Meadowdale: “One of the most prettily situated hamlets in Snohomish County.” (part 2)

by Tiffany Villigan, 2011

Part II: Meadowdale continues to grow, and looks to satisfy the needs of its residents

By 1910, the region known as Meadowdale—bounded by current Highway 99 on the east, 180th St. SW to the south, Lake Serene to the north, and Puget Sound on the west—had grown from the uninhabited wilderness of the late 1800s and early 1900s to roughly 100 households.

With the expanding population, typical problems of a growing city began to arise, like transportation, education, and communication needs. The “neighborhood” lacked proper roads, and most residents traveled along muddy dirt paths, trails created by Native Americans, logging roads, and abandoned tracks from logging companies to get from one place to another. The situation was so bad that Upper and Lower Meadowdale were nearly separate entities, despite the related names. In the early days, boats and canoes had to be used for travel, mail deliveries, and freight, even between Meadowdale and Edmonds.

Seattle, where many Meadowdalians worked or sold goods, was a half-day boat ride away. In 1910, the Seattle-Everett Interurban trolley system was initiated, making a trip from Everett to Seattle in just 70 minutes. However, the tracks ran nowhere near Meadowdale (the closest stops being Martha Lake or Alderwood Manor), thus the convenient new transportation was too far away for most to use. By 1914, there was regular boat service between Everett and Seattle, but, again, there was no stop at Meadowdale. To remedy this, the Salmon Bay Navigation Company created shuttle runs from Meadowdale, as well as Edmonds and Richmond Beach, to Ballard, with three trips a day. The service, though, lasted only a few months before circumstances caused it to be shut down.

Trains were also becoming an option for personal travel. Tracks already ran through the area, but were used primarily for logging trains or for transporting people and equipment to and from the logging camps. In 1884, after losing the Northern Pacific terminus to Tacoma, Seattle leaders began planning their own Puget Sound Shore Line railroad, which would run to Bellingham via Mukilteo. A second railroad, the Seattle & Montana Railway, began operating in 1891, with a stop at Norma Beach. By 1905, Meadowdale was listed as its own stop, near what is now 75th Ave and North Meadowdale Road. By 1907, the Meadowdale stop saw three mail trains and six passenger trains a day.

Passengers waiting at the Meadowdale Station.

Passengers waiting at the Meadowdale Station, located at Meadowdale Beach, just north of the current Haines Wharf. Photo courtesy of the Edmonds-South Snohomish County Historical Society.

Still, boats and trains weren’t enough for the growing population, especially those not living near the waterfront. In 1913, a proper road system was developed to link Edmonds and Everett through Lund’s Gulch. More roads were added through the district, and in 1915 a special bond was passed to improve roads in Upper Meadowdale and pave enough of the main roads to connect established communities. As late as the 1920s or ’30s, though, paving didn’t go beyond Olympic View Drive at Perrinville into Lower Meadowdale.

The rocky history of schools in Meadowdale

In addition to the question of getting around, Meadowdale residents also faced the issue of schooling for their children. In the beginning, students attended the Edmonds School, housed in George Brackett’s feed barn on 3rd Ave N and Edmonds St. Given the difficulty of traveling between Meadowdale and Edmonds at the time, many families opted to let their children board with a family in Edmonds during the school week, returning home for the weekend, then going back down to Edmonds Sunday night or early Monday morning. John Lund, for example, rowed his stepchildren to Edmonds on Sunday nights and rowed back out on Friday afternoons to retrieve them; they made up ½ of the total enrollment of the Edmonds School in 1885, its first year (the other half of the enrollment being Brackett’s youngsters).

As the Meadowdale population grew, citizens called for a school closer to their homes. In 1904, the first school in Meadowdale opened at 158th and 56th Ave W. Ten to 14 students attended the Upper Meadowdale School in the first year. In 1905, families out at Meadowdale Beach also wanted a more convenient school for their children, so the Edmonds School District opened the Meadowdale Station school in a Congregational church at 75th W and North Meadowdale Road. Its first year saw 23 students come through the door, but after a year it was deemed too small for the enrollment; in 1906 classes were moved into a new school built just uphill from the church. In 1912, the school district closed the school and sent the students to the relocated and larger Edmonds School, this time to be taken by bus by the Yost Auto Company. Parents were unhappy with the arrangement, since the bus oftentimes couldn’t traverse far enough up the muddy roads, so the Meadowdale Beach School was reopened for grades 1-6 in 1913, with the older students remaining at the new (1909) high school in Edmonds. Students who attended this second version of the Meadowdale Beach School included children from Picnic Point, the Brown’s Bay logging camp, and Norma Beach.

