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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Community members unearth artifacts for museums’ collection

February 21, 2012

Mary Scott was looking for stock at a yard or estate sale when she found it.

As a local antique dealer and Issaquah History Museums volunteer, she knew there was more to the old 16-by-16-by-26 inch wooden box on wheels than what probably met the eye.

And while officials with the museums are still trying to figure out the technical term for it, for now it’s been dubbed the hot box — a contraption meant to keep large amounts of food warm while it’s transported en masse to railroad workers or loggers at mealtimes. It is thought to have been used between 1890 and 1920.

Scott joined more than 40 other donors in 2011 to bring in artifacts and photographs that help piece together Issaquah’s rich history one item at a time. Items donated to the organizations must, first and foremost, be linked to Issaquah, and they must also have unique appeal.

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Mixologists create steamy cocktails, so toast to winter

February 21, 2012

Cold conditions call for fortifying cocktails, and Issaquah bartenders concoct winter warmers

Stacey Snowden, a Pogacha server, adds Captain Morgan Spiced Rum to hot buttered rum. By Greg Farrar

The season almost demands a nip to chase off the chill from snow-blanketed afternoons and rain-dampened nights. Fortunately, local mixologists offer tonics for unwelcome wintertime doldrums.

The solution is found in time-honored recipes — strong coffee and fragrant spices stirred into libations designed to melt the frost.

Chase Bruesch, a WildFin American Grill bartender, caramelizes sugar on a glass for Spanish coffee. By Greg Farrar

Denise Jordan, a longtime bartender at Pogacha, dips a dollop of secret-recipe hot buttered rum batter into Captain Morgan Spiced Rum for the adults-only indulgence.

“It makes you feel like you’re sitting at home in front of the fireplace,” said Stacey Snowden, a Pogacha server.

Jordan guards the batter recipe in the same manner KFC protects Colonel Sanders’ 11 herbs and spices.

“I don’t tell anybody my recipe,” she said.

David Boehm, a manager at WildFin American Grill, a recent addition to the local restaurant scene, said classic cocktails deliver for patrons as the mercury drops.

“What we’ve learned with our winter warmer drinks is, don’t reinvent the wheel,” he said.
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Discover spaces and places for tweens and teens in the 425

February 21, 2012

Dylan Wall (left) and Patrick White, in the band Buster Austero, perform at the Old Fire House Teen Center in Redmond. By Greg Farrar

‘I’m bored’ is no longer a legit excuse

Issaquah ain’t the quaint little town it used to be. In the past decade alone, the number of people living within the pocket community grew from 11,000 in the year 2000 to more than 30,000 in the latest Census 2010 figures.

With so many tech industries drawing families here, the burgeoning population is straining all age demographics.

Especially teens. With busy sports and school activity schedules, ever-demanding graduation requirements or even the time consumption of volunteering or gainful employment, what’s a teen to do to find a little down time?

Just about every small town has a version of the joke, “The only thing to do here is leave.” Luckily for teens, Issaquah is smack dab in the middle of the 425 area code and opportunities abound to find something to do without looking too far. Here’s a look at just three options to investigate.

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Rock pioneer Don Wilson and son Tim engineer guitars to capture classic sound

February 21, 2012

Don Wilson, a founding member of The Ventures, shows off gold records and memorabilia from a long career in music. By Tom Corrigan

Little did Don Wilson know that the $15 electric guitar he bought from a pawnshop in Tacoma in 1958 would lead to worldwide fame, more than 100 million albums sold and now his own line of custom-made guitars.

Wilson, a Sammamish resident and the sole surviving original member of seminal rock and roll band The Ventures, has partnered with his son, Issaquah resident Tim Wilson, to translate his band’s rabid international following into a signature line of Ventures guitars.

The story of Wilson Brothers Guitars is closely intertwined with the story of The Ventures — the meteoric rise of two 20-something Tacoma-area construction workers to superstardom in the pre-British Invasion 1960s, their influence on countless later bands, and enduring popularity in Japan and the rest of Asia, where The Ventures still perform to thousands of adoring fans.

Tired of working construction, Wilson and friend Bob Bogle picked up a pair of beat-up old electric guitars and set to practicing and playing club shows around the area. The band’s modest goals were quickly surpassed when they reworked Chet Atkins’ “Walk Don’t Run” into an instrumental surf-rock anthem. The song was a hit, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Singles charts and turning The Ventures into worldwide stars.

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Winter weather does not keep seasoned triathletes from year-round training

February 21, 2012

A racer speeds around a corner on West Beaver Lake Drive Southeast, at the beginning of the 13.8-mile leg of the 2010 Beaver Lake Triathlon. By Christopher Huber

The triathlon has become one of the most popular spring and summer sports. It attracts people of all ages, athleticism and professional backgrounds.

Essentially, the race consists of swimming, bicycling and running. However, triathlons range in difficulty from the Olympic and sprint races to the rigorous Ironman events. The three popular local races — Issaquah Triathlon, Beaver Lake Triathlon and Lake Sammamish Triathlon — are classified as sprints.

Because the actual season does not start until late May, many people put off training for triathlons until the weather warms up.

But veteran triathletes like Mark Stendal, of Sammamish, begin preparing for triathlons in January.

Stendal has been involved in triathlons for 20 years. He has competed in at least 60 triathlons.

“I did five triathlons last year, two sprints and three Olympics,” Stendal said.

He is the founder of the Beaver Lake Triathlon, an event held in late August that has grown in popularity every year.

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