Looking Back: A Roaring Twenties playground for the well off

The Big Four Inn drew the famous and wealthy.

Its doors opened at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties and the Big Four Inn soon became a popular rustic haven for the well to do.

Visitors arrived at the 50-room resort by rail, on single gas-powered cars, the only means then available. Roads wouldn’t be built in the area for nearly two decades.

By 1924, 6,000 guests a year checked in to ski, toboggan, play tennis, ride horses, hit the nine-hole golf course or just lounge in front of the giant lobby fireplace and take in the scenic alpine views.

There were day trips and evening dances, mountain hikes and meadow picnics.

Above it all loomed the majestic Big Four Mountain towering 6,161 feet.

“It was a vacationer’s paradise in a day and age that was mostly unprepared for the new era of mobility and exuberance that followed World War I,” Dorothy Schroeder, wrote in the “Journal of Everett and Snohomish County History,” published by the Everett Public Library. Schroeder, a Snohomish County native, visited the inn several times as a child. Her father’s father-in-law worked there as a caretaker. Her father had told her that anyone could stay, “but it wasn’t everybody that could afford it.”

At its height, a room for two at the lavish inn cost $6, including meals, according to Schroeder’s history.

The revelry lasted only a short time. The Great Depression ended the frolicking and business declined. The difficulty of operating in such rugged country eventually led to the rail line being abandoned making the property difficult to reach.

In World War II, the Coast Guard took over the resort for use as a rest center for service members.

The inn was unoccupied on Sept. 7, 1949 when it burned to the ground. The federal government eventually purchased the land and it became part of what’s now the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

The old fireplace survived, and still stands next to a parking lot for a popular trailhead on the Mountain Loop Road.

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