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Bellevue Hotel

Looking Back Series

Issaquah Press: Looking Back Series

For three years, the Issaquah Press ran a weekly series called “Looking Back.”  Images are from the Issaquah History Museums’ collection, and captions were written by Eric Erickson.

Near Front and Sunset

Near Goode’s Corner


Festivals and Parades




Pickering Farm

Grand Central Hotel

Near Front and Sunset (reprise)

Issaquah Valley Trolley 2000

Trolley to be Running by Salmon Days

This article appeared in The Issaquah Press, February 23, 2000

by Stacy Goodman

Issaquah Valley Trolley 2000

Issaquah Valley Trolley circa 2000

The Issaquah Historical Society is working to secure a lease on a circa 1929 J.G. Brill trolley, which as room for 22 seated and 10 standing passengers. The trolley could debut just before this year’s Salmon Days.

Plans are on track for the millennium trolley to debut just prior to this year’s Salmon Days Festival. The Issaquah Historical Society project recently received a $100,000 donation and a vintage trolley could be on its way here.

“We’re hoping for an (inaugural run) a little before Salmon Days, that’s our goal,” said David Bangs, historical society president.

The historical society for years has envisioned a trolley operating from the restored train depot at Memorial Park. Those plans shifted into high gear when 12 miles of railroad tracks between Issaquah and Redmond were abandoned a few years ago.

Bangs said the recent donation allows the historical society to pay off its $60,000 bank loan used to buy two miles of rails between Gilman Boulevard and the state park’s boat launch. The remaining $40,000 is available for obtaining a trolley.

The rails were being salvaged last year as part of King County’s proposed East Lake Sammamish Trail project, a public trail between Issaquah and Redmond.

Although phase 1 of the trolley line stretches only between the train depot and Gilman Boulevard, future phases extend it to the boat launch. The county has agreed to add a trolley alignment to its master-planning process for the trail. The historical society also is about to secure a 5-year lease on a trolley.

“We have, after a coast-to-coast search, located a trolley car that looks promising,” said Barb Justice, vice president of the Historical Society.

The 22-seat, 10-standing J. G. Brill model, circa 1929, was found during a nationwide search by Historic Railway Restoration in Edmonds. The fee for the trolley would be offset by the society’s refurbishing and maintaining it, justice said.

Behind the trolley is the society’s 12-member Trolley Committee, plus dozens of volunteers.

“We have a really cool city,” Bangs said. “Issaquah has done a great job preserving its downtown area. It’s not been over-developed like the downtown areas of other cities on the Eastside. We’ve done a great job preserving the old depot. A lot of depots around the country don’t have tracks around them anymore.”

The society also envisions an old-fashioned “barn raising” on tracks to the north of the depot, where the trolley could be stored. Electricity for the trolley will be supplied by a generator trailer towed by the trolley. No overhead wiring will be installed. Initial use of the trolley would be for Salmon Days, theater nights, and other special events.

Bangs estimated it will take an additional $60,000 to get the trolley running between Sunset Way and Gilman Boulevard. Society volunteers have built a two-thirds scale mock-up of the trolley for use a kiosk during fund-raising events.

Issaquah Historical Society members Barb Justice and David Bangs hopped aboard the newly built trolley kiosk, designed to help with fund-raising.

Press Photo by Stacy Goodman

This Article © 2000 Issaquah Press. Used by permission

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Hatchery Models its Success

This article appeared in The Issaquah Press, December 31, 1997

By Stacy Goodman

Issaquah has been called upon to help save Mount Whitney Hatchery in California.

The California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) has asked Steve Bell, the executive director of Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery (FISH), to share how the Issaquah community was able to save its hatchery from closure five years ago.

Issaquah nearly lost its hatchery when the state thought the facility might be too old and not worth continued budget investments, and without a unique fish stock.

Community members, the City of Issaquah and local legislators rallied to save it, and expanded the hatchery’s mission to teach people about the lives of salmon.

“The state hadn’t really recognized its educational value,” Bell said. “And now they do.”

