State park centennial

June 26, 2013

Lake Sammamish park readies for a facelift

After a Pacific Northwest fall, winter and spring that seemingly blend together, muddied by a persistent rain, summer can never come soon enough.

When it does, however, it’s a thing of beauty, filled with blue sky, sunshine and a temperate climate that just beckons locals to come outside.

By Greg Farrar Peaches, the giant Schnauzer, looks on with curiosity as her owner Connie Marsh (left) and David Kappler, board members of the recently formed Friends of Lake Sammamish State Park, chat at the park’s rotunda shelter built in 1975, when Dan Evans was governor.

By Greg Farrar
Peaches, the giant Schnauzer, looks on with curiosity as her owner Connie Marsh (left) and David Kappler, board members of the recently formed Friends of Lake Sammamish State Park, chat at the park’s rotunda shelter built in 1975, when Dan Evans was governor.

There is no better place to soak up those all-too infrequent rays than at Lake Sammamish State Park.

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Discover images from local history on Pinterest

September 4, 2012

Find iconic images from local history on the King County Archives’ Pinterest boards,

The agency launched several Pinterest boards containing dozens of photos to pique interest in a vast collection of documents and photos. Some photos in the collection have not been widely seen before by the public.

The collection on Pinterest contains more than 100 images, including old maps, artwork and photos from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.

Citizens can contact the archives for more information about the photos or purchase copies. Call 206-296-1538 or email

Issaquah History Museums unveils oral history treasure trove

August 28, 2012

For decades, old cassette tapes sat squirreled away in the Issaquah History Museums’ expansive collection.

The cassettes, long relegated to gathering dust, contained oral histories from early residents and intimate details about a bygone era — Issaquah in the early 20th century, as a coal- and timber-fueled boom started to wane and decades before explosive growth transformed the area into subdivisions and shopping centers.

The cassettes in the oral history collection ranged in date from 1958 to 1993, but little information accompanied the tapes, so museum staffers and volunteers could only speculate about the contents.

Until now.

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Tomorrow turns 50: Century 21 Exposition, space-age celebration, reshaped region a half-century ago

February 21, 2012

In early Century 21 Exposition concept art, circa 1961, the monorail hangs from a rail rather than gliding along a track. MOHAI, Walter Straley Century 21 Exposition Photograph Collection

Opportunities seemed endless as Seattle prophesized a sleek future at the 1962 Century 21 Exposition.

In the years before the fair opened a half-century ago, local leaders imagined the fairgrounds along Lake Sammamish. Envision, as entrepreneurs dared to do in the late ’50s, Lake Sammamish State Park as a site for the still-embryonic exposition.

The fairgrounds showcase Cougar Mountain as a backdrop for the Space Needle. Or, rather than the bubbling International Fountain, placid Lake Sammamish defines the landscape. The monorail, all Swedish design and German engineering, connects suburban cities, not Seattle neighborhoods.

Organizers considered, if only for a moment, a fair situated amid farmland and forests, perhaps a Festival of the West set in Issaquah, a former frontier settlement.

“What if it had been in Issaquah?” asked Lorraine McConaghy, public historian for the Seattle-based Museum of History & Industry, or MOHAI. “What if 10 million people had come to Issaquah between May and October of 1962?”

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce leaders proposed the then-300-acre state park as a possible fair site in July 1958, as boosters from the Puget Sound region urged organizers to consider locations outside Seattle.

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Tomorrow turns 50: In 1962, Issaquah residents crossed Lake Washington for fair’s futuristic fun

February 21, 2012

Diners enjoy drinks — and a now-forbidden smoke — in the Eye of the Needle revolving restaurant atop the Space Needle. MOHAI, Milkie Studio Collection

The distance from Issaquah to the future measured a mere 17 miles.

In 1962, as the Century 21 Exposition greeted fairgoers from the United States and beyond, residents from Issaquah — then home to about 3,000 people — crossed Lake Washington from April 21 to Oct. 21 for the Space Age fair.

Nowadays, 50 years after the spectacle at Seattle Center closed, memories remain as clear as the Bubbleator dome. The fair introduced countless palates to strawberry-topped Belgian waffles and tempted millions of guests to brave the maze inside the IBM Pavilion.

“Everybody went to the fair,” said Lorraine McConaghy, public historian for the Seattle-based Museum of History & Industry, or MOHAI. “It was not just an urban phenomenon. It was a regional phenomenon.”

The iconic Space Needle — then painted in Technicolor hues — and the Bubbleator left lasting impressions on locals. The bubble-shaped elevator carried fairgoers to exhibits inside the Washington State Coliseum.

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Tomorrow turns 50: Issaquah greeted travelers en route to the fair

February 21, 2012

Issaquah, a way station on the route to the 21st century, opened the city to travelers as the Century 21 Exposition greeted almost 10 million fairgoers.

