Seattle Now & Then: The Startup Baptists

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: In 1911 the street in Startup was still years away from development as part of Highway 2 to Stevens Pass. The view looks due east from 364th Avenue Southeast to Mount Nina and Zeke's Peak, which contribute some of the "water power" for the spectacular Wallace Falls, which can be seen from the highway.
NOW: Since 1990, Startup's German Baptist Church on the left has been home to the Parallax Gallery.

Five years ago when Jean and I were gathering images for our book “Washington Then and Now,” he headed out on Highway 2 for Stevens Pass carrying a handful of historical views of towns – like Sultan, Startup, Gold Bar and Skykomish – along the way.  He intended to repeat them for the book; this “now” of Startup is among them. We have been instructed by no less an authority than Snohomish County historian Louise Lindgren that “the blue paint on the steps to the century-old German Baptist church has faded but otherwise not much has changed since then.”

It was Louise who also introduced us to this fine Lee Pickett photo, most likely taken in 1911.  It was Louise who help organized Pickett’s photographs and direct them into the University of Washington’s Northwest Collection, where many more examples of his Skykomish River valley work can be enjoyed on the library’s website.

In 1990 the Startup Baptists moved three miles down the highway to Sultan and sold their old sanctuary to arts and crafts professionals Toni Makinaw and Bill Schlicker, who then ran a gallery in the sanctuary while raising several children in the living quarters arranged in the rear.  I was introduced to Toni through the regional historian and publisher, Buddie Williams.  Williams has known the couple at least from the day they moved into the church twenty years past, and were then promptly sprayed with mace by a local sheriff who mistook them for invading foreigners, perhaps from Canada or Seattle.

Don Keck lives across 364th Ave. SE (on the left) from Toni and Bill.  A long-time Baptist and church member, Keck tells us that this sanctuary was built in 1903-4, and typically it was church members who held the saws and hammers.

The climb to Stevens Pass can be said to start up at Startup, but it was not named so for that reason.  Rather a local lumberman, George G. Startup, was given the honor.  The town was first platted as Wallace in 1894 but the federal postal authorities soon nixed the name.  Mail to Wallace, Idaho too often wound up in the valley of the Skykomish.  It might have been renamed Sparling, for it was Francis Sparling who first settled here.  The lonely bachelor soon got a wife.  Ohioan Eva Helmic answered his advertisement in Heart and Hand Magazine with an energetic yes.  My Startup advisor Buddie Williams says that Eva was escaping from a spouse intended for her by devout parents. Eva and Francis lived happily ever after.


Hey Paul, I’ve got a slew of Now and Then photos from Highway 2 starting in Everett and ending up in Wenatchee.  Shall I post them?

Hey Jean, I’d say yes but it is a getting late and we both know what a week you have had.  It is now a better time perhaps for you to retire knowing that another hour of rest will surely be given to you thru-the-night as we stop saving daylight.  Tomorrow you will be refreshed and ready to return to or repeat your tour across Stevens Past and along Highway #2 five years past for our book “Washington Then and Now,” the “slew” you refer to.

Meanwhile I’ll look through my things and pull out a few more photos along the Stevens Pass way, most of them real photo postcards by the likes of Pickett and Ellis.   I’ll be ready to interject them tomorrow following you like the truck with rock salt follows the plow.   The reader, then, is asked to visit the site again Sunday evening before their own “nightybears” to see what we have come up with.  And in preparation, I’ll now put up two photographs that prepare the way.

One is a state map from 1855 with markings that are sometimes accurate – taking into consideration the work of the earliest surveyors – and other times wildly off the mark.  This I’ll follow with a photograph of a van outfitted to install highway signs.  Putting up signs was then not so much the work of the state’s department of highways as of the Washington Chapter of the AAA or American Auto Association.  This “signage photo” comes with a challenge to the readers.  Where it is?  There surely are plenty of clues: all those signs pointing to Snohomish County communities and the number of highway miles required to get to them.


