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Elbe

On the bank of the Nisqually River, was another gathering place for the mountain folk. Settled by German homesteaders in the early 1880s. The town with its tiny church, log tavern, a store, a service station, and a brilliant-hued railroad depot, peers up at the denuded mountain range and forested peaks. In the 1940s, trucks laden with fuel wood stopped at Elbe on their way to Puget Sound cities.

In the early 1880s it was named by Henry C. Lutkens for the Elbe River in Germany. Lutkens was one of a number of homesteaders of German ancestry many of whom came from the Elbe Valley. The name Brown’s Junction was chosen by Northern Pacific Railway officials when they established a station but that name never was given to the community.

Images

1937 view of the Washington Division of Forestry building at Elbe (extant, as of 2016).

Source: Washington State Historical Society

Historic view of Elbe, showing a sawmill at right and Mt. Rainier in the distance.

Source: Washington State Historical Society

Points of Interest Points of Interest icon

Elbe Evangelical Church

Once dubbed the “smallest church in the United States”, this little landmark began as a Lutheran church in 1906, built by German settlers. It remains a favorite photo stop for visitors driving to the Longmire entrance of Mount Rainier National Park.