In 1962, the fair also came to Issaquah in a sense, after Issaquah Chamber of Commerce leaders established a fair information booth along U.S. Route 10, a pulsing artery stretched from the Midwest to the Northwest.

Inside the A-frame structure, 168 volunteers offered fair facts and Evergreen State greetings for 12 hours each day from May 12 to Sept. 30. In August, as the fair readied for its 5 millionth guest, Issaquah residents greeted the 5,000th traveler to stop at the booth.

The booth hosted representatives from all 50 states and 28 foreign nations. Organizers could arrange accommodations for fairgoers from Issaquah via a direct telephone line to the lodging center at the exposition.

“People became aware of Issaquah” through the information center, longtime Issaquah resident Dick Campbell said. “We were something other than a farming-logging-mining community.”

Experience life in Issaquah 100 years ago — outhouses, saloons and all

February 21, 2012

Forget the buttoned-up suburb, circa 2012, to envision Issaquah from a century ago.

Issaquah in 1912 included more saloons than churches. The coalmines and logging camps attracted a tough-as-nails crowd. The era required a little more steel in the backbone.

Townsfolk eked out a hardscrabble life, but still managed to loosen up at the Stockholm Hotel & Saloon or Clark’s Place. In homes, simple conveniences — indoor plumbing, for instance — ranked as unheard-of luxuries.

Imagine a typical day from 1912.

The chill February air is a bracing alarm, almost as difficult to ignore as the crowing rooster outside.

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Unlock the Issaquah History Museums’ secrets

February 21, 2012

Issaquah History Museums Executive Director Erica Maniez leans against a historic road sign at the Gilman Town Hall Museum. By Greg Farrar

Find hidden treasures from the past in the city’s unofficial ‘attic’

There are 8,359. And counting.

That’s how many artifacts, including 3-D objects and an array of documents, make up the Issaquah History Museums’ collection.

With 7,111 photos to complement the collection, there’s no better place to get a sense of what makes Issaquah, well, Issaquah.

Among the items are rare finds — an unusual Native American trading knife buried beneath the floor of an Issaquah business or a logger’s skidding cone made right here by the town blacksmith.

Some are specific to this area, such as an early 1900s billboard — discovered later facedown in a ditch — advertising the latest and greatest in Issaquah merchants, medical care and goods.

But while each item lays claim to its own history and back story, every artifact weaves into a fabric that tells a story of who we are as a community, how we came to be and even where we’re going in the future.

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Uncover the dark side of Issaquah

February 15, 2011

Vehicles streak through the darkness in downtown Issaquah. By Greg Farrar

The tree-lined suburb of today evolved from a frontier town of sinister secrets

Welcome to Issaquah!

On your left, you’ll see the Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-In!

On your right, you’ll find the Village Theatre!

Oh look, over there is the beloved Issaquah Salmon Hatchery!

A typical tour of town might go something like that, detailing the proud past of a historic city.

What about the strange, seedy and sinister history of this former frontier town? What about the ominous undertones? Not many tours take you down the alleys of the city or expose what had been its underbelly.

But this one does, and it will tell you about some of the most notable incidents that occurred here in the decades after white settlers arrived in the 1850s. Murders. Bombings. Fires. Explosions. Abductions. Plus, plenty of other mayhem.

Get in your DeLorean and prepare to tickle your morbid curiosity, because we’re headed straight to the past and into the dark side of Issaquah.

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Ferry tale

February 23, 2010

Vessel named for Issaquah overcomes early troubles to become fleet workhorse

Night descended hours earlier, when the weak, winter sun slunk behind the Olympic Mountains. Stragglers wait along Fauntleroy Cove; the afternoon rush ended long ago. The last commuters sit, impatient and weary, in vehicles, sealed behind steel and safety glass. Lines form and vehicles — mud-caked Subaru wagons, worn SUVs with stickers on the rear windows — inch into position. Destination: Vashon Island.

The ferry glides into view across Puget Sound. The hull carries the same name as a place 20 miles east: Issaquah.

The vessel matters little to the travelers; the Klahowya or the Tillikum could carry them home just the same.

Come daylight, the boxy Issaquah looks as unglamorous as a mail truck, with the same work ethic as a letter carrier — neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom keeps the ferry idle.

Darkness softens the hard edges, and the Issaquah looks handsome, even majestic. Light spills from the oblong windows and the open vehicle deck. Reflections glimmer across the dark water.

As the ferry approaches the West Seattle terminal, propellers churn the inky water into foam, like the frothy head on a glass of pilsner. The vessel nudges the dock, the ramp lowers and attendants in fluorescent gear direct vehicles from the maw. Not 20 minutes later, more cars, trucks and SUVs fill the hold.

The placid efficiency contrasts with the years in the Carter era when the Issaquah entered service and headlines blared problems aboard — and caused by — the ferry.

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