Today, I’d like to deviate slightly from the blog’s usual content and bring you a look at an image you won’t find anywhere else on the internet. Straight from my great-uncle’s photo album, check out this picture of Lake Wenatchee c. late 1930s!
I believe this specific photo was taken from the shoreline at Lake Wenatchee State Park, with Emerald Island visible on the right side.
Lake Wenatchee (Labeled “Wenatchee Lake” in the photo album) is located 18 miles northwest of Leavenworth off of State Route 207. The glacier-and-snow-fed lake is five miles long and surrounded by private homes, campgrounds, and a 489-acre park. Today, the park is a popular spot for all kinds of outdoor recreation–from fishing to swimming to camping–but this scenic lake has a history rooted in logging and farming.
The area around the lake was originally a resting spot for several tribes who camped, fished, and gathered berries along the shores en route to the coast for trading. in 1811, fur traders visited Chelan County, and by the end of the decade, pioneers settled in the area, clearing thick forests for farms. Logging continued as a major industry around the lake.
It was in this area that a hunter from a local tribe bragged about killing two white men, which many believe triggered the Yakima Indian War (1855-1858).
After North Shore Drive was built along the lake in the early 1920s, Lawrence Dickinson opened a gas station, store, and dance hall near where he lived with his family on Crescent Beach. It proved to be one of the most successful attempts at making Lake Wenatchee a tourist destination.
In the late 1940s and through the 1950s, the Wenatchee YMCA developed a camp on the southern end of the lake that remains in use today.
I apologize for the sudden absence! Midterms have finally passed, and I’m happy to be back and present you with a 1960s view of The Squirrel Tree Restaurant and Motel!
This lovely Alpine oasis may very well have been the birthplace of modern-day Leavenworth.
Bob Rodgers and Ted Price, two World War II friends, were looking for a way to escape their lives in Seattle and retreat to someplace near the beautiful Cascade Mountains. In 1960, they purchased Cole’s Corner Cafe and renamed it The Squirrel Tree. Bob had fallen in love with Bavarian style and culture while serving in the army and pushed for a Bavarian theme for the soon-to-be-renovated restaurant.
He got his wish, and traditional Bavarian styles, costumes, music, and Christmas lighting all became part of the Squirrel Tree experience. The restaurant was so popular that Bob and Ted decided to build a six-room motel next to the restaurant in 1961.
Besides the Bavarian theme, The Squirrel Tree had unique visitors that set it apart from other restaurants. Wild black bears would come to the restaurant for food scraps, taking them from the hands and even mouths of workers!
Ted and Bob planned to build an entire Bavarian village near the restaurant and lodge, but it was just not possible. This spurred the pair to turn their attention to the neighboring town of Leavenworth. At the time, Leavenworth was struggling to survive, but in just a few years, it would be a bustling tourist destination…
Located along Highway 2, The Squirrel Tree Restaurant and Motel are still in business! You can check out their website here.