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.

Mortee Banasky

B: D: 08/20/14

In 1984, after returning to school at the University of Washington, former insurance executive, Mortee Banasky, took a summer job as a firespotter for the U.S. Forest Service on First Butte summit near Winthrop. She spent 24 summers at First Butte, manning the lookout and supporting the firefighters before being transferred to the Leecher Mountain lookout near Twisp. Mortee was working the First Butte lookout the day the Thirtymile firestorm exploded in 2001, taking the lives of four young firefighters, two of them women.

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 fitzpatrick

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 johnson

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


gwendolyn yockey

During Washington's Centenniel Celebration in 1989, Gwendolyn Creveling, now Grendolyn Yockey, was honored for her work with the U.S. Forest Service as one of the first women in the United States to occupy and operate a U.S. Forest Service lookout. For four years, from 1920-24, Gwendolyn's job was located in a log cabin on North 20-Mile.

In 1925, when Gwendolyn and her husband were married, he worked the back country for the U.S. Forest Service as a government packer. From their home at Eight Mile Station, Gwendolyn operated the telephone exchange for all the ranger stations.

In 1947, Fred Yockey, age 45, was killed in an accident while working at a mine in Holden, on Lake Chelan. Gwendolyn continued to live for another 52 years in her comfortable log home in Winthrop, WA. She died December 11, 2000, just two months shy of her 99th birthday.

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.

carlene anders

After graduating from Pateros High School, Carlene Anders, 18, trained as a wildland firefighter. Early in her career, she served on the elite smoke jumpers team based out of Winthrop, Washington, one of the first two women to do so. After the 2014 Carlton Complex fire, Carlene stepped up as a volunteer to organize the Carlton Complex Long Term Recovery Group (CCLTRG), which was created to collaborate with and provide coordination and recovery services to those individuals, families, businesses, and communities that were adversely impacted by the 2014 wildfires and resulting mudslides across Okanogan County. In 2014, Anders was appointed to the Pateros City Council and in November 2015, she was elected mayor.

more about Carlene anders

After graduating from Pateros High School, Carlene Anders, 18, trained as a wildland firefighter. Early in her career, she served on the elite smoke jumpers team based out of Winthrop, Washington, one of the first two women to do so. She paid her way through Washington State University by fighting fires in and around the Methow Valley, and continued to do so for almost 30 years. A long time resident of the town of Pateros, and one of its volunteer firefighters, she spent five days straight fighting the Carlton Complex fire in 2014. After the fire, Carlene stepped up as a volunteer to organize the Carlton Complex Long Term Recovery Group (CCLTRG), which was created to collaborate with and provide coordination and recovery services to those individuals, families, businesses, and communities that were adversely impacted by the 2014 wildfires and resulting mudslides across Okanogan County. Under Carlene's guidance, the CCLTRG also aimed to plan efficiently for strategic investments and actions to ensure that Okanogan County and its communities would be better prepared for future disasters. Following the 2015 wildfire season, the CCLTRG developed into the OCLTRG (Okanogan County Long Term Recovery Group), and Carlene was hired by Okanogan County as the program's executive director, to expand recovery efforts to include the greater Okanogan County community and the neighboring counties of Chelan, Douglas, Stevens and Ferry counties, and Colville Tribal lands. In 2014, Anders was appointed to the Pateros City Council and in November 2015, she was elected mayor.

location: carlton general store

At one time Jennie Miller's home was located behind

The Carlton General Store, but it no longer exists. The Store is provided as a reference point.

jennie miller

Jennie Miller's story is a 1930s tangled knot of human trafficking, rescue and redemption in Carlton.

more about Jennie miller