Maybe I should have titled this post “Hurry Summer.”
Although people living in the Pacific Northwest may feel like we skipped over spring this year, today is the official first day of summer! I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with an early 50s postcard of a southern Washington beach!
This picture appears to be taken someplace south of the city of Long Beach, maybe at the beach located at the end of Jetty Road, near Peacock Spit. As the caption states, it shows the estuary at the end of the Columbia River from the Washington side.
Peacock Spit was named after the USS Peacock, which crashed there during a storm in 1841 while trying to enter the Columbia River.
Here’s to a summer we can spend out on the beach with our woodies, horses, and picnic baskets!
Today is Opening Day! With a noon cannon blast and the raising of the Montlake Bridge, boating season in Seattle will officially begin.
While Seattle has a long history of special maritime celebrations, it is believed that the first Opening Day Parade took place May 3, 1913. Seven years later, the parade and regatta moved to their present location at the Montlake Cut when their sponsor, The Seattle Yacht Club, moved to Portage Bay. It has been an annual event ever since, even during World War II.
The boating parade attracts thousands of visitors. While exact attendance numbers are unknown, it is estimated that as few as 4,500 and as many as 250,000 have lined the shores to eat picnics and watch the passing boats.
Originally, anybody who wanted to participate in the parade was welcome, but when numbers of entrants reached 1,000 in the mid-1970s, the Coast Guard intervened. Ever since, participants have been required to register, keeping the number of boats in the parade closer to 200.
In 1959, the theme “Hell’s a Poppin'” was selected, and the parade has been themed ever since. Other themes have included “The Ancient Mariner” and “Out of This World,” as well as this year’s theme, “Emerald City Aahs.”
Since 1986, rowing crews from the nearby University of Washington have participated in Windemere Cup races prior to the parade.
Please enjoy this 1960s-era postcard, and get out there to see those boats!
In the early 1950s, Vera Dyar and her husband moved from British Columbia to a 160-acre plot of land just outside of Enumclaw, Washington. Over the next several years, the Dyars built up their ranch and turned the pond into a lake. After Mr. Dyar’s death, Vera found that things were just too quiet around the ranch and began using it as a site for friends’ weddings, complete with honeymoons in her two-room guest house.
In the late 60s or very early 70s, Vera (better known as Lady Dyar) began advertising her homestead as a wedding spot named Little Lake Ranch, and business boomed.
In 1972, Lady Dyar invited a reporter from the Associated Press to attend a wedding. The short article produced appeared in newspapers from Georgia to Iowa to Texas throughout the spring and summer of that year. The article described Lady Dyar as “a woman who ‘just liked seeing people get married’.”
“‘I’m not really Lady Vera or Lady Dyar,'” she told the reporter. “‘I’m not a lady, just Mrs., but people have always called me Lady and I’m used to it. But isn’t this marvelous?'”
The price of a wedding was $60 (about $344 today) and up, depending on the size and type of wedding. Couples were responsible for providing their own minister. What kinds of amenities did Little Lake Ranch have to offer? According to the article, the ranch offered a view of Mount Rainier, a dreamlike setting, and animal witnesses, namely geese, peacocks, swans, ducks, and cows.
About four years and 500 weddings later, the ranch was once again the subject of a short Associated Press article, appearing in newspapers around the state. By this time, Lady Dyar had married Gale Zerba, a man who had worked as a groundskeeper for the Dyars when Mr. Dyar was still alive.
Now dubbed Wedding Wonderland, the ranch provided much more than just a location for the wedding party. Lady Dyar also arranged the flowers, colors, food, entertainment, and contracted a photographer and minister. Prices were also raised, ranging from $100 to $1,000 (about $420 to $4,200 today).
“‘I like the excitement, the loveliness of the bride,'” Vera told the reporter. “‘I get caught up in the emotions of the parents and brides and often feel tears in my eyes.'”
Wedding Wonderland was still advertised as a venue for unique weddings. A couple could get married by the lake and waterfall, in a canoe, side-by-side on horseback, in a horse-drawn buggy, in the barn, while wearing turn-of-the century garb, or in next to nothing.
So, where exactly was Little Lake Ranch? The 1972 Associated Press article begins with an interesting set of directions:
“…Drive past the city dump, the pickle factory, and Pete’s swimming pool and then up a dirt road and straight into the forest to a secluded wedding haven called Little Lake Ranch.”
