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As the logging industry developed in Clallam County so did patches of cleared land that early settlers saw fit to farm. The first settlers raised cattle, hogs, oxen and grain. Early farming efforts in Sequim produced little, as the rainfall was minimal. After the network of irrigation channels were established in the 1890s the farming potential of Sequim was realized.

Stumps left from logging were difficult to remove and farmers paid $1 a day or $1 a stump to have them cleared.

"Charpitting" was one method of stump removal. Several holes were dug in the stump and fires were lit and kept burning until the fire spread through the roots. Horses were used to pull out the remains. Dynamite was sometimes used to clear the land. The first crops were planted around stumps.

The Sequim Dungeness valley became famous for potatoes. Reports of the time recalled potatoes weighing from 3-7 pounds and measuring up to 18 inches. The Dungeness Beacon reported in September 1892 that about 70,000 bushels would be raised for export. An acre in Dungeness yielded from 200-400 bushels of potatoes. Clallam County potatoes were a large staple on the San Francisco market until the early 1870s. Other exports of the time were wheat, oats and hay.

The Sequim-Dungeness Valley was the oldest dairying center in Washington and grew to be one of the most important after the establishment of the Sequim irrigation system. Individual farms first had their own butter makers. Milk was strained into large pans and left for 36 hours to let the cream rise. Men would skim off the cream and place it in large barrels to churn.

The butter was washed multiple times and worked with salt and left overnight before wrapping and sending it to market. Later, farmers hauled their cream in 10-gallon cans to the creameries that had developed in the valley for processing.

Farming is part of Sequim's heritage. Crops and production methods change, but it still is an important part of the landscape.

For more information on Sequim's history, visit the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley at 175 W. Cedar St. Admission is free and books are available for purchase on the history and pioneer people of Clallam County.

Editor's note: Did You Know explores the history of Sequim, the Dungeness Valley and Clallam County. It is produced by Thomas E. Montgomery of John L. Scott-Sequim Real Estate in collaboration with Melissa A. Coughlin. Reach Tom Montgomery at 460-3796 or thomasm@johnlscott.com.


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