With the extension of the Great Northern Railroad over the Cascade Mountains in 1893, America’s heartland was linked to the West Coast and the markets of the Orient. John Maloney, a skilled wilderness traveler who helped locate the route, recognized the economic potential of local natural resources and staked a claim, founding the new community of Skykomish. Through World War II, the community thrived as a hub of railroad activity and as a service center on the Cascade Highway.
Both Skykomish’s railway depot and the first general store and post office are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Another interesting historic structure is the 1936 Skykomish School, built by the Works Progress Administration, which continues to be used for its original purpose. Railroad Avenue is lined with picturesque, false-front buildings with Victorian and Craftsman style details.
After a period in the 1980s when nearly half of the town’s identified historic resources were destroyed, citizens stepped forward to preserve significant structures that contribute to the special character of Skykomish. The Town established a Historic Commercial District and Design Review Board and created a landmark designation program. Landmark properties are eligible for tax advantages, loans, grants, and technical assistance.
Skykomish recently began a long-term planning process for fostering economic vitality by capitalizing on the town’s heritage and natural resources, balancing protection and growth. Several high school students, working with the Skykomish Historical Society have produced an award-winning documentary on the history of the community that serves to promote its unique heritage.
Designated a Preserve America Community in March 2006.