But not necessarily in that order. At least not in 2017. The roads may have been changed in the last 45 years, but if you approach via Highway 410, you would pass the pool, the abandoned factory, and then the dump before driving off into what was once a wooded wedding wonderland.
Besides the treasure hunt it led me on during my research, what is perhaps the most wonderful thing about this set of directions is the inclusion of local landmarks that are now simply memories.
First opened in 1935, Pete’s Pool was an enlarged pond complete with a fountain and grand log lodge. Now the Enumclaw Expo Center Field House, the pool has been paved over and sports fields have been built. Ironically, the lodge is now a popular wedding venue.
Established in 1944, Farman’s Pickles was located on the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and Pickle Factory Road (Now Farman Road). Known for their consistent quality and “King Pickle” character, Farman’s sold to Nalley’s Fine Foods in 1987 and production was moved to Tacoma.
The last mention of Little Lake Ranch I was able to find in a news article was in a Seattle Times piece from 1993. Lady Dyar estimated that more than 5,000 weddings had been held at her ranch over the past 20 years.
While it does not appear that Little Lake Ranch is still in business as a wedding site, a quick drive on Google Maps revealed this gem at the entrance to the property:
Happy November! Now that October and Halloween have passed us by, some of the biggest shopping days of the year are yet to come. In the spirit of holiday shopping, take a look at this lovely late-60s postcard, featuring Southcenter Mall!
While the mall’s opening day was July 31, 1968, its roots date back to 1956 when three officials from Seattle’s Northgate Mall (which opened in 1950) formed the Southcenter Corporation with the vice president of Allied Stores (a Department store chain). The four men planned to build a new mall south of Seattle that would match the success of Northgate. They began searching for a site that was at least 100 acres.
Their search led them to the 800-acre Andover Tract. Previously farmland, the Andover Tract was purchased by the Port of Seattle for use as an industrial park. In November 1957, the city of Tukwila annexed the tract. The same year, Southcenter Corporation purchased 160 acres of the tract that were strategically located near the intersection of two planned freeways: I-5 and I-405. The start of construction was to depend on the construction of these roads.
The first part of I-405, connecting Tukwila to Renton, opened to traffic in August 1965. In 1960, he first segment of I-5 opened through Tacoma and by January 1967, the road ran continually from Tacoma to Everett. Southcenter Mall broke ground in early 1967.
The architect for the mall was the Seattle-based John Graham & Company, the firm responsible for both Northgate and Tacoma malls. A total of 75 contractors worked on the project, and despite four worker strikes, the majority of construction was complete by May 1968. Interior work continued until the day before the mall’s grand opening.
When Governor Dan Evans dedicated the mall at 11 AM on July 31, he was dedicating the largest mall in the Pacific Northwest. The 1,400,000 square foot mall featured the largest expanse of terrazzo floors in the area (84,000 square feet). Southcenter boasted four anchor stores, 88 other shops, and employed 3,600 people.
In 2002, Southcenter Mall was purchased by the Westfield Group and renamed “Westfield Shoppingtown Southcenter.” Four years later, the mall underwent a $240 million expansion, adding 400,000 square feet of space.
Some of the stores featured on this postcard include Zale’s Jewelry, Bernie’s Menswear, The Coat Closet, and Hazel’s Candies. Zale’s is still in operation, as are three of the original anchor stores: J.C. Penney, Nordstoms, and Macy’s (formerly Bon Marche).
Despite the stores and the decor and the clothing, perhaps what really dates this card is the last sentence on the back: “Southcenter is 8 minutes south of Seattle…” Today, the commute is about 16 minutes via I-5.
While the recent weather seems to say that the days of sunny, 80-degree weather have come to a close, summer isn’t officially over until September 22. Know what that means? One last installment in the Summer Motel Series!
Today, I present you with a mid-century look at the Coulee Dam Motel!
Despite my research, I couldn’t find anything about this motel other than the information on the back of the postcard. A cruise around Coulee Dam on Google Maps suggests that this current motel is no longer standing. However, it appears that it may have been replaced with the Columbia River Inn.
The Columbia River Inn was built in 1972 and offers 35 rooms at what claims to be some of the lowest rates in town. Located at 10 Lincoln Avenue in Coulee Dam, WA, it sits right across the road from the Grand Coulee Dam Visitor’s Center and has views of the dam itself. The laser light show, which debuted in 1989, is just a short walk away June through October.
Since the dam’s construction, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was aware of public interest in its history and planned and built a variety of tourist attractions. To encourage visitors to stay the night in local motels, the bureau introduced the first light show in 1957.
