In 1918 the Canyon Creek Lodge, one of the most charming get-a-ways in the Northwest, opens on an old homestead two miles east of Granite Falls, in the foothills of the Monte Cristo Range of the Cascade Mountains (Snohomish County). The lodge, which offers a tranquil place to take a vacation out in the wild, reflects the growing recreation trend for "touring." At its height, it will receive a visit from Edith Roosevelt (1861-1948). It is known for its beautiful main lodge, to which several generations will come to fish and camp. The Canyon Creek Lodge will recover from a 1938 fire, but will not survive a second fire in the 1960s.
From Pioneer Homestead to Lodge
Little is known abut the beginnings of the Canyon Creek Lodge. Its original owner, Quincy Mueller, stated that it began northeast of the town of Granite Falls in 1918 on the old homestead of pioneer Charles Noble. Her husband, Joseph Mueller, ran the Pilchuck Market in Granite Falls during the 1920s, and Quincy Mueller, who went by the name of Mrs. J. Mueller on all the brochures, seems to have been in charge of running the lodge, which offered camping and fishing. Starting with the original home built by Noble, the Muellers added wings, two dining rooms, and “modern cabins, cottages, and rustic camps.” A bridge over the creek brought visitors onto the property.
By 1926, the Canyon Creek Lodge had gained an excellent reputation far beyond Snohomish County. The cost of $5 to $6 a day included a cabin with open fireplaces and all meals. Quaint names such as “The Owl” and “Trail's End” lent to its picturesque ambiance. Horseback riding, fishing, golfing, and hiking were some of the many outdoor activities. The lodge was open from March to October.
New Owners, New Plans
On January 6, 1930, Quincy Mueller sold Canyon Creek Lodge to H. K. Wicker, Marion Wicker, and C. H. Hethway from Boston. Within days, they formed a corporation Canyon Creek Lodge with $150,000 in capital shares. Plans were to sell 7,500 shares at $20 each. Its purpose was to “engage in the operation of a resort and in connection wherewith to operate a golf course, club house, hotel, cabin and hunting lodges, to lay out trails, swiming [sic] pools, toboggan slides and other equipment for winter sports ...” (Articles of Incorporation). They also had plans to sell general merchandise both retail and wholesale, and to “deal in gas, oils, and automotive supplies,” as well as engaging in the lumber and logging business and developing a hydroelectric plant. Grand vision. Seven months later, the stock was reduced to 75,000 at $100 per share. Perhaps the Depression had sunk in.
Over the decade improvements were made. The beautiful main lodge enhanced its reputation. In 1936, Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United States and wife of late President Theodore Roosevelt, spent her vacation at Canyon Creek, bringing excitement and interest in Granite Falls and to Granite Falls from across the country.
Fire at the Lodge
On February 10, 1938, a fire completely destroyed the beautiful main lodge. The total loss was more than $50,000, and the insurance covered only about one-fifth of the value of the property destroyed, which included new furnishings, a new dining room, and major upgrades to its heating and cooling systems.
Only one chair was saved from the main lodge. Nevertheless, by February 17, plans were already made to have a limited service opening on April 21. The Washington Outing Park Association would kick things off with their annual conference on the grounds, since the cabins were not damaged. The owners remodeled a surviving stone building into a coffee shop and opened officially on May 1. A year later, they rebuilt the lodge.
Records after that are confusing, as both Quincy and Joseph Mueller’s names are back on Canyon Creek documents in 1940. In 1942, the lodge was sold to a Thomas J. Grant.
Professor Melvin Rader's Stay
One of the most interesting stories associated with Canyon Creek Lodge was a 1948 investigation of communism at the University of Washington. Led by State Representative Albert F. Canwell (1907-2002), the Joint Legislative Fact-finding Committee on Un-American Activities in the State of Washington had heard George Hewitt (later revealed as a professional informer) accuse University of Washington philosophy Professor Melvin Rader (1903-1981) of attending a secret Communist School in New York in the summer 1938. Rader insisted that he had not attended any such school. He was on vacation with his wife and daughter at Canyon Creek Lodge from July 30 to September 5.
When Rader could not shake off this accusation, Seattle Times reporter Ed Guthman looked into his story. He concluded that Canwell had jumped to a conclusion “after an inadequate investigation, or had deliberately withheld vital evidence (The Seattle Times, October 1948) A critical piece of evidence was a small typewritten card. It bore Mrs. Rader’s name and address, the date “8-16-40” and the notation “prof at U. of Washington, guest for 1 month.” The committee concluded that this was the time that the Raders had stayed at the Lodge, but upon interviewing Quincy Mueller in 1949, the reporter learned that this was her system of noting when she wrote to visitors. She had offered to sell them a lot near the resort.
Mueller remembered showing Rader's wife the charred wreckage of the main lodge, which would be removed later in 1938 or the following year. Lodge housekeeper Ida Kirby also remembered driving the Raders home to Seattle after their stay, to the address on the card. In 1948, she accompanied the committee investigators to the lodge and showed him the old register. “As one of the men ran his finger over the pages, I overheard him say: 'There it is -- Rader -- ’39.'” Rader was cleared in October 1948.
The Canyon Creek Lodge continued operation for another decade plus, then in the 1960s burned to the ground. Today all that is left of the old place are a few stones.