Train Depot brings railroad history to life Aug. 16-17

August 15, 2014

NEW — 6 a.m. Aug. 15, 2014

The history of railroads in America will literally come to life Aug. 16-17 in a unique, free event at the Issaquah Depot Museum.

The Suitcases Project, directed by artist Joan Laage, presents alternating scenes throughout the depot and on the passenger trolley that include text, movement and local references to the history of Issaquah.

Erica Maniez, director of Issaquah History Museums, likened the project to a form of performance art or a living, breathing museum.

A cast will continuously perform scenes in and around the depot from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Spectators are free to walk around and observe the cast of railroad workers, passengers, conductors and more.

“It’s really about capturing the mood of an era when railroads ruled,” Maniez said.

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Issaquah’s unique heritage is on display for History Month

May 6, 2014

“Every community has its own weird, wild and wonderful stories, and Issaquah is no exception,” according to Erica Maniez, director of Issaquah History Museums.

This is the fourth year the museums will spotlight Issaquah’s unique heritage throughout the month of May for Local History Month.

The organization operates two museums people can visit, Gilman Town Hall, 165 S.E. Andrews St., and the Depot Museum, 78 First Ave. N.E.

Town Hall has exhibits on display that show the history of the town; the Depot Museum highlights the role the railroad played in the town’s development.

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Community Cornerstone

February 21, 2014

May 30, 1911, was a special occasion for Issaquah resident Mabel Ek.

So special, in fact, that the moment called for a new outfit. Ek arrived at Issaquah’s Baptist Church, near what is now the Darigold plant, wearing a new dress, knitted gloves and shoes specially ordered from Oregon.

City residents, of which there were only 500 at the time, arrived in droves to honor Ek and her classmates Mary and Olive Gibson.

Issaquah History Museums FIC.2000.049   The 1921 Issaquah High School women’s basketball team are (from left) May Wilkinson, Alix Sween, Erma Brown, Pearl Peck, Marie Chevalier, Alene O’Connor, Julia Erickson and Mildred Thompson.

Issaquah History Museums FIC.2000.049
The 1921 Issaquah High School women’s basketball team are (from left) May Wilkinson, Alix Sween, Erma Brown, Pearl Peck, Marie Chevalier, Alene O’Connor, Julia Erickson and Mildred Thompson.

After all, the three were about to make history, representing the very first graduating class of Issaquah High School.

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Issaquah History Museums tackle tough times, convince public why history matters

January 8, 2013

The recent past for the Issaquah History Museums sounds almost like a hardscrabble chapter from local history.

Executive Director Erica Maniez, staffers and volunteers face a perennial challenge to convince the public why history matters and, more importantly in the short term, why the organization needs donations to continue operations, especially as nonprofit organizations dedicated to human services command the spotlight.

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Time runs out for end-of-year donations to nonprofit organizations

December 31, 2012

NEW — 2 p.m. Dec. 31, 2012

The need is up nonprofit organizations, but as donors start to make out checks for year-end donations, local organizations sometimes struggle to stand out in a field crowded with requests for giving.

In King County, end-of-year charitable giving to nonprofit organizations is on the to-do list for many donors. The average person makes 24 percent of annual donations between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, according to research from the Center on Philanthropy.

Issaquah and the Puget Sound region maintain a long-held reputation for generosity to charitable causes. The key for nonprofit organizations to successfully solicit donations, local leaders said, is to highlight successes.

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Donor agrees to match giving to Issaquah History Museums

December 18, 2012

The nonprofit Issaquah History Museums received a recent holiday surprise, after an anonymous donor agreed to match all donations to the organization’s annual fund through Dec. 28.

Donors can give to the museums at the organization’s website, The organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and a donation is tax-deductible.

The nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving local history operates the Gilman Town Hall Museum and the Issaquah Depot Museum. Donations fund the museums’ mission, as government funding for the organization is limited.

“I hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity to double your donation to the IHM,” Executive Director Erica Maniez wrote to community members. “Your help is deeply appreciated!”

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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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Issaquah Valley Trolley is back on track, poised to return

August 14, 2012

The historic Issaquah Valley Trolley Car No. 519 undergoes renovation at the Gomaco Trolley Co. facility in Ida Grove, Iowa. Contributed by Gomaco Trolley Co.

Quietly, after a decadeslong coal and timber boom fueled expansion, passenger rail service to Issaquah ceased 90 years ago.

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Saloon stories recount mayhem, carnage and chaos

June 28, 2012

Patrons celebrate the opening of the Union Tavern. The building that housed the establishment was repurposed as a restaurant before it was demolished in 2000 to make room for the Issaquah Library. Contributed by Issaquah History Museums

Pistol duels. Free-for-all brawls. Bombings.

These are just a few standout bar stories that permeate Issaquah’s rich history and its favorite drinking establishments along the way.

Many of the early hotels — if not every hotel — in the area would have had a drinking establishment associated with the business as Issaquah became established as a municipality.

“They knew that whenever the miners did get home, they were going to want to get a beer, to get a drink they enjoyed,” said Issaquah History Museums Executive Director Erica Maniez. “It made sense to have them right there in the boarding house, or they could walk down the block and go to a saloon.”

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Celebrate Independence Day in Issaquah with parade

June 26, 2012

Fireworks are banned in Issaquah and surrounding areas, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of ways to celebrate Independence Day.

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