Biography of Thomas Johnson

THOMAS JOHNSON. – The gentleman whose name appears above belongs to three towns on the east slope of the Cascades, – Goldendale, Ellensburgh and Cle-Elum; and it may almost be said that in the course of their development these three towns belong to him. At least, he has been a leading and constructive spirit in them.

He is a native of Canada, where he was born in 1839, and came to this coast in search of the golden fleece at Caribou in 1862. The Province, however, detained him but a year; and he came down to Rockland opposite The Dalles, employing himself in running the ferry across the Columbia. Going to Canada in 1866, he married Miss Connell, and after his return to his Rockland home made a number of rapid shifts. all of which advanced him on the road to fortune. He operated the ferry a year, was in the cattle business on the Klikitat two years, and bought sixteen hundred acres of land near Rockland and farmed three years. Going now to the site of Goldendale with the autocratic license of the king or frontiersman, he laid out the city, built the first store, built a gristmill, and followed this with a sawmill. In 1880 he established the bank.

With the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad towards the Cascade Mountains, he went to Ellensburgh, reaching that point before the railroad, and took a contract for lumber, prosecuting also the mercantile business. A fire destroyed thirty-five thousand dollars’ worth of his property; yet it did not seriously hinder his operations. He went to building again, this time a hotel, the Johnson House at Ellensburgh, then a sawmill at Sunday Creek and another at Cle-Elum, the former a forty-thousand foot mill, the latter with a capacity of sixty thousand feet per diem. The present wealth of the east side of the Cascade Mountains is very large. Mr. Johnson owns quite a part of the townsite. Being a man of large views and a strong hand, he seeks and applies many methods to build up that part of the state, and is one of its leading men.

He has not shunned public duties, having been auditory and probate judge of Klikitat county, and city councilman and mayor of Goldendale. His business maxim seems to be to keep things moving, to employ men, to bring in families, and to keep up the life and monetary circulation which produces growth. He has four children, a wife in every way his companion, and all the home blessings.

His home is at Cle-Elum, Washington.



History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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