Romance in the Northwest

Excerpt from the Winter 1999/2000 edition of Pilot Getaways Magazine

Pilot Getaways magazine

We all get the feeling sometimes that we just want to drop back a little from the present and step into a time that was quieter and more relaxed, a place where we can slow down and appreciate the simple beauty of everyday things. We found that special place in a little town in Washington called Snohomish.

Snohomish is a lovely historic town nestled in a lush river valley bounded by the Snohomish and Pilchuck rivers. Approximately 30 miles north of Seattle and about 15 miles inland from the coast, it offers a cozy respite from the daily hustle and bustle of modern life. Times past merge gently with the present in a blend of Victorian architecture, lively people and beautiful scenery.

The entire town is listed on the Register of Historical Places at both the State and national levels. Even the airport itself has a long and interesting past. Residents here are proud of their pioneer heritage and love to share stories and tall tales with you.

aerial photo

This is not a town that has been artificially arranged to appease the eye of the tourist; this is the real thing! The downtown area looks much as it did in the city's early days, yet is still the commercial center of town. Get out on foot and explore the compact historic area to capture it unique flavor. lovingly restored Victorian-era homes, flower gardens with spectacular rose displays, antique shops from the sublime to the funky, and quiet moments with the birds along the Riverwalk will all reward your efforts.

All patterns at Harvey Field are flown west of the airport to avoid active skydiving on the east side of the runway. Be aware of a balloon departure area west of the field and 22-ft power lines at the north end of the field. The FBO, Snohomish Flying Service, is owned and operated by the Harvey family, who originally homesteaded this land in 1862. The facilities include a pilot lounge with showers, fuel (both 100LL and Jet A), and tiedown space. The Snohomish Flying Service web site is at www.snohomishflying.com and the Harvey Field web site is at www.harveyfield.com.

The airport manager, Kandace Harvey, and her friendly staff are happy to assist with accommodation and transportation arrangements. They even offer transportation to and from your hotel, if needed.

History

Emory Ferguson founded the town of Snohomish in 1859. He staked a squatter's claim based on a rumor that the military was opening up a road from Olympia to Bellingham passing through here. The road never materialized but a trail was established and more settlers found this beautiful river valley.

John Harvey arrived in America as a sailor on a British ship. Although desertion was punishable by death in those days, he jumped overboard and swam one mile back to San Francisco as his ship departed for England. After working in the California gold fields, he worked his way north and eventually claimed the land on the south side of the Snohomish River in 1862. The original homestead still stands, just east of the threshold of Runway 32.

Part of the Snohomish Flying Service Fleet

Aviation has always been a passion in this area. The first balloon took off from Snohomish in 1908. In 1911, Fred Wiseman convinced Noble Harvey to let him use Harvey Ballpark as a runway for the Curtis-Wright-Farman biplane he had built. After studying the matter, they convinced a neighbor to take down his fence for a little extra room. Fred only made it one mile before crashing and returned with the plane on a wagon, yet he fired the imagination of many others in town. In 1944, when many pilots were returning from World War II looking for a place to pursue their love of flight, the Harvey's and local aviation enthusiast Wesley Loback joined forces to build Harvey Field. The field has survived several floods, fire, and financial duress.

The Shamrock Flying Club was established in 1954 and the Olympic Parachute Club in 1955. Both are still in operation. The Parachute Club, at one time one of the largest in the country, is known today as the Seattle Skydivers and is famous for its breathtaking shows.

What to Do

Snohomish is a rich historic area with fine examples of Pioneer and Victorian architecture. Referred to as the Antique Capital of the Northwest, with over 400 dealers, it is also noted for its beautiful gardens. It can be comfortably explored on foot; the main historic and commercial districts, only a few blocks from the airport, are packed into about six-blocks. First Street, running along the north side of the river, is the heart of the commercial district with wonderful shops and restaurants to explore. A few blocks down First, a stairway on the south side of the street leads down to the Snohomish River Trail. Strolling along the trail, you may hear birds or see a steelhead trout break water jumping for a fly. Stop at the Chamber of Commerce in the old Firehouse Center to pick up a Snohomish Walking Tour Guide, maps, and area information. The self-guided walking tour is fun and covers many historic buildings in the town, 127 Avenue A, corner of Second and A, (360) 568-2526.

