Mother/son author duo Roberta Newland and John Newland-Thompson will read from their new book “The Cle Elum Fire of 1918” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9 at Eagle Harbor Book Company.
Cle Elum was founded in 1883 by Walter Reed and Thomas Gamble. The name, from Tle-el-Lum, is a rendering of the local Native American phrase for “swift water.”
Nestled in the eastern foothills of the Cascades, Cle Elum grew as a railroad town, transporting lumber and coal, both from nearby Roslyn and later from Cle Elum itself. In 1891, it survived its first fire. In 1918, after reaching its population high of over 2,700 residents, a catastrophic fire broke out on a windy June day.
Two-thirds of the townspeople were left homeless, and the majority of the town was destroyed.
Cle Elum rose again from the ashes, thanks to the will of its citizens and help from all around the Pacific Northwest.
Newland, whose grandfather lost his barbershop in the fire, and her son, a writer and editor, have compiled vivid images that depict Cle Elum before the fire, during the blaze, and as the city rebuilt and developed. These images come from the Northern Kittitas County Historical Society, the Archives and Special Collections at Central Washington University, and the Ellensburg Public Library, with special thanks to Frederick Krueger.
Visit www.eagleharborbooks.com to learn more.