In 1922, Upper Meadowdale got a new school, this one across the street from the current Beverly Elementary, at 53rd Ave W and 168th St SW. The original school, at 158th, was closed, and the land was purchased by poultry farmers in 1923; it was demolished in 1990 to make way for a new housing development. In Lower Meadowdale, the Meadowdale Beach school was also repaired in 1922, but was closed by the school district the following year. Students in the Meadowdale Beach vicinity were then bused to either Edmonds or to the new Upper Meadowdale School, which was closer to their homes than the original Upper Meadowdale School had been. In 1928, the second Upper Meadowdale School was also closed, this time due to low enrollment; the local students then joined the line of bus riders to the Edmonds School. Meadowdale would be devoid of schools for 30 years, when Beverly Elementary opened its doors in 1959, and no school would carry the Meadowdale moniker until Meadowdale Junior High School opened in 1961, followed by the senior high and elementary schools in 1963.

The second Upper Meadowdale School building, built in 1922, at 53rd and 168th St SW.

The second Upper Meadowdale School building, built in 1922, at 53rd and 168th St SW. Picture, 1956, courtesy of Jean (Whitlatch) Wright.

Lynnwood Evangelical Free Church, 2011.

Lynnwood Evangelical Free Church, then known as Meadowdale Union Sunday School, began renting the building from the Edmonds School District in the early 1950s, and purchased the land and building in 1954. Picture taken by Tiffany Villigan, 2011.

More needs to meet: communications and socializing

A growing community also requires means of communication. Before 1905, Meadowdalians had to travel to Edmonds for their postal needs. In 1905, Meadowdale got its first post office, in the Meadowdale Beach store of W.D. Cleaveland, who also served as the first postmaster. Mail was delivered by train twice a day. Records from 1908 show at least 58 families receiving their mail at the Meadowdale post office. John and Matilda Lund’s house was also used as a community post office for a time, serving residents in the Norma Beach/Lund’s Gulch area. In 1913, some of the remote residents of Meadowdale were added to a new home delivery route out of Edmonds, serving the Alderwood, Martha Lake, and Lake Serene areas. By 1938, most Meadowdale homes were receiving their mail on this or similar routes. Telephone service was also an important addition to Meadowdale. In 1913, W.D. Cleaveland and Lewis Andrews created a system in Meadowdale, since the telephone system in Edmonds—the Edmonds Independent Telephone Co.—would not extend its service north to Meadowdale. Cleaveland and Andrews’ Sound Telephone and Telegraph Company ran its lines through Meadowdale to Edmonds, where it connected with the Edmonds Independent lines. With the switchboard placed in the Andrews home, Mrs. Andrews became the first operator for the Meadowdale service.

Churches and other gathering sites were not abundant in the early years of Meadowdale, although they certainly existed, as evidenced by some of the sites of the early schools. As time went on, though, and the area grew, more churches and social halls appeared. The second Upper Meadowdale School, after its closure as a school in 1928, remained in high use as a community center for the nearby residents. From voting to speeches to community potlucks, the building saw many political and social gatherings through the ’40s.

Income in the first half of the century

The earliest Meadowdale settlers often worked for the logging companies, and the next wave of newcomers could work for the railroads, as well. With logging lasting well into the 1920s or later, and railroads being laid, scores of local people found employment in these two industries.

Many inhabitants derived both personal sustenance and income from their property, selling, literally, the fruits of their land. The region was especially suitable for fruit-growing, including strawberries, raspberries, currants, apricots, and peaches. Orville J. Bell began the Bell Fruit Farm near Meadowdale Beach in 1906, selling berries, cherries, apples, and pears; Seth C. Kenney grew grapes near Lund’s Gulch to sell to wineries; and Muriel Daniel and her family sold berries to restaurants in Seattle, sending them in crates via the Interurban. Families like Lund’s made extra money by selling milk, eggs, and produce from their farms, as well as fish from the Sound and creeks, to the logging camps. Other foodstuffs raised in the area included rhubarb, cabbage, potatoes, chickens, turkeys, and cows, plus salmon and trout from the waterways. However, farming in Meadowdale was not always lucrative. The steep land toward the Sound made growing crops difficult, plus the area was inaccessible by railroad and boat, the main forms of transportation and exportation. Bears living in the gulch also made animal-raising a tricky business.

