Enumclaw (ee-numb-claw) is not an evil place as the name implies. Yet people want to know what Enumclaw is.
The name Enumclaw is translated from the Indian (now Native American) tribe of Salish (say-lish). It means : place of evil spirits or house of evil spirits. This is in reference to the mountains surrounding the city itself.
About 6 miles north of the city is the Enumclaw Mountain. The “evil” that is being referred to is one of two things. It could be of some evil action or act that took place in the past or of the frequent and sometimes destructive windstorms that blow throughout the region.
Two Native American Brothers
Being familiar with some local tribes, they always have wonderfully told stories of why things happen. Enumclaw and Kapoonis are no exception.
Enumclaw and Kapoonis were two Native Americans (Indians) in the early days, whose father turned them into, of all things, Thunder and Lightning. Knowing that, some refer to the city of Enumclaw as “Thundering Noise” from the two brothers seemingly dominating the city during storms.
Massive Trees Make The City
Settlers began back in the 1840’s and 1850’s. Allen Porter, in 1853 laid claim to some 320 acres near the White River just west of Enumclaw city. But because of trouble with the local tribes, he left and never returned.
It was not until 1879 that Frank and Mary Stevenson settled in the area, and invited the Northern Pacific Railroad to cut through their cleared and level land and build a Siding, was the beginnings of the city.
Siding: A siding, in rail terminology, is a low-speed track section distinct from a running line or through route such as a main line or branch line or spur. It may connect to through track or to other sidings at either end.
With great confidence, the Stevensons built a hotel and even gave away lots to be used for a general store along with a local saloon. This really got the city growing.
However, in order to have cleared and open land, massive trees needed to be felled and transported away…somehow.
Early efforts at logging took place with trees that were as much as 12 feet in diameter. Think about the effort needed to not only fall a tree like that, but then to try and move it!
Many of the trees remained where they fell and decayed over decades. Even to this day you can see 8, 10, 12 foot diameter stumps rising up from the ground to the 10 or 15 foot mark where the loggers began their jobs of sawing and chopping down these huge trees.
Stevenson or Enumclaw…Which?
The city was so thankful to the Stevenson family that at first, they wanted to name the city “Stevenson” after them. Refusing the offer, the name Enumclaw was elected because of its uniqueness.
Recognizing that in order to prosper, business’ needed to be welcomed. The hop farms sprang up (hops used in beer making) and brought much needed prosperity to Enumclaw.
But, like many other crops, a local infestation of lice destroyed the hop industry which had gotten to the point of being a “hop craze” in the area. Because of this, the locals needed to change. Dairy farming now was, and still is, the mainstay of the Enumclaw area.
The tourist trade is well supported by the locals. The King County Fair is by far, one of the most entertaining and enjoyable fairs to attend, other than the city of Monroe or Evergreen State Fair.
In 1929 the folks of Yakima (yack-kah-ma) and Enumclaw met to welcome the so-called “wedding” of Yakima Peaches to the groom of Enumclaw Cream. From that, the city officials proclaimed their city to be “the gateway to Naches Pass and Mount Rainier” (nat-cheece).
And while you are there, why not enjoy some delicious peaches and cream?
After the Boeing company exploded into productivity during WW II, the city took advantage of their new found “wealth” by Boeing workers and began the trucking industry.
Helped along by the Mutual of Enumclaw Insurance Company, they expanded their lines and extended services into nearby states. Along with this growth came the much anticipated merger of the White River Lumber Company with the Weyerhaeuser Corporation.
The city has been deemed one of the safest cities to live in within the state of Washington. The schools are some of the best, with locals always being friendly and supportive of city interests.
Being about 25 or 30 miles from Seattle, why not come in for a friendly visit?
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Written by: Tom McDaniel