Obama, 5 other presidents have visited Snohomish County

OSO — President Barack Obama’s planned visit to the debris field of the mudslide today holds local historical interest on at least two levels.

It will mark the first time a president has come to Snohomish County after a large-scale tragedy and the first time the primary destination has been outside of Everett.

Obama, who was in Everett in 2012 to tour of the Boeing Co.’s 787 production line at Paine Field, is the sixth sitting president to set foot in the county.

David Dilgard, a historian with the Everett Public Library, could not recall a president visiting Snohomish County after a natural disaster.

“That’s pretty unusual,” he said. “Thank God so are the slides.”

So far, the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office has confirmed 41 deaths.

Other presidents have come to campaign, to visit political allies and to pitch economic plans.

The list begins with Theodore Roosevelt, who on May 23, 1903, arrived in Everett by steamer and was driven up Hewitt Avenue. By some estimates the crowd numbered 35,000, more than triple Everett’s population at the time.

William Taft followed on Oct. 9, 1911, where he met with students from Lincoln School, which was across Colby Avenue from Everett High School.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt made a whistle-stop speech in Everett Oct. 1, 1937, on his way from the Olympic Peninsula to Grand Coulee Dam.

Harry S. Truman visited Everett twice as president, in 1948 and 1952. He too gave whistle-stop speeches from the back of a train. He also visited the county at least two other times when he was a U.S. senator to visit colleague U.S. Sen. Mon Wallgren, a Democrat from Everett.

Bill Clinton flew into Paine Field aboard Air Force One on Feb. 23, 1993, to promote his economic plan to the American people. He also met privately with Boeing workers at a time of heavy layoffs.

Over the years, future presidents have come to Snohomish County. They include Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

With the Oso tragedy the focus of Obama’s trip Tuesday, a visit to the Evergreen Cemetery in Everett is not part of the itinerary. Genealogy research in 2008 revealed his great-great-great grandmother is buried there. Rachel Wolfley’s grave marker was unearthed that October, buried beneath the grass. It turned out that her name was misspelled.

Anyone wanting to correct the spelling error and install a new marker would first need to get permission from her descendents, perhaps even Obama himself.

“Maybe some day,” Dilgard said.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Former Monroe cop loses appeal on sex crimes conviction

Once a highly respected officer, he was found guilty of secretly videotaping his kids’ babysitter.

Suspect sought in two Everett bank robberies

He’s described as 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-1, with dark hair and a goatee, and may have a neck tattoo.

Video shows man suspected of attacking a woman in Edmonds

The man allegedly threw her on the ground, then ran away after the she began kicking and screaming.

Two missing men found, one alive and one dead

The man found alive was found in an apartment across the hallway and taken to a hospital.

Darrington School Board dealing with upheavals

The crux of the controversy seems to be the superintendent’s job.

Alaska Airlines has selected destinations for new service from Paine Field. (Alaska Airlines)
Alaska Airlines will fly from Everett to 8 West Coast cities

Two destinations that didn’t make the list were Spokane and Hawaii.

Train kills man who was trying to get off tracks in Monroe

The conductor said he attempted to stop after sighting the man, who’d been lying on the rails.

Front Porch

EVENTS Construction to start on housing project A groundbreaking is scheduled for… Continue reading

FILE - This Tuesday, May 30, 2017 file photo, former Washington Gov. John Spellman, second from left, leaves a memorial service in Renton, Wash. Spellman, the last Republican governor elected in Washington, has died at age 91. Spellman’s son, Seattle attorney David Spellman, confirmed his death Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren,File)
John Spellman was last GOP governor of Washingon

He had spent recent weeks “being very disappointed with the Cougs and the Huskies,” his son said.

Most Read