The Mount Whitney Hatchery faces other challenges. It is in a rural community and has diseased water, Bell said.

“The community and the CDFG are very interested to see how we resolved things,” Bell said. “They don’t have the visitors and students that we have. Their challenges are different.”

Bell will meet with Mount Whitney’s strategic planning team on Jan. 8 in Whitney. In addition to presenting a slide show about the Issaquah operation, he will share how Issaquah developed a master plan and created FISH for its hatchery.

“I am hopeful that we can learn from your successes and setbacks as we begin a similar planning effort at Mount Whitney,” wrote Bob Garrison, coordinator of Interpretive Services/Aquatic Education at the California in a letter to Bell. Mount Whitney is an historic hatchery in east central California.

“It says a lot about the uniqueness of this situation (in Issaquah) that it’s well-known outside the state,” Bell said.

This Article © 1997 Issaquah Press. Used by permission

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City Has No Space for History

This article appeared in The Issaquah Press, December 3, 1997

By Stacy Goodman

History might just have to wait.

Members of the Issaquah Historical Society recently were told the city has no room or money for expanding the Town Hall Museum.

Members have been meeting monthly with a City Council committee regarding a need for additional museum space.

The 1,180-square-foot Gilman Town Hall building is too cramped for the number of people who come to visit, say members of the Historical Society. Also, the museum and Train Depot were not designed for storing the paper archives collected by the historical society during the past 25 years.

“(Town Hall) is not much bigger than most two-bedroom apartments in Issaquah,” said Eric Erickson, historical society president.

In addition to safer storage, the society would like a space in the 8,000-square-foot range for accommodating hands-on displays, research areas, a photo gallery and computers. It should be located downtown, as well, to be within walking distance of the depot and Town Hall.

The society had been eyeing the old library. That space becomes vacant after the new King County library is built in 2000, but has been reserved for a new Issaquah Valley Senior Center.

A recent survey of city-owned buildings downtown shows there’s nothing available for a larger museum:

City Hall South – The police department is temporarily housed there. Both floors are expected to be used for city offices after the new police station is built. Community Hall – This is the location of the meals program until the Senior Center moves to the old library, at which time the meals program will move to the Senior Center. Retail space in parking garage – Adjacent to the new library at Sunset Way and Front Street will be a two-story parking garage, possibly with retail frontage funded by the city.

“Realistically, the city is going to be cash-poor for five years,” said council member Harris Atkins said. “So we aren’t going to be able to take on any additional debt.”

Because the city has no space for the museum and is short on cash, Atkins encouraged the historical society to think about other options.

The historical society also is trying to get a new roof for the depot, but cannot apply for a King County grant unless the city cooperates. The society has been without agreements to use the city-owned depot and Town Hall buildings since last year. It took the city three years to get the new roof on Town Hall once the society received a $10,000 grant, according to historical society member Barb Justice.

“At this point, without a use agreement, we can’t even apply for a grant,” Justice said.

Atkins said the city should have a place in its budget for assessing the needs of city facilities.

“To say you have a roof problem is proof the process isn’t working,” Atkins said.

Erickson suggested the needs and vision of the historical society be included in the city’s Comprehensive Plan, possibly in the Cultural Plan now being developed. “We certainly should have our foot in the door after 25 years – some status,” Justice said. “It doesn’t seem like we do.”

This Article © 1997 Issaquah Press. Used by permission

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A New Plan for Downtown?

This article appeared in The Issaquah Press, November 19, 1997

By Stacy Goodman

Leaders of the effort to revitalize historic downtown Issaquah are reorganizing with a new plan of attack.

Last year the decade-old district became part of the national Main Street program. With help from a one-time state grant of $5,000, Main Street Issaquah was up and running as a part-time entity.

Organizers now believe that turning downtown into a thriving center is a full-time job that needs plenty of community input and 100 volunteers.

“It may not always be here if we don’t preserve it,” said Susan Smith, interim executive director of the Main Street program. “This has to be a project the whole community invests in.”

Smith, a former consultant to the city, volunteered to serve as the interim executive director after Linda Kelleran resigned the post at the end of August.

