SNOHOMISH — In the 1890s, a bicycle craze so intense swept the nation that some religious organizations blamed the newfangled fad for declining church attendance.
Washington wasn’t immune to the two-wheeled fever, according to historylink.org, a nonprofit Washington historical website.
About a mile south of the town of Snohomish, on what was then the edge of Abel Johnson’s property along a dirt wagon road popular with bicyclers, sat a massive, centuries-old western red cedar tree.
Credit is given to Civil War veteran David Lewis Paramore, then working as a druggist in Snohomish and also serving as president of the local bicycle club, for leading an effort to make the tree a “destination” along a new cinder-lined bike path built next to the road.
For $15, a local logger named Miligan was hired to cut a pathway through the trunk and so was born the famous Snohomish Bicycle Tree just yards east of today’s intersection of Highway 9 and Marsh Road on Airport Way.
For more than three decades, the arched opening, large enough to ride a horse through, served as a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.
The tree provided the community with free advertising and became a frequent backdrop for photographs, some taken by professionals and others possibly by amateurs using another new gadget gaining in popularity at the time, the Kodak camera. Postcards from the era also include bucolic images of the massive beauty.
On the afternoon of Friday, Dec. 2, 1927, rising flood waters from the Snohomish River and high winds teamed to topple the mighty cedar.
The next day, workers arrived and within hours the one-time giant was nothing more than stacked firewood.
Following the original’s demise, a second cedar across the road to the east was hollowed out, keeping the attraction alive for several more years.