Methow Valley Women
In conjunction with our 2020 commemoration of the 19th Amendment and the expansion of women’s political rights, the Shafer Museum has compiled information on several of the Methow Valley’s notable and fascinating women. These short biographies can also be found in our Bike-Hike-Drive-Ski tour, coming soon! Explore below and learn about some of the incredible women that have helped to make the Methow so special, and their ties to the history of these locations.
location: First Butte Lookout
The First Butte Lookout was built by the U.S. Forest Service in 1938 and staffed every season until 1997. In 1942, it was staffed year-round as a World War II Aircraft Warning System. After being used on an emergency-basis in 1998, it returned to use 5 days per week in 1999 and still remains active for emergency use. It was added to the National Historic Lookout Register in 2000.
location: thirtymile fire memorial
The Thirtymile Fire Memorial is a lasting tribute to the four wildland firefighters who lost their lives in the 2001 Thirtymile Fire. This powerful reminder of the danger these firefighters face, has been constructed next to the Chewuch River approximately 30 miles north of the Town of Winthrop. The memorial site is where 16 people took shelter as a last chance effort to escape the erupting fire. Four firefighters did not make it. Two of these four were young women, just 18 and 19. The memorial site includes a low rock wall, plaques dedicated to each firefighter, four memorial markers, and a stone bench for visitors seeking a quiet spot to rest and reflect.
Karen Lee Fitzpatrick, 18, was trained for U.S. Forest Service work, including fire fighting. She went to work for the fire agency directly after high school, and had been involved in the Nile Valley Fire, near her home in Yakima, and an Oregon Fire, near The Gorge, over the 4th of July 2001. When the call came in at midnight July 9, 2001 to report with her crew out of the Naches Ranger Station to a fire up by the North Cascades near the Thirtymile Fire campground in Winthrop, WA., it was her third fire.
Jessica Lynn Johnson, 19, was a student at Central Washington University, with family in Yakima. She was in her second year with the Forest Service as a seasonal wildlands firefighter, but actually got started in 1998 when she joined a rookies' firefighting program taught by veteran firefighters from Central and Eastern Washington.
more about the thirtymile fire
The Thirtymile Fire began when a picnic cooking fire was abandoned and spread to the surrounding forest. The fire was located in the Chewuch River Canyon, about 30 miles north of Winthrop, Washington. The Northwest Regulars #6, a 21-person Type 2 crew from the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, was dispatched to the fire in the early morning hours of July 10, 2001. The crew arrived at the fire at approximately 9:00 a.m. After a safety briefing, the crew went to work at 11:00 a.m. The crews worked until approximately 3:00 p.m. when they stopped to eat, rest, and sharpen their tools. About 4:00 p.m., they responded to a request for help from another crew in the area; two of the three squads were sent to assist. The fire began to develop quickly, and the decision was made to leave the area. The road to safety was cut off by fire progress. The incident commander selected a site near the river that was rocky and had less vegetation than other areas in the canyon. Although several firefighters congregated above the road to monitor the fire, they were not prepared for the suddenness with which it arrived. Six firefighters, including the four that died, deployed their fire shelters above the road. After the fire passed, it was learned that Squad Boss Craven and Firefighters Fitzpatrick, Johnson, and Weaver had been killed. The cause of death for all four firefighters was asphyxia due to inhalation of superheated products of combustion. The Forest Service conducted a detailed assessment of the incident. The major findings of the report were: · The combination of weather and fuel conditions created extraordinary circumstances for fire growth on July 10th. · Potential fire behavior was consistently underestimated throughout the incident. In spite of the readily available water, relatively little water was applied to the fire during the initial attack phase. This was largely due to operational problems with pumps and hoses, as well as delays in availability of a Type III helicopter. The fatalities and injuries all occurred during fire shelter deployment. Failure to adequately anticipate the severity and timing of the burnover, and failure to utilize the best location and proper deployment techniques contributed to the fatalities and injuries. · Leadership, management, and command and control were all ineffective due to a variety of factors, such as the lack of communications and miscommunications, fatigue, lack of situational awareness, indecisiveness, and confusion about who was in control. (US Fire Admin. Complete report https://www.fs.fed.us/r6/wenatchee/fire/thirtymile-reports.html).
location: north twentymile peak lookout
location: town of pateros
Pateros was established around 1885 by Lee Ives, who opened a road house on the Columbia River which became known as Ives Landing. In 1900, a Spanish American War veteran, Charles E. Nosler, renamed it Pateros after a village he had visited in the Philippines. In May 1913, Pateros was incorporated and for the next several decades, it remained a peaceful community known for its fruit orchards and cattle ranches. In 1966, Pateros was submerged beneath the Columbia River when the Wells Dam opened. Although some houses and businesses were relocated, many remained in their original location and were lost. In 2014 the Carlton Complex fire, at the time the largest wildfire in state history, burned 391 square miles of north central Washington that included Pateros, leveling entire city blocks, causing $100 million in damages, and leaving behind a charred landscape.