Edmonds set to celebrate its 125th anniversary

EDMONDS — George Brackett was felling a forest filled with giant fir, cedar and hemlocks and using teams of oxen to haul the trees out of the woods nearly two decades before the city’s incorporation.

“When he bought the first acreage, Edmonds was an old-growth forest,” said Larry Vogel, a historian and board member of the Edmonds Historical Society and Museum. “As a lifetime logger, it was his idea to establish his very own logging town.”

Brackett and his friends cut down most of the trees out of what is known as the Edmonds bowl, which takes in the current downtown area. “By 1890, he thought it was time to incorporate the town,” Vogel said.

Over the years, Edmonds became a mill town, developed into a transportation hub with train and ferry services, and in the late 20th century became what Vogel calls “an arts mecca” with both a large annual arts fair and artists living and working in the city.

On Tuesday, the city will celebrate its history and the 125th anniversary of its incorporation. Day-long events are scheduled to begin at 1:15 p.m. on Fifth Avenue N near the historical museum and include live performances from local musical, dance and theater groups. A street dance is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Four former mayors are expected to attend: Harve Harrison, Laura Hall, Barbara Fahey and Mike Cooper. There will be a delegation from Edmonds’ sister city, Hekinan, Japan, including its vice mayor and a Japanese percussion group.

The city of Edmonds was the first to incorporate in Snohomish County, said Mayor Dave Earling. “We take pride in that.”

Earling said he was happy that four of the city’s previous mayors have said they will attend the celebration. Harrison was elected in 1967 and served until 1983.

The sister city relationship with Hekinan began in the 1980s “and is one both cities truly value,” he said.

Reflecting on the city’s history, Vogel said the first of its transitions occurred as the trees from the surrounding areas were logged off and it grew into a mill town. “By the turn of the century, we were shipping shingles and lumber from southern California to Alaska,” he said. “In the early 1900s Edmond was an industrial powerhouse.”

Cross-Sound ferry services began in 1923, Vogel said. A photo from July 4, 1927m shows a scene still familiar today — a line up of cars waiting for the ferry.

Lumber mills continued to operate on the waterfront for decades, with the last mill closing in 1953, he said. For the next few decades, Edmonds developed a business core and was a bedroom community for people who worked in Seattle. “As we got to the end of the 20th century, the arts really started picking up in Edmonds,” he said.

The Edmonds Center for the Arts “is a prime example of that,” Vogel said. “We’ve got internationally known folks coming here to give concerts.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

Celebrate in Edmonds

The community celebration of Edmonds’ 125th anniversary will kick off at 1:15 p.m. Aug. 11 at the Edmonds Historical Museum, 118 5th Ave. N and will feature performances by local musical, dance and theater groups. The event will culminate with a public street dance from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. near the museum. A full listing of performances and activities is available at www.bit.ly/edmonds125.

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