Seattle Now & Then: Cascade Hotel Spectacle

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: After 40 years at the busy center of Granite Falls in Snohomish County, the Cascade Hotel was cut down by fire in1933 but not razed. (Courtesy, Granite Falls Historical Society)
NOW: Although a story shorter the pioneer building survives. In Jean’s repeat the corner is being fitted for a new front door.

Surely we know what every one is up to in this Granite Falls tableau.  They are thinking about the fire and what to do.  Four men have carried a glass showcase from the drugstore to East Stanley Street and while the other men at the corner seem to be standing idle most likely they are not.  The commotion inside the drug store’s open door must be both frantic and dreadful – grabbing and hauling the drugs and sundries while knowing that the roof overhead is on fire. As yet there seems to be no relief although we see that the volunteer fire brigade has unrolled a hose along S. Granite Avenue and may soon be shooting it’s April shower at the roof.

Another look at the hotel ablaze and this too used courtesy of the Granite Falls Museum

Judging by the shadows and the smoke the fire started in the morning and in the roof of the Cascade Hotel.  The hotel sign on the crest is engulfed.  Fred Cruger of the Granite Falls Historical Museum suggests that the town’s weekly, the Snohomish County Forum for April 27, 1933, most likely gave detailed front page coverage of the fire.  Unfortunately what was probably the report has long since been clipped away from the otherwise surviving issue.  You can examine this unfortunate “mutilation” in the Granite Falls Historical Society’s Newspaper archive at  You can also explore the society’s thousands of pictures and documents online at .   This society is a recognized model of effective heritage care and activism.

The Granite Falls Snohomish County Forum for April 27, 1932 (sic) with its missing clip.
May 4, 1933 news - marked here with "X" - on plans for the half-burned hotel.

Granite Falls was first platted in 1891 in anticipation of the 1892 arrival of the Everett to Monte Cristo Railroad.  One year more, in 1893, this 22-room hostelry over a restaurant opened as the Mountain View Hotel.  The name kept to mountaineering when it was later changed to Cascade by a new owner.  By 1933 Granite Falls was an important destination in what was promoted especially during “the touring season” as our “Charmed land.”  The Big Four Inn and the Canyon Creek Lodge were both nearby, the latter with a six hole golf course that featured flowing water hazards. [This coming week we hope to enter here a short addendum on the both the Big Four Inn and the Canyon Creek Lodge.]

An early view of the hotel when it was still the Mountain View.

A week after the fire we are heartened to learn from the Forum’s May 4th issue that the destruction was kept to the hotel. “The second story will be cut off and the lower floor will be repaired.”  Depression-time concerns were also addressed.  “Only Granite Falls labor is being used on the repair work, and all materials are being purchased locally.”  Cascade Drugs survived, and this sturdy pioneer of 1893 continues to serve mixed uses and hold to its footprint on the northeast corner of Granite and Stanley.

On the evidence of the traditional interpretation of the photo that follows - another scene crowded with men - Fred Cruger thinks it perhaps likely that the men milling here are waiting for the baseball game to begin.
The other record of a hotel decorate with men, this time described directly as waiting for baseball. (Courtesy, Granite Falls Historical Museum)


Anything to add, Paul?

Yes  Jean beginning with the several other photographs of the fated hotel that we have inserted in the text above.  These too are among the special gifts we give to the text as originally composed and illustrated for Pacific – bless them.

Below we will add this time as “straight” extras (not half-hidden behind a link) the few more now-then comparisons that you visited and recorded recently with the guidance of Fred Cruger, a Granite Fall historian/archivist who often appears in this blog as our primary vintage auto expert.   Fred has also composed several interpretations/captions for the photo you repeated while in Granite Falls as well as short descriptions of the several records you made of the Grant Falls Historical Museum, for whose appointments, and interpretations he is also an admirable steward.   So here follows you and Fred.