Smith is busy canvassing downtown merchants and property owners about their problems, ideas for solutions and what direction Main Street should take toward preserving the “central heart of the community.”

The organization’s legal name still is Council for Historic Downtown Issaquah.

“We don’t know what downtown needs,” Smith said. “I think that’s what people thought last year, that we had all the answers.”

What became apparent, however, was that Main Street needed to be a full-time effort. Issaquah is a small city, but still has major problems needing full-time attention – particularly regarding traffic and growth, how they affect each other and downtown, she said.

A full-time program would need an annual budget of $55,000. Organizers have embarked on an ambitious fund-raising effort led by local businessman Skip Rowley on behalf of the Greater Issaquah Chamber of Commerce. Rowley has pledged $5,000 and the City of Issaquah will provide $10,000. In a recent letter to Chamber members to raise the $40,000 balance, Rowley asked each of them to step up and pledge at least $200 per year for the next three years.

“Every city has noted the need to really support its historic district, and Issaquah is no different,” Rowley wrote.

Cathi Champion, president of the Main Street board re-elected to the position in September, said the vitality of the area affects all of Issaquah.

“This is about making Issaquah be what it wants to make it thrive and economically viable,” Champion said. “It’s not about making it a cookie-cutter area.”

If Main Street were to become a full-time program, Smith and Champion want the north-south borders of the cultural and business district expanded to Gilman Boulevard and the Community Center area, which would include about 160 businesses. Currently, the downtown core is bordered to the north and south by Dogwood and Bush streets, and to the east and west by Memorial Field and First Place Northwest, encompassing 114 businesses.

The next order of business would be to create specific goals based on widespread community input about how the Main Street program should be implemented.

“How do we approach traffic? How do we get people to stop? Do they know where to park? Do we lobby for widening the streets?” Smith said. “All we can try to do is listen to what the majority of them think is a good idea and steer.”

Smith likened the role of the Main Street program to that of property managers of malls, in addition to its preservation role.

According to the city’s Comprehensive Plan, the downtown “comprises the soul of the historic community of Issaquah,” and specific regulations and procedures are encouraged in order to create a place conducive to parades, festivals, pedestrian activities, public gatherings and tourism.

Smith said any significant change could take three to five years. Already she is chipping away at about 20 small problems. For example, Front Street Market for years has requested Metro bus schedules be available in their store.

“Give me problems like those,” she said. “I can fix them.”

But for the longer-term goal the organization will need 100 volunteers, she said, according to officials at the state’s Main Street office in Olympia.

“There are so many pieces that could merit attention … that we have to be a coalition because one person or board cannot do all these things,” Smith said.

Other factors in the success of downtown look promising. A parking study recently conducted by the city revealed there is more parking downtown than people perhaps realize, although the study won’t be released for a couple of weeks, Smith said. She believes the public confuses congestion with parking.

Last year Main Street participated in developing a new sign code for downtown, started its First Tuesday meetings, sent out its first newsletter, organized a spring clean-up day and provided free holiday lights to create a festive shopping area.

This year the goals are to create an active Main Street membership and create a direction for the organization – and then prioritize the many tasks.

Members are helping plan the design of the new King County Library to be built at the corner of Front Street and Sunset Way. They also have plans to make parking areas more visible. Another task involves questions about tenant mix and how to attract the most viable businesses.

After the work, and results, will come the celebration.

“When you’ve got a good tenant mix and people know where to park, then you can have a Mother’s Day event,” Champion said. “Then comes the time for promotion and celebration for the community.”


This Article © 1997 Issaquah Press. Used by permission


“We’re Looking Pretty Good, Larry”

This article appeared in The Issaquah Press, November 19 1997


The Mill Street Logging Scene mural. [Issaquah Press photo by Greg Farrar]

The souls of High Point Mill Company workers seem to gaze approvingly over the shoulder of artist Larry Kangas as he puts some finishing touches on “The Mill Street Logging Scene,” a mural of turn-of-the-century Issaquah. The mural includes a High Point Mill Company Climax 40-ton engine from 1918-28; an Issaquah Lumber Company mill from 1936; and the Issaquah Mill Company steam donkey from 1903. The mural, sponsored by the Arts Commission, Greater Issaquah Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Issaquah Plaza, Historical Society, Main Street Issaquah, Front Street Market and the Ben Franklin store, was dedicated Thursday on the north wall of the Front Street Market building on East Sunset Way.


