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Leavenworth to Everett

  • Distance: 107 miles
  • Routes: SR 2
  • Estimated Driving time: 2.5 hours

Ascending the watershed of the Wenatchee River toward the summits of the Cascade Range, the highway passes through portions of the Wenatchee and Snoqualmie national forests, where recreational areas may be reached by numerous side roads and trails. Downward from the summit, the route lies between mile-high peaks along the valley of the Tye, Skykomish, and Snohomish Rivers, streams that are never placid and, during floodtime, are torrential. West of the mountains are dairy lands, with large herds of grazing milch cows and groups of trim farmhouses, large red barns, and silos. Near the highway, the Snohomish flows sluggishly towards Puget Sound. The soil and the humid atmosphere of the valley favor intensive farming and dairying; often three crops of garden produce are raised in one year on this alluvial bottom land.

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Where Tumwater Canyon opens from Tumwater Mountain and Icicle Ridge into river flats, the broadening valley is flanked by sand hills, sparsely overgrown with pine. Leavenworth originated as a Great Northern Railway Company construction camp, platted and named in 1892 by the Leavenworth Townsite Company. When, in 1925, the Great Northern announced plans to relocate its headquarters to Wenatchee and move its tracks to Chumstick Canyon. A year later, the...

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Points of Interest
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Leavenworth Ranger Station

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Leavenworth Ski Hill Historic District

This riveted steel Baltimore Petit truss was built in 1909 by the Great Northern Railroad Company as part of the Tumwater Hydroelectric Plant. The hydroelectric installation, which was an extensive system that required conductors and additional power stations, was built to power the Great Northern trains over a 57-mile mountain division from Leavenworth to Skykomish. The water, which was the power source for the electrification of the tunnel, was transported...

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Mile: 97

The town started as a railway spur on the Dardanelles Pass south of Wenatchee Lake in central Chelan County. Prior to 1908, this Great Northern Railway spur was used for loading wood products and was called Wood Spur. It later was changed to the present name by railway officials. All that remains of Winton are the Longview Fiber Company plant and a few older homes and barns.

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Mile: 87

A small huddle of frame dwellings once sat at the east portal of the Cascade Tunnel, adjacent to the railroad station. The tunnel, approximately eight miles long and one of the largest projects of its kind in the country, was completed in 1929. Only four or five Alpine railway tunnels are longer than the new Cascade. Although the tunnel is still in use, Berne is no longer a residential community...

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Mile: 71

Rising toward the summit, US 2 follows the narrow valley of Nason Creek, flanked by extremely mountainous country, abounding in large and small game and many varieties of upland trees and wildflowers. Stevens Pass was named for John F. Stevens, the Great Northern Railroad construction engineer. The summit marks the boundary between the Snoqualmie and Wenatchee national forests. The forest is predominately Pacific silver fir, mountain hemlock, and sub-alpine fir....

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Stevens Pass Guard Station

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Stevens Pass Historic District

Mile: 64

Following the completion of the railroad, a health resort called the Scenic Hot Springs was opened here in 1903 by J. V. Prosser. The well-advertised curative power of the hot mineral waters made the spa popular for many years, although rumor whispered that the water was artificially heated and piped to the resort through conduits insulated with cedar logs. A Forest Service camp once stood west of the resort site....

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Sidetrip: Foss River Bridge

Mile: 51

Drive out to Foss River Bridge, a two-mile round trip from the main road, where you’ll see the only intact pony truss in Washington, erected in the 1950s. From here there’s an option to continue up along the gravel road to a trailhead servicing multiple trails with access to high country lakes.

Take the Foss River Bridge side trip

This was a railroad division point and sawmill town, and lies on the bank of the South Fork of the Skykomish River, here known as the Tye. Settled during the building of the Great Northern, the town was dependent on the railroad, which maintains a roundhouse for “helper” engines and a substation for the electrified section eastward to Appleyard. The town was platted in 1899, by John Maloney and his...