While the motel pictured in the postcard is no longer standing, there are several old motels located around Coulee Dam, and the laser show runs through the end of the month. The summer weather may have vanished, but we still have 5 days of summer left.
In the 1870s, gold miners in central Washington began using a series of Indian trails to travel across the Wenatchee Mountains and between camps. As interest in the mines grew so did the trails, curving close around the side of the mountain and relying on switchbacks to offset the steepness of the terrain. In 1897, a Geological Survey made a map of the area and named this road “Blewett Pass.”
In 1915, Governor Lister dedicated Sunset Highway, the state’s first safely passable route across the Cascade Mountains. Seven years later, it was re-routed to include Blewett Pass, which was designed as a two-lane dirt-and-gravel road with one-way concrete bridges. The pass was paved in 1925.
Although considered safely passable compared to its wagon trail predecessors, Blewett Pass was hardly a safe road. Built into the hillside, it was narrow and windy, filled with switchbacks, and dotted with “caution” signs. Despite the safety projects carried out by the CCC in the 1930s, by the mid-40s the road was too outdated for modern traffic.
In 1956, a new pass was constructed through Swauk Pass, resulting in the demolition of the town of Blewett. The new road boasted less curves (37 instead of 248), passing lanes, and shoulders. The road, known for years as Blewett Pass Highway, US 97, and Primary State Highway #2, was renamed Swauk Pass Highway.
In 1991, the Department of Transportation changed the Blewett Pass signs to Swauk Pass, sparking a local outrage. While the state and Federal Board of Geographical Names hoped to be geographically accurate, the locals refused to change the nomenclature of their road. The state relented in 1992, and officially changed the name and the signs back to Blewett Pass.
The Old Blewett Pass still exists, and portions of it can be seen from the new pass, Unfortunately, the lack of maintenance and decades of weather have taken their toll and much of the road has fallen into Peshastin Creek. The white center line and rock bridge abutments can still be seen.
The Forest Service maintains a 13-mile stretch of the road that includes Echo Point and the old summit. The road is open to traffic April through September.
I had the chance to travel this stretch of road Monday with my dad, who vaguely remembers traveling over the original pass as a small child. Unfortunately, I forgot to take my postcard along as a reference, but I think I did okay taking a modern-day shot of Echo Point.
There are no more guardrails, and the surrounding flora looks a little different, but it was clear to tell when we had reached Echo Point. “How do you know?” my sister asked me. You just know.
If you park and walk a little bit off of the road, you can get a glimpse of the new road, a tiny look at the Red Top Mountain Lookout, and, of course, miles and miles of trees.
This particular postcard, sent from Cle Elum in 1955, spells Blewett as “Blewitt.” Although sent when the road was considered dangerous and obsolete, the caption tries its best to romanticize the pass. The message, sent to Miss Dessie M. Dunagan in Ferndale, WA, reads as follows:
“Dear Dessie May, I expect you are near home by now. I have been here two weeks: plan to stay until Armistice Day. Ralph will bring me home then. On the 9th we went to a golden wedding at Sunnyside. People they know. It rained hard all day. Heavy traffic in evening. Hunters going out to the (?). Some had deer. One bear. Hope you are well. Bye, Belva.”
Interestingly, the recipient of this postcard was the daughter of James Dunagan, a prominent farmer and mail carrier in Whatcom County. She was a graduate of the Whatcom Normal School (now WWU).
I hope you all have been finding good ways to stay cool during this late summer heat wave! Maybe this installment to the Summer Motel Guide will give you some ideas.
Straight out of 1966, here is Patti-O Park in Soap Lake, WA.
Soap Lake, named for the Indian word Smokiam, is a meromictic lake long loved for it’s mineral-rich waters and thick black mud, both of which were believed to posses healing properties. These healing waters have attracted tourists for decades, paving the way for a number of hotels, health spas, and sanitariums.
There is not much information available about Patti-O Park. Now Smokiam Resort, it is located on the Northern end of Soap Lake and offers four types of camping: RV, tent, cabin, and Teepee.
According to the information on the back, it was a health spa approved by the State Health Department, owned and operated by Jim and Georgetta Draper. While this postcard dates from the mid-60s, a 1978 issue of the Coulee City newspaper mentions a family reunion at the park.
The message scrawled on the back doesn’t provide much help:
“Dear Rude: We came to Soap Lake for a week yesterday. Dale & family will join us today. Maynard got home Tues and is fine. His eye is well he said. Love, Lucy”
Summer has finally arrived in Washington state, and with it comes the next installment to the Summer Motel Guide!
