Granite Falls incorporates on December 21, 1903.

  • By Janet Oakley
  • Posted 12/10/2010
  • Essay 9644
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On December 8, 1903, the Board of County Commissioners of Snohomish County holds an election to determine whether the legal voters residing within what would become Granite Fall want to incorporate. Their answer is yes and on December 21, 1903, the incorporation papers making Granite Falls a fourth class town are filed.

From Portage to Settlement  

Granite Falls is set on a narrow plateau between Snohomish County’s largest rivers. It was an ancient portage for Coast Salish people and early settlers simply called it “the portage.”

Though surrounded by rugged mountains and dense forest, a huge fire sometime after the Civil War created a big burn area that made homesteading easier.  One just had to get there. Squatters and homesteaders alike made their way into the isolated area in the early 1880s. By the end of the decade, there were enough families to warrant a school district, Granite Falls’ first official government organization.  “Granite Falls” was the name choice for the district.

Gold was discovered in the nearby Mount Cristo area in 1889. Granite Falls immediately became the gateway for miners seeking to get rich quick. Business boomed, bringing to the community a hotel, a hardware store, and a pharmacy (run by the town doctor). The town was platted in 1891, but despite the addition of a newspaper and a railroad depot, it wasn’t until 1903 that it was incorporated.

Voting Yes 

The election for incorporation was held on December 8, 1903. Of the 144 votes cast, 78 voters said yes. 43 said no. Incorporation passed and on December 21, the results were filed in the office of Secretary of State Sam R. Nichols.

Voters also approved Granite Falls’ first officers: Burt E. Chappell for mayor with 85 votes, Charles T. Smith for Clerk with 135 votes, and Frank Chappell for Treasurer with 78 votes. For councilmen, William H. Earl (85 votes), John H. Fox (76 votes), Lewis E. Messner (119) votes), Daniel I. Carpenter (98 votes) and John G. Luckey (84 votes).

Gateway to Mountains, Rivers, and Forests

Today, Granite Falls numbers 3,400 people with nearly 10,000 living in the outlying areas. It is a the gateway to the Mountain Loop Highway and nearby trails.

The area is known for outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, camping, and sledding. Granite Falls boasts a wonderful museum focusing on the area’s history and culture.

Sources: Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, “Granite Falls -- Thumbnail History” (by Janet Oakley) (accessed August 12, 2010); "Proceedings in the election to incorporate the Town of Granite Falls," City incorporation papers, December 21, 1945, Secretary of Washington State, Washington State Archives.

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