Making connections: Historical Society explores Fall City's role as crossroads

Signposts at the Riverside Lodge in Fall City show travelers the way in 1950. - Courtesy Photo
Signposts at the Riverside Lodge in Fall City show travelers the way in 1950.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

Fall City has always been a place to make a connection. The Fall City Historical Society celebrates the community's role as a crossroads during Fall City Days.

It may be hard to imagine for the younger generation, but for hundreds of years, this area was an important connection point for travelers and commerce. From its origins as one of the major Snoqualmie tribal villages and later as "The Landing," Fall City was a hub for connecting land to river, rail to road, and east to west.

The Snoqualmie River was the first means of transportation. “The Landing” was the farthest point up the Snoqualmie River that riverboats could travel during much of the year, delivering supplies and passengers and collecting goods for shipment to Seattle.

In 1889, the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad laid tracks through the Snoqualmie Valley, putting a depot near Fall City for easier means for shipping goods to market. The dependable, year-round railroad quickly became the transport of choice.

The Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad came to Fall City in 1911 connecting to Everett and joining the mainline to Chicago at Cedar Falls.

The first road between Fall City and Snoqualmie was started in 1865 by John Sanders, following the south bank of the river. This road was the primary means for transporting the hops grown at

the Snoqualmie Hop Ranch to the river and markets in Europe. After the first bridge was built in 1888, the road was moved to the north side of the river where the grades were less steep. The first road connecting Fall City with the west was a wagon trail, officially designated the D.H. Thomas Road No. 99 by King County in 1883. It connected Fall City with Renton via the village of Squak (now Issaquah).

The first Snoqualmie River bridge in Fall City opened in 1888. This crossing point became the key link for early interstate highways, the Yellowstone Trail and Sunset Highway, which

connected Seattle via Snoqualmie Pass to Eastern Washington and points east. This bridge at Fall City was so critical to travel, that armed guards were posted at the site during World War II and plans were made to blow it up in case of invasion.

After Interstate 90 bypassed Fall City, the town began to slowly change into the recreation center and bedroom community we know today.

The society will share historic photos and tell the story of Fall City’s importance as a connection point, and the changes the community has seen over its history, at its booth during the festival.

The award-winning book "Preserving the Stories of Fall City" will also be available for viewing and purchase at the Historical Society booth. Published in November 2010, this 276-page book was honored in April 2011 by the Association of King County Historical Organizations with the Virginia Marie Folkins Award for “an outstanding historical publication.”

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