City of Leavenworth Washington

The City of Leavenworth Washington Welcomes YOU!

After Bob and Ted purchased the small restaurant named Coles Corner Cafe and renamed it The Squirrel Tree, the transformation to a Bavarian Alpine theme for the city of Leavenworth was underway!

Leavenworth at night

Leavenworth at night

Today, most folks no longer ask “what is Leavenworth Washington” without getting a response from anyone that has been there such as:  ” It is a wonderful, almost euphoric atmosphere that permeates the entire city.”   (see part 1)

Major Changes With Immediate Success

With the final touches on the newly named Squirrel Tree Restaurant now in place, the two business men realized that they had a highly successful operation.  In fact, about one year later, the two built the The Squirrel Tree Chalet Motel.

 

The Squirrel Tree Lodge

The Squirrel Tree Lodge  (Chalet)

It too, became an overnight success.  Flushed with so much success, both Ted and Bob had plans for extending their Alpine – Bavarian theme by creating an authentic style “Old Bavarian Village” that would be next to the restaurant.

However, because of difficulties, that project was never fulfilled.

One of the main attractions that caught everyone’s attention while dining at the Squirrel Tree was the wild bears that would come to the restaurant for food scraps.

Soon, they became so “friendly” that they would take scraps of food out of the hands and sometimes, the mouth, of those working in the restaurant!

Penny Ells with Ole George

Penny Ells with “Ole George”

But all had to beware…because after all, these animals were still wild.

Leavenworth Takes On Bavaria

With the city of Leavenworth only a few miles away, the city officials began to rethink their own success.   Ted, too, came in touch with the city officials to further the Bavarian theme throughout the city.

With the help of the University of Washington (a.k.a. the “U” District)  Ted spearheaded the L.I.F.E. project.

L = Leavenworth

I  = Improvement

F  = For

E  = Everyone

It began by encouraging tourism to the area.  As travelers slowly began to drift into Leavenworth, Ted quickly realized that the  Old Bavarian Village that he originally wanted, could be fulfilled right there throughout the small city of Leavenworth.

However, it had to be more than storefronts with Alpine – Bavarian style facades.  To be successful, the entire city needed to have a makeover, along with the local residents.

With many “bumps” in their way, Ted and the city officials, began in earnest to have this dream fulfilled.

A Struggle To Become Successful

For many years after the Great Depression, the small town of Leavenworth was considered to be a ‘welfare town’ that would never amount to anything worthwhile.

Having their little school building condemned and needing a new one, there was difficulties to overcome.  After all, both Ted and Bob were “outsiders” from Seattle and were not to be trusted.

On the other hand, those that realized the potential of an Alpine – Bavarian Village, undertook the challenge.  Many had to go into deep debt to have their storefronts and interiors totally changed over.

Being a very risky venture, almost all of the business owners would have to make huge sacrifices and risk all of their futures on this venture.

Massive changes needed to be made if they were to survive.

Even their everyday dress attire had to be in the Bavarian styles.  It was all so different to the locals!

Leavenworth "Official" dress code

Leavenworth “Official” dress code

Project Alpine Gets Underway

Only a few of the longtime residents (at first) would give both Ted Price and Bob Rodgers any support.  That was back in the early/middle 1960’s.

However, with the early support of Owen and Pauline Watson, LaVern Peterson, Vern and Ann Herrett,  the project got underway.  These early pioneers into the then, unknown, would soon realize that their venture would quickly pay off.

With the purchase of several of the local storefronts in very bad condition, Bob and Ted set out to renovate all of them.   Often on the verge of bankruptcy, they pushed ahead.

Leavenworth Today

Leavenworth Today

Leavenworth Today

It did not take long for others to join in with the facelift of their small city.   Total remodels were the thing of the future.

Needed changes in the city building codes  were needed.  Once done, it allowed the changes to the realism of the Bavarian theme by the steep slopes in the shapes and styles of the roof tops of each building.

Now with the Bavarian roofs, ironworks, balconies, and the burying of all telephone and power lines, the city began to take on the Alpine-Bavarian township look that was most desirable.

In order to promote tourism, both Ted and Bob instituted the Four Seasons Events…the Autumn Leaf Festival…the Christmas Lighting…the Mai Fest…and finally the Art In The Park.

Mai Fest

Mai Fest held in Leavenworth Washington

Leavenworth Waterfront Park was also promoted in the early 1970’s and now draws thousands of tourists to the town’s frontage area located on the Wenatchee (wee-nat-chee) River.

Wenatchee River

Wenatchee River

 

Why Not Come Join Us?

Leavenworth Washington has undergone some major changes over the past 100 years.  It will continue to do so…but in the Alpine – Bavarian style.  Why not come see for yourselves?

If you are intrigued, then the first seasonal fest would be the Oktober Fest beginning the last week of September.  Each year it draws thousands to its festive atmosphere, beer gardens, food courts, Bavarian style dances and much, much more.

Leave your comments below if you’ve enjoyed your “mountain visit” to Leavenworth.

