Place:Darrington, Snohomish, Washington, United States


Coordinates48.252°N 121.604°W
Located inSnohomish, Washington, United States
Contained Places
Darrinton Cemetery
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Darrington is a town in Snohomish County, Washington, United States. It is located in a mountain valley within the North Cascades that was formed by the Sauk River and North Fork Stillaguamish River. Darrington is approximately east of Arlington, the nearest city, and is connected by State Route 530. It had a population of 1,347 at the 2010 census.

The town was founded in 1891 on the site of a Skagit campsite between the two rivers, near the traditional home of the Sauk-Suiattle tribe. Prospectors had arrived in the area during the 1880s while looking for gold and other minerals, but were quickly displaced by the logging industry that would come to dominate Darrington for much of the 20th century. The Northern Pacific Railway built a branch line to the town in 1901 and ushered in several years of growth.

During the Great Depression, Darrington hosted a Civilian Conservation Corps camp that improved roads, trails, and firefighting infrastructure in the nearby Mount Baker National Forest. Several waves of Appalachian emigrants arrived in the area from North Carolina, forming a culture that is seen in the town's annual Bluegrass festival and rodeo.

Darrington was incorporated as a town on October 15, 1945, and continues to operate under a mayor–council government. It has transitioned away from logging and towards tourism due to its proximity to the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, which includes outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain climbing, and fishing. The Darrington area is above sea level and receives significantly more precipitation and snowfall than the Puget Sound lowlands.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Prehistory and early exploration

The upper Stillaguamish and Sauk valleys on the Sauk, Suiattle, and White Chuck rivers were historically inhabited by various Coast Salish groups, including the Stillaguamish, the Sauk-Suiattle, and the Upper Skagit. The Sauk-Suiattle maintained a village site and burial ground near modern-day Darrington, while the Skagits used the plain between the Stillaguamish and Sauk rivers as a portage for overhead transport of canoes. The portage, named or , was also used as a transiting point for travelers from Eastern Washington on their way to and from the Puget Sound coast.

The area was known as Burn or Sauk Portage to early surveyors and visitors from towns along the Puget Sound coastline. A group of railroad surveyors for the Northern Pacific Railway arrived in modern-day Darrington in 1870 while plotting the potential route for a railroad crossing the Cascades to Lake Chelan, but ultimately chose Stampede Pass to the south. The North Stillaguamish Valley was called "Starve Out" until 1884 by settlers, who arrived alone and under-prepared for the area's conditions. The Sauk-Suiattle was threatened with eviction by soldiers who were sent to the area by the valley settlers, who were unsuccessful in seizing the lands after their claim of hostile people was determined to be unfounded. To strengthen their claims to the lands, the tribe partnered with a later surveying team to record their claims to the eastern side of the Sauk River, where the modern-day Indian reservation now sits.

The discovery of gold and other valuable minerals in the Monte Cristo area in 1889 lured prospectors into the northern Cascades and stimulated the development of the surrounding mountain valleys. A wagon road along the Sauk River connecting Monte Cristo to Sauk Prairie and the settlement of Sauk City on the Skagit River was constructed in 1891, forming part of the modern Mountain Loop Highway. The wagon road was only used for three years before being replaced by the Everett and Monte Cristo Railway to the south; until that time, the Sauk Prairie at the modern site of Darrington was an overnight camping spot for prospectors. Nearby areas were explored by prospectors who made over 100 claims to pieces of land in the highlands around the valley, including Gold Hill.

Establishment and early development

The Sauk Prairie campsite evolved into a settlement that was known as "The Portage" and developed around several homesteads established between 1888 and 1891. A name for the town was decided by a vote of several pioneer residents in July 1891 to prepare for the arrival of a post office. The vote was tied between two options, Portage (in some accounts, Norma) and Darrington, the maiden name of settler W. W. Cristopher's mother. According to some reports, the name was originally to be "Barrington" but was changed due to a mistake from the Postal Department or by the townspeople to resemble the word "dare". By the end of the decade, the town had gained a schoolhouse, a general store, a hotel, and a postmaster, Fred Olds, whose horse inspired the naming of Whitehorse Mountain.[1]

Darrington's residents lobbied the Seattle and International Railway for the construction of a branch line from Arlington to the town as early as 1895, offering a 15-year contract to ship 75 percent of the area's extracted ores. The railroad agreed to the offer and began construction in 1900, and was absorbed by the Northern Pacific Railway during that time, outpacing Great Northern and their plans to build a railroad to their timber holdings in the Sauk River valley. Railway crews arrived in the Darrington area by the following year and the first train arrived at the town's depot on May 31, 1901.

