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Settled in 1862, this town was a trade center for the valley, originally a coal mining and hops-growing community. During the World War, the German Count von Alvenslaben organized the Issaquah and Superior Coal Mining Company, purchasing land and coal rights of a 2,000-acre tract. After more than $1,000,000 had been spent in improvements, the project was abandoned. Issaquah is now growing with Seattle and Bellevue and extends to the east. It has had a variety of names since pioneer days. The first was Squak, the white man’s pronunciation of the Native American name Is-qu-ah, meaning snake. Ingebright Wold, who settled there in 1867, disliked the name, and changed it to Englewood, a modification of his own name. When a post office was established it was called Olney, for a local settler. On April 25, 1892, Daniel H. Gilman, promoter of Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad, incorporated the town as Gilman. Finally, in the 1890s, the present name was adopted, and came into general use.

The arrival of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway in 1888 paved the way for Issaquah’s development, creating a boom among area coal mines, logging operations, and local businesses. Issaquah’s economy was more diversified than typical mining “company” towns, and it survived the withdrawal of large scale investments in area mines during World War I. However, the onset of the Great Depression shortly afterward meant that federal assistance projects provided welcome economic relief to the town.

Points of Interest Points of Interest icon

Issaquah Sportsmen’s Clubhouse

The Issaquah Sportsmen’s Clubhouse is an intact example of a Rustic-style, New Deal-era community building. As one of several public works projects conducted in Issaquah and the surrounding area, the City of Issaquah built the nominated property as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project in 1937, for purpose of putting local people to work using local material to construct a facility for use and improvement of the local community. The Clubhouse has remained in active use since it was built nearly 62 years ago, serving primarily as a meeting place for the Issaquah Sportsmen’s Club (long time occupants and current owners), whose members have been careful stewards of this historic resource. The building was moved from its original location to its current location 200 yards north in 1993.


In 1956, Julius Boehm brought Boehm’s Candy Kitchen to Issaquah. Founded in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle in 1942, Boehm’s specialized in hand-crafted Swiss chocolates. Boehm’s located right on Highway 10, taking advantage of the era’s car-culture. Boehm’s became a regular stop for people passing through Issaquah on the way to or from Eastern Washington. Many Issaquah teens worked at Boehm’s Candy Kitchen during their high school careers. Julius Boehm died in 1981, but Boehm’s Candies continues to please chocolate fans.


Boehm’s Candies and Chocolates is the perfect place to pick up confections in downtown Issaquah with a scrumptious selection of confections ranging from classic gift boxes of assorted goodies to the ever popular English toffee. The location also provides classes for children and adults alike to learn how to make their own chocolate delectables. In addition, customers can reserve guided tours that show them the business’s history and take them through the factory to see where the chocolate comes from and how it’s made.

Themes You'll Find at this Main Street


The advent of the railroad transformed the town from a distant rural outpost into a bustling coal town.


A trip to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery is an enjoyable and educational experience for everyone.

Performing Arts

Theater grew from showing movies – projected onto a white sheet – to the coal miners of town to two regional theater venues.


Issaquah Depot

In 1887, the Seattle Lake Shore & Eastern Railway came to what was then called Squak Valley (today’s Issaquah). Construction on the Depot began in 1888 and completed in 1889, the same year Washington achieved statehood. Railroad service meant that the extensive coal deposits in the hills around Issaquah could finally be developed, as there was finally a cost-effective way to get the coal to market in Seattle. Regular rail service meant that people and supplies could more easily travel to Issaquah.

A visit to the Historic Railroad Depot and Museum is an incredible opportunity for people to explore Issaquah’s rich history. It features a variety of exhibits and displays, many of them interactive, which illustrate many different aspects of the region’s past, such as early economic development of city and how it was impacted by the Industrial Revolution. The museum also hosts the Issaquah Valley Trolley, a seasonally run vehicle that transports passengers around the area. Containing so much fascinating information within its walls, the Historic Railroad Depot and Museum is a place where tourists and locals alike can be engrossed, entertained, and educated.

