As the rain stopped and the clouds parted on the morning of Thursday, Aug. 31, more than 35 people gathered outside the North Bend Visitors Center for the first History Walk around downtown North Bend, led by Dave Battey and Gardiner Vinnedge.
Battey and Vinnedge, Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum board members, took the group to the intersection of W North Bend Way and Bendigo Boulevard to walk along the street and talk about the history behind the land and businesses that make up the downtown area.
Battey said he has led similar history tours with city staff, but this was the first time he has done it with citizens.
Before the walk began, Vinnedge explained the story behind the name “North Bend” and why some of the street names have an Australian flair.
William Taylor, the founder of North Bend, platted the town around the incoming railroad system and named it Snoqualmie Prairie before heading down to California. Unfortunately for Taylor, the town of Snoqualmie Falls had already taken the name in his absence. Taylor was angry when he learned of this, but had to come up with an alternate name for the town that would be short enough to fit on the railroad’s maps.
Vinnedge said names like Mountain View and Rangers’ Prairie were considered, but North Bend was chosen because the South Fork of the Snoqualmie river bent north right behind Taylor’s house.
During the platting process, Taylor forgot to name some of the north-south running streets. In a rush to name the streets, Taylor used the names Sydney, Bendigo and Ballarat because he was reading a book about gold mining in Australia, Vinnedge said.
Using a new megaphone recently donated by the Snoqualmie Police Department, Battey and Vinnedge were able to make their voices heard above the noise created by the North Bend downtown plaza construction that is ongoing.
At the first stop, right outside of Twede’s Cafe, Battey spoke briefly about Jeremiah Borst, the man known as the father of the Snoqualmie Valley, before moving on to talk about the businesses. Battey and Vinnedge went through each address on North Bend Way from Bendigo to Main Avenue N and explained what types of businesses the buildings had been used for. Some, including Twede’s and Georgia’s Bakery, have remained eateries for their entire existence.
“Built in 1928, (Georgia’s Bakery) was originally Bellinger’s Bakery,” Battey said. “It remained a bakery and famous North Bend eatery throughout the years.”
Across the street and just outside of the Farmer’s Insurance building, Battey passed around a photo of an old wooden memorial with the names of all of the North Bend citizens who served during World War II.
“It held the names of everybody from North Bend who served in the military and if we lost them, then they put a star by their name,” Battey said. “A couple of veterans extracted all those names and sorted them in order so the museum has the whole the full complement of that memorial in the files.”
Along with the history of the highway and the businesses, Vinnedge detailed some of the things that are no longer around, including the small North Bend Jail, which he described as a shack with padlock and air vents, and its one unusual jailer.
“We know that in 1909 we had a judge in town, he had a mixed job, he was our judge and he had a cigar rolling business,” Vinnedge said. “It was very hard to get help, but Judge Mead needed somebody to be a jailer (laughs). He hired a 9-year-old boy to be the jailer… Mostly what you went to jail for in North Bend was drunk and disorderly and so Judge Mead would hear these cases and throw these guys into the shed and this little 9-year-old boy would come by in the morning and unlock the door on the way to school and they could all go until the next crop came in that night.”
As the history walk came to a close, Vinnedge opened up the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum for guests to visit and ask some more questions.
Learn more about the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum at http://www.snoqualmievalleymuseum.org.