Skykomish Centennial Parade
June 6, 2009

"Dress-up Opportunity" - Skykomish, Washington

It's not easy turning 100, whether a human being or a town.  In the case of a darling little town along the Skykomish River and Hwy 2 as it heads towards Stevens Pass, festivities were handled in grand style and with much fanfare.
What is the back-story?
The town began in 1893 as a rail town for Great Northern Railway.  Although originally named for the Skykomish Indians, there is no evidence of native inhabitance near the town.

The owner of Great Northern Railway, was slowly making headway bringing rail lines from the mid-west to the Pacific NW.  He sent one of his engineers to scope out the Northern Cascade in the hopes of finding a suitable route over the mountains to the fledgling city that was Seattle.

So in 1890, John F. Stevens explored the area along a tributary of the Wenatchee River.  His assistant, CFB Haskell, was sent to scout out the head waters of Nason Creek and found them to be near the headwaters of the Tye River, flowing down the western side of the mountains.  Haskell carved "Stevens Pass" into a tree trunk and the transcontinental route was "staked".
After the rail was completed, Skykomish became an important stop for east & west trains.  The terrain is so steep that one engine would pull, while another would push from behind.  12 miles of train track would raise the train 3 miles up the hill.  To solve this, construction began on a tunnel.

(Photo of original portal)

Wonderful, historical archive image of a train as it comes thru the tunnel opening.
Take a look at this image of the old tunnel's interior.  Is it a photograph?  Is it an artist's rendering of what it looked like with a train's light coming down the track?

A major fire wiped out much of the town in 1904.  However, in one year's time, a new hotel was being built, along with a pool hall, saloon, warehouses, etc.  In 1909, the town finally incorporated with John Maloney as Mayor!

(Photo courtesy UW Archive)

(Photo courtesy Historical Society)

(Photo courtesy Seattle P.I.)

Imagine this amount of steel, pulling or pushing its way over the pass.  Where are these wonderful iron horses today and wouldn't you love to ride one?

Pictured here, is Great Northern Railroad's Locomotive 1151 as it paused at the water tower in town.

On June 5, 2009, the town turned 100.  The very following day, the town held a Grand Parade with a very colorful mix of folks with the usual suspects in attendance: The Historical Society, The Forestry Service, The Fire Dept., etc.  New to the town's history were two "outsider" sort of entities represented.  One was the newly formed "KCR Conservative Club" and our own Lady Victoria of Somewhere in Time, Unlimited, an historical costuming club with a 30-yr standing in Washington State.

Pictured on the far left is Ruth Gibbs of the
KCR Conservative Club while on the far right, Lady Victoria of Somewhere in Time, Unlimited poses with "Mr. Willy".

This was Willy's first official entrance into a parade.  He enjoyed himself tremendously!

The building in front of which they stand, is located to the right of the old hotel.

(Photo from's photographer Claudia Retter #3714513042
Titled: Lady with Lap Dog)

Above, you will see a photo of what the town looks like today.  Notice the hotel at left?  In recent years, it was used by railroad personnel who were working in the area.  Currently, the building is boarded up, awaiting a revival. In this photo, you will find the old rail station sitting on temporary saddle.  It was moved from across the street of the hotel, to just down the street.  It's now out of the way from massive construction work being done in town, due to haz-mat remediation.

Men hard at work dealing with all the toxins in the soil.

As Lady Victoria left town with Mr. Wills, folks were still busy with centennial celebrations.  She waved goodbye with a "Raise a glass for me...."

If you'd like to learn more about the historical costuming group
Somewhere in Time, Unlimited from the Seattle area,
please click here to visit our home page.
You can find info about Classes, photos of Prior Events,
other upcoming Dress-up Opportunities, etc.
Updated May 20, 2010