Written by :   Tom McDaniel Share this site

Images by:universityofwashington,leavenworthorg,flicr,venuelust,cityofleavenworth,seattletimes




Welcome to Leavenworth

Welcome to Leavenworth Washington

Rugged snow capped mountain peaks.  Multi-colored spring flowers.  Art-in-the-park for summertime enjoyment.  Oktoberfest (October-fest)  beginning the last week of September with autumn leaves of red, orange, yellow, and gold everywhere you look.  That will answer the question of : What is Leavenworth Washington.   Part 1

However, just reading about something is one thing,  to experience it is something that will stay with you for a lifetime.

Captain Charles F. Leavenworth, along with a group of financiers, began the small settlement with hopes of ‘striking-it-rich’ in their own way.

A Glimpse Of Leavenworth History

The state of Washington, though not really a part of the so-called “old west” did have it’s own history with the native Indians.  Now called, Native Americans.

The main Indian tribes that lived in and around the Leavenworth area were the : Yakima (yak-kah-ma), the Chinook (shen-nook), and the Wenatchee (wen-nat-chee).

The heavily forested mountain ranges of the Pacific Northwest Cascade Mountains were ideal hunting grounds for elk and deer.  Along the many creeks, streams, and rivers, the fishing was quickly recognized as some of the best in the region.

The Icicle Creek (river) had many braves from the local tribes,  fishing for salmon to bring home to smoke, or cure for later use during the winter months.

Settlements Began

As pioneers slowly moved into the area in search of furs, gold (the gold rush of the 1860’s), or perhaps a good plot of land to farm.  Soon stakes were claimed and property rights began to show up.

Family groups would arrive, building homes near the Wenatchee River.

As word spread, the Leavenworth area was soon teeming with settlers that began the townships early building stages on Icicle Flats circa 1890.  In 1893, it was officially platted for township recognition.

Not until the turn of the century did Leavenworth really become something more than a stopping place for wanderers and seekers-of-fortunes.

The Great Northern Railway Company Comes To Town

With the arrival of the railroad, the town seemed to explode almost overnight.  With dreams inspired by railroad tycoon James Jerome Hill, the so-called ‘Empire Builder’ a northern route across the United States was planned.

With jobs-a-plenty, the fledgling community of Leavenworth came into existence.  Now that the men had  steady incomes from work on the railroad,  small business’, families, churches, schools and city run government came into being.

Soon after the railroad was finished, other financiers began to look with envy at the tall timbers that surrounded the region.  Soon, a large lumber mill was set up by the company of Lamb-Davis near the railroad tracks.

Logging was now the main industry for Leavenworth.  With an almost unquenchable thirst for lumber and wood products in the eastern United States, Leavenworth was truly blossoming into a small city.

The Winds Of Change

Always looking for the next “shiny penny” the Lamb-Davis company decided to sell off their mill along with all their land holdings.  Then the Great Northern Railroad moved their main operations out of Leavenworth to the Wenatchee (wen-nat-chee) area.

The old saying of “when it rains, it pours” was about to come true for Leavenworth.

Now that the lumber mill and railroad had moved on, the town was hit by another disaster.  The year was 1929.  The disaster was the economic market crash which started the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

The former prosperous little township was looking more and more like a ghost town of the old west.  Within its two block business section, some 24 empty storefronts were now making up most of the town.

Leavenworth...almost a ghost town in the early days

Leavenworth…almost a ghost town in the early days

Death of the town was near.  Lack of economy was squeezing the lifeblood out of the community and its local residents.

Alpine – Bavarian Village Begins

Struggling for survival through the 1930’s, 1940’s, and  1950’s, the local residents realized that they needed to make some major changes in order to survive.

Capitalizing on what two of Seattle’s residents had done, they followed suit.

Who were the two Seattle residents and how did they influence the beginnings of the now famous Alpine – Bavarian village of Leavenworth to what it is today?

Bob Rodgers, Ted Price, And The Squirrel

Bob Rodgers fell in love with Bavaria while serving in the military during world war two.  In fact, he so enjoyed its culture, music, dress and atmosphere, he returned to Europe in 1955 to be immersed once more.

Ted Price, a native of Portland, Oregon, also enjoyed the outdoor atmosphere of Europe while in the Marine Corps.  He became a representative of the Pfizer (fi-zerr) company.

The two WW II friends soon were tired of life in the city of Seattle and wanted to get away from its hustle and bustle fast paced lifestyle.

Both men enjoyed the outdoors and would hike throughout the Cascade Mountains.  At one point, they chose to hike near Leavenworth.  Enjoying its beauty so much, that they decided to make some changes in their lives.

Simple...yet appealing The Squirrel Tree Restaurant

Simple…yet appealing    The Squirrel Tree Restaurant

Then they saw it…the then future Squirrel Tree Restaurant…The transformation of Leavenworth had begun.  But how?  Part 2 is here.

Share your thoughts below about Leavenworth…or another Alpine-Bavarian experience.

Written by: Tom McDaniel Be sure to share this

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