Located on Wannacut Lake in Tonasket, WA, I invite you to visit Norma & Virgil “Stone’s Resort.”
While there is not much information to be found about the history of the motel, it appears as though it opened sometime in the 1960s. A 1968 ad in the Spokesman-Review (a Spokane newspaper) calls it “Stone’s Wannacut Lake Resort” and touts it as a “modern trailer park” with “complete camp facilities.” According to the ad, the resort offered horseback riding and was “open thru hunting season.”
Horses and hunting aside, what is perhaps most noteworthy about this motel is its remarkable ability to resist time. Now called Sun Cove Resort, it still offers trailer camping spots, regular camping spots, motel rooms, and access to Wannacut Lake. The motel rooms remain covered in wood paneling and outfitted with groovy blue appliances. According to online reviews, there is no cell service, no phones in the rooms, and no television.
And while the wood paneling and blue appliances are enough to catapult you into retro heaven, there is one more thing to attest to the resort’s ability to defy time: The phone number seen on this 1960s postcard is the same phone number the resort uses today.
So if you’re looking for a piece of yesteryear to stay in this summer, you may find it suitable to dial (509) 476-2223.
Next up in the Summer Motel Guide is perhaps Darnell’s fiercest competitor: Campbell’s Resort on Lake Chelan.
In 1898, Judge C.C. Campbell, his wife Caroline, and his son Arthur moved from Sioux City, Iowa to Chelan, Washington where he paid $400 for a plot of lakeside land. Three years later, the Campbell family opened the 16-room Chelan Hotel.
The hotel was known for it’s hospitality and good food, attracting guests from all walks of life. Following the end of Word War I, both business and the economy were booming. After graduating from the University of Washington, serving in World War I, and marrying, Arthur Campbell returned to Chelan, where he planted an apple orchard and dug out the basement of the hotel to make room for a larger restaurant.
Like most Americans, the Campbell family felt the burden of the Depression, but they managed to stay in business, and by the late 1930s, the local economy was recovering.
Arthur’s two sons, Arthur II and Dan, followed in their father’s footsteps, serving in the military (World War II), and returning to Chelan and the family business. Both sons became active in the community, serving on city council and the park board. The hotel began developing fishing cabins and planning for future expansion.
With the addition of motel units in 1955, the former Chelan Hotel became known as Campbell’s Lodge (Lodge 1). Additional buildings, known as Lodge 4, were added in 1963, along with a dance pavilion, a dining room, and carefully landscaped grounds. Lodge 2 was added in 1972, and Lodge 5 arrived in 1983 with the annexation of Cannon’s Resort. The final Lodge, Lodge 3, opened in 1990.
The past 26 years have seen significant remodels and the addition of the Stehekin Ballroom. After 115 years of continuous business, Campbell’s Resort is still owned by the Campbell family.
On a side note, today is the 100th anniversary of Boeing! I regret that I don’t have any Boeing memorabilia to share with you, but invite you to celebrate with this catchy dittyfrom Washington’s own Jeff Afdem! In the words of Pat O’Day, “Happy birthday, Big B!”
Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of this blog! Thank you to all of my readers, followers, and commentors! It’s been a great year here on The Northwest Past, and I hope to make the next year even more productive!
Summer is officially here, which means that it’s time to think about summer vacation. What to do? Where to go? Where to stay? In case you’re planning to visit the eastern side of the Evergreen State and want to stay in lodging that’s a bit older than the local La Quinta, the Summer Motel Guide might be for you!
First up is Darnell’s Resort on Lake Chelan. Located on a 4-acre waterfront property, Darnell’s offers tennis, swimming, golfing, boating, volleyball, basketball, and horseshoes, among other amenities.
Information on Darnell’s Resort is scarce. It was built sometime in the 1950s by Ernest De Koven Leffingwell “Ernie” Darnell, Sr., who was born in Chelan and raised in Seattle. He had worked as a plumber and owned a refrigeration business before retiring at the age of 41 and returning to his hometown.
Following Ernie’s death in 1971, his son Raleigh claimed ownership of the resort. Sometime after Raleigh’s death in 2001, Darnell’s was purchased by Columbia Hospitality, a hospitality management firm. As of 2010, the resort is once again family-owned.
Darnell’s Resort is located at 901 Spader Bay Rd, Chelan, WA 98816.
For more retro fun, and what looks like a few glimpses of Darnell’s, check out this 1950s footageof Lake Chelan.