Lake Stevens

From Timber to Tech – A Local History of Industry

From a natural resource driven economy to high-tech hub, Lake Stevens and neighboring communities along Centennial Trail have adapted to periods of boom, bust and rebirth.
Rowers on Lake Stevens (Photo courtesy of City of Arlington)

Rowers on Lake Stevens (Photo courtesy of City of Arlington)

1800’s to 1925

The Timber Era

The first white settler known to Lake Stevens was Carl Missimer, who was a photographer, a civil engineer, and a map maker. He set up a mill site there that was later purchased by the Rucker brothers. Logging timber was the first “industry” in Snohomish County, and agriculture followed just a step behind to provide food for the loggers. Hops were the area’s first agricultural export—the vines grew around the stumps of logged trees. By the 1920s, agriculture, dairy farming, and shingle mills were the “mainstays of the local economy.”

  • Snohomish County cedar log. (Image from the Everett Public Library)

    Snohomish County cedar log. (Image from the Everett Public Library)

  • Rucker Mill circa 1900’s: (Photo courtesy of the City of Arlington) The genesis of Lake Stevens, the Rucker Mill (1907-1925) was thought to be one of the “world’s largest sawmills”. Neighboring Arlington was heralded at the time as the “Shingle Capital of the World”, vying with the City of Everett.  Regardless of titles, these Snohomish County towns were big players in the prolific NW lumber industry.

    Rucker Mill circa 1900’s: (Photo courtesy of the City of Arlington) The genesis of Lake Stevens, the Rucker Mill (1907-1925) was thought to be one of the “world’s largest sawmills”. Neighboring Arlington was heralded at the time as the “Shingle Capital of the World”, vying with the City of Everett. Regardless of titles, these Snohomish County towns were big players in the prolific NW lumber industry.

1925 to 1950's

Reinvention As Resort Destination

After the 1920s peak of the timber industry, lumber and shingle production gave way to paper to better utilize lumber waste. In 1925, the Rucker Mill burnt down for the second time, and Lake Stevens lost its major industry when the mill was not rebuilt. Lake Stevens then reinvented itself as a resort community. Through the 1950s, visitors from across the state came to enjoy the outdoors at several large beachside resorts. The Lundeen Resort, where Lundeen Park now stands, hosted professional water ski competitions until the 1960s.

  • After the 1920s peak of the timber industry, lumber and shingle production gave way to paper, to better utilize lumber waste. Lake Stevens reinvented itself as a resort community; through the 1950’s visitors from across the state came to enjoy the outdoors at several large beachside resorts. The Lundeen Resort, where Lundeen Park now stands, hosted professional water ski competitions until the 1960s.

    After the 1920s peak of the timber industry, lumber and shingle production gave way to paper, to better utilize lumber waste. Lake Stevens reinvented itself as a resort community; through the 1950’s visitors from across the state came to enjoy the outdoors at several large beachside resorts. The Lundeen Resort, where Lundeen Park now stands, hosted professional water ski competitions until the 1960s.

  • Swim class at Lake Stevens resort. (Image courtesy of the Everett Public Library)

    Swim class at Lake Stevens resort. (Image courtesy of the Everett Public Library)

1950's to 1980's

Aerospace Boom Creates Suburban Communities

After WWII, the nature of local industries shifted again as area logging, agriculture, and creamery operations moved to Mount Vernon. The Boeing Company’s expanding commercial aircraft production brought a much needed economic boost to the whole area. In 1966 they completed the 747 Plant at Everett’s Paine Field. The Boeing boom and other aerospace and technology industries fueled local population growth.

Meanwhile, the Frontier Village Shopping Center drew many Lake Steven’s businesses away from the town center. The 1969 completion of Interstate 5 (I-5) made it easy for people to travel farther between work and home, leaving the city as a bedroom community to Everett and Marysville.

By 1975, the old growth timber age was over. Large mills closed, many workers lost their jobs, and small logging communities, such as Darrington and Granite Falls, were badly hurt. Later growth was driven by Everett and Seattle employees looking for affordable homes, furthering the transition of Lake Stevens as a suburban community.

  • Lake Stevens in 1964 (photo courtesy of the City of Arlington)

    Lake Stevens in 1964 (photo courtesy of the City of Arlington)

  • The second Boeing 747 jumbo jet was rolled from the plane hangar at the Boeing assembly plant in South Everett before being delivered to Pan Am—the first airline to use the 747 in commercial service. (Everett Herald, March 5, 1969, front page)

    The second Boeing 747 jumbo jet was rolled from the plane hangar at the Boeing assembly plant in South Everett before being delivered to Pan Am—the first airline to use the 747 in commercial service. (Everett Herald, March 5, 1969, front page)