Every Day is History in Snoqualmie Valley

Shortly after moving into our first house, my wife, Beth, and I unexpectedly experienced a part of Valley history.  It was 1989, and we were settling into our home near Rattlesnake Lake when we became aware of a steadily increasing rumbling.  Trying to persuade each other that it was not an earthquake, we walked outside and were shocked to see a train slowly rolling down the tracks that paralleled Cedar Falls Road. It was traveling away from Rattlesnake Lake and apparently into history. We never saw another train on those tracks.

As new arrivals, we thought we missed being part of Valley history.  Months later, as the train tracks were removed to create the Snoqualmie Valley Trail,  we realized that we were wrong. We witnessed history writing the last chapter of those tracks and starting the next.  We look back on that rumbling train with fond memories.  It connected us to our new community in a small but important way.

We had moved to North Bend in 1989 with the expectation of planting deep roots.  We wanted to connect with our community and its heritage. We did not realize it at the time, but that train was our first connection.  It took only a few minutes to pass by but had a lifetime effect.  As we learned more about the Valley, we learned of the critically important role that trains played.  Seeing and feeling that train roll through the Douglas firs around Rattlesnake Lake bound us to the community in a tangible way.

Douglas firs played a role in our second connection to the Valley, but it was not the fir trees around Rattlesnake Lake.  It was the trees on logging trucks we encountered while driving though North Bend and Snoqualmie.  In the late 80s and early 90s, we would frequently see logging trucks driving through town. Those trucks and their drivers with wide, red suspenders reminded us that we lived in a logging community.  As time passed, we saw fewer of these trucks. Eventually, they vanished.  Without realizing it, we were witnessing history again writing the last chapter of that part of Valley history and, again, connecting us to our community.

In the thirty years since, both our family and our connections with the Valley’s past and present have grown.  We’re much more aware that our connections with the present are enriched by our connections with the past. And, we’ve learned how much of the Valley’s history we missed. We missed the early history, lumber mills, tree harvesting, mining, hops cultivation, several elk herds, varied commercial operations, and much more.

Fortunately, during those thirty years, we discovered the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum.  The Museum provides us with connections to the history we missed.  The vast collection of photos allows us to connect to the past visually. The physical artifacts, especially from the mills, provides a palpable connection to the past.  Cristy Lake’s interpretation of history provides us with an understanding of the past and, in many ways, explains the present. And, the re-telling of history by Gardiner Vinnedge  brings the past to life.

Through the Museum, we not only connected with our community.  We became part of it.

As the new president of the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Society, I am fortunate to take the reins from the steady hand of Gardiner Vinnedge.  I, along with the Museum Board, hope to guide the Museum with an equally steady hand, focusing on the future.  Over the next two years, our goal is to create a plan that plots the course of the Museum for the next decade and beyond, integrating it as a vital part of the Valley’s future.


Kevin Burrows


Snoqualmie Valley Historical Society

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