On January 25, 1901, the Blue Bird Consolidated Mining Company is incorporated. Its purpose is to "deal in mines, metals and mineral properties of every kind" in the Darrington area, located in Snohomish County. Its home office is in Everett. Set in a rich mineral area, it is off to a good start, but in five years, the company will be in court.
Riches on Gold Mountain
Since the early 1890s, adventurous miners made their way up to the mineral-rich mountains surrounding Darrington. Gold Mountain was especially rich, full of ores carrying gold, copper, and other minerals. In 1901, Everett businessmen Seth Gardiner, lawyer; John C. Denney, lawyer; T. A. Garrignes, manager of Pacific Hardware; Hugh Lindsay, proprietor of Summit Hotel; and J. A. Swalwell, formed the Blue Bird Consolidated Mining Company. In addition to mining, they sought the right to "hold ditches, flumes and water rights" (Incorporation papers, 1901).
The firm had a capital stock of $1,000,000. The presence of J. A. Swalwell, gave a special cache to the enterprise. A major real-estate developer in Port Gardner, he not only organized the First National Bank of Everett, but helped establish such organizations as the Everett Public Library and the YMCA.
The plan of the firm was to find riches and mine them. Over time, it opened up mining claims with names such as "Nameless," "Myrtle C," "Flatiron," and "Blue Bird." Edward Mills was president.
From November 7, 1901, to November 1, 1903, the company worked the mines. Though there are no records about the volume of ore taken out, if any, there is evidence that the majority of the owners looked for a way to back out. On May 22, 1903, an option was made for Seth Gardiner to buy the entire property. It included "sundry mining claims, ore on the dump, tools, etc." (Snohomish Superior Court Case 8845, Complaint, section IV).
Change in Ownership
Information on early mines in Darrington is sparse, but the Blue Bird Mine is one of five in the 1905-1906 Polk's Oregon & Washington Gazeteer entry for the town. Seth S. Gardiner is listed as manager. What it doesn't show is the difficulties he had meeting the payments for purchasing the mine. According to court papers, the option or "right to purchase" made in 1903 required that he was to pay one-third down on the purchase price of "$25,000 when the sale was made. This amount was $8,333. The balance was to be paid in two annual payments with 6 percent interest. (Complaint, section IV).
Gardiner apparently had difficulty meeting the payments and asked on a couple of occasions to have the due dates extended. Appearing at the annual stockholders meeting on April 27, 1904, he received permission to extend the due date for the payment to August 1907 so he could "do assessment work upon said mining claims" (Amended complaint). He was to make three annual payments during 1905 to 1907, but on May 3, 1906, he said he was "wholly unable to meet the aforesaid payments." On August 15, 1906, Seth Gardiner died. Percy Gardiner was duly appointed "acting executor of estate."
A Whole New Game
After the death of Seth Gardiner, no action was taken by the company until August 1907 when a payment came due. In the complaint filed on November 4, 1907, the firm claimed that the "deceased fails, neglects and refuses to make the payment to the plaintiff which became due ... August 1907." The reason is that Percy Gardiner rejected the entire claim.
One of the curiosities of this case is that in the original incorporation papers, of the five Everett partners, only Seth Gardiner was unable to meet with the notary that filled out the papers in October 1901 (Incorporation Papers). His name, in fact, is crossed off the list. Gardiner had earlier created the Blue Bird Mining and Smelting Co .in 1900 with Melvin Swartout, a mining broker and J. N. Walker, a U.S. government assayer. Whether or not the new company consolidated with Gardiner's earlier claims, the record doesn't show. It only demonstrates how fluid mining endeavors were in the Darrington area.
On November 5, 1907, a summons was sent for Percy to appear in court in 20 days. On November 30, 1907, Coleman & Fogarty, attorneys for Percy Gardiner, asked the company to prove that the agreement on payments made by Seth Gardiner was not an oral one. On several different points they asked things be made "more definite." Was it an oral agreement?
On December 28, 1907, the lawyers presented the demurrer of the defendant. It said that the plaintiff had no legal capacity to sue. The action had not commenced within time limited by law. In February, the plaintiffs were asked to "amend" the complaint. They would have until March 28, 1908. As it turned out, they didn't make the amendments and on April 4, 1908, they were found in default. The case was dismissed.
The case of the Blue Bird Mine represented the hopes of many who came to the mountains around Darrington, dreaming of striking it rich. Often there were more hopes than reality. People continued to work claims around Gold Mountain.
As for the Blue Bird Mine, it is not mentioned again in popular accounts of the area. Perhaps it was overtaken by a much larger company seeking to consolidate its potential earnings or perhaps Seth Gardiner's desire to continue to "do assessment work upon said mining claims," meant that despite all the efforts, there just wasn't enough to make a go.