The earliest photo, taken in the 1911-12 Winter, shows a large one-cylinder engine being hauled into town to provide electricity in place of the washed-out Pilchuck River dam.  The warning tower that once held the fire bell is still in place, since the building itself had just been moved 2 1/2 blocks from its original location (as the first downtown school, built in 1893) to the location still occupied by CIty Hall today.  The photo taken in Mar 1941 shows the building with significant deterioration.  The picture with the fire truck shows Fire Chief Hiram Jewell (also the local photographer) at the front of the engine, just a month before the combination City Hall & Firehouse was razed, preparing for the City Hall still standing today (erected by the WPA in 1941-2).


The Granite Falls Cooperative Union was built in 1905 by Fred Anderson, but it operated for many years as the Granite Falls Creamery under John Curtis, who also happened to be the back president.  It was only three years ago that the original 1904 bank safe was recovered from the Creamery building and placed in the Granite Falls Historical Museum.  The building is owned by the local Masonic Lodge, which has an impressive meeting area upstairs, and the lower floor has always housed a grocery or retail merchandise business.  The building just beyond the creamery building in the modern photo was built in the 1920s by Oscar Wicklund, a local blacksmith, and served in that role through the 1950s.  The two-story Mountain View Hotel (later the Cascade Hotel) can be seen just a short distance past the Co-op Union in the original photo, and also in the modern photo (albeit as a one-story building, having lost its top story to fire in 1933).


Taken prior to 1910, the old photo shows the bell tower of the first downtown school on the left, 3 blocks distant.  The local fire warning tower is on the right just 1/2 block from the photographer, and marks the soon-to-be place to which the school would be moved to become City Hall.  The warning tower was located about 30 feet beyond (south) of where today’s town clock sits in front of City Hall.  The old school served as combination CIty Hall & Firehouse for 30 years, until it was razed in 1941 and replaced by the current building (built by the WPA).  The dark building at the far right was the photo studio of Hiram Jewell, Granite Falls’ local photographer for decades.  The large two story building on the left in the original photo was built as Woodmen’s Hall, and continues to serve today as the American Legion Hall, although the trees block it from view.


If you look carefully, you can see the top of a barber pole just above the Model T Ford (car at left) and a “BATHS” sign, which was present at both Granite Falls barber shops (the other shop was directly across the street).  The large building at the right started life ca. 1900 as The Lumberman (purveyor of fine wine and cigars), but by 1918, when this picture was taken, had become Klaus Bros. market.  Unfortunately, it burned down in 1920, but Henry and William Klaus rebuilt it as the brick Klaus Bldg that still stands today on the southwest corner of Stanley St, and Granite Ave.


This looks east on Stanley St., and Granite Ave is the next cross street.  You can see the Cascade Hotel sign at its rooftop, which – as the reader will know by now – the hotel lost along with its second floor to the 1933 fire featured at the top.



FRED sends, as well, several photographs of the falls, which Jean also visited and repeated.

Here follows two by Jean



Here we join Jean as he visits the museum with Fred.   It is Fred who supplies the terse captions for each of the nine subjects.

Jean here. Spending the afternoon with Fred Cruger as my guide to Granite Falls and the many wonders of his museum was a real kick. Fred has an artist’s passion and inspiration, a historian’s curiosity, and the meticulous nature of an engineer – in short, he’s a force of nature. His focus and energy have brought the Granite Falls community together to create one of the finest small town historical museums in the country.

