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Walnut Street once Edmonds’ south boundary | History Files


Last updated 5/4/2018 at Noon

In 1905, the south boundary of Edmonds was Walnut Street. How do I know? A few years ago, Brian Harris gave me a copy of the 1905 map of Snohomish County Road #49.

According to the folks at yellowstonetrail.org, having a county road in 1905 was unusual.

Apparently, most of the country didn't believe that government should build roads. The fact that it was called Snohomish County Road #49 implies that Snohomish County had built other roads as well.

It isn't called Snohomish County Road #49 anymore, but all of it still exists and probably everyone in Edmonds has traveled on at least part of it.

Going south from Walnut Street, it traveled along what we now call Fifth Avenue South. At what is now Pine Street, it made a 90-degree turn to the east and followed that street one block to what is now Sixth Avenue South.

It followed Sixth to the sweeping bend south of Elm Way, and curved east again on to Elm Street. I have driven that bend from Sixth onto Elm a number of times over the years and wondered why it didn't make a square corner.

I still don't know why it didn't make a square corner, but I do know that it has been that way for well over 100 years.

Snohomish County Road #49 then followed what is now Elm Street east to what is now Eighth Avenue South. There it turned south again. It followed Eighth to 15th Street South.

There it turned east and ran past the Edmonds Cemetery.

There is an unusual feature at the cemetery. Snohomish County Road #49 didn't go all the way to what is now 100th Avenue West and make a square corner. Instead it went most of the way to 100th and turned at an angle where the Columbarium is now. The road then turned south on to 100th.

From there, it followed the current route, or very close to it, of 100th to the King County line.

I don't have a map for the King County portion of the road, but I assume it continued on to Richmond, very close to where Eighth Avenue NW runs now. According to other maps I have seen, there were just about as many structures in Richmond then as there were in Edmonds.

Somewhere over the decades, Richmond became identified as Richmond Beach and Richmond Highlands, but old maps show it just as Richmond, and it apparently considered itself to be a genuine rival to its neighbor to the north.

The streets that once comprised Snohomish County Road #49 are now all paved and most have sidewalks, but when that map was surveyed in 1905 it would have been all dirt.

It traveled through what was rural farmland. Large tracts of land had not then been subdivided. Names like the pioneering Edmonds family “Yost” are on large holdings.

The history of Edmonds is relatively recent compared to the European cities where Rick Steves leads tours, but there is still history, and the ground has been changed over the years.

Nothing as dramatic as the regrades in Seattle happened in Edmonds, but it has changed from a little mill town in the forest along Puget Sound to a city that is home to more than 42,000 people. .

I enjoy traveling the roads of Edmonds where history happened. Snohomish County Road #49 is one of those locations. Its existence was certainly important to previous generations of Edmonds residents, and it doesn't hurt us to remember its significance.


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