Memorial garden to honor slide victims

When Marla Skaglund walks by Japanese maples on her property, she thinks of her husband. He died in 2005. She tends flowering shrubs on her 10 acres near Darrington in honor of her mother, who died in 2004. Skaglund lost her dad in 1991. Big trees on the land remind her of him.

“I always think about them,” Skaglund said.

Today she calls the place where her ancestors settled in the 1920s Skaglund Hill Memorial Gardens and Campsites. It’s a venue for weddings and parties, with eight campsites for rent.

Now, she is offering the woods where she honors her own family as a place for those who lost loved ones in the Oso slide to plant memorial trees or shrubs.

“I want to invite people to plant here — anything they want —and to put up a little plaque in honor of the person they lost,” Skaglund said. “I’m inviting them to come back anytime, and if they want, to do their own little service.”

Skaglund, who graduated from Arlington High School in 1968, grew up on the property, in the house where she now lives. Skaglund Hill is between Arlington and Darrington. As someone who has traveled Highway 530 all her life, she knows every mile. “It’s 14?1/2 miles out of Arlington, and 12 miles to Darrington — 4 miles east of the Oso fire station,” she said.

Generations of Skaglunds have called the area home. The first ones to come were from Sweden.

“We are one of the families not from Sylva, North Carolina,” Skaglund said. Many in Darrington trace their roots to that small town in the Great Smoky Mountains. Logging lured North Carolina “Tar Heels” to Darrington. The chance to earn a living in the woods also brought workers from Sweden and Norway.

By the early 1920s, Skaglund’s paternal grandparents, Albert and Gerda Skaglund, had come from Sweden “to Swede Heaven, up at Whitehorse.” The Whitehorse community is about seven miles west of Darrington. Its immigrant legacy is marked by the name of Swede Heaven Road.

“My dad was born at Swede Heaven in 1926,” Skaglund said. Her grandparents and her parents, Arthur and Phyllis Skaglund, have all died.

The men were independent loggers — “gyppo loggers,” Skaglund said. It’s a tough, dangerous business. Skaglund remembers her father recovering at home, in the 1960s, from a punctured lung suffered in a logging accident.

Her younger brother Steve Skaglund was helping in the woods by age 5, she said. Since the disaster, Steve Skaglund has used his heavy equipment in the debris search. He was shown walking across rubble in a dramatic photo in Sunday’s Herald.

The March 22 slide brought down a hillside, which was north of Highway 530, about five miles east of Oso. It’s in a different area, but not far from, a 2006 slide. The state Department of Transportation called its project after that event “Skaglund Hill-Permanent Slide Repair.” The state installed a rock buttress along the south bank of the Stillaguamish River, below Highway 530.

Marla Skaglund said her house is “at the bottom of the hill, on the Darrington side.” She believes it’s a safe place, far from the river and unstable earth. To honor her family, she has enhanced its beauty.

Her late husband, musician Alec Jupp, had Japanese maple trees growing in pots. After his death, she made them a permanent part of the landscape. Her mother loved flowers. “I know how hard she worked in the flower beds,” Skaglund said. “And my dad loved trees. He would rather have planted them than cut them down.”

Like many Darrington natives, she moved away but couldn’t stay away. It is home. She volunteers with the Darrington Area Business Association, and writes for the monthly Concrete Herald newspaper. Since the slide, she has spread the word about fundraising events to help families hurt by the tragedy in her own back yard.

She is offering what she can — a place to plant something beautiful.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

A place to plant

Anyone who lost a loved one in the Oso mudslide is welcome to plant a tree, shrub or other plant, and include a small memorial plaque, at Skaglund Hill Memorial Gardens and Campsites, a 10-acre site near Oso. For information, email Marla Skaglund at marlaskaglund@yahoo.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Fraudulent 1999 Pokémon cards Iosif “Joe” Bondarchuk and Anthony Curcio sold to an undercover law enforcement purchaser in July 2023. (Photo provided by the DOJ USAO Southern District of New York)
Counterfeit Pokémon cards, a $2M scheme, and a getaway by inner tube

It was the latest stranger-than-fiction caper tied to ex-Monroe star athlete Anthony Curcio, accused of forging mint grades for rare cards.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road in Mukilteo. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Mukilteo Speedway name change is off to a bumpy start

The city’s initial crack at renaming the main drag got over 1,500 responses. Most want to keep the name.

Lynnwood
Suspected DUI crash injures trooper on I-5 north in Lynnwood

WSP spokesperson said two suspected impaired drivers have crashed into a state trooper in the past 24 hours.

Traffic moves along Highway 526 in front of Boeing’s Everett Production Facility on Nov. 28, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Boeing agrees to pay more than $11.5M in back pay to employees

Nearly 500 workers are set to receive back wages, in what Washington regulators call the largest-ever settlement of its kind in state history.

The I-5, Highway 529 and the BNSF railroad bridges cross over Union Slough as the main roadways for north and southbound traffic between Everett and Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 529 closure between Everett and Marysville delayed by weather

The key alternative route to I-5 was slated to be fully closed overnight Saturday. Now, June 8 is being circled as the date.

Benson Boone (Photo provided by AEG Presents)
Taylor Swift taps Monroe HS grad Benson Boone to open London show

Boone, 21, has become a global pop star since his “American Idol” stint in 2021. “Beautiful Things” is the biggest song in the world.

News logo for use with stories about Mill Creek in Snohomish County, WA.
Mill Creek man accused of crashing into taxi in Seattle, killing woman

King County prosecutors charged Aboubacarr Singhateh with vehicular homicide and three counts of vehicular assault.

Grayson Huff, left, a 4th grader at Pinewood Elementary, peeks around his sign during the Marysville School District budget presentation on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
State OKs Marysville plan with schools, jobs on chopping block

The revised plan would mean the loss of dozens of jobs and two schools — still to be identified — in a school district staring down a budget crunch.

The Trestle’s junction with I-5 is under evaluation (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Here’s your chance to give feedback on the US 2 trestle and its future

Often feel overwhelmed, vulnerable and on shaky ground? So is the trestle. A new $17 million study seeks solutions for the route east of Everett.

Rep. Suzanne DelBene and Mayor Kyoko Matsumoto Wright walk past a future apartment development during a tour and discussion with community leaders regarding the Mountlake Terrace Main Street Revitalization project on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, in Mountlake Terrace, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
As Mountlake Terrace grows, so does housing around light rail

City officials lauded a new apartment complex and accepted a $850,000 check, as Mountlake Terrace continues work on Town Center plan.

Edmonds City Council members answer questions during an Edmonds City Council Town Hall on Thursday, April 18, 2024 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds favors joining South County Fire — but not ready to commit

The City Council voted 5-2 to make annexation its favored option. The city has 19 months before the current contract expires.

People gather for a color throw at Stanwood and Camano’s first-ever Pride celebration on Saturday, June 4, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish County Pride guide 2024

Celebrate love locally this June at one of the many Pride events happening across the county.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.