You can find the future route of Highway-2 on this 1855 map of the territory. Look for the Scarhamish (I think it is) River flowing into Puget Sound from the east and the We nat shaw-pam river reaching the Columbia River from the west. There is no Tacoma, Everett, or Wenatchee as yet in this map. Bellingham is Whatcom. The North Cascades National Park is a terra pie-shaped ingonita sitting between two arms of the Cascades. There is neither a Spokane Falls nor a Spokane but most of the dry side of the state - the Big Bend Country - is named the Great Plateau of Spokane. The Grand Coulee is marked and given steep sides but only one of the many lakes that string its length. Port Angeles on the strait has not been founded yet to rival Port Townsend for federal patronage. There is a Port Townsend and Port Ludlow too. Fort Walla Walla is in place but as yet no Walla Walla. Monticello but no Longview. Alki is spelled "Aki" and across an unnamed bay there is Seattle.


Win a free weekend with all the drug-free services available at the Relax Home In Everett - if it is current. If not win a copy of "Building Washington, A History of Washington State Public Works" - a big 5lb book - if you are the first one to answer correctly the correct location of the photograph that follows - the one with the signs. Part of being the first is convincing us. We don't know where it is, but we are confident that you can figure it out, and win that big book that is filled with highways, and court houses, and irrigation canals, and airports, and bridges, and works of art, and much much more our of Washington.
Name the place and start relaxing - or failing that start reading. So where is it? All those Snohomish County addresses with direction arrows and miles distant should be enough clues to float a blissful patient in the Relax Home Pond. Hint: Marysville is 7 miles one way and Snohomish is 6 miles the other way.

Readers who read comments will find Arthur Allen’s hunch (resting on evidence) that the above photo was taken at Cavalero Corner.  It is there that one can follow the sign both ways and get to Lake Stevens in about the same amount of time.  (It is a big lake, but I’d suggest taking the way to the left if you want to get around it’s north end while on our way to the Stillaquamish River with innertubes – our frequent intentions years ago.)  Below I have crudely merged three Google Earth street views to show – and Arthur will correct me if I am wrong – Cavalero Corner “today.”   The last time I approached it at the east end of the roughly 2&1/2 miles trestle across the flood plain from Interstate-5 there were no flyovers like those you see in the pan.  (Click to Enlarge the Pan Below.)

6 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: The Startup Baptists”

  1. I’m guessing Everett for the photo – is that specific enough? Everett is essentially equidistant between Stanwood (27 mi) and Gold Bar (28 mi). Your hint would seem to support this as well.

  2. It’s 6.3 miles to the right to Lake Stevens, but 5.7 miles to the left to the same city. I’m guessing it’s at the east end of the trestle east of Everett, called Cavalero Corner. The photo is looking east, just a little past noon. There is a prominent number “0” on the pole behind the sign, and a dog is circling the ground under the sign about to lie down. The area is under freeway ramps now, very different from the historical photo.

    I already have a copy of Building Washington, but I’ll take that stay at the Relax Home.

  3. I – er we – am or are leaning to Arthur whose solution is 1. What I intuited (a corner I entered often in the 70s on my may back-forth to Lake Stevens), 2. Avoids Everett, 3. May be checked against other facts unlike “I’m guessing Everett” and 4. Alan already has a copy of BW and will take some other relaxing substitute for a stay at Relax Home, which I cannot find anywhere after frantically searching through my 1958 Everett City Directory. So Alan wins something. But there is still a chance for someone to win that book by proving it. If they prove also that Alan (and I) are wrong then they get two (2) prizes and Alan keeps his as yet unnamed reward merely for sharing my intuition.
    Keep Clam,

  4. Jason
    Your’s is a self-made contest. And you win. Do you want a week in “ago” at Dr. Baker’s “Relax Home” (in which case meditate and dream) or a copy of Building Washington. If it is the book then send me an address – somehow.
    P.S. It seems to me that Colby Avenue is much too far from the coast to be protecting it. If it is funded by homeland security, that would explain it.

  5. Can you please settle a discussion my sisters, cousins, are having regarding the Hewitt ave trestle in the 1950’s? Going east (back then) you would go straight off the trestle, up Cavaleros Hill. At the bottom of the hill, there was a cafe on the southeast corner? Our parents use to take us there. What was the name of it? I’d so appreciate knowing. It was a wonderful time for us. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.