Most people know Leavenworth as the Bavarian village it is today, but it wasn't always a charming German Christmas town. At the turn of the last century, the arrival of the rail line caused a boom in the area, especially since the logging was so good. But when the logging industry was no longer profitable and the railroad left town, Leavenworth was in danger of becoming a ghost town. Town leaders decided to give it a Bavarian theme in the early 1960s to draw visitors, and clearly, they did a fantastic job.
Steilacoom is Washington's oldest incorporated town. And although it's fairly small now, at one time, its early settlers early settlers hoped it would become the next San Francisco. Lafayette Balch, a sea captain from Maine, helped develop the local economy in the late 1800s. Of course, it didn't become the next San Francisco, but it's perfectly peaceful just the way it is.
3. Port Townsend
Our beautiful Victorian seaport was originally named Port Townshend by Captain George Vancouver in 1792, long before Washington became a state. It was once called the City of Dreams because its early residents hoped it would become the largest harbor on the west coast. Although that never happened, it was a very active seaport in the 1800s and still has a historic vibe to this day, not to mention so many hauntings that it has its own ghost tour.
It's pretty obvious when you look around Republic that it's an old mining and logging town. Originally named Eureka Gulch, it was founded by gold prospectors and had a thriving economy until the 1970s, when the population dropped below 1,000. But this is a town that's proud of its heritage, which you can learn about at the Ferry County Historical Center.
Roy currently has a population of 822, but honestly, it's impressive that it's still around at all. Founded as a farming community, it was thriving in the early 1900s, when it faced three major obstacles: a major fire in 1929, the Great Depression, and the railroad discontinuing using it as a stop. Somehow, Roy avoided becoming a ghost town.
6. La Conner
La Conner is Skagit County’s oldest community, purchased by John Conner in 1869 for $500. It was named La Conner after Louisa A. Conner, John's wife. It has been a farming community, a hub for steamers carrying passengers and freight from Seattle, a logging and fishing spot, and at last, a popular tourist destination. This town may be small, but its residents have always found a way to prosper.
Pullman was incorporated in 1888 and named after engineer and industrialist George Pullman, best known for designing and manufacturing a railroad car with beds for passengers. But here's the strange part: George Pullman didn’t live in Pullman. His railcars weren’t manufactured there, either. Bolin Farr, a local homesteader, was a friend of George's and named the town after him. Pullman survived a huge fire in 1890 and a flood in 1910, which miraculously didn't claim any lives.
Have you ever wondered how our Little Norway came to be? The Suquamish People were the original inhabitants of the area, and they provided early European settlers with fish and other food. Norwegian immigrants started moving to the area in the late 1800s, and logging soon became a big part of the economy. The Norwegian settlers loved Poulsbo because it reminded them of home. One early settler, I.B. Moe, wanted to name the town Paulsbo, but authorities in Washington, D.C. misread Moe's handwriting, hence the name Poulsbo.
If you've spent any time in Cheney, you've probably been kept awake by the sounds of trains. Originally known as Willow Springs, the town was eventually re-named after Benjamin P. Cheney, the director of the Northern Pacific Railroad. And its railroad and agricultural history definitely shaped it.
It’s interesting to learn the history behind our charming cities and towns. This
peaceful fishing village seems to be frozen in time.