Tales of Historic Snohomish

This is a selection of stories from @SnohomishWalks social media feeds.

For all the history, follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Patreon.

Hotel Penobscot - built 1888; destroyed 1911. 🛌

The proprietor of the "finest hotel in all of Snohomish," Joseph Mallet, was born in Penobscot County, Maine and moved west when he was 20. He worked in logging, clerked for Isaac Cathcart, and started his own lumber business with L.H. Cyphers. Their operation was successful and he bought ninety acres of farm land near Blackmans Lake, plus a "fine residence" in town.

Mallet built and became the manager of the hotel, naming it after his birthplace. The three-story Penobscot was chic: it offered free horse & buggy transport between the railroad depot and First Street, plus rooms heated with stoves (a warm luxury 🔥). A large front room cost 75 cents, plus 25 cents for dinner. 🍽️

The hotel was lost to a fire on Memorial Day, 1911.

Recognize this spot? 🕵️‍♀️ Before it was Andy’s Fish House, it was Chuck’s Seafood Grotto.

And before it was a grotto, it was the Bickford Ford Service Station. It supplied Shell gasoline, oil, and any other fixin’ your car was needin'. In the 1930s, the Bickford car lot occupied this open space. In 1948, the company added the conveniently-located service station. Then Bickford moved to a larger location north of town in the 1970s, so the space was repurposed as a restaurant. 🦞

Deep in the basement of the University of Washington archive, there's a special edition of the Seattle Sunday Times.

In November 1948, Snohomish was the centerfold. 💃📸

Spread across seven charming pages, small-town Snohomish comes to life in detailed, full-tonal sepia photographs. The story captures the people, industries, homes, and culture of Snohomish in the 1940s.

I am so grateful to have found a surviving print copy of this story. The existing digitized scans were horrible, quite frankly, and a physical copy was hard to track down. The Times no longer keeps prints and the UW had it misfiled. Perhaps there are copies out there in old Snohomish homes - if so, please preserve them! 🗞️

I've posted full-size digital photos of the entire 7-page story on my Patreon.

The Big Snow of 1916 may have been the most snowfall of all time. It had snowed most of December and through the holiday season. Then, at the end of January, it snowed for three days straight. Snohomies found themselves buried in well over 3-feet of snow. 🌨️

Lot Wilbur, the town pharmacist, was also the city's Superintendent of Measurements. He claimed there were 40-inches of snow - and that he’d seen worse! Alas, other city officials decided the 1916 snow was the record-breaker event. 📏

Just like today, transportation was a major challenge. Trains were equipped with snowblowers, but that was near impossible work in the wet, icy PNW snow. The river was frozen over, so boats were unusable. (However, ice skating from Snohomish to Lowell was possible and a regular winter activity! ⛸️)

The most pressing concern was that roofs might collapse under the weight of that much snow. Townsfolk and business owners came out with their shovels and flung snow from the rooftops down into the street.

Another threat concerned the mills, which shut down in inclement weather and ended up losing profits. Worse yet: newspapers feared a “wood famine” would leave residents desperately chilly, since most everyone in town used the mill’s offcuts to heat their homes. 🥶

Snohomish has seen a few snow flurries this month, but it’s nothing compared to the winters of our past. I can guarantee we won't break the Snow-homish record. 👍

During the January 5, 1969 flood, the river was 5’ above flood stage, thanks to unusually warm weather that melted mountain snow. These homes sat on the south bank of the river, where flood damage was worse.

Using amphibious “Duck” boats, search and rescue teams helped 44 people stranded in their homes and stalled cars. Thankfully, no lives were lost and the floodwaters began to recede the next day.

Though these photos look dramatic, this flood was nothing compared to the one in December 1975. Heavy rain and melting snow caused the Snohomish River to overflow for 6 whole days. No human lives were lost, but over 3,500 head of cattle and other livestock drowned or died of hypothermia. Disposing of that many animal carcasses required a month-long National Guard operation. A new landfill, with trenches 100’ long and 50’ wide, was established in Arlington and guardsmen transported animals from across the county to be buried there. 🚚

SOURCE: Jim Leo, Everett Herald