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Washington State counties consider standing timber as real property for the purposes of taxation. During the period 1907-1967, the King County Assessor's Office undertook forest surveys, or timber cruises, to locate and estimate the quantity and taxable value of timber in a given section of land. Only land sections containing appreciable amounts of harvestable timber were surveyed.

Survey information was maintained in small ledgers or notebooks. Over time, the amount and detail of recorded information varied. Later records do not include the level of detail earlier ones. During the period 1907-1936, for each section represented , there are usually general remarks about the section as a whole, and detail descriptions of its forty-acre (quarter) tracts.

The 1907-08 Timber Cruise reports are now available online!
See our blog post to learn how to access these records.

Timber data includes information such as the species and quality of timber growing on the land, a visual calculation of its board footage, the age of the timber, the costs of logging (determined by such things as nearness to market, topography, accessibility, etc.), and possible wood products. For each section, surveyors also noted, under the heading "Improvements," additions to the built environment (structures, agricultural plantings and field clearings, equipment and vehicles, etc.

Property owner names are generally stated when known. Textual information for each section is accompanied by a small (4" x 4") hand-drawn or -colored map. The section maps show topography; natural features (rivers, mountains, swamps, lakes); condition of land (burnt, cleared, plowed, cultivated); transportation infrastructure (roads, trails, mainline and logging railroads); structures (houses, sheds, barns); businesses and industries, and other features (water tanks, cemeteries, coal bunkers, etc.)

Above: Map for Township 23, Range 5E, 1908. Series 1067, Assessor's Timber Cruise Reports, King County Archives.

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The King County Archives building is currently closed, but our remote customer service hours are 9am-4pm, Monday through Friday.