Learn more about Skykomish
Points of Interest
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Great Northern Railway Depot

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Maloney’s General Store

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Skykomish Commercial District

A settlement built around a cement plant, this area was named by fanciful visitors, seeing for the first time the deep gorges and ravines of Grotto Mountain, which overhangs the town. Grotto was a railroad construction camp for a short time in the 1890s. Today Grotto is still a small residential community, and is known for its scenic mountain environment. No traces of the cement plant can be found.

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Mile: 45

Sidetrip: Index

A quaint little town, shadowed by jagged peaks on the North Fork of the Skykomish River. Wooden sidewalks and paintless frame buildings once lined the short main street; it was a brisk mining center. A few historic sites, along with popular climbing cliffs, mark this worthwhile detour.

Take the Index side trip

Once a logging headquarters and the center of an area of small farms. A prospectors’ camp in 1889, it was named by an enthusiast who found traces of wealth on a river bar. After Gold Bar became a construction camp for the Great Northern, anti-Chinese sentiment was inflamed by a shooting fray started by disreputable camp followers. To save the lives of the threatened Chinese, Edward Bauer, a construction engineer,...

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Mile: 28

This is where the Wallace River flows into the Skykomish and is the place from which begins the real ascent of the Cascade slope. The town at first was named Wallace, but its mail was frequently misdirected to Wallace, Idaho; so it was renamed for George S. Startup, manager of a sawmill. Startup was a logging town, but diversified farming gained a foothold here as well. Like other lonely pioneers,...

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Mile: 26

At the confluence of the Sultan and Skykomish Rivers, this was formerly a lumber-manufacturing center. It was named for Tseul-tud, a chief of the Snohomish tribe. Ranchers of the vicinity divide their time between the land and near-by logging camps. On weekends the town was often crowded with lumberjacks, mainly single men, who keep the beer taps running on paydays. Reckless, hardy, and high-spirited, for all their periodic spells of...

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Points of Interest
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Sky Valley Visitor Center

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Sultan Historical Museum

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CCC Camp

Mile: 22

It lies in gently rolling country adjacent to the Skykomish River. Monroe is exceptional among Washington towns in that no speculative frenzies or booms stimulated its gradual transition from a logging center to a rich farming community. Nurseries and greenhouses were maintained by the Great Northern; other industries included a large cannery and a milk condensery. In 1873 Salem Wood began a settlement one mile from the site of Monroe,...

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The 700 inmates cultivated the 600-acre farm and sold produce to other state institutions. Today, Monroe Correctional Complex/WA State Reformatory (1910) remains a very interesting classical revival building set on top of a hill. It is not necessary to drive all the way up, however, as a good view of the historic building is available from 177th St.

Learn more about Washington State Reformatory

The former Snohomish Lettuce Farm, 1,500 acres in extent, was one of the largest farms of its kind in the state. During the growing season the pale green plants extended in rows across the black loam; in midsummer the farm is thronged with field hands, mostly migratory families. In the period around 1940, some opposition to labor organization developed among growers in the vicinity, and state police were called in...

Learn more about Snohomish Lettuce Farm

At the confluence of the Snohomish and Pilchuck Rivers, this was the market center of outlying truck and dairy farms. Long the seat of Snohomish County, this town was founded after Congress, in 1853, approved the building of a military road from Steilacoom to Fort Bellingham. The next year five Steilacoom settlers formed an impromptu syndicate to acquire land claims beside the proposed ferry crossing on the Snohomish River. One...

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Points of Interest
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Carnegie Library

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Blackman House Museum

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Visitors Center

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Snohomish Historic District

The Wold Farm features a 1932 gambrel roof barn with horizontal wood siding. The structure was originally a dairy barn on the first floor and open design in the hay loft. The milking stalls on the interior of the barn are intact, but in recent decades, the lower floor of the barn has been used to house sheep and hogs. The property also features a 1908 residence, a 1932 chicken...

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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

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