Was 2020 the worst year ever? IHM volunteer and long-time resident Jane Garrison muses over the similarities and differences between the 2020s and the 1920s.
While Issaquah’s first woman mayor was referred to disparagingly as a “lady mayor,” she set a precedent for other women who would run for — and attain — the office of mayor.
The Issaquah Depot Museum was built more than 130 years ago, and it offers a number of clues as to the people who’ve passed through it. Lumber purchased to construct the building now forms an interior wall, and still bears the Tibbetts’ & Sons lumber stamp. Somewhere along the way, a child dropped a china dog between the floorboards. And a hobo named Miller left his mark on a freight room door. Along with the silhouette of a man in a stove-pipe hat, the credo “Miller is my name” is written on the door, in some sooty substance.
This past December, conservation professional Peter Malarkey undertook a two-day stabilization of the hobo graffiti, which serves to both preserve and enhance the graffiti. Malarkey’s work on the graffiti was made possible by a grant from 4Culture, and it insures the ongoing preservation of this unique piece of Issaquah’s past.
Interested in checking out the hobo graffiti at the Issaquah Depot?
More information on visiting can be found here.
In our 2015 exhibit and program, Hobos & Homelessness, we explored the often-romantic notions that surround “the Hobo.” The first hobos were Civil War vets returning home by rail, often looking for employment along the way. An economic Depression during the 1870s led to an increase in hobos. As the 19th Century progressed, westward expansion and the growth of the railroad contributed to both the need for migrant labor and the means to get to places where workers were needed. Any of the nation’s economic crises encouraged people (usually men) to join the ranks of those who rode the rails looking for work. During the Depression, many of the people riding the rails were in their late teens and early 20s, and had left home because their parents could no longer support them.
The National Coalition for the Homeless writes that, “While we may today think of a hobo as a laid-back free spirit riding the rails with a bindle for a pillow, the mass migration of these laborers was born of destitution and desperation, akin to the life of the Joads portrayed in John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”. Rambling Rudy Phillips agreed, reminding us that “For every mile of beautiful scenery and warm sunshine, there are hundreds of miles of cold, dark nights, no food and no one to care whether I live or die.” Life on the move was hard, and dangerous.
Miller’s graffiti is not the only sign of hobo culture in Issaquah. Other hobo graffiti was discovered during the Depot’s restoration in the 1990s. During the Depression, Town Council minutes note, Issaquah’s town marshal was known to let vagrants spend the night in the jail if there were any free cells. An ongoing hobo camp also existed near the water tower south of town, where the steam trains would stop to take on water. Since the trains stopped here, it served as a convenient place to hop on or off the train. Kids growing up in Issaquah in the late 1930s and early 1940s remember walking to school past the hobo camp. The concrete footings from the water tower are still visible along the Rainier Trail.
There is a new tool available for anyone researching life in Issaquah, doing local genealogy, or trying to confirm a fact from the past. Thanks to a generous donation from local philanthropist Skip Rowley, of Rowley Properties, the Issaquah History Museums have made the full archives of The Issaquah Press available online, in a format that is both searchable and free to the user. Interested residents, researchers, and others can view more than 100 years worth of The Issaquah Press via an ArchiveInABox website.
The Issaquah Press started out as The Issaquah Independent, and its first issue was published on January 18, 1900. The weekly newspaper played a critical role as observer and recorder of events in Issaquah and the surrounding area. As Issaquah changed from a booming coal-mine town to a quiet farming community, and then to a growing suburb of Seattle, The Issaquah Press captured the stories and images that made Issaquah unique. Many local businesses, organizations, and individuals can trace important events in their development through the pages of the Press. When the Press closed up shop in February 2017, it was universally mourned.
In March 2018, the Seattle Times donated the full collection of Issaquah Press back issues to the Issaquah History Museums. Each of the 184 volumes consist of several years worth of newspapers bound together within a hardbound cover. Each volume is roughly two feet high and a foot wide. Lacking sufficient space at the Gilman Town Hall, we rented climate-controlled storage space to accommodate the collection.
