Snohomish Dairy Products

This ramshackle collection of structures sported several company names over the 75 years of service, but it has always meant dairy products and jobs to the people of Snohomish; now, it’s a used car lot with an abandoned boiler.

[singlepic id=124 w=240 h=320 float=right] “Wm. H. Schott, right, firing furnace at condensery” reads the inscription on the reverse of last month’s historic image. The twin stacks to the boilers are clearly visible in the historic image; and the abandoned boiler is just left of center in the contemporary view. The stacked wood pictured in the left-hand foreground is the fuel for the wood fired boilers.

The first creamery in Snohomish County was located on this site when Noble Harvey leased land to John Alexander and E. C. Ferguson in 1894. Turned out that not enough milk was available in Snohomish and Alexander moved his operation to Stanwood. H. McMaster moved in with a small scale cheese making factory and two years later he was producing prize winning buttermilk as well.

By the turn of the century, the Snohomish Condensed Milk Company had its name in oversize letters on the main building of its thriving business of providing an market for the local dairymen. At some point, the company attracted the eye of East Coast investors and it was sold to a New York firm.

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Washington State Dairyman’s Association annual convention held at the Fraternal Hall, Stanwood, WA in 1907. [Courtesy Stanwood Area Historical Society]

By 1917, the Snohomish County Dairymen’s Association was established and took over the plants here and the largest operation in Arlington. The record is not clear, but it seems that the co-op was responsible for the name change to “Snohomish Dairy Products” as pictured in the historic image.

The name “Darigold” first appeared in 1925, and by 1931, the Snohomish operation was the manufacturing all the butter and ice cream sold by the Association under the Darigold name. The facility was updated in the early 1940s with a new concrete building and the installation of refrigerated holding tanks. Cottage cheese was introduced in 1954, in case you were wondering.

As is the way these days, consolidation of the plants, within the Dairymen’s Association, took place in the early 1960s and our plant was closed. Several business came and went until the structures were destroyed by a spectacular fire on June 12, 1979.

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“While Firemen reach through the burning walls with their hoses, one of the many trucks damaged in the June 12 fire burns in the background. This truck was soon pulled to safety.”

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“A Fireman clears out of the way as volunteers prepare to pull one of the many large trucks away from the burning structure. The truck’s rear tires were completely afire.”

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Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, March 21, 2012.

Do You Know This Former Snohomish Business?

snohomish then and now image

Can you identify the former Snohomish business that used these boilers, or even the men pictured? And what was the company’s famous name when it abandoned the boiler still standing?

Please comment below with your guess; and watch for the story with more pictures next month.

On another subject under the heading: “Local Boys Make Good”The Wired!Band won the International Blues Challenge 2012 in Memphis earlier this month. Kevin, Keith, and Rick played their way to first place in a contest of some 100 bands — Congrats all around.

I had the good fortune of seeing their first two performances in the quarterfinals but had to move on to New Orleans for the first parade of the Mardis Gras celebration. You are invited to view my blog of the grand trip, but here is the direct link to short clips from their first performance on February 1st.

“Where are the snows of memory?”

Mais où sont les neiges d’antan?” asked Francois Villion, a fifteenth-century French poet, in one of the most famous translated lines from French secular poetry. Remember you heard it here, reading a story about early Snohomish!

The historic image in the animation is a view looking east down First Street toward the corner of Avenue B, documenting the 1916 record snowfall. The horse-drawn wagon is delivering ice! And the hand-lettered sign announces that the post office is open — located in the corner store where patrons have gathered to watch the photographer with the Snohomish Studio at work. With newspaper reports remarking on the number of photographers at work capturing the record snowfall, it’s surprising that not more images have survived.

The snow began falling on January 30, 1916, and when it was measured four days later, over three feet had fallen, setting a new record. It was pioneer druggist, Lot Wilbur’s job, as the superintendent of measurements for the city, to get an accurate measurement — he came up with 40 (official) inches. Not a record he felt, and told of getting up early one morning in January 1880, and stepping into the snow, and disappearing up to his ears! But no official measurements were recorded.

Train service came to a halt for three days, as you can imagine. The big news in Seattle was that the dome of the St James Cathedral collapsed under the weight of the show.

The contemporary image captures the first snowfall of 2012. The Blackman Building, on the left, and the Marks Building on the right are still in use today. Our current snowfall measuring only 15-20 inches, regardless of the trouble it causes us, is a feeble attempt at beating the 1916 record.

Changing the subject: Readers of these postings are invited to tumble along with me on my train trip to Memphis, Tennessee as our local blues band “Wired!” completes in the International Blues Challenge, February 1 and 2, 2012. Traveling by Amtrak from Everett, I will continue on to New Orleans for one of the first Mardis Gras parades in the French Quarter, then on to Los Angeles with a stop in Marfa Texas, where the film “Giant” was shot, plus several recent movies, but is also known for its contemporary art installations, which is why I am visiting.

Bookmark your favorite browser to this address: and check in for the updates (no email reminders will be sent).

Perhaps I will miss a true record-breaking snowfall!

. . . .

Raise a Glass to the Memory of E. C. Ferguson

You are invited to the inaugural celebration of E. C. Ferguson Day, Sunday, November 14, 4p, at Fred’s Rivertown Ale House (1114 First, Historic Downtown Snohomish).

November 14th is the day that Ferguson was awarded a license to operate his Blue Eagle Saloon — the first saloon of Snohomish — in 1864. For new readers of this page, E. C. Ferguson is considered the founder of Snohomish City in 1859.

