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Cle Elum Firsts | Cle Elum, WA

Discover Cle Elum, Washington in a new way - from its beginnings through this compilation of "firsts" compiled by the Northern Kittitas County Historical Society. An area rich in Washington State history, these historical highlights feature the first time an event or happening occurred in Cle Elum.

Click the options below to learn more about Cle Elum's first newspaper, first gold discovery, first talking movie, and more. Echoes of these stories are visible throughout the area, making our town a place where the past is truly always present.

Do you know of another Cle Elum First you'd like to share with us? Please contact us! We'd love to hear from you and add to our list below.
First Band
The Cle Elum City Band, was formed in May 1902 by Teasdale L. Wilkeson, director.

First Bank
The only one of its kind in Kittitas County outside of Ellensburg at 301 Pennsylvania Avenue.

First Birth
First Birth of a boy in Cle Elum was that of Charles Stafford on July 6, 1887.

First Building
Built by Walter and Barbara Reed in 1881 near the corner of Third Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

First Butcher Shop
The First Butcher Shop was opened by John Rothlisberger from Switzerland in 1886.

First Car
First Car in Cle Elum was a 1906 Oldsmobile owned by Doc White, and later owned by Albino Curto.

First Car Over Snoqualmie Pass
Driven by Cle Elum's Aaron Rees and Merlin Haines in 1912.

First Cemetery
Created about 1890 when Walter J. Reed donated land to the community to be used as a cemetery.

First Census
The First Census of record was in the year 1900 giving Cle Elum a population of 250.

First Coal
Deposits of coal were known to exist in the area long before any attempt at mining was undertaken.

First Dentist/Doctor
His name was Theron Stafford, who in 1887 opened a general store.


First Electricity to Town
Provided by the Northwest Improvement Company's power plant in 1902.

First Fish Hatchery
1914, the County Game Commission hires Samuel Drew, a fish culturist from Coeur D'Alene.

First Funeral
Recorded by St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Cle Elum, was in 1887, presumably, of a 6-month old infant, Baby McDermott.

First General Store
Opened by Tom Johnson during the summer of 1886, and was soon followed by a store under the operation of Theron Stafford.

First Gold Discovery
1867... when a prospecting party consisting of two Goodwin brothers and three others.

First Home with Piped Water
Built by Walter J. Reed and his wife, Barbara Ann Steiner Reed in 1893.

First Hospital
Constructed in Cle Elum was built on land donated to the miners and the people of Cle Elum by Walter J. Reed.

First Hotel
Built by Walter and Barbara Reed at the corner of Pennsylvania and Railroad Streets in July 1886.

First Incorporated
1902, as a fourth class city. At the time, Cle Elum was considered a modern metropolitan city.

First Laundry
It was known as Wing Sing's Chinese Laundry which opened for business in 1891...

First Livery Stable & Blacksmith Shop
Built by Fred Zeek in 1887. It was the first dairy in Cle Elum and Roslyn.

First Lumber Mill
James Dysart's mill on the Yakima River, which operated from 1876 to 1880.

First Mayor
Cle Elum's first mayor was Thomas L. Gamble, who served that office during 1902-1903.

First Newspaper
The first newspaper in Cle Elum was known as the Teanaway Bugle which began in 1884.

First Post Office
Designated by the government to Cle Elum in 1888. Dr. Wheelock took charge as postmaster.

First School
Established in 1887 in the old Walter and Barbara Reed cabin that they had built in 1883.

First Settler
Thomas L. Gamble was the first settler in April 1883. He was also the first mayor of Cle Elum.

First Successful Banker
Frank Carpenter who took over the failing Kellogg bank in Cle Elum on November 2, 1904.

First Talking Movie
The First Talking Movie was in May 1929 at the Lane Theater and was the "Wolf of Wall Street".

First Telephone
The first telephone service was inaugurated in Cle Elum on April 5, 1901 with ten telephones.

First Theater
Opened in 1904 near the corner of First and Harris, and was called the Opera House.

First Town Site Plat Filed
July 26, 1886 by Walter Reed. Mr. Reed platted 60 acres of his claim as a townsite.

First Town Water System
Cle Elum's first water system was installed in 1893 at an expense of some $19,000.

First Train to Reach Cle Elum
1886, after a rush by the Railroad to complete the laying of tracks to this rich coal-mining region.














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