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The little-known industrialist who made roots in Snohomish

SNOHOMISH — Carl Lane Clemans is virtually unknown around here, which is surprising since he was once the coach of the University of Washington football team. Maybe that’s because he was the coach in 1897.
But at Stanford, though, he is sort of famous. Clemans’ fame goes back to 1892 when, as a player, Clemans was the first football hero in Stanford history. Clemans’ two touchdowns against Cal in the first intercollegiate football game played on the West Coast led underdog Stanford to victory.
After college, Clemans drifted north to Washington. He settled in Snohomish where his home on Avenue B, built in 1895, still stands as one of the heritage homes of Snohomish. Clemans probably settled in Snohomish because it was the county seat. There he became the publisher of the Snohomish Tribune, and an investor in various businesses. The county seat moved to Everett in 1897, but by then Clemans was firmly settled in Snohomish.
In 1907 Clemans invested in a project to build a sawmill at Nippon, Washington. It isn’t clear what snags prevented
the mill’s operation, but by 1910 Clemans had reorganized the venture and taken over personal control.
The Nippon Lumber Company began operation of its first mill in April 1910. That mill operated until it burned in 1913. It was promptly replaced by a second mill that operated until it burned in 1917. The third mill was built that year and included an automatic sprinkler system.
The 1917 mill lasted until the town was abandoned in 1929.
By 1914, the railroad depot had been renamed Alpine. When Clemans had applied for a post office the name Nippon had been declined because there was already a Nippon post office in Seattle where Japanese immigrants picked up mail. Apparently Clemans chose the name Alpine for his post office because of the snowy mountains in which it resided. 
The depot and post office had different names and that caused confusion and mix-ups. By early 1914, the post office and depot were both named Alpine. The sawmill was renamed Alpine in 1920.
By 1917 Clemans had at least partial control of sawmills in Omak, Pateros, Monse, and Entiat. He had banking connections with at least six banks from Snohomish to Tonasket.
His little empire didn’t stop with just saw mills. Clemans also acquired farmland in the Snohomish Valley. By his death in 1941, he owned hundreds of acres between Snohomish and Everett Clemans was a long-time friend of former president Herbert Hoover, whom he had met at Stanford in 1891. Hoover was the team manager of the first Stanford football team. In 1954, Sports Illustrated featured the first “Big Game” in an article. Its description of Hoover indicates that he could be very persuasive. Clemans is mentioned in that article because of his performance on the field.
Carl Lane Clemans is buried in Snohomish’s GAR Cemetery.
He was more than just a football hero. He was an early industrialist and investor who helped create modern Snohomish County.

Author Tim Raetzloff writes about history and the stock market, and operates Abarim Computers. To reach him, email tim@abarim.com

 

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