120 years of Issaquah

April 24, 2012

Click on the image to view the full-size timeline.

1892

  • Issaquah is founded as Gilman. The city is named for railroad baron Daniel Hunt Gilman.

1893

  • The postmaster called for mail sent to Gilman to be addressed to Olney, Wash., to avoid confusion between Gilman and Gilmer, another city in the state.

1895

  • Townsfolk start calling the frontier town Issaquah, or “the sound of water birds” in the language of the American Indians native to the region.

1899

  • State lawmakers approve official name change from Gilman to Issaquah.

1900

  • Wilbur W. Sylvester founds the Bank of Issaquah in a clapboard building.

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Historic Issaquah trolley car departs for restoration in Iowa

March 13, 2012

Don McWhirter, with the Issaquah Valley Trolley Project, lops overgrown brambles at the railroad track beside the Darigold plant so the trolley could be moved March 12 onto a tractor-trailer for the trip to Iowa for restoration. By Greg Farrar

The historic trolley car on display at the Issaquah Train Depot departed the station March 12, as the long-planned effort to restore and run the car in downtown Issaquah inched ahead.

The 87-year-old Lisbon No. 519 trolley car left for Ida Grove, Iowa, and the Gomaco Trolley Co. — a trolley car manufacturer and restorer. If the restoration plan unfolds as scheduled, the trolley should return to Issaquah in September.

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City Council OKs trolley restoration contract

November 22, 2011

City Council members put an oft-delayed project back on track Nov. 7 and awarded the contract to refurbish a vintage trolley to Gomaco Trolley Co.

The council awarded the trolley restoration contract to Mukilteo-based Advanced Construction in March, but the company defaulted on the contract. The city then negotiated a settlement to release Advanced Construction and select the next-lowest bidder for the restoration project.

The council authorized $744,700 for the trolley project. The most recent contract calls for Gomaco Trolley Co. — based in Ida Grove, Iowa — to rehabilitate the Lisbon No. 519 trolley car.

The nonprofit Issaquah Valley Trolley Project is spearheading the restoration. The city oversees and administers the grant dollars used to fund the trolley project. Issaquah also owns the railroad corridor.

The expected work on the car includes rehabilitation to the brakes, electrical system and structural components, plus transportation to and from the contractor’s facility to the historic Issaquah Train Depot.

In late spring, crews from Lakebay-based Coast Rail started the process to rehabilitate downtown railroad tracks for the trolley.

Track restoration starts for downtown trolley

May 31, 2011

The long-awaited Issaquah Valley Trolley Project is back on track.

Workers with Coast Rail, a Lakebay contractor, add new rock to the rail bed along Rainier Boulevard North on May 20 for the trolley track rehabilitation project. By Greg Farrar

Officials issued a notice last month for the track rehabilitation project to start. The city has selected Lakebay-based Coast Rail to replace depleted railroad ties along the proposed trolley route from the historic Issaquah Train Depot to the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce.

The state Department of Transportation sent a railroad track specialist to the city May 6 to determine the number of timber ties in need of replacement.

In addition to the track rehabilitation, plans call for traffic signal modifications at Front Street North and Northwest Dogwood Street to accommodate the trolley. The contractor has 30 days to complete the project.

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City Council puts the trolley project on track

March 29, 2011

The oft-delayed Issaquah Valley Trolley Project could be on track due to a recent City Council decision.

Before trolleys can run through historic downtown Issaquah, the decades-old tracks and trolleys must be restored. The long-planned restoration proposal received a boost from the council March 21.

Members awarded the $135,274 track refurbishment contract to Lakebay-based Coast Rail and, in the same legislation, awarded the $220,000 trolley contract to Mukilteo-based Advanced Construction.

The measure also increased the project budget to $524,700 from $517,400 to reflect the original project budget, and to account for $7,400 in additional federal funds and expenditures made to date.

The council rejected track and trolley bids late last year. Because the lowest bid for the track project amounted to $15,000 more than the state Department of Transportation had estimated, city engineers and project backers raised concerns about running out of money before the trolley car could be repaired.

The city oversees and administers the grant dollars used to fund the trolley project.

The nonprofit trolley group leased a trolley from a Yakima organization, and ferried more than 5,000 passengers through downtown Issaquah in 2001 and 2002 in a successful test.

Downtown Issaquah trolley faces another delay

November 23, 2010

The downtown Issaquah trolley has to make another stop before the cars return to the rails.

The long-planned tourism attraction needs contractors to refurbish historic trolley cars and a stretch of track in downtown Issaquah, but a tight budget could push the project off track.

