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At one time Salkum had two saw-mills and was a lively town, but timber depletion closed the mills and the settlement declined. The Native American name means “boiling,” and refers to the turbulent waters at the falls of nearby Mill Creek. A post office was established October 10, 1882 and moved to a new site on May 5, 1890 which was two miles north of the original location.

By the 1940s the town was a cluster of dilapidated, nondescript houses and two mills, the latter closed down as a result of the depletion of timber supply in the vicinity. Only a few people remained in what was a flourishing sawmill town in the 1920s and 1930s. The adjacent countryside is largely wasteland, where willows, alders, and vine maple almost conceal the bleaching stumps, tombstones of forests that have passed away.