The Seattle Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad Depot was completed in 1889 and made it possible for local coal to be taken to market in Seattle. This image was taken in 1892.

Today, the Issaquah Depot is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Labor Day celebrations featured a parade down Front Street from the 1940s through the 1960s.

Looking south down Issaquah’s Front Street, circa 1900.

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

At the western end of town is a fish hatchery, with 20 rearing ponds, four of them natural; each pond has a capacity of 50,000 fish. Silver and sockeye salmon are reared here and planted in the Issaquah Creek watershed.

The salmon hatchery was built as a Works Progress Administration project during the Depression. At the time it was constructed, the chief aim was to increase the number of salmon available to sport fisherman. The hatchery was completed in 1937, and an opening celebration was held. In the late 1960s, Issaquah launched a community celebration inspired by the returning salmon – Salmon Days. When the hatchery was threatened with closure in the early 1990s, Issaquahns banded together to fight the closure. Today, the hatchery welcomes more than 300,000 people each year to learn more about life cycle of salmon, and the importance of keeping our watershed clean.

FISH (Friends Issaquah Salmon Hatchery) assures that a trip to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery is an enjoyable and educational experience for everyone. Depending on the time of year, visitors might see the various stages of the salmons’ life cycle, including their release as smolt in late spring and their miraculous return to the hatchery in autumn. The hatchery boasts a host of interactive displays as well as a multitude of exhibits that illustrate everything from Native American tales to the difficult trials the salmon face throughout their journey. FISH has well trained docents awaiting your every question during spawning season and also offers academic programs that teach students about Pacific salmon, watershed functions, habitat and hatchery operations.

The Issaquah Salmon Hatchery opened in 1937.

Theater Beginnings

Rufus Glenn started his career in Issaquah by showing movies – projected onto a white sheet – to the coal miners of town. After using borrowed space for several years, Glenn purchased a building on Front Street and dubbed it the Glenn Theater. In addition to silent movies, Vaudeville shows played at the theater. It’s location near the Issaquah Depot made it convenient for performers, who disembarked at the train station with costumes, props, and other supplies. The theater’s name was change to the Issaquah Theatre in 1923, when a new owner took over. Until the early 1970s, the theater was where Issaquahns went to see movies, from Gone with the Wind to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In 1979, Issaquah’s fledgling Village Theatre began using the theater as its home. As Village Theatre grew and expanded, it outgrew the small 1913 building. Village Theatre constructed a new facility on the other side of Front Street as its Main Stage, and retained the original Issaquah Theater building for its Kidstage and Village Originals programs.

In the early 1970s, Carl Darchuk (in upstairs window) led the formation of Village Theatre, which gave new life to the Issaquah Theatre building.

Village Theatre

Called “A nationally renowned incubator of powerhouse productions” by Seattle Magazine, Village Theatre is also the winner of 425 Magazine’s Best Theatre award for seven consecutive years and is the largest fully-producing theatre in the Pacific Northwest. A unique gem in the Issaquah community, Village Theatre produces five Mainstage shows each year including blockbuster Broadway-level musicals, world premiere new works, and non-musical plays. Each Village Theatre show features custom designed sets and costumes built by talented craftsmen in Issaquah, as well as a predominantly local cast and orchestra of professional performers.

First Stage Theatre

Owned and operated by Village Theatre, First Stage Theatre was Village Theatre’s original theatre space and now serves as the home to Village Originals and KIDSTAGE. Village Originals is one of the most robust and unique programs for new musicals in the country, fostering the development of a new show from its very first table reading through to full-blown world premiere productions. KIDSTAGE is a center for youth education in the arts in downtown Issaquah, teaching children “skills for theatre, skills for life.” Through the KIDSTAGE program, local youth are able to learn skills such as confidence, creativity, and collaboration, while also honing professional level performance skills in acting, singing, and dance.