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Skykomish Turns
100 Years Old Saturday

June 04, 2009

Skykomish circa 1909. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Skykomish early 1900's. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Skykomish early 1900's. CLICK TO ENLARGE
(SKYKOMISH, WA) -- There’s big doings in the upper Sky Valley this weekend. Starting Friday, the historic Sky Valley town of Skykomish celebrates its 100th birthday.

Transformed from a tiny 1892 mountain railroad way station called Maloney's Siding, a post office was established in 1893 and the town became known then as Skykomish. The town was platted in 1899 and was incorporated on June 5,1909.

But the town’s early start came in 1889 when a railroad magnate, James Hill, decided to extend his railroad to the Pacific Coast from Montana. Until 1890, according to a new book on the history of the upper valley, only Native Americans from the Skykomish tribe populated the area. They had lived in the valley for centuries before white settlers arrived and used the upper valley mainly for hunting and berry picking.

A man named John Stevens (remember that name) was hired on by Hill to be the chief locating engineer for the project, meaning he had to figure out the best route for the railroad to take.

Around Spokane Stevens set out exploring the Cascade mountains to conjure up the best way through the Cascades and on to the coast. All of this effort led to the discovery of the pass that is now known by his name and lies just up the road from the lower Sky Valley -- Stevens Pass, which is also just 17 miles east of present day Skykomish.


By the 1890’s folks were flooding in to the upper valley and Skykomish from across the country and as far away as Europe after Great Northern Railway became the established route along the Skykomish River and news of a rich strike of galena (lead ore) reached the outside world.

Soon there were stores and saloons and other businesses to accommodate the railroad men that flooded into the area. The building of the town’s original store, built by John Maloney (remember the name Maloney’s Siding?) is still there but the original hotel burned down in 1904.

The first scheduled train went through Skykomish on June 18, 1893. The engineer on that first train run through town was named Patrick McEvoy who later settled in Skykomish and in 1897 opened a saloon to cater to the railroad men he came to know over the years. The place was called The Olympia and stands to this day in Skykomish as the Whistling Post Tavern.

Today’s Skykomish Hotel and Restaurant was built in 1905 by D.J. Manning. Back then the restaurants and card rooms were open twenty-four hours a day to accommodate those hard workin’ and hard playin’ railroad men.

There were also ladies of the evening available for companionship at the hotel and rumor has it the old Skykomish Hotel & Restaurant at 5th and South Railroad Avenue is home to a ghost known as "The Blue Lady."

The top floor of the hotel used to be a speakeasy where there was gambling and prostitution and the Blue Lady is thought to be a working gal killed by an angry boyfriend when he caught her engaging in the world’s oldest profession.


By the mid 1950’s, after the last electric train left Skykomish, the beginning of the end of the glory days of railroading set in and so the glory days of Skykomish slowly began fading into those gorgeous Cascade mountain sunsets.

But today Skykomish remains a proud, vibrant community visited more by tourists than train engines and the town itself remains a living reminder of one of the great transportation sagas of American history.

Readers interested in learning more about the colorful history of Skykomish and the upper Sky Valley can find more details in a new book out by a one time Skykomish resident that features a history of the upper Sky River valley.

Presented by The Skykomish Historical Society, the book “Upper Skykomish Valley," by Warren Carlson is a 128-page soft cover presentation released recently that features a history of the upper valley area from 1890 to present day. It is available at the Historical Society in Skykomish for around $20. The book includes more than 200 images, many of them never before published.

Skykomish Centennial Events – Vintage dress circa 1910 is encouraged

Friday June 5th:

1:00 Opening Ceremony at the Skykomish School
Everyone is invited. Immediately following there will be cake and coffee at the Community Center and wine and cheese at the museum, where Sky postmistress Sharon will hand cancel the once and only June 5th Skykomish Centennial Pictorial Postmark. Live music in town thereafter.

Saturday June 6th:

7:30 to 10:30 breakfast at the Masonic hall.

10:00 Open Air Market on Railroad Avenue. Antique booths, book sales, music, displays in Maloney’s Store. Museum open. Street music.

1:00 Dunk tank & Fire station displays open

12:00 Parade through the Town (Everything else stops for the Parade!)

1:00 Barbecue and other food vendors open. Kids games begin the school yard.

Events and music continue all afternoon

4:30: Scarecrow contest and egg toss at the Community Garden area.

5:30 Community social & dinner with musical entertainment at Masonic Hall featuring: The Golden Wannabees, Far Shore Four (barbershop), and Vivianna and Phil Williams.

9:00 Dancing at Masonic Hall - Live music at The Whistling Post and Cascadia

Sunday: June 7th:

Music, softball, and kids games at the Ballpark

11:00 on Pick-up softball

11:00 on: Gospel music by Blue Ize Cajun music by Sacalait, Gypsy Jazz by Seattle’s Pearl Django.



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