The state Department of Transportation estimated the track refurbishment could cost about $185,000 and the car rehabilitation could total about $235,000. The city administers about $500,000 in federal grant dollars awarded to the Issaquah Valley Trolley Project, the group behind the effort.

However, the low bid for the track project alone amounted to about $200,000. Because the bids turned out to be more expensive than the $185,000 state Department of Transportation estimate used to budget the project, city engineers raised concerns about running out of funds before the trolley car could be rehabilitated.

The additional cost imperiled the car upgrades, so city engineers and trolley backers decided to re-advertise the projects for separate bids at the same time.

The adjustment should allow planners to evaluate costs and available dollars — and reduce the risk of awarding a contract before the other contract and jeopardizing dollars needed to complete the project.

Under the recommendation of city engineers, the City Council rejected the low bid for the track project in September.

City Senior Engineer Rory Cameron said, after the re-advertisement of the bids, the council could make a decision by early next year.

Organizers hope to run historic trolleys through downtown Issaquah by next summer.

The trolley group leased a trolley from the Yakima organization several years ago, and ferried more than 5,000 passengers through downtown Issaquah in 2001 and 2002.

Weekend sale benefits downtown Issaquah trolley

November 11, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. Nov. 11, 2010

Help put the Issaquah Valley Trolley back on track.

The family of Al Risdon, a late city employee and trolley supporter, plans to donate the proceeds from a weekend estate sale to the trolley effort. The sale is scheduled for 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Risdon’s former home, 9613 Front St. S.

Items for sale include furniture, housewares, clothing, tools, a pickup and camper, plus many other offerings. Contact Denny Croston at 392-0247 for more information.

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Downtown trolleys will be delayed until at least next spring, backers say

July 20, 2010

Historic trolleys might not clang through downtown Issaquah until next spring, despite plans to relaunch the tourist attraction much earlier.

Trolley backers had hoped to run the historic cars from the Issaquah Train Depot downtown to the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce office by late summer.

Engineers had hoped to advertise the project to potential contractors by May, but August seems more realistic under the updated timeline.

The city oversees about $500,000 in grant money awarded to the project. Barb Justice and other Issaquah Valley Trolley Project volunteers manage the long-running effort to run trolleys in downtown Issaquah.

The group has become accustomed to the delays inherent in restoring 75-year-old trolleys and readying unused railroad tracks for the vehicles.

“Things seem to take 10 times longer than one would hope,” Justice, grants coordinator for the trolley project, said in early July.

City Senior Engineer Rory Cameron said the city last week submitted the application for authority to administer the grant. The city submitted the proposal to the state Department of Transportation, the agency responsible for managing federal transportation dollars in Washington.

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City seeks Hall of Fame nominees

April 20, 2010

Nominate outstanding citizens for the Issaquah Hall of Fame, the annual honor bestowed by city leaders on someone who has made a lasting contribution to the community.

Every spring, the mayor and City Council president select the honoree. Mayor Ava Frisinger and Council President John Traeger will evaluate nominees on several criteria, such as civic-mindedness, leadership and service.

Frisinger and Traeger will also evaluate the role a person plays in drawing positive attention to Issaquah and fundraising for the public good. Length of service will be a factor in the decision as well.

Send the name of the nominee and a brief summary of his or her contributions to the community to: The Office of the Mayor, P.O. Box 1307, Issaquah, WA 98027-1307. Or submit the nomination via e-mail to mayor@ci.issaquah.wa.us.

The nominations must be received by May 3. Call 837-3020 or e-mail mayor@ci.issaquah.wa.us to learn more. Evaluators will maintain confidentiality throughout the selection process.

The recipient or recipients will be announced at the 31st Annual Community Awards Luncheon on May 18.

Past honorees include Harriet Fish — the historian who led the drive to name a ferry after Issaquah — environmentalist Ruth Kees and, last year, Issaquah Highlands mastermind Judd Kirk and Issaquah Valley Trolley backer Barb Justice.

In a separate honor, the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce named Frisinger as Citizen of the Year at the 2009 luncheon.

City seeks Issaquah Hall of Fame nominees

April 16, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. April 16, 2010

Nominate outstanding citizens for the Issaquah Hall of Fame, the annual honor bestowed by city leaders on someone who has made a lasting contribution to the community.

Every spring, the mayor and City Council president select the honoree. Mayor Ava Frisinger and Council President John Traeger will evaluate nominees on several criteria, such as civic-mindedness, leadership and service.

Frisinger and Traeger will also evaluate the role a person plays in drawing positive attention to Issaquah and fundraising for the public good. Length of service will be a factor in the decision as well.

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