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William Deary is the answer for Week 369 of Orofino History Trivia a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country.

Join in the discovery!

Monday: He was Canadian

Tuesday: A short, barrel-chested man

Wednesday: An experienced timber cruiser

Thursday: Born in Quebec in the 1850s

Friday: Was described by some as mercurial

Saturday: Saw railroads as important to the timber industry

Monday: Worked with others to buy as much state stumpage as they could.

Tuesday: Purchased the land of W.W. Trumbull to start a new venture

Wednesday: Built a 48-mile railroad called the Washington, Idaho and Montana Railroad

Thursday: Purchased saw mills

Friday: Began the foundations of a company town.

Saturday: Made a big impression on Charles Weyerhauser and Drew Musser

William Deary, a timber speculator, was born in Quebec, Canada in the 1850s. In the Clearwater County History series written by John H. Bradbury, Deary is described as a short, stout, barrel-chesed Scotsman. He was an accomplished logger and expert woodsman. His cruise figures usually proved out. However, he was also an aggressive go-getter that not daunted by a challenge and "never lacked for energy and and let a good opportunity pass him by.

It was to Deary that Charles Weyerhauser and Drew Musser turned when they were trying to decide whether to expand their timber ventures south or west. While he was skeptical about Idaho at first, after a thorough appraisal, of the timber stands he became a spark plug for the undertaking.

First he timed up with his fellow Canadian, William Helmer, an even more astute cruiser than himself. They were near opposites in size and mood with Deary short, stout and mercurial and Helmer tall, thin and reserved.

Deary knew the first thing he needed was logs and went about setting up the business deals for private and stumpage that were needed to support a mill into the future. He also bought out the two mills already operating in that area. Sometimes the purchase prices surprised the directors of Potlatch Lumber Company.

Next, he had a railroad built to Warren Meadows because he saw moving the logs and lumber by rail as the best way to go.

Bradbury says that Elk River owes its existence to a freak, epic windstorm that blew down a huge area of timber. Helmer estimated there was 10 million board feet of white pine, but it needed to be salvaged quickly.

Deary purchased the land of the only homesteader on Elk Creek at the time and the foundations of the mill and town were built. Then he lured Charles Munson away from his job as State Land Commissioner to be the logging boss for the Potlatch Lumber Company. Munson went in with a crew and started building a dam for the mill pond so there would be a log invetory by the time the mill was ready to start up. Munson then hired 250 lumberjacks to fill the pond with logs.

The mill at Elk River was destined to be electric, state-of-the art and electricty was in the plans for the whole town.

--Information from John H. Bradbury's Clearwater County History series

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Window on the Clearwater
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Orofino, ID 83544
Phone: 1-208-476-0733
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