In the 1920s, several farms that had once raised goats, sheep, and cattle moved into the fur industry. The fashion of the day called for raccoon, fox, and mink pelts, and the entrepreneurial farmers answered. S.D. Stoffer also made money off the land, but not by raising crops or livestock. Stoffer, a potter originally from the Midwest, used the abundant blue clay that was found on his property at 164th and 75th W to make pottery, specializing in pots for florists. Stoffer’s business operated from 1907 to 1942, with his clientele ranging from Cashmere to Monroe to Tacoma. He moved away in 1945.

Residents also opened their own Ma & Pa stores for the convenience of their neighbors. The first store to open was N.O. Rice’s at 56th Ave W and 160th St SW in 1904, the same time that the original Upper Meadowdale School was being built further north on the same tract of land. The next year, Meadowdale Beach’s first store opened at North Meadowdale Road and 75th Pl W; that store later became W.D. Cleaveland’s. Over the next few years, as more residents came to the area and more supplies and goods were needed, several more stores opened.

Recreational businesses also operated in the Meadowdale and Norma Beach areas later in the first half of the century, including Haines Wharf, with its fishing pier and restaurant at the south end of Meadowdale Beach, and Lou Kester’s boat rental service in Norma Beach.

Other “needs” were fulfilled by other businesses. Meadowdale had its own saloon at Meadowdale Beach in 1906. It operated for a few years, until members of the Temperance movement succeeded in getting it closed down. Meadowdale’s out-of-the-way position, with access to both hiding places in the woods and the shipping means of trains and boats, later made it an advantageous hideout for bootleggers and rum-runners during Prohibition.

By 1925, the population of Meadowdale had grown from the 100 families of 1910 to 799; by 1945 that number ballooned to well over 2100 (including Seattle families with summer homes in Meadowdale, like George H. Bartell, Sr., founder of Bartell Drugs). Still, the region has seen its share of challenging times, in addition to its periods of growth. The first decade of the 20th century brought times of depression for Meadowdale, along with the nationwide Depression of the 1930s and the World Wars. In the 1950s and ’60s, while property in Lund’s Gulch was between owners, the ravine became a site for rabble-rousing, mostly by teenagers. The Meadowdale Country Club, situated on the Lund property years after the elderly couple moved to Edmonds, was closed in the late 1960s; with the land abandoned, the former club’s lot became a perfect spot for unruliness and vandalism.

Although the Meadowdale area has been split between the cities of Lynnwood and Edmonds, and Lund’s Gulch—the major physical feature of the region—has been divided by roads, buildings, and other man-made changes, much of it—as exemplified by the undeveloped gulch and the areas around Perrinville—still has the woodsy and scenic feeling it must have had in the late 1800s and early 1900s that led to it being called “one of the most prettily situated hamlets in Snohomish County.”

Picnic area at Meadowdale County Park in Lund's Gulch, 60th & 156th SW.

Picnic area at Meadowdale County Park in Lund’s Gulch, 60th & 156th SW. Picture taken by Tiffany Villigan, 2011.

Selected Sources:

Delmar Caryl, With Angels to the Rear, 1960.

Pastor Toby Logsdon, Lynnwood Evangelical Free Church; Lloyd Anderson, “Memories About the Church,” sermon delivered March 27, 2011.

Norm Nelson, letter to Chris Howard, March 15, 1981. Edmonds-South Snohomish County Historical Society.

Ray Pennock, “Alderwood Manor Memories: More on Meadowdale School House,” AMHA News Clippings, July 2003; AMHA Cottage Chat, March 30, 2011

Sandy Sandborg, Picnic Point Pathways, 1997.

Bobbie Daniel Sherman, For the Love Of It: Muriel A. Daniel. Unpublished manuscript, 1996.