Several sawmills and other timber industries began in the years following the railroad's completion, as mining fortunes in the surrounding area dwindled.[2] Most of the original prospectors had left the Darrington area during the Klondike gold rush of the late 1890s, while those who remained established a single smelter in the mountains. A Bornite mine was developed at Long Mountain and was hoped to revive the mining industry of the area, but was abandoned in 1910 after its mineral deposits were found to be smaller than expected.[3] Darrington surpassed a population of 100 residents in 1906 and established a second hotel and its first social club by that time.[1][4] The U.S. Lumber Company, which began in 1901 as the Allen Mill, was the largest employer in Darrington during the early 1910s and produced 23,000 board feet of wood per day.

The U.S. Lumber Company hired 21 Japanese laborers who were paid a similar wage to their white counterparts, which angered the townspeople in Darrington. On June 13, 1910, a mob of 100 white men rioted and drove the Japanese laborers out of town after little resistance, paying for their train fare to Everett and allowing them to retrieve their belongings. The riot prompted an investigation from Seattle-based vice-consul Kinjiro Hayashi, who forwarded his report to the Japanese ambassador as well as the state government. The rioters threatened the U.S. Lumber Company with the burning of its Darrington mill should it attempt to return the Japanese laborers to the town, prompting the company to file a court injunction. The injunction was denied, but the townspeople eventually relented and allowed twenty Japanese laborers to return to the mill a week later following Prince Fushimi Hiroyasu's visit to Seattle.[1]

Early 20th century

Darrington's residents also resisted the county government's plan to become a dry county, which would prohibit the sale of alcohol and close the town's saloons. A petition was circulated among the townspeople and residents of nearby areas to incorporate Darrington as a fourth-class city in order to continue alcohol sales, but the attempt at incorporation was thwarted after protests by the U.S. Lumber Mill and several civic leaders. On July 5, 1910, the town voted 46–35 in favor of remaining a "wet" settlement within the dry county, but the countywide plebiscite the same day passed in favor of prohibition.

The town grew substantially in the early 1920s, with new sawmills bringing in new residents and businesses. The wagon road along the North Fork Stillaguamish River (now part of State Route 530) was improved and Darrington gained several civic services that were created by a local improvement club, including a fire department, a municipal water supply, and electrical services. The town also received its first movie theater in 1923, a high school in 1925, and a town jail to replace a disused boxcar.[1] Standard Oil constructed an auxiliary gasoline station in 1922 to serve the area, and a stagecoach service was begun at the same time.

The Great Depression caused lumber prices to fall in late 1930 and several small sawmills in the Darrington area suspended operations for a full year while laying off most of the town's workforce. The town also suffered from outbreaks of scarlet fever and smallpox in 1931, which was followed by winter storms that damaged bridges and roads in the Sauk River valley. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) work program established Camp Darrington on May 20, 1933, to provide employment for up to 200 men from northern Snohomish County.[1] The townspeople also established a local cooperative association in 1935 to create jobs, including 33 at an independent sawmill, and provide services at a shared cost.

Camp Darrington was primarily used to fight wildfires and develop infrastructure in the Darrington district of the Mount Baker National Forest, including roads, trails, and a series of fire lookout towers atop nearby mountains. Among its projects was the Mountain Loop Highway, which provided connections between ranger stations in Darrington and Granite Falls and also opened up the Cascades backcountry to logging and recreation. The camp employed the first wave of Appalachian emigrants from North Carolina, who would later make up a majority of the town's population by 1947. Camp Darrington workers also assisted in the creation of two winter sports areas that were equipped ski runs, toboggan trails, and a ski jump. The Works Progress Administration, another federal jobs program, provided funds to replace the town's overcrowded high school in 1936.

