Opinion

WALLY'S WORLD; Museum offers a look into community's past

In case you didn’t know – and I suspect that’s especially true of a large number of newcomers – Enumclaw has a historical museum at the corner of Marion Street and Washington Avenue. Black Diamond also has a museum that preserves the region’s past coal-mining operations north of the Green River and a Buckley museum specializes in the chronicles south of the White River. In general, the Enumclaw gallery offers annals of the area in between.

The two-story building was constructed by the Masons for use as their lodge more than a hundred years ago. Using a grant from King County, the Enumclaw Plateau Historical Society purchased the place in 1995. Though it was structurally quite sound, with 30 foot, 2-by-16 floor joists of clear, old-growth timber – they don’t make ‘em like that anymore – it required some restoration work, including a new foundation, restrooms, support beams for the second floor, a rear stairway and other changes to meet state codes. In fact, the entire building was lifted on jacks and moved seven feet closer to Marion Street which, needless to say, was no easy task.

I sat down last week with Ron Tyler, current president of the Enumclaw Historical Society, to learn further facts about the museum and talk about its artifacts.

As you would assume, the place has all kinds of tools and photographs from Enumclaw’s early days, when it was a dairy farming region and a major center for the timber industry. There are rifles, sheet music and uniforms from both world wars, living room furniture from the late 1880s, a Sears and Roebuck 1902 catalogue, Indian woven baskets, a cylinder record player, a Swedish weaving loom (circa 1882), ornaments from a settlement of mill workers, old Cracker Jack boxes, Coke bottles, postcards, roller skates and a toy fire truck.

Though many of these artifacts might be of considerable value on the antique market, people have still chosen to donate them to the museum. In particular, a major contribution from the estate of Henrietta Blakely kick-started much of the assemblage.

I was particularly fond of a collection of Karl Jensen photographs from the early 1900s. Among them, pictures of the main street of Franklin, an old coal mining hamlet that was abandoned many years ago, and photos taken during the construction of the Green River Gorge bridge.

There are several notebooks filled with newspaper clippings and photographs of ancient businesses and high school classes.   For those of you with a family history in this area and an interest in genealogy, the museum is an excellent source of information.

Each year the Historical Society offers a dinner honoring local folks who are of special historical importance. On March 19, in the Crescent Lodge (that’s the relatively new Masonic Hall behind Trina’s espresso stand) this year’s dinner pays tribute to the Ulman Family – Dr. Fred and his wife Elsa, Dr. John and his wife Virginia and various offspring thereof. Call 360-825-2294 for reservations.

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