For a look at the history of Snohomish, don't miss The Blackman House. Built in 1878, this was the home of the city's first mayor and is now a museum of Snohomish history. Restored by the historical Society and decorated with antiques, the home is open to the public Wednesday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., admission $1, 118 Avenue B, (360) 568-5235.

Old Snohomish Village contains five original Pioneer structures surrounding a cemetery where tombstones date back to 1872. Two cabins, a general store, a blacksmith's shop and a Victorian cottage have all been restored and furnished to reflect the time period, corner of Second and Pine, behind the Rite-Aid, admission $1.50, (360) 568-5235.

If you plan your trip around December 13th don't miss the Historical Society's Parlor Tour. You will see parlors of the finest homes in the city all decked out for Christmas. Contact the Chamber of Commerce for tickets.

Do antiques or collectibles interest you? If so, you have just achieved nirvana. The downtown area is packed with everything from small specialty stores to antique malls with multiple dealers offering a smorgasbord of goods for the professional browser. And just how are you going to get that fine English walnut desk into your plane you may ask? Not to worry, these merchants are professionals at getting your purchases transported. Weekends are best for this, since most stores are closed Monday and Tuesday for the dealers to do a little treasure hunting of their own.

If you are a car buff, don't miss Classic Auto World. Classics, originals, hotrods, muscle cars, and vintage cars are all on display as well as automobilia, resource books, publications, neon signs, and gas pumps. They are well worth a visit, 611 2nd Street, (360) 568-6700.

balloon

For the golf enthusiast, Snohomish has five courses available. Reservations are usually required. Try the Snohomish Public Golf Club at 7806 147th Avenue SE, (360) 568-2676. At 6,325 ft. and par 72, this is the longest course in town. The Kenwanda Golf Course at 14030 Kenwanda Drive, is an open course on well-drained, hilly terrain, which makes it a good choice for golfing during rainy months, (360) 668-1166.

Fishing is excellent for both plunking and drift and tackle fishermen with steelhead trout running in both the Snohomish and the Pilchuck rivers. The Harvey's have a dock near the airport and would be delighted to help you launch that inflatable Zodiac you brought with you. A fishing license can be purchased at Triangle Beverage on Second Street across from Classic Auto World.

If you are craving more adventures in the air, contact Airial Balloon Company to arrange a 60 to 90 minute sunrise or sunset champagne flight with brunch or hors d'oeuvres, 10123 Airport Way, (360) 568-3025. You can also take a dive with Skydive Snohomish. They offer tandem jumps for beginners or static line and free fall for experience skydivers, $40 - $225, (360) 568-7703, www.skydivesnohomish.com.

Bicycling presents another way to see Snohomish. The Lowell River Road offers a scenic ride along the south bank of the Snohomish River just to the west of the airport. The Old Snohomish-Monroe Road is a pretty ride out the east side of town through the dairy and berry farms. At the end of First Street, turn right and follow Lincoln until it turns into the Old Snohomish-Monroe Road. North of town, the Centennial Trail begins at the corner of Maple and Pine. This level, paved trail is built along seven miles of an abandoned railroad right of way following the Pilchuck River with several picnic sites on the river ending at Lake Stevens.

Where to Stay

Snohomish has accommodation from rustic to luxurious. You can be fairly spontaneous in planning your trip if traveling in the winter or early spring. However, make your reservations well in advance if you plan to travel in the summer or fall. I you want to stay close to your airplane, Kandace Harvey will gladly let you camp under your wing on the grass at the airport. The Inn at Snohomish offers a nice motel-style experience with Country decor, fresh flowers, and coffee maker in your room. Each room is named for a local historic figure with a framed biography on the wall. The innkeeper offers airport transportation, if he's available. Rooms are $65 to $85, 323 Second Street, (800) 548-9993, e-mail: snotravel@virtual-cafe.com.