Once the back issues were appropriately stored, staff began planning for a complete digitization. Selected issues of The Issaquah Press were digitized by a company called Smalltown Papers in the early 2000s. However, more than half of the Issaquah Press collection remained inaccessible — unless the prospective researcher was willing to use an aged microfilm reader paired with microfilm created in the 1980s.
In December 2018, Skip Rowley pledged to cover the cost of digitizing the remaining half of undigitized Press issues. Once the project was funded, Digital Archives Specialist Kris Ikeda began shipping bound Issaquah Press volumes to a digitization facility in Frederick, Maryland for processing. Digitization of the remaining Issaquah Press issues took 8 months, during which time 3,311 editions (consisting of 43,513 pages) were scanned.
Note that a small percentage of the Issaquah Press remains lost. Issues between 1900 and 1907, and between 1911 and 1918, are missing, their bound volumes lost sometime before the Press was microfilmed in the early 1980s. When you’re researching a particular topic, it can often feel like everything interesting that ever happened in Issaquah occurred during those gaps. We are always on the lookout for Issaquah Press issues that fall into these gaps. I try to keep a half-glass full attitude, and remain grateful for the thousands of issues, documenting more than 100 years, that do exist.
Ready to dive into Issaquah’s past? Follow this link to our ArchiveInABox site, where you can browse, search, and read through our community’s stories.
Historical Buildings and Sites
Many historic buildings still remain in Issaquah, along with some significant new buildings. Both old and new structures add character. This page is a launch pad for information and pictures about many of Issaquah’s special buildings and places, both new and old. This list doesn’t imply any kind of registry, and does not include private residences.
Before Lake Sammamish State Park existed, land on the banks of Lake Sammamish belonged to local farming families. Learn more about the land that became the park in this article.
155 NW Gilman Blvd Once a familiar landmark on the east shore of Lake Sammamish, this house was built by Thomas and Caroline Alexander in 1902 on land which was known for most of the century as Alexander’s Resort. Thomas Alexander had earlier been the “walking boss” (traveling construction supervisor) for the Seattle, Lakeshore and […]
111 Front Street North This was a particularly ornate bank building when it was built in 1910 to replace an early wood-frame of the Bank of Issaquah. At that time, the upper floor served as office space for area dentists and doctors. Over time, sections of the building were used to house the Issaquah Post […]
255 Gilman Boulevard North The Boehm’s Story Located in downtown Issaquah in an authentic Alpine Chalet, Boehm’s Candies, Inc. has a history as unique as any of the one hundred and fifty types of chocolate and other confectionaries manufactured on its premises. Even more remarkably, the shop still operates with many of the traditions and […]
335 Newport Way NW See More Buildings & Sites
99 Front Street North History This building has housed many Issaquah businesses since it was constructed, replacing the earlier Coutts Building, in 1913. Cornelius Coutts returned from Alaska and purchased the Tolle Anderson Front Street business lot for $800. Coutts and his wife Eva started a dry goods store in Issaquah in a small, false […]
71 Front Street North History J.W. Finney constructed his first meat market on this site circa 1900. In 1904, a fire devastated a large part of Issaquah’s downtown, including Finney’s building. The Issaquah Independent reported that “Incendiarism was suspected as having started in the Issaquah Coal Company store next door to the market.” This was […]
105 Newport Way SW Today’s Gibson Hall began life in 1936 as a three-sided picnic shelter constructed by the Works Progress Administration. The hall also had its own outbuilding that provided for restrooms and storage. Town Park was also the site of the Issaquah Free Campground and another WPA project, the State Salmon Hatcher. In […]
165 SE Andrews Street Gilman Town Hall is believed to be one of the oldest buildings still standing in the vicinity of downtown Issaquah (the other being the 1888 International Order of Odd Fellows Hall). It was constructed in 1888 as a community hall, a purpose it served until 1898. The town hall was likely constructed by […]
In 1972, Betty Konarski, owner of the Country Mouse consignment store, convinced Marvin and Ruth Mohl to scrap their plans to create another strip mall, and to create what would be Gilman Village instead.
