Snoqualmie Valley History: Understanding Why Borden Avenue Leads to the YMCA

Did you know? Many street names on Snoqualmie Ridge have historical significance. Snoqualmie Valley Historian Dave Battey and the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum share the connection of Snoqualmie’s history to so many streets that are only two decades old.

Thank you to Dave for contributing this article. Read on…

Snoqualmie’s Borden Avenue is a short, one-block street, leading from Borden Park on Kinsey Street to the Snoqualmie Valley YMCA parking lot.  But ironically, the namesake of one of Snoqualmie’s shortest streets, the Borden family,  has had a long-lasting impact on the Valley.

On July 26, 1924, a beautiful three-story Community Hall YMCA was dedicated in the mill town of Snoqualmie Falls (just across the river from Snoqualmie).  It was the largest YMCA east of Seattle. 

This was a giant step forward for the Valley.  The dedication ceremony’s main speaker was Oliver David Fisher and the dedicatory address was by none-other than George S. Long, General Manager of Weyerhaeuser Timber Company.

Front of the original Snoqualmie Falls Y, perched above the mill, which burned down in 1930 and was immediately rebuilt. Photo courtesy of Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum.

These two men were responsible for the creation of the huge Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Company mill and the mill town of Snoqualmie Falls, Washington.  This mill was the Valley’s most significant employer for over seventy-five years.

Chosen as the manager of the new YMCA facility was a twenty-one year YMCA veteran with a sterling history of achievement: George Borden Sr. – who also played a “mean slide trombone.”  George managed the Valley facility for eighteen years, helping to mold the ‘Greatest Generation’ of the Snoqualmie Valley.

The original Snoqualmie Falls YMCA back and main entrance. Photo courtesy of Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum.

Sadly, George left the Valley in 1942 when his son, Army Air Force Lieutenant William (Bill) Borden was killed in the South Pacific, the first Valley resident to be killed-in-action in World War II. 

Boy Scout troop 492 met in the Snoqualmie Falls YMCA and lost six Scouts, including Bill Borden, to the war. 

George’s wife, Mae, who had personally started three local Girl Scout groups, was devastated by the loss of their son and requested that they leave the beautiful Valley that reminded her so much of her loss.

During the early afternoon of Thursday, November 8, 2012, the flag pole in front of  the Snoqualmie YMCA was dedicated to George Borden and his son Bill.  The dedication was attended by two of George Borden’s granddaughters. 

Snoqualmie’s first WWII loss, Bill Borden, Jr. Photo courtesy of Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum.

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