This Article © 1997 Issaquah Press. Used by permission

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Downtown Mural to Depict Logging History

This article appeared in The Issaquah Press, September 24, 1997

A mural depicting the history of logging in the Issaquah area could be painted and unveiled before this year’s Salmon Days Festival.

The $5,500 mural, which received City Council approval last week, is being funded by the Municipal Arts Fund. The historical account will be portrayed on the north wall of A Better Bath & Kitchen store on East Sunset Way.

Weather permitting, artist Larry Kangas will have the mural ready to show to visitors by the annual Salmon Days weekend Oct. 4-5. Kangas was one of the artists on the Darigold mural that was painted just prior to the 1995 festival.

“It would be a history in itself, a reminder of our roots,” said Nancy Horrocks, member of the Mural Task Force.

The three-part mural will depict in the foreground a locally used classic logging engine. In the background will be a shingle mill – a picture of either the Highpoint Mill or one that was at the end of Sunset Way near Newport. The right side of the mural will be the picture of a steam donkey working on a hillside with steam rising from it.

This Article © 1997 Issaquah Press. Used by permission

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Only Sportsmen’s Club Land Isn’t Historical

This article appeared in The Issaquah Press, July 23, 1997

By Stacy Goodman

Bestowing historic status to the land under the Issaquah Sportsmen’s Club was an error, according to a recommendation made by a county hearing examiner last week.

The land, as well as the 62-year-old club itself, in March was designated a landmark by the King County Landmarks and Heritage Commission. The City of Issaquah and a developer appealed the decision because of concerns the rustic-style building might stand in the way of at least one alternative being studied for the proposed Southeast Issaquah bypass.

Stafford L. Smith, deputy hearing examiner for the county, called the designation of the land an error because it “has not shown to possess an independent historical or archeological value.”

As part of the landmarks-designation process, the commission automatically includes the land underneath a structure.

The recommendation will go to the County Council, where final action will be taken.

“I’m happy with what was the issue of the land,” said Eric Erickson, Sportsmen’s Club historian. “I’m particularly interested in the building. We’ve put a lot of work into saving it.”

The club, built as part of a Works Progress Administration project in 1935, in 1993 was moved about 600 feet to its current location.

“There’s no question that the building can be moved with the historical designation,” Erickson said. “That was never a question per se. It’s already been moved.”

Smith denied two other appeals. Sunrise Ridge Ltd, developer of the proposed 102-acre Parkpointe residential development adjacent to the club, challenged the designation of the building. Sunrise also had alleged the designation process should be subject to an environmental review.

This Article © 1997 Issaquah Press. Used by permission

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IHS Marks 25 Years

This article appeared in The Issaquah Press, May 28, 1997

First formed in May, 1972, and called the Historical Commission, the organization known today as the Historical Society, marked its silver anniversary last Tuesday at the Tibbetts Manor. More than 150 people came to honor the society, known across King County as one of the most successful historical groups. The collections and efforts of the organization can be seen at the Gilman Town Hall Museum at 165 Andrews St. and the Depot Museum at 50 Rainier Blvd. N. For more information about the museums, call 392-3500 and leave a message.

TODAY AND YESTERDAY – Current president Nancy Horrocks tells the gathering about the influences of Greg Spranger, who led the restoration efforts on the depot and is credited with breathing new life into the organization during the early and mid-1980s.

SHARING MEMORIES – Harriet Fish, considered the driving force behind the formation of the society, shares some of her early memories.

FROM THE START – Founding members attending the reception had a chance to catch up with one another. They included (from left) Joe Peterson, Marilyn Foley, Felicity Lowe, Mae Darst and Fish.