90 Front St South This rare Ginkgo tree was planted by Dr. W.E. Gibson (a physician) at the start of the twentieth century. Dr. Gibson became Issaquah’s mayor in 1900 and served several additional terms as mayor and in the state legislature over the next 25 years. His family home was located on this site until it […]
58 East Sunset Way When the Grand Central Hotel was constructed, Issaquah was a stopover point for passengers traveling by train from Seattle to Snoqualmie. James Henry Croston, who worked in the mines as a carpenter, built the hotel in 1903 and operated it until his death in 1913. The family eventually sold the hotel […]
485 Front Street North From the 1998 “Issaquah Historic Property Inventory”: History The Grange Mercantile Association was organized by Issaquah Valley Grange No. 581 in 1916 and built this warehouse with large-scale ice-box and refrigeration rooms for general merchandise. The Mercantile Association served the food needs of the Issaquah community for 55 years before closing […]
232 Front Street North On December 18, 2003 the Issaquah Landmarks Commission met at the Issaquah Depot to discuss proposals to name two historic Issaquah buildings as City landmarks. The buildings under discussion were the Depot and the Hailstone Feed Store. Both buildings were granted landmark status. The feed store building, located on the east […]
Between Mt. Park Boulevard and Sunset Way Issaquah’s cemetery, located above downtown to the west, is composed of rolling hills with large, mature cedars and heritage trees. The site is visibly tied to the landscape of the forested foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Granite and stone grave markers date from the late 19th Century. Thirty […]
58 Front Street North This is the oldest remaining commercial structure in Issaquah, having been constructed in 1888 by The Gilman Lodge # 69, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. In addition to serving as lodge and community meeting hall, From the 1998 “Issaquah Historic Property Inventory”: History The Issaquah Odd Fellows Hall was […]
92 SE Bush Street One of the Issaquah History Museums’ best kept secrets, the Auto Freight Building contains a variety of tools, treasures, and vintage working machinery. Visitors can admire a set of Burma Shave signs, one of old Issaquah’s original wooden water pipes, a vintage Fairmont speeder used in track-work and repair, and the […]
301 Rainier Boulevard S The community center, both inside and out, is the center of Issaquah’s Parks and Recreation activities. Some of the inside amenities include a computer lab, fitness area, running track, sports courts, and youth center. The expansive front lawn is the home of frequent summer music concerts, and the City puts together […]
611 Front St N Issaquah’s Darigold Plant has been site of the continuous operation of a dairy facility since 1909. In that year, it was opened as the “Northwestern Milk Condensing Company” by a group of local businessmen looking for an outlet for the area’s dairy farms. Under the auspices of the Commercial Club, Tolle Anderson […]
78 First Avenue NE Issaquah’s Depot was constructed in 1889, and helped to transform the small farming community into a bustling coal town. It was originally built under the auspices of Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railway, but became part of the Northern Pacific network after the Panic of 1893 shut down the SLS&E. In the 1980s, […]
300 Napa Street, Sausalito, California The ferry ISSAQUAH has gone through a long life’s journey since its maiden journey on Lake Washington on May 2, 1914. Most of the ferry is history, but the two pilot houses are preserved and on display in the Galilee Harbor parking lot in Sausalito, California. As of September 1999, […]
10 Sunset Way Issaquah’s 15,000-square-foot library opened June 4, 2001. Just west of the library, along Sunset Way, a new, two-level garage provides free parking for visitors. Construction of the new facility took 18 months and cost about $8.2 million. As of opening day, 28 “state-of-the-art” computers were available for research, writing and recreation. The […]
130 Sunset Way On April 8, 2000, the Issaquah Police Department had its grand opening and ribbon cutting at the new police station. Newscaster Tony Ventrella was Master of Ceremonies, and he brought two wonderful female singers to sing the National Anthem. Mayor Ava Frisinger and Chief of Police Dag Garrison both gave inspirational speeches […]
