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Originally published March 1, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified March 1, 2008 at 12:42 AM

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Ruby McAndrew, 95, prolific historian of Northwest

Curious seekers of lost mines and treasures in the Northwest seek out Ruby McAndrew's research papers. Train buffs are interested in her...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Curious seekers of lost mines and treasures in the Northwest seek out Ruby McAndrew's research papers. Train buffs are interested in her history of the rails. Her work is a resource for conservation topics, Northwest forest fires, steamboats and the Olympic Mountains.

Mrs. McAndrew, who wrote under her maiden name of Ruby El Hult, was a well-versed local author and historian whose extensive research papers are stored in the archives at the University of Washington and Washington State University libraries.

She died Feb. 18 in Seattle at age 95.

Over more than six decades, she authored several books and dozens of magazine articles, among them the 1952 "Steamboats in the Timber," about the steamboat trade on Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, before World War I; "Untamed Olympics: the Story of a Peninsula" in 1954; "Lost Mines and Treasures of the Pacific Northwest" in 1957; the 1960 "Northwest Disaster: Avalanche and Fire"; and "Treasure Hunting Northwest" in 1971.

Her last book, "An Olympic Mountain Enchantment," was published in 1989.

During her early years, she lived in Spokane and on farms near Lake Coeur d'Alene, "which no doubt fueled her love for the outdoors," said her niece, Marsha McGough, of Seattle. "We spent a lot of time outdoors learning from her. She was a great critic and helper."

Mrs. McAndrew had been an avid writer since early childhood, according to her family. After graduation from Spokane's Lewis and Clark High School in 1932, and Northwestern Business College two years later, she took writing classes at University of Washington, then was an assistant editor of Washington State Journal of Nursing in Seattle from 1949 to 1952.

She donated the majority of her original manuscripts, notes, photos and correspondence to the UW and WSU libraries after 1959.

Her manuscript collection remains one of the more popular at WSU, said Trevor Bond, interim chief of the WSU library's Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections section in Pullman.

"She worked on areas that are still of enduring interest," he said. "This is one of those research collections that is attractive to the general public."

At her death, she left unfinished a book about early Seattle brothel owner and businessman John Pinnell, said her niece.

Her first husband, merchant seaman Capt. S. John Sether, died at sea in 1959. She later married Raymond McAndrew, who died in 1978. She had lived in Oregon and Southern California.

She is survived by a sister, Lorraine Plummer, of Seattle; and a brother, Clifford Hult, of Brier. At her request, no funeral is planned.

Charles E. Brown: 206-464-2206 or cbrown@seattletimes.com

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