August 10, 2010
Early last decade, a hiker had questions about the long-abandoned coalmines carved into the mountains surrounding Issaquah. The query led Stephen Grate to the Issaquah History Museums in 2003.
From the downtown Issaquah museum, he pored through the mining map collection and rummaged through archives to learn how the 19th century mines operated. Grate earned esteem in his final years for his knowledge of Eastside coalmining heritage and for the hikes he often led to derelict mine sites.
Grate, 52, died Aug. 6 in a hiking accident near Leavenworth. The outdoorsman died from head injuries he sustained in a fall from a rock on Asgaard Pass, a steep and challenging route in the Enchantment Lakes Basin.
The coalmining heritage brought Grate to the museums, but he also contributed to other civic and municipal organizations. Colleagues said the Renton resident brought a quiet passion to each role.
The independent computer consultant served on the Issaquah Cable TV Commission, taught a digital photography class at the Issaquah Valley Senior Center and volunteered as a docent at the historic Issaquah Train Depot. Read more
August 9, 2010
NEW — 3 p.m. Aug. 9, 2010
Longtime Issaquah History Museums volunteer Stephen Grate — esteemed for his knowledge of the area’s coalmining heritage and a frequent guide for hikes to local mine sites — died Friday in a hiking accident near Leavenworth.
Grate, 52, died from head injuries he sustained in a fall from a rock on Asgaard Pass, a steep and challenging route in the Enchantment Lakes Basin.
Grate, a Renton resident and former Issaquah Cable TV Commission member, became interested in coalmining history after he noticed traces of old mines on the mountains surrounding Issaquah.
“He was one of those people who, when he was interested in a subject, he researched it until he knew everything about it,” museums Volunteer Coordinator Karen Klein said.
August 3, 2010
Six decades ago, Issaquah was a completely different city.
With fewer than 1,000 residents, zero traffic lights and acres of empty fields, the Issaquah of 1950 would be unrecognizable to those who know it today as the booming, fast-growing city of 27,000 people.
To tell its story beginning with the early pioneers of the 1920s, the Issaquah History Museums have partnered with the Issaquah Cable Station 21/61 to create the Issaquah Oral History Video Project.
The project includes 17 video shorts and 25 in-depth interviews with early, influential members of the community.
“It’s a really easy way to introduce history to people,” Issaquah History Museums Director Erica Maniez said. “History can be dry and unappetizing, but the videos are a way for people to tell the stories of their own lives. It’s a lot more personal and interesting.” Read more
June 29, 2010
Longtime Issaquah residents have always enjoyed the low-key, family friendly Downhome Fourth of July and Heritage Day event.
To start the day off, the Kids, Pets ‘N Pride Parade will begin at 11 a.m. starting at Rainier Avenue and Northwest Dogwood Street. Kids can decorate their bikes, wagons, pets or anything else they can think of in patriotic attire and be in the parade, which will end at Veteran’s Memorial Field, according to Robin Kelley, director of festivals.
Veterans’ Memorial Field will host a number of events throughout the day, including a pie-eating contest. It is unknown what kind of pie will be eaten.
“Our goal is that it’s something that is colorful and especially messy,” Kelley said. “Parents and kids sometimes compete against each other.”
Something that has been absent in the past few years from the city’s Fourth of July celebration has been the slug speed race and beauty pageant. The event was brought back this year because of the wet spring that has not been present the past few years.
June 18, 2010
NEW — 5:30 p.m. June 18, 2010
Hike through history this weekend on Issaquah History Museums hikes.
Museums Director Erica Maniez will lead a Saturday walk, and museums volunteer Steve Grate will lead Saturday and Sunday hikes.
Grate will lead a Saturday hike to the Grand Ridge mine site, and another hike Sunday to the former Issaquah & Superior Mine. Both events start at 10 a.m with a slide presentation at the Issaquah Train Depot, 50 Rainier Blvd. N.
Maniez will lead a walking tour of the historic downtown at 1 p.m. Sunday. The tour starts at the depot.
Hikes require advance registration, and hikers must complete a release form. Find more details here.
June 1, 2010
The landscape architect behind Warren G. Magnuson and Cal Anderson parks in Seattle has been picked to design a trio of downtown parks along Issaquah Creek.
The selection kicks off the monthslong public process to plan the park complex. The Berger Partnership, a Seattle firm, and the city Parks & Recreation Department will seek input from residents about the features people want for the downtown Issaquah parks.
The architect will spearhead the overarching design, or master site plan, for three contiguous properties spread across 15.5 acres: Tollë Anderson, Cybil-Madeline and Issaquah Creek parks. The city plans to spend up to $1.6 million to complete the plan and build the initial phase. Issaquah voters approved money for development of the confluence-area parks in a 2006 bond.
Issaquah Parks & Recreation officials announced the selection of The Berger Partnership on May 24.
Preservation rules and the parks’ creekside geography will limit development to trails, picnic areas and other passive recreation uses.
City Parks Planner Margaret Macleod said the parks department had not picked a date for the first meeting of residents, parks staffers and the architect. Macleod said she expects the department to start asking for public input within the next few months.
“The public process is going to be a huge part of the master site plan process,” she added.
The park complex should be completed early in the next decade, though the final timeline hinges on available grants and city dollars.
Guy Michaelsen, principal at The Berger Group and the landscape architect, led the transformation of old runways and taxiways at Magnuson Park — 315 acres of a former military base along Lake Washington — into manmade wetlands and sports fields. The architect trekked through the Issaquah parks several times after he decided to submit a proposal for the project.
“You can design something with an aerial photograph and a survey, but there’s something to be said for the feel of the place,” he said.
Michaelsen said the Issaquah Creek-side parks should “enhance ecology, improve the environment and invite people in.”
The city received 16 responses from landscape architects, and the selection committee culled the list to three finalists. The Berger Partnership and the other finalists prepared a conceptual design for the parks.
The other finalists: San Francisco landscape architecture firm Bionic and Nakano Associates, the Seattle firm behind the 1995 rebuild of the International Fountain near the Space Needle.
The Berger Partnership transformed decaying Lincoln Park into Cal Anderson Park early last decade. The design added a lid to the Lincoln Reservoir on the site, capped by sports fields and a landmark fountain.
Officials in neighboring Sammamish also enlisted the firm to design Sammamish Landing Park. Read more
February 23, 2010
City has had multiple names in its 118-year history
Everybody wonders about the name, the jumble of vowels and consonants joined by Q-U, and almost unpronounceable to outsiders: Issaquah. But the tale behind the name — and the names Issaquah had before city fathers picked Issaquah — brings up almost as many questions.
The first white settlers reached the area now known as Issaquah in the mid-1860s. Because officials incorporated the town a few decades later — and changed the name a few years hence — questions still arise about when, exactly, Issaquah was founded.
How about 1862, when the first settlers arrived? How about 1892, when the town incorporated as Gilman? Or, why not 1895, when the Legislature approved the latest name, Issaquah?