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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 wife, and incorporated in 1909. Its name means inland people.

The town’s history as a railroad hub is visible in the many remaining buildings throughout, including the Great Northern Railway Depot, which is today a visitors center, Maloney’s General Store, today housing the Skykomish Historical Society and museum, and several buildings in the Skykomish Commercial District.

During the Depression years, Skykomish, like the rest of the country, faced hard times and the local mill was closed down. Federal relief funding supported construction of a new school (1936) and bridge (1939). Both projects typify the Federal assistance that enabled small towns to maintain their infrastructure and continue to meet vital needs such as educating their youth.

Points of Interest Points of Interest icon

Great Northern Railway Depot

The Great Northern Railway Depot in the town of Skykomish, Washington, served as the functional and symbolic hub of railroad activity from the time of its construction in 1894. The depot is the sole surviving primary, original structure in the Skykomish rail yard, and is one of only a very few wood-frame Great Northern depots still standing in Washington State. Constructed from standard Great Northern plans for rural train stations of the early 1890s, the depot as such is an increasingly rare and important example of its type. It stood for 28 years on the south side of the railroad tracks facing north toward John Maloney’s general store and the Skykomish Hotel. In 1922, the building was moved to the north side of the tracks, re-oriented to face the south, and considerably expanded with alterations to exterior cladding material and window arrangements. The 1922 relocation of the building and the concurrent addition of a freight room only serve to enhance the depot’s integral association with the operation and development of the Skykomish yard over time. Activity in the Skykomish yard slowed in the 1940s with passenger service ending in 1971. Today the depot has been converted to a visitors center.

Maloney’s General Store

Maloney’s General Store is significant for its association with John Maloney, founder of Skykomish and a prominent early businessman. As Skykomish’s first commercial building, Maloney’s General Store housed the General Store and Post Office. The store was built in 1893, the same year the Great Northern Railway’s transcontinental line was completed. Both the store and the community grew with the railroad; as Maloney prospered, east and west wings were added. Maloney was instrumental in the development of nearby lumber mills. mines, and rock quarries. The Maloney Store is now the home of the Skykomish Historical Society and museum.

Skykomish Commercial District

The Skykomish Commercial District was the major settlement in the Upper Skykomish River Valley and is the last town before the summit at Stevens Pass. The district is significantly associated with the development of the Great Northern Railroad, a major factor in the economic growth of the Pacific Northwest. The district runs roughly east to west along the town’s main street, Railroad Avenue. Thirteen contributing buildings and one contributing structure here document four periods of town history: Maloney’s General Store (1893), the depot (1894), the Superintendent’s House (1895) and the Patrick McEvoy house (1897) come from the earliest days of the town’s founding; the Skykomish Hotel (1904), the Whistling Post Tavern (1905), and Maloney’s Warehouse/Theater (1906) were all erected after the disastrous fire that destroyed most of the commercial district in 1904; and finally, the Cascadia Hotel (1922), the Teacherage (1920), Town Hall (1926), the school’s Manual Training building (1923), and the Masonic Hall (1924) and woodshed were all built during the town’s greatest activity due to railroad expansion.