Local Historian Dave Battey shares the connection of history to the street names that honor individuals and remind us of families that have been important in Snoqualmie history.
Fisher Avenue recognizes the influence of the Fisher family, not only in our Valley but in the greater Puget Sound area. The family opened Fisher Flouring Mills in Seattle in 1911, significantly expanding their impact on King County. This is also the family responsible for ‘Fisher’s Blend’ stations of the KOMO radio and television family.
Oliver David Fisher
The Great San Francisco Fire in 1906 triggered interest in our almost untapped timber resources to help rebuild the city. A Missouri and Louisiana lumber family, O.W. Fisher and his wife Euphemia, sent their youngest of six, thirty-year-old Oliver David Fisher (O. D.), to scope out our forests.
O.D. was a professional timber cruiser and instantly recognized the value of the forests. He met with Fisher family financial interests, including their Grandin Lumber Company investor friends from Missouri, to help them see the opportunity the U. S. Government had made available when they promoted railroads moving west by giving away millions of acres of land on both sides of the tracks.
In January of 1900, Frederic Weyerhaeuser and fifteen investors purchased 900,000 acres from Northern Pacific Railroad interests. The Rockefellers held the alternate sections. As a result of O. D. Fisher’s investigation and salesmanship, the Grandin-Coast Lumber Company was formed in 1906, with heavy investment by the Fisher family and their business associates.
Grandin-Coast immediately purchased the Rockefeller holdings that alternated with the Weyerhaeuser land in the Snoqualmie area. With two lumber-oriented families involved, it is surprising that it took until 1914 for the Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Company to be incorporated. However, San Francisco’s rebuild relied more on brick than lumber.
Stock in the new company was split roughly 1/3 Fisher and associates and 2/3 Weyerhaeuser, based on the percentage of land owned by each group. George Long of Weyerhaeuser was elected president, and O. D. Fisher was elected Vice-president and Treasurer. They began the two-year challenge of building the mill and town of Snoqualmie Falls from scratch and brought another family member, William Willard Warren, from Fisher, Louisiana, where he had created a thriving mill and town.
W.W. and Lula (Fisher) Warren
W. W. Warren’s wife was Lula Christina Fisher, the only daughter in the second generation of entrepreneurs. Warren’s experience became critical for completing the Snoqualmie mill as resources for WWI competed with the availability of both workers and material (especially railroad gear) needed to begin operation.
Articles made of steel were difficult to obtain, and his workforce was diminishing as more and more Americans volunteered or were drafted into the service.
David and Dorothy Fisher
David Meeker Fisher, who lived in our Valley for 29 years, was the first child in the third generation of Fisher timber and flouring mill entrepreneurs. He was born in Birch Tree, Missouri, in 1892, spent his boyhood in Boulder and Missoula, and graduated from the University of Washington School of Forestry in 1915.
Upon graduation, David moved to Snoqualmie and was part of the survey crew for the Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Company logging railroad. With WWI looming, David enlisted on the day that war was declared, was commissioned as a first lieutenant in a machine gun battalion and served in France.
David returned to Snoqualmie Falls after the war. Here he spent most of his lumber industry career, marrying a San Francisco girl Dorothy Jones, a University of Washington student, in July of 1919.
Dorothy became a valuable addition to the mill community. David’s jobs at the mill included survey chainman, woods crewman, logging superintendent, sales manager, and assistant manager of the Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Company.
In 1924, what quickly became known as the ‘Fisher House’ was completed in the mill town. David & Dorothy moved from a standard mill home in the ‘Orchard’ neighborhood (Orchard Avenue on the Ridge is named after this thriving mill community of almost 100 homes) into the second most magnificent home in the community.
David was a charter member of Snoqualmie American Legion Post 79, chartered in 1919, and served as Post Commander. He was a Kiwanis member and a North Bend Mason, Masonic Lodge Master in 1925.
The couple and their two children, Sally (born in 1921) and David Jr. (born in 1924), were very active members in the Snoqualmie Methodist Episcopal Church and were instrumental in starting a satellite church in the Community Hall/YMCA in the mill town that grew to include more members and more children in Sunday School including many from the Snoqualmie Falls Japanese Community – than the downtown church.
The sanctuary of the downtown church burned in 1939, and Dorothy asked for assistance. Fisher and Weyerhaeuser friends donated toward the rebuild and are responsible for the stained-glass windows that still grace the church. A memorial to W. W. Warren, the Rose Window on the church (facing SR-202), was donated in his honor by Lula Christina (Fisher) Warren, wife of the first Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Company general manager.
However, the Fisher influence on our Valley continues. As a young man working in the local mill, David purchased Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Company ‘logged-off-land.’ Prior to 1925, most lumber companies did not keep their forest land after harvest. They logged it and sold it as ‘stump farms’ for enterprising folks to pull and blast the stumps to make farmland or allow it to grow back in timber. David purchased several hundred acres on what is now Snoqualmie Ridge.
David, Dorothy, and their family left Snoqualmie Falls in 1945 to manage Weyerhaeuser’s Willapa Harbor mill at Aberdeen, Washington. He retired in 1957 and passed away in 1958. But Dorothy kept the ‘logged-off-land’ and later had Weyerhaeuser harvest the timber and then sold the land back to Weyerhaeuser. Dave and Dorothy’s son, David Jr., talked to me about this land and felt confident it would be a part of Snoqualmie Ridge.
The land that David invested in as a young man is now the central business district on Snoqualmie Ridge! Friends at Quadrant development checked for me.
However, the Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Company adopted a unique approach to ‘logged-off-land,’ beginning in 1925.
The company, which owned almost all of the lands it logged, decided just eleven years after incorporation and eight years after cutting its first log that selling off acres of prime timber growing property was not a good long-term policy. This legacy is still with us to enjoy—thousands of contiguous acres of forest, much of it growing its third or fourth crop of timber.
In 1959, Dorothy married Roderic Olzendam, the Weyerhaeuser marketing expert who promoted the “Timber is a Crop” terminology. Dorothy Olzendam wrote and published two books that touch on our Valley. Book for a Friend, published in 1986, has many ‘short sketches,’ including ‘Sawmill Town’ and ‘Living by the (mill) Whistle’ and 83 poems. Summer on the Lake, published in 1980, includes a short chapter on ‘Our Valley’ about the Snoqualmie Valley and other gems that will be appreciated by those who remember the mill and mill town.
[Dave Battey, the Official Historian for the City of Snoqualmie, is the grandson of Valley dairymen Ralph Swenson, who brought his family to Monte Vista Farm, just north of the mill town of Snoqualmie Falls, in 1920. Dave & his wife Kathy moved their family to the farm in 1975. After a 30-year career with the Bell System, he retired in 1990 and began writing local history columns for the Snoqualmie Valley Reporter newspaper. He has served on the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Society Board for many years and was deeply involved in the preservation and management of Meadowbrook Farm Park. Dave was a member of the Snoqualmie Planning Commission for a decade, which provided the opportunity for him to create the list of suggested Snoqualmie Ridge street names used by Weyerhaeuser.]