125 West Sunset Way With more than 300,000 visitors each year, the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery is easily the most-visited hatchery in the state. The best time to visit is September and October, when the salmon return to the hatchery up Issaquah Creek and when the Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery (F.I.S.H.) offers public tours. […]
23600 Evans Street The Issaquah Sportsmen’s Club clubhouse was built during the great depression (1937), using funding from the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The clubhouse has been continuously used by the Issaquah Sportsman’s Club, with many activities open to the public. The Issaquah Alps Trails Club was founded at the clubhouse in 1979, and the […]
120 Front St. North From the 1998 Issaquah Historic Property Inventory: History Mr. Rufus H. Glenn came to Issaquah in 1912 and opened a theater in town. And in 1913 he built the Issaquah Theater Building (called Glenn Theater at the time) at this site where silent films were shown. The theater has a flat floor, […]
11o SE Bush Street The “Trails House” is owned by the City of Issaquah and used primarily as a meeting place and headquarters for the Issaquah Alps Trails Club. The single cozy meeting room is used for committee and board meetings for various organizations and the City. The lean-to section in the back contains public […]
20606 SE 56th Street Lake Sammamish State Park is a 512-acre day-use park with 6,858 feet of waterfront on Lake Sammamish. The area around the lake was an important culture zone for local Indian tribes for centuries. The park provides deciduous forest and wetland vegetation for the enjoyment of visitors. A salmon-bearing creek and a […]
100 Block First Avenue The logging display at the City of Issaquah’s “Preservation Park” was created over the course of the 1990’s by many volunteers, and is maintained by the Issaquah Historical Society. At the center of the display is a “road engine”, which were used throughout the area in the late 1800’s and early […]
55 West Sunset Way From the 1998 Issaquah Historic Property Inventory: History The Masonic Hall has played significant roles in the building of community in Issaquah. First, serving as a fraternal lodge, the hall was the site of socializing and the development of community ties. A newspaper photo and caption in the Issaquah Historic Society […]
Corner of Sunset Way and First Avenue NE This 1998 mural depicts Issaquah’s logging industry circa 1900-1940. At this time, old growth cedar and fir logs were being cut from the hills surrounding Issaquah and milled in the town’s many lumber mills. There were a number of railroad spurs that made transport of lumber into […]
Pickering Barn was the center of Issaquah’s largest dairy farm for many years. The land surrounding the barn was purchased from earlier homesteaders by Washington territorial governor William Pickering in 1867. Today the barn is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Cougar Mountain Regional Park Now an open field, “Radar Park” was once a military installation used to protect our area from air attack. All that is left of the installation now is sidewalks (which seem to serve no purpose), cement pads, landscaping features and an interpretive sign. The site is part of the Cougar Mountain […]
Corner of 1st Ave. SE and E. Sunset Way [The following article is adapted from the Washington Municipal Clerks’ Association (WMCA) Fall 2001 quarterly newsletter] Linda Ruehle, City Clerk for the City of Issaquah retired on June 1, 2001, after serving the City and the community for 30 years. On October 5, 2001, Linda was […]
98 NE Gilman Boulevard The first drive-in restaurant in the Pacific Northwest was established in 1930 in Renton by A.H. Rutherford. The combination of Triple XXX Root Beer and food turned out to be a great idea which spread nationwide. Of all the XXXs that ever graced our country’s landscape, Issaquah’s is the only one left which […]
130 Sunset Way Memorial Field is a peaceful place in the heart of downtown Issaquah. Come on a sunny day to enjoy the ball fields, playground, good views of the surrounding green hills. The piece of land that is now Memorial Field was once owned by the Superior Coal Company. Superior Coal, a German-owned company, […]
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MUSEUM HOURS & LOCATION
Gilman Town Hall
165 SE Andrews Street
Issaquah Depot Museum
78 First Avenue NE
Issaquah Valley Trolley
78 First Avenue NE