Mill Creek reinvents history

Tiny stream becomes city’s namsake


Herald Writer

MILL CREEK — When Bea Noreikat moved here a year ago, she assumed that the city was named after a stream called Mill Creek.

"A natural conclusion," Noreikat said.

But her assumptions were wrong.

There was no Mill Creek in Mill Creek — until this month.

The 2-foot-wide, mile-long creek, informally dubbed Smokehouse Creek, was officially named Mill Creek by the Washington State Board on Geographic Names on Dec. 8.

From now on, the tiny creek, which runs through the middle of the city’s Town Center Mall project, will appear on official state maps as Mill Creek.

The decision came after a two-year campaign by former city council member Dr. Jon Pazevic, city officials and residents who wanted to give the town a namesake.

The name Mill Creek will be added to a list of 37 other streams in the state of the same name. However, it’s the only one in Snohomish County.

Though the state board unanimously approved the name change, some members of the seven-member board expressed reservations.

"The board had some concern that the name wasn’t original," city senior planner Cari Hornbein said. "It can be a problem for search and rescue."

But with only one creek in the county with the name, it shouldn’t be a problem, board member Tim Gregg said.

"There was a lot of local support for that name, so the board went with it," he said.

Some Mill Creek residents weren’t aware of the creek’s existence, let alone that its name had been changed.

"Smokehouse Creek? I don’t know where that is," Steve Holleman said. "I’ve heard of Penny Creek and Nickel Creek."

For many years, the creek, home to cutthroat trout and coho salmon, was known as Smokehouse Creek because of its proximity to the former Larry’s Smoke House Restaurant at 14527 Bothell-Everett Highway. This year, the restaurant reopened at 1700 132nd Street SE.

No one paid attention to the creek until Pazevic realized that the stream, a tributary of North Creek, cut through the city’s Town Center Mall, a planned 900,000-square-foot retail center.

Noreikat, upon learning the city could finally claim a creek of the same name, said she was thrilled.

"I think it will give the area more authenticity, some character," Noreikat said.

City officials said they plan to erect a sign along Highway 527 indicating the creek’s location, about 300 feet north of 153rd Street SE.

"But first, we have to check with the Department of Transportation," Mayor Terry Ryan said.

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