Incorporation and decline of lumber

Darrington reached a population of 600 residents in 1945 and was officially incorporated as a fourth-class town on October 15, 1945, following a vote of the townspeople that ended 96–60 in favor.[5] The townspeople celebrated with the establishment of an annual summer festival, the Timberbowl, which ran until 1967 and was initially used to raise funds for a fire engine and other equipment. A new, two-story town hall was built in 1947, housing the town council chambers, offices for town officials, the police department, the fire department, and a public library. A dedicated community center was constructed in 1952 by the townspeople to serve as the venue of various social functions, as well as a general gymnasium with seating for 1,200 spectators. A new high school and municipal airport opened in 1958 at opposite ends of the town.

Railroad companies with large timber holdings in the Darrington area began to leave the Stillaguamish and Sauk valleys in the 1960s, leading to the rise of independent "gyppo" loggers who salvaged discarded timber while under contract to regional paper mills. The gyppo operations were eventually succeeded by a small local timber company, Summit Timber, which acquired the largest sawmill in Darrington and evolved into the modern Hampton mill. The closure of several smaller mills in Darrington and surrounding communities, including four for cedar shakes, caused the area's population to decline further in the 1960s and 1970s.

Restrictions for logging on federal lands were further tightened in the 1980s and 1990s to protect the mountain habitats of threatened and endangered species, including the northern spotted owl, and caused further declines in the timber industries of the Darrington area. In response, Summit transitioned to processing private forests and lands managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, maintaining its position as the town's largest employer. The loss of timber-industry jobs was protested by the townspeople as part of the "timber wars" that erupted across logging communities in the Pacific Northwest during the 1990s. Northern Pacific had ended passenger service to the Darrington area in the 1960s, and the passenger depot was demolished in 1967. The railroad was eventually abandoned in 1990 and its right of way was acquired by the county government for conversion into a rail trail.[6]

Tourism economy and modern-day Darrington

The town government looked to diversify its economy and focus on tourism as an alternate industry, creating new festivals and advertising its existing Bluegrass festival and rodeo. It adopted strong land use controls to preserve its existing rural character in the 1970s, which prevented new development until 2002. Despite this, Darrington developed into a bedroom community for commuters who work in Everett and Marysville. The town government also considered the construction of a 400-bed minimum-security prison work camp, but opposition from residents forced the idea to be scrapped in 1990.[7]

The town government unsuccessfully campaigned to become the host of a NASCAR racetrack and a regional swimming center in the early 2000s, aiming to become an all-year destination for the county. Several major floods in the late 1990s and early 2000s caused damage to properties along the Stillaguamish and Sauk rivers in Darrington, including a washout of the Mountain Loop Highway. The highway was restored five years after the 2003 flood, which cost Darrington approximately $750,000 in tourist revenue and caused several businesses to fail. During the Great Recession of 2008–12, Darrington's main lumber mill laid off 67 people and the town government accepted several grants from the state to upgrade its water system and repair streets.

On March 22, 2014, a major mudslide on a hillside near Oso destroyed dozens of homes and a section of State Route 530, cutting off direct road access between Arlington and Darrington for two months. The mudslide took place west of Darrington and killed 43 people, becoming the deadliest landslide in U.S. history and the deadliest natural disaster in state history since the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. Darrington became one of the main staging areas for disaster response workers and supplies, converting a community center into an emergency shelter for victims and the rodeo grounds into an animal shelter and housing for workers.

State Route 530 was partially reopened to traffic by early June, while a permanent replacement was constructed over the summer months and opened in September. The long detour around the north side via State Route 20 caused increased costs for local businesses, which were mitigate with low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration and recovery funds, including $9.5 million in private donations. The tourism industry in Darrington also received a state-funded advertising campaign over the summer months, which helped keep revenue and visitation of local events at pre-slide levels. The state government, together with a Economic Alliance Snohomish County and Washington State University, drafted an economic recovery plan that was put into effect in 2016 and is planned to cost $65 million.

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