The shot of the front of the museum shows the porch of the 1905 house originally owned by Hugh and Mina Sharp. He owned the Depot Bar, while she was the first milliner in Granite Falls. The Granite Falls Historical Society had only the house for display space, until building the new building in 2007, adding over 3200 sq ft of display space, with enough vertical space to include a fully-rigged spar tree.
The log cabin was actually built for the Carpenter kids ca 1941, but is used for storage at the Museum. Sitting outside are some recent acquisitions, including a horse-drawn potato digger, a saw sharpening machine (with virtually every mechanical motion know to Man), a railcar wheelset, some rail signal lights, and large hauling block.
The garage display includes a lot of vintage automotive equipment, not the least of which is a 1904 Curved Dash Oldsmobile, used as Frank Ashe's advertising vehicle (he sold Olds in Granite Falls) and donated to the Museum by his daughter, Lois Jorgenson. The signs were copied from the original Granite Falls Cyclery opened by Frank ca. 1910.
Displays also include the typical contents of a hardware store (everything from wallpaper, to washing machines, hand tools, and kitchen utensils) and a combination doctor's office/ drug store. Some of the early medical equipment may make a visitor a little queasy, and the labels on some of the old medicines makes you wonder how anyone survived!
Close up of the hardware store shows a great collection of hand tools, an early all-copper electric washing machine, a very early electric radio and beneath it a hand-cranked food processor with rotating cutting board and lethal guillotine blade, a large book press, and assorted items.
Hair art was a turn of the century hobby. The older lady in the picture was the caretaker at Outlook School (now the Granite Falls Grange Hall), and a male friend of hers created the art from the hair of her daughter and son-in-law (also shown in the picture).
The original Granite Falls State Bank safe had dual combinations and dual time locks that could be set for up to 72 hours - in 1904!
Granite Falls was large enough to support two blacksmith shops, and the collection of tools comes from both. The Ashe brothers opened the first blacksmith shop on the northwest corner of Granite Ave and Stanley St, while the second one was opened ca 1922 by Oscar Wicklund (a big man famous for his big white bulldog).
Dr. Chappell's original medical diploma was indeed a "sheepskin"! Dated 1881, University of Michigan was Latinized to "Universitatis Michiganensium" and Frank Chappell's name scrolled as "Franciscum Chappell". No matter how much it's flattened, the wrinkle patterns it had on the sheep return over time. But he was a true Renaissance man - a medical doctor, he opened the first medical practice, first drug store, first hardware store in Granite Falls, was partners in a shingle mill, a published poet, and never learned to drive a car before his death in the late 1920s.


We will conclude – for now – with another Granite Falls feature that appeared in Pacific last year, and for which Fred Cruger took the “repeat” besides providing the historical subject, again out of the Granite Falls Historical Museum’s store of local heritage.

The stately Granite Falls Railroad Station was built for both the Everett & Monte Cristo Railway Line, and a political payoff.   (Courtesy, Granite Falls Historical Society.) From the prospect of the unnamed historical photographer, the site of the now long gone Granite Falls station has been returned to nature.  (Now photo by Fred Cruger)


For itinerants and pioneer town photographers there were perhaps two subjects most often used to represent an entire community: “Main Street” and the local railroad station.   Here, as an example, the Granite Falls station is part of a prosperous tableau that includes Northern Pacific engine #366, and the sweetener of a pressing crowd on the station platform.

Fred Cruger, the current vice-president of the Granite Falls Historical Society, dates this real photo postcard 1909.  Fred adds, “there was quite a political battle going on between Snohomish (the County Seat) and Everett (increasingly the County economic center), about where the County seat should actually be.  Granite Falls was told that if they voted for Everett, they’d get a really nice railroad depot.  It may be difficult now to find the actual vote count, but we did get a great railroad depot!”

This political maneuvering dates from the mid-1890s when the original use of this railroad was to carry minerals from the mountains around Monte Cristo to smelters in Everett.  This enterprise was floated by J.D. Rockefeller and eventually so was the railroad by the autumn floods of 1896 and 1897, which damaged or destroyed tunnels and large sections of track.  Ten years more and most of the mining activity was over.  Hauling lumber and later tourists kept the line going until the early 1930s when tearing out the tracks was among the few new jobs open in Snohomish County during the Great Depression.  The Mountain Loop Highway – for which Granite Falls is the “gateway” – was graded in places over the abandoned railroad bed.

Fred Cruger, also an antique car collector, has often helped us in this column with the naming and dating of old motorcars.  Now we wish to make note that he and the Granite Falls Historical Society have created “then and now” cyber tours for both their community and the Mountain Loop tour.  They are, respectively, and

Two timely opportunities to try the tours and visit Granite Falls are for Show N’ Shine, the town’s classic and antique car show and parade, held this year on Sat. August 6, and for the Railroad Days Festival and Parade, this year on Oct. 1, another Saturday.  Not surprisingly the Granite Falls Historical Museum will also be open.

(The CM railroad’s logo below is used courtesy – again – of the Granite Falls Historical Society and Museum)


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