The 44 remained in its holster, entirely forgotten.
There is another little wildlife episode that I like to think of. Our Fan had brought us a batch of pups and we soon disposed of all of them but one, which we called Ring. Ring was jet black with a white ring around his neck and we came to love him.
One day when Ring was about three months old we head a terrific ki-yi-ing down in the garden. We soon discovered that a wild cat had attacked Ring and had cut him up pretty severely. Fan had come to his rescue and chased the cat away, though Fan was no taller than the wild cat itself. We were so mad at the way Ring had been handled that Mother and I decided to do something about it. The only gun in the house was Father’s thirteen-pound buffalo gun in which he used 45-70 ammunition although the true bore specification was 45-125, a fine-looking single-shot Remington with heavy octagon barrel.
I was able to find but one 45-70 shell and Mother soon came up with a ten-inch hunting knife that Dad had made from an old file. Thus armed, the two of us took after the wild cat with Fan’s help. We followed it for nearly a mile in the dense woods. I can still see Mother following Fan along the top of a big Douglas fir windfall with the big hunting knife in one hand and keeping the brush out of her hair with the other, and me close behind with the buffalo gun. Needless to say, the wild cat got away and Mother and I got home safely, pretty well tired out, but with our ire somewhat lessened by the efforts, we had made.
The Eighth Wonder of the World:
On the East side of our land, the river came to our property flowing nearly due South. As it struck the high rock bluff on our eastern side, it turned from south to the northwest making a decidedly sharp turn more than ninety degrees, and in the bend thus formed lies a deep pool of quiet water known for years later as “Hopkins Hole,” and possibly still is.
A few years after we left the ranch, a basket crossing was located here, and the maps showed “Hopkins Crossing.” Just below this bend in relatively quiet water was our boat crossing. If one came down to the river on the far side all he had to do was to yell loudly and one of us boys would bring him over in the boat. We tried putting foot logs across the shallows just below the deep hole, but they would remain only until the next high water, so we had to depend on our boat.
Mother, May and I were down on our side of the river one afternoon when a homesteader by the name of Lee called from the opposite side. May went after him with the boat, since I was two or three hundred yards downstream, and started back with him. Some discussion started and he was put out somehow by May’s uncooperative reply, and deliberately upset the boat in the deep water. He then swam on across and disappeared, leaving May struggling in the water!
In spite of the fact that she could not swim, she struggled and floundered and managed to stay afloat until she was nearly across when she began to go down. Mother waded in up to her shoulders and managed to grab her just as she sank. We did not see Lee again.
Then it happened, the “Eighth Wonder of the World”, we called it.
A heavy rainstorm came and an exceptional high water, and the next morning there was a wonderful foot log over our deep hole, and it was high and dry. A big spruce had been felled by Foster Sawyer and his brother Leslie, two and a half miles upstream for footlog purposes near their cabins. When the river rose to an unusual height, the big log was washed out into the stream and floated down to our crossing.
The big butt end grounded on the north side of the river and the top swung hard up against the bluff on the south side. Finally, the log came to a stop with the top end high up on the bluff where it was lodged firmly in the rocks, and the butt end was pushed up onto higher ground on the north side.
We could hardly believe our eyes the next morning. The log was eight to ten feet through at the butt, and twenty-five to thirty inches at the top, and the length was close to one hundred and fifty feet. Mr. Sawyer reported the log to be eleven and one-half feet in diameter at one end, and two hundred feet long, but I am sure that these measurements were too large.
It can be determined that the length was nearer one hundred fifty feet. Numerous neighbors turned out to develop the new “gift” into a usable bridge, and the work was soon accomplished. The top surface of the log was hewed down to provide a flat surface that would be safe for travel, and then holes were bored at intervals along each side and posts and railings were erected, making the bridge safe for horses as well as foot travel.
To be continued …