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Historic places have plenty of stories, real or not | Taking Stock


September 13, 2017

Many people associate me with ghost towns, especially Alpine, Washington.

My interest is in historic towns. Some – like Monte Cristo, Alpine, Bordeaux and Franklin – are ghost towns. Not much in the way of buildings is left at those locations, and no one lives there anymore, but there is evidence that someone did once live and work there, and often raised families in those locations.

Some other towns became trapped in time. In these towns, you may still see houses and commercial buildings from their days of glory. Port Townsend, Snohomish, Ritzville, Port Gamble, Index, Skykomish and Coupeville fit that classification.

Some towns have become gentrified. The locations still exist, but no longer resemble the gritty industrial towns of their youth. Port Blakely, Utsalady, Issaquah and Newcastle fit that description. Mukilteo and Edmonds could also probably be classified as such.

Then there are the towns that became cities and completely, or nearly, wiped out the evidence of the town that they once were. Seattle certainly fits that description, and Spokane and Everett could probably be added to that list.

Of course we have newer places, as well. Bellevue, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and Mill Creek fit that description. Some might argue about Lynnwood because it has gradually encroached and overwhelmed Alderwood Manor, as well as Manordale and Intermanor. But mostly Lynnwood is new and has erased the old that was there before.

My interest is in the history of whatever has happened to those locations along the way. How did they become what they are?

I am not just interested in ghost towns or near ghost towns, but I have become more and more identified with one ghost town. That town is Alpine, which was once the home of maybe 400 people, 8 railroad miles east of Skykomish – because in that era railroad was the only way to travel any distance.

On Oct. 7, I will be in Edmonds to talk about Alpine. I will be the opening act for best-selling author Mary Daheim. She has so far written 27 novels about a fictional Alpine that is based on the real Alpine, where her parents and grandparents lived. I will talk about what I have learned of the history of the real Alpine.

This event will take place at 2 p.m. that Saturday at Edmonds Landing, 180 2nd Ave. S. It is free and open to the public. Just check in at the reception desk. Edmonds Landing staff will direct you. Mary will talk about her fictional Alpine, and I will counter with the real Alpine. In fact, that is the name of the presentation: Real Alpine/Fictional Alpine.

We have done this three or four times before, but it’s unscripted so no one knows where the discussion will go. Questions and comments from the audience are a part of the program. You don’t have to wait until the end to ask – in fact, it is better if you don’t wait because we will better understand the context of the question. We haven’t gotten into a fight over Alpine yet, but who knows?

Tim Raetzloff operates Abarim Business Computers at Harbor Square in Edmonds. What he writes combines his sense of history and his sense of numbers. Neither he nor Abarim have an investment in any of the companies mentioned in this column.


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