Enumclaw, Washington, 1909

  • By J. J. Smith
  • Posted 8/26/2014
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 10915
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The following article, a short account of Enumclaw, King County, was written by Dr. J. J. Smith, a resident of the town, and was originally published in the June 1909 edition of The Coast magazine, an early chronicler of life in the Northwest and Alaska. It provides a contemporaneous snapshot of the community, which was established in 1885 as a siding for the Northern Pacific Railway's long-delayed transcontinental line. Over the years, Enumclaw developed into a thriving lumber, farm, and dairy community, and many cooperatives were started there, including Farmers' Mutual Insurance Company, now Mutual of Enumclaw. Smith's account has been provided by William Kombol, manager of the Palmer Coking Coal Company in Black Diamond, and is presented here as a People's History.

Enumclaw, Washington

Enumclaw is one of the most favorably located and prosperous little towns in the state. It is situated in the extreme southern part of King County, about three miles from the White River and the county line. On a table and about 700 feet above sea level, its climate is even and its scenery of surpassing beauty. It is 56 miles from Seattle by rail, and 32 miles east of Tacoma; within easy access to both cities by way of the Northern Pacific Railway.

Enumclaw is in line of connection with the best of the state road routes, which have been proposed for crossing the mountains and opening up a highway to the national parks at the base of Mt. Rainier. This grand mountain is in full view across the foothills from Enumclaw. If Seattle would lend her aid, instead of her opposition, a road could soon be built by the county, state, and national government to the national park on the north side, which equals in beauty and grandeur the famous Paradise Valley on the south side. This road will sometime be built. It will be about 80 miles from Seattle to the north park and will be through a more interesting country than the present route from Tacoma to Paradise Valley, and when the two parks are connected by the United States government road around the base of the mountain, as near snow line as is practicable -- and this is the ultimate object -- it will prove an attraction that will be of world-wide interest. But Enumclaw is the gateway for such a road, which will open up a territory rich in minerals and timber.

The visitors to this little city are invariably impressed by the fine residences, some of which will compare favorably with first-class city homes. The houses and premises present a neat and well-kept appearance, which is often commented upon by strangers.

The surrounding country is finely adapted for farming and dairying, and is rapidly filling up with these industries. New land is being cleared and cultivated each year, and there are already many farms and dairies thoroughly equipped in modern style. The dairy business alone represents a revenue of $15,000 per month. A creamery and a cannery, both operated on the co-operative plan, are doing a large and increasing business. These are located in the town. One of the chief industries in this region is lumbering. Enumclaw is the home of the White River Lumber Company, one of the best equipped establishments in the state. Its daily output is about 100,000 feet. Several other mills bring the total output up to 200,000 feet per day. The shingle mills turn out something like 220,000 shingles per day. There are several coal mines in the vicinity, which produce in round numbers 600 tons per day. The combined payrolls of the lumber and shingle mills amount to $25,000 per month, and the mines represent a like sum. Taken together, the farming, dairying, lumbering, and mining resources naturally bring a large volume of trade to Enumclaw. The freight business handled by the Northern Pacific railroad at this station averages over $25,000 per month.

Enumclaw’s public schools are among the best, and enrolled this year 320 pupils. A full high school course is available. Two years ago the eighth grade attained the highest average in the county. There are four churches -- Presbyterian, Catholic, Danish and Scandinavian -- all in good financial condition.

This vicinity is noted for it many successful co-operative enterprises. This is the home of the Farmers’ Mutual Insurance Company, the oldest and best mutual company in the state. The Rochdale Co-Operative Store does about a $15,000 business monthly. The Co-operative Creamery here has had several years of successful business and the co-operative fruit and vegetable cannery has lately been erected.

Other business enterprises embrace the State Bank of Enumclaw, with $85,000 in deposits; five general stores, two hardware stores, a clothing and dry goods store, two tailor shops, a drug store, one hotel and several restaurants and lunch counters, two barber shops, two newspapers, two blacksmith shops, a harness shop, a livery stable, two saloons, a bakery, two painting and paper-hanging establishments, and a telephone exchange with 168 subscribers. There is also a concrete block manufactory.

Enumclaw is experiencing a rapid and healthy growth, and is an excellent field for farmers and manufacturers who are seeking new locations.


Dr. J. J. Smith, "Enumclaw, Washington," The Coast magazine, Vol. 17, No. 6 (June 1909).

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