Experience 40 years of Issaquah History Museums milestones

October 9, 2012

In 40 years, the Issaquah History Museums has experienced numerous milestones.

  • 1972 — Issaquah Historical Society is founded.
  • 1972 — Issaquah Historical Society leases Gilman Town Hall from city.
  • 1973 — Gilman Town Hall opens as organization’s historical center.
  • 1983 — Society negotiates purchase of Issaquah Train Depot from city.
  • 1985 — Ground is broken on depot restoration project.
  • 1985 — Work on Gilman Town Hall remodel starts.
  • 1989 — Weyerhaeuser Corp. donates caboose to the organization.
  • 1992 — Issaquah Train Depot is added to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • 2004 — Issaquah Historical Society changes name to Issaquah History Museums.
  • 2005 — Puget Sound Energy donates historic Alexander House to the museums. The organization later donates the building to the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce for offices.
  • 2006 — Museums’ oral history project captures the stories and memories of about 25 narrators.
  • 2012 — Refurbished Issaquah Valley Trolley Project streetcar returns to Issaquah for service.

Mountains to Sound Greenway comes of age

July 26, 2011

Leaders nurture Interstate 90 greenbelt, acre by acre, year by year

Ken Konigsmark (left), a longtime Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust board member, and founding president Jim Ellis stand near North Bend on Rattlesnake Mountain in 2000 . By Greg Farrar

Like the matter-of-fact name suggests, the Mountains to Sound Greenway starts amid the souvenir shops and seafood restaurants at the Seattle waterfront, unfurls along Interstate 90, encompassing cities and forests, and continues on, across the Cascades.

Issaquah, situated on the route, is not quite at the center, but the city is central in the long effort to create a greenbelt along the major roadway.

The idea for a conservation corridor along the interstate germinated in Issaquah more than 20 years ago. Issaquah Alps Trails Club members spearheaded a 1990 march from Snoqualmie Pass to Puget Sound to attract attention to the proposed greenbelt — a sort of Central Park for Western Washington.

The disparate citizen, conservation, corporate and government interests behind the proposal coalesced to form the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust in 1991. Supporters marched from Ellensburg to Seattle in early July to celebrate the 20-year milestone.

“The original vision was, what can we agree on to preserve what’s important to everyone along this corridor?” retired Issaquah City Administrator Leon Kos said.

The corridor stretches for 100 miles, connects 1.4 million acres — or a landmass about 15 times larger than Seattle — and includes more than 800,000 acres in public ownership.

The conservation is enmeshed in cooperation.

The organization is built to foster dialogue among divergent groups. Seattle civic leader Jim Ellis, founding president of the greenway trust, called on rivals to sit down at the same table to create the conservation corridor. So, representatives on the 58-member board include the Sierra Club and Weyerhaeuser Co.

Kos, a longtime greenway supporter and board member, said the Issaquah Alps Trail Club assumed a fundamental role early on.

“The community group that was really very instrumental was the Issaquah Alps Trails Club,” he said.

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If he builds it, will they come?

March 30, 2010

Fan plans to convert Weyerhaeuser’s mill site into race track

Ultimate Rally LLC General Manager Greg Lund stands at Weyerhaeuser’s old mill site in Snoqualmie, where he and his business partners would like to build a rally car-driving course. Contributed

Rally car aficionado Greg Lund wants to put a little zoom in the Snoqualmie Valley. The Issaquah resident plans to buy Weyerhaeuser’s old mill site, located above Borst Lake in Snoqualmie, and build a rally car-driving course that would open this fall.

Not everyone, especially the neighbors, is happy with Lund’s idea, saying that it would be noisy and harm the environment.

But Lund’s plan, though still in its infancy, might someday rev to life.

Lund, 50, grew up in Issaquah and remembers rally car driving in the Snoqualmie Valley on the tree farm near the mill when he was in his 20s. Rally car driving — a sport in which drivers take their vehicles to challenging, nonpublic areas, like forestry roads — caught his interest. Read more

4Culture gives $18,000 for caboose restoration

December 8, 2009

With $18,000 from 4Culture, the Issaquah History Museums will restore this 1942 caboose. Contributed

With $18,000 from 4Culture, the Issaquah History Museums will restore this 1942 caboose. Contributed

A 1942 caboose displayed at the Issaquah Train Depot — and crumbling due to water damage — will be restored with $18,000 from the county cultural services agency.

The caboose, a key piece of the Issaquah History Museums’ collection, needs repairs to undo decades’ worth of weather and wear. The grant from 4Culture will pay for about half the renovation cost, and museums volunteers will ask donors to help cover the remainder.

The money, doled out as part of the Heritage Cultural Facilities Program, comes from a portion of the King County Lodging Tax, a credit on the state sales tax charged on every hotel, motel, inn and bed-and-breakfast room. Besides the Issaquah caboose, 10 other facility projects will receive a total of $328,835.

The money is intended for the purchase, design, construction and remodeling of heritage facilities, and to buy equipment intended to be used for at least a decade. For the caboose, the money will be used to weatherize the cupola, a raised portion of the roof outfitted with windows, remove rust and ready the interior for hands-on and interpretive exhibits.

Museums Director Erica Maniez said the grant would prove critical, because a caboose is a key piece for a railway museum — and a big draw for tourists and school groups. Read more

Man’s legacy keeps growing with the trees

July 21, 2009

Ben Harrison sits in his Beaver Lake area home and recalls with humor his career as a forester, his World War II military service as a Navy submariner and a lifetime living in the Issaquah area. By Greg Farrar

Ben Harrison sits in his Beaver Lake area home and recalls with humor his career as a forester, his World War II military service as a Navy submariner and a lifetime living in the Issaquah area. By Greg Farrar

If you’ve walked through Tradition Lake Plateau, you’ve seen the trees soaring into the air. It’s hard to imagine the area without the trees, but it could have happened, if it weren’t for one man.

Ben Harrison, 84, has been an Issaquah resident most of his life. Stepping in as a forest management employee with Weyerhaeuser, he helped secure the Tradition Lake Plateau’s future for generations to come and aided city officials in finding new funding sources.

“When I got there, it was full of dead, stunted, weak trees,” he said. “By thinning it and letting those trees grow, we’ve created something for people to enjoy years later.”

But Harrison’s life wasn’t always about trees. Read more

Campaign money follows political power

October 28, 2008

Cheryl Pflug tops donations with $160,000 reported so far

Political campaign dollars are flowing freely this season, with incumbents raking in the lion’s share as usual. Also as usual, a look at the donors reveals a lot about the candidates they support in the Nov. 4 general election.

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