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Mount Vernon to Seattle

  • Distance: 69 miles
  • Routes: Marine Drive, Old Highway 99
  • Estimated Driving time: 1.5 hours

The region produces some of the most abundant crops in western Washington. The black soil, rich in humus, frequently bears in a single season a succession of spinach, lettuce, onions, peas, and carrots without depleting the soil. Cabbage, beets, and turnips, and their seed, are important local yields.

Today this area is known for its Daffodil and Tulip fields, inspiring Skagit Valley’s most popular tourist attraction, the annual Tulip Festival.

Turbulent at their headwaters, the Skagit, the Stillaguamish, and the Snohomish Rivers become broad, sluggish, silt-laden rivers, which have built up broad deltas, cut by sloughs rank with cattails and tules. Occasionally a salt marsh is seen, where sea and silt battle for possession.

The flatness of the land, in conjunction with the heavy rainfall and the melting mountain snows, often brought floods in early spring. Even before the forests were cut away the rivers frequently overflowed their banks, spreading desolation and destruction over the lowlands; and with the conversion of more and more land to agriculture, the threat of floods proportionately increased, so that the farmer came to look with apprehension at lowering clouds and the steady fall of the rain. He watched the swirling water rising, and not infrequently saw it spread its load of silt, debris, and uprooted trees over his pastures, maroon his stock, and at times even sweep away his house and barns. Today, much of the menace of these floods has been eliminated by the diking of river banks and the draining of sloughs.

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The seat of Skagit County, it was named for Washington’s Potomac home. The Skagit River has played an important part in the development of the town; in 1870 fur traders, finding it navigable, established a post here. Prospects of gold along Ruby Creek stimulated the activity of the settlement, and when hopes of striking pay dirt faded many of the prospectors began logging and farming in the Skagit Valley. By...

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Points of Interest
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President Hotel

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Lincoln Theater and Commercial Block

Hub of the surrounding farming area. Conway was once a shingle manufacturing center but is now a community of small farms on the Skagit Delta. It was named for an early shingle mill operator. The road parallels the Sound, which is, however, hidden from view by the embankment of the Great Northern Railway. Like a sluggish stream, a wide drainage ditch winds along the west side of the road. Then...

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Near the mouth of the Stillaguamish River. Once the land around the town was a marsh where skunk cabbage spread their broad green leaves and massive yellow flowers and cattails throve. In 1866, a settler named Robert Fulton opened a small trading post there; gradually in the course of years the marsh has been reclaimed by the stubborn persistence of the inhabitants. Bit by bit the pools where frogs croaked...

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Points of Interest
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Stanwood IOOF Public Hall

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Fellows (LO.O.F.)

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Pearson House

Began as a farming region a mile from the community of Stanwood on the "diked and drained valley...." of the Stillaguamish River. East Stanwood was the industrial center for its neighboring city, Stanwood. Today it still serves as a commercial center, although the pea cannery is no longer extant. By the 1940s, the city had a pea cannery supplied by the commercial pea farms, which spread for miles over the...

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A community on the north shore of Tulalip Bay on the Tulalip Indian Reservation. The name is an Native American word with English spelling. Duh-hlay-lup means a wide bay with a small mouth, which is descriptive of the bay on which the town is located. The Tulalip Tribes is a federally-recognized Native American tribe located on the 22,000-acre Tulalip Reservation. More than 50 percent of the land is in federal...

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Points of Interest
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Tulalip Indian Agency Office

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Saint Anne’s Roman Catholic Church

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Priest Point

The Indian Shaker Church on the Tulalip Reservation was erected by church members in 1924 and is among the best preserved examples of Indian Shaker architecture, a tradition peculiar to the Pacific Northwest. The Indian Shaker movement is entirely unrelated to the more widely known Protestant monastic sect of the same name introduced to American by Mother Ann Lee in 1774, instead, the Shakerism displayed in this church was a...

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The highway descends into fertile lowlands which as recently as the early 1900s were covered by a dense forest. Marysville dates back to 1877, when James P. Comeford established a trading post on Ebey Slough. By the 1940s, the city was sustained by mills, woodworking plants, and a boat factory, and was the center of supplies for the several Sound fishing resorts in the vicinity. Marysville was also the distribution...

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Points of Interest
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Marysville Opera House

Sidetrip: Silverton

This 74 mile side trip runs up the river valley of the South Fork of the Stillaguamish River, follows abandoned Monte Cristo branch of Northern Pacific railroad; railroad used to run all the way up to Monte Cristo, mining towns.

Take the Silverton side trip

The 1953 Steamboat Slough Bridge is one of four operating swing spans remaining in Washington and it was the last steel swing span built in Washington. It incorporates several innovative design features including its central bearing support and the unusual live load bearing supports at the center and end piers. The slough is one of several branches of the Skagit River which discharge into the shallow waters of Skagit Bay...

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County seat of Snohomish County, lumbering center, seaport, and distributing point for a fertile agricultural and dairying area, the city lies on a promontory between the sluggish Snohomish River, with its muddy delta, on the east and north, and Port Gardner Bay, an arm of Puget Sound, on the west. In the business district, near the center of the city, substantial buildings border broad avenues that run east-west across a...

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Points of Interest
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Rucker Hill Historic District

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Hewitt Avenue Historic District

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US Post Office and Customs House

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Weyerhaeuser Office Building

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Equator (Schooner)

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Swalwell Building

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McCabe Building

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Everett Theatre

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Pioneer Block

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Marion Building

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Commerce Building

Keler’s Korner is a rare, surviving example of an early automobile service station. The buildings intact condition greatly enchances its instructional value as a relic of the early years of America’s “automobile culture.” The “Seattle-Everett highway” (present day US 99) opened in 1927. Promoted by the heavy use of the new highway, Mr. Keeler built a service station on it during its inaugural year.

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Mile: 49

Incorporated August 31, 1995 with an initial population of 51,500. It is named for the school district running along the shore of Puget Sound to the shore of Lake Washington from the Seattle City limits north to the King-Snohomish County line. In the 1940s, as the tour passed through Shoreline, it ran between fruit and vegetable stands, scattered houses, and suburban beer parlors, roadhouses, and skating rinks catering to those...

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Mile: 42

Mid-century architectural signage illuminates the commercial roadway’s approaching Seattle. This signage stems from the rise of popularity in automobiles and marks a notable transition in how businesses advertised and the visual character of roadways. Examples abound along other stretches of tours, but this area has one of the best concentrations. Mid-century signage is readily distinguishable from contemporary back lit box signage. The mid-century signage provides a key character-defining feature of...

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A shallow, 255-acre lake adjoining a residential area in Woodland Park is two miles north of Lake Union in north central Seattle. It is used extensively for recreation. The name, which was given by early Seattle settlers, describes the coloration of the lake's water. In 1946, William F. Devin, who was once mayor of Seattle tried to have the lake officially named for Seattle banker Joshua Green. It is called...

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Once a town now part of the city of Seattle and is in the central region of the city at the northwest end of Lake Union where the lake meets the ship canal. After the area was logged in the early 1880s, it was platted as a town by David Denny and Judge John P. Hoyt. In 1892, the name was given by L. H. Griffith when he laid out...

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Points of Interest
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Fremont Building

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Fremont Bridge

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Wagner Houseboat

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Gas Works Park

The largest city of the Pacific Northwest, it lies along Elliott Bay, on the east shore of Puget Sound, 128 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Originally built on seven hills, with intervening lowlands, it extends between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, which are joined by two canals and Lake Union. It was named for Noah Sealth, chief of several Native American tribes when Seattle was established in 1851. He was...

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