To help us honor this occasion will be historian David Dilgard with the Everett Public Library, speaking to the more colorful aspects of old Ferg’s reputation. And to help us celebrate will be Tim Noah, founder/director of Snohomish’s Thumbnail Theater, who is working on an original song for the occasion. (There is no cover charge or suggested contribution for this event.)

Cady Landing, 1885, the Blue Eagle Saloon is left of center
You may learn more about this image HERE.

Riverfront Trail Markers Installed

Join us this Saturday, October 16th at 11a for the dedication of the river trail markers that you may have read about in the Herald.

Riverfront Marker for the Ferguson Cottage
You can see in this photograph why the Parks Foundation is organizing a Riverfront Trail Beautification Workparty that will begin at 8:30a, bring work gloves, hand tools, and meet up at the Gazebo located at the end of Avenue A. For more information, call 360.863.3346.

And you may read more about the Ferguson Cottage in this earlier post.


Wait, there is more: a gentle reminder of our GAR Tour coming up next Saturday, October 23rd, 10a. Follow the signs to the caretaker’s garage at the end of the drive at 8601 Riverview Road, Snohomish. Allow an hour and half, prepare to walk on uneven ground and the tour will be conducted in rain or shine (last year it was gorgeous). A suggested donation of $10 will help support this website.

Please contact me if you need more information.


Grand Army of the Republic Monument

Click to view larger

E vidently the workmen, taking time out to pose for an unknown photographer in this month’s historic image, finished the installation of the monument in time for the Memorial Day dedication 96 years ago. The May 29, 1914, issue of the Snohomish County Tribune carried the sub-head on the front page: “Everything Ready for Dedication of G. A. R. Monument—Business Will be Suspended While Citizens Honor Dead Heroes.”
Continue reading Grand Army of the Republic Monument

Rails Over the River

“The second railroad meeting last Friday evening would not have impressed a stranger very forcibly with the idea that the people of Snohomish were imbued with a spirit of progress.”

This was reported 123 years ago in the Snohomish Eye, at a time when two railroad companies wanted to come through town, a Canadian company from the north and the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Company from the south, but both concerns wanted property and money from the citizens of Snohomish.

Ferguson, Blackman, Cathcart put up the first $1500 in cash and Mary Low Sinclair (then Mrs. Packard) donated some 20 lots to keep the latter company aiming toward Snohomish, but more was needed.

Ferguson’s brother, Clark, the town’s first milkman, offered to head up a subscription committee that would solicit funds from property owners along the proposed route of the train. John Otten rose to speak, offering $25 if the railroad would not come near the town. (Otten’s short-slightness may have led to his mercantile business eventually going belly up and the sale of his handsome new building at 1024-26 First to Tom Marks who wasted no time in having his name chiseled in stone and placed over the entrance.)

With the Lake Shore operation just over the hill from the Snohomish River, a curious concern was mentioned in the June 13, 1888, issue of the Eye: “Should the railroad touch the shores of Lake Stevens, a town will be built that will become a dangerous rival to Snohomish. Being situated near the geographical center of the county, could but with little difficulty secure the county seat.”

By July however, with regular train service to and from Seattle expected by the end of the month, attention was focused on the preparations to welcome the “Seattle excursionists.” The reception committee consisted of about 20 of the leading businesses and professional men. Between 300 and 500 excursionists were expected for a public reception in Atheneum Hall, located on the northwest corner of Avenue D and First, with a free lunch served at 3p.m in Ferguson’s new hall just across the street. Although the return service to Seattle was scheduled for 6pm, many visitors had indicated a desire to remain in town for the grand free ball that evening. First class accommodations would have been available at the recently opened Penobscot Hotel on First, an investment of the visionary Blackman Brothers, in preparation to serve a new class of visitors with over-sized wallets.

No mention of how the “open house” went in subsequent issues of the Eye, but the August 4 issue reported, “… between 75 and 80 passengers arrived on Wednesday’s train.”

Since the railroad bridge was still a work in progress at this time, arrangements were made for carriages to pick up the passengers and bring them across the river on George Tompkins ferry at Avenue D.

Work continued on the bridge even though the Lake Shore owners were under an injunction by the Canadian company “laboring under the delusion that they have the exclusive right to construct a road between Seattle and the British Columbia,” as the newspaper put it. However, since the bridge builders had their plan approved by no less an office than that of the Secretary of War, work continued uninterrupted.

The August 31 issue reports that, “the draw of the bridge was swung into position for the first time last Wednesday afternoon,” which could be the occasion pictured in our historic image. The Lake Shore owners secured a modification of the Canadian injunction that allowed them to finish the bridge and the running of trains thereon upon posting a $20,000 bond.

The first passenger train crossed the bridge and entered Snohomish City proper on September 19, 1888; but on October 27, a run-away log boom consisting of some 3,000,000 logs jammed up against the southern most pier of the new bridge.

“The pier slowly but steadily crowded down until the span was about six feet out of line with the draw, when at 2 o’clock with a crash it gave way, “ the paper reported. “It is doubtful if the missing spans can be replaced before low water next summer. About 500 people witnessed the thrilling scene,” the report concluded.

Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, March 17, 2010


The first railroad bridge to cross the Snohomish River into Snohomish City, completed September, 1888. Since the previous July, service ended south of town and passengers used the ferry at Avenue D to reach town. This system was called into service again in October when the pier seconded from the left collapsed due to pressure from a run-away log boom consisting of some 3,000,000 logs.
(Photo courtesy University of Washington, Special Collections, #uw18022)

The second railroad bridge over the Snohomish River built in 1910 as it appears today, without train traffic. Will that change this summer with the arrival of an excursion train to Snohomish?