There are also many delightful B&B's in Snohomish close to the airport and downtown areas. The Java Inn is the closest with four rooms over the Java Coffee House in the heart of the commercial district. Each includes private bath and breakfast in the coffee house, $75 to $95, 1120 First Street, (360) 568-8254, www.javainn.com.

The Countryman Bed and Breakfast in a lovely Queen Anne style Victorian combines an art gallery with their B&B and features one-day guided tours included in the price of your room. Rates are $75 for one person or $85 for couple with continental breakfast and $85 for one person or $95 for a couple with a full breakfast. 119 Cedar Avenue, (360) 568-9622

The Cabbage Patch Inn is a 1908 Victorian delight with three available rooms furnished with antiques, many of which are for sale, $55 to $65, 111 Avenue A, (360) 568-9091.

For more information, contact the Chamber of Commerce (see What to Do) or the FBO at the airport, or visit Snohomish County's web site at www.snohomish.org.

Where to Eat

The airport boasts the best steak house in town, the Buzz Inn. Open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they offer a $1.99 breakfast special Monday thru Friday, and some great burger choices for lunch. They open at 6 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. on Sunday. This is the Pacific Northwest so, of course, the obligatory Espresso stand is also found at the airport.

After a hard day of antiquing try the bright relaxing Collectors Choice Restaurant in the Star Center Antique Mall. The owner, John Hager, president of the local Historic Snohomish Business Association, is a history buff with many colorful stories about Pioneer Snohomish. Many old photographs on the walls depict the area's history. The restaurant serves American-style cuisine and is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. entrees $7 to $20, 121 Glan Avenue, (360) 568-1277.

The Cabbage Patch Restaurant is in a Victorian house, decorated with antiques from the era, so you feel like you're dining at Grandma's. Home-made rosemary bread, scones, and pies accent creative offerings like Dungeness crab quiche or pecan chicken with honey mustard sauce. The restaurant opens at 8 a.m. weekends, 10 a.m. weekdays; it closes at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday, $5 to $17, (360) 568-9091.

Chef Mardini from Lebanon prepares gourmet cuisine with a special Mediterranean touch at Mardini's. The entrees range from simply gourmet to exotic, $10 to $16, open 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., 101 Union Avenue, (360) 568-8080.

In the mood for seafood? Try Chuck's Seafood Grotto on the river just across the bridge from the airport. A casual dining experience with the emphasis on fresh, this is the place to get your oyster and clam cravings satisfied, 1229 First Street, (360) 568-0782.

Then, there's always dessert to consider. Using cream from local dairies to whip up their fabulous treats, Snohomish Valley Ice Cream at 902 First Street was listed in Sunset magazine's top five ice cream stores in the west. If you taste runs in the grain and hops direction, Fred's Rivertown Ale House on 1114 First Street can supply you with over 40 brands of beer on tap and an impressive variety of single malt scotch choices. For a complete list of restaurants, visit Horizon Bank's dining website at www.horizon-bank.com/cities/snohomish/dining.html.

Transportation

If you keep your trip centered on the airport and historic district and enjoy walking, you may not need to rent a car in Snohomish. Most hotels and B&B's will pick you up or the FBO will give you a lift. Enterprise Car Rentals can provide a car if needed. Call (360) 568-8227 for rates and reservations. A free, merchant-funded Ollie Winston Shuttle is also available on weekends. The shuttle runs from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and includes stops at the airport and all shopping areas in town.

While you are shopping or just talking to the people you meet, let them know you flew here and that the folds at Harvey Field made your trip possible. They are pioneers, too; their steadfast spirit and love of aviation made Harvey Field possible. No matter where you choose to stay or what you choose to do while you are here, the message is, slow down, look around, and for a little while let the spirit of this unique Pioneer town take you to another place in time.