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Football hero’s legacy extends to Snohomish | Taking Stock


Last updated 7/19/2017 at Noon

Carl Lane Clemans is virtually unknown around here, which is a little surprising since he was once the coach of the University of Washington football team. Maybe that’s because he was coach in 1897.

At Stanford, though, he is sort of famous. His fame goes back to 1892 when, as a player, Clemans was the first football hero in Stanford history. Clemans led underdog Stanford to victory with two touchdowns against the University of California in the first inter-collegiate football game played on the West Coast.

After college, Clemans drifted north to Washington. He settled in Snohomish, where his home, 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 operation of the mill, 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. A third mill was built that year, and it included an automatic sprinkler system. That mill lasted until the town was abandoned in 1929.

When Clemans 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 area’s snowy mountains.

The Nippon railroad depot and the 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 sawmills. 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 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 did a feature article about the first “Big Game.” 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 the GAR Cemetery in Snohomish. He was an early industrialist and investor who helped create the modern Snohomish County. He was more than just a football hero.

Tim Raetzloff operates Abarim Business Computers at Harbor Square in Edmonds. What he writes combines his sense of history and his sense of numbers. Neither he nor Abarim have an investment in any of the companies mentioned in this column.


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