This Article © 1997 Issaquah Press. Used by permission

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The Early Years

This article appeared in The Issaquah Press, May 14, 1997

Here is a chronology of major events during the Issaquah Historical Society’s first five years, as recorded by Harriet Fish (note: the group was called the historical commission at that time and the Gilman Town Hall Museum was known as the History Center) :


  • May 21 – First meeting for forming the Issaquah Historical Society. Plans made for P.R. through exhibits throughout the year in the local bank, etc. winding up at Salmon Days (in October)
  • Sept. 12 – At the request of Mayor Keith Hansen, a project to document the Issaquah Mayors by photographs (at that time 17 mayors had held office) was completed by Harriet Fish and presented to the city.
  • Sept. 21 – Old Gilman Town Hall becomes available.
  • Oct. 19 – Letters sent to prospective members for building the society.
  • Nov. 15 – City Council voted to purchase property at 165 SE Andrews St.
  • Nov. 20 – Historical Commission appointed.
  • November – During this fall, Andy Wold died.
  • Dec. 19 – City forwards earnest money on purchase of Old Gilman Town Hall property.


  • Jan. 8 – Realtor (Robert Caterall) conducted sale of property to city as “a service to the city and to the Historical Society with no commission.”
  • Feb. 14 – City Historian appointed by Mayor Hansen – Harriet Fish.
  • March 13 – Issaquah Historical Society met in the History Center for the first time, heat and lights now being available. (City had rewired some of the building.)
  • April 15 – Fire proof file drawers requested for vertical file materials which had been acquired and collected by Ed and Harriet Fish during the years of book research. Also requested alarm system.
  • May 22 – Items … were moved from the Bergsman Barn to the History Center.
  • July 10 – Cabinets of shelves were removed from the Public Library to the History Center. (two made of birch with glass sliding fronts).
  • July 19 – Chemical Fire truck and hose cart defined as belonging to Issaquah Historical Society were to be returned by the Washington State Historical Fire Museum. (Whether these ever arrived is questionable)
  • Sept. 25 – Police Docket book of early years received from city. Brochure published giving historical background of Old Gilman Town Hall and Jail. Four drawer file cabinet purchased, (used) for $62.00.
  • November – Bud Settem died; Felicity Lowe appointed to fill spot on Historical Commission; Joanne Berry was appointed to fill another vacancy on Commission.


  • Newsletters being printed, possibly started in 1973.
  • Historical Commission expenditures 1/1/1973 to 3/18/1974: $7,488.77.
  • Influenced the saving of the large maple tree in the Safeway parking lot.
  • Started to produce a 200 slide P.R. show of history of Issaquah. (some funds came from Fred Glandon in March) Oct. Antique Sale and Show in Junior High Building, Dick Matilla in charge.
  • Bessie Wilson Craine manuscript, which had been secured by Ed Fish before he died, is completed by typing in office practices classes at the Issaquah High School.
  • Drive Yourself tour plans started, Joanne Berry and husband in charge.


  • Anita Page appointed to Historical Commission.
  • City installed new furnace in center. (oil).
  • By-laws of Society amended for I.R.S. purposes.
  • Drive Yourself Tour being developed for use over Salmon Days.
  • June 9 – $500 grant from Seattle Arts Commission to be used for Tour Brochure.
  • Monthly rather than bi-monthly meetings scheduled.
  • Notified of bequest by Bernice Wold Estate; ultimately received $4,614.


  • Dick Matilla appointed to Historical Commission.
  • Non-profit status received from I.R. S. through Cushman & Holt.
  • Drive Around Tour brochure completed and in use.
  • Talk of printing the Bessie Wilson Craine manuscript into book to be called “Squak Valley.”
  • May – Directional signs to be installed for finding museum.
  • June – $2,400 received from Wold Estate; kitchen renovation at center being planned.
  • Aug. 6 – First talk with Burlington Northern about saving Depot.
  • Aug. 24 – $600 budget from city to paint exterior of center. Plans for remodeling front of center are considered.


This Article © 1997 Issaquah Press. Used by permission