The City of Gold Bar is situated at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. We are the gateway to the Cascade Mountains. The Cascade Mountains are a host to a multitude of summer and winter outdoor activities.
City of Gold Bar Mission Statement
The City of Gold Bar’s heritage of mining and logging is reflected as we grow into a financially sound, community oriented city where recreation is our community’s business and our rural character is our community treasure.
About the History of Gold Bar
The early Indian residents in the vicinity of what is now Gold Bar, known as the Skykomish, were a subdivision of the Snohomish Peoples whose region was the Snohomish River Basin extending from the mouth of the river to the crest of the Cascades. Their annual living and travel patterns centered around hunting, fishing, and plant gathering seasons. Shelters during gathering seasons were temporary pole and mat or brush shelters. Permanent villages occupied during the winter months were large cedar plank houses.
The first white men to explore the Gold Bar area were most likely fur trappers, traders and prospectors. The first recorded visit to the Gold Bar area occurred in the years 1859 and 1860 when survey parties sent out by the developers of Snohomish town site traveled up the Skykomish Valley. Convinced that the trail leading from the Eastern Washington gold fields, across the Cascades and down the Skykomish and Snohomish River valleys would benefit their proposed town, the promoters of the city of Snohomish determined to establish such a route. It was in the course of locating this trail that the survey parties passed the future site of Gold Bar. Beyond locating Cady Pass, the trail project was a failure.
In 1890, Mr. Andrew Haggerty bought timber from the settlers and logged the area about Gold Bar. In 1892, he gave the Great Northern Railroad land for the right-of-way, with the idea that the company would build a freight terminal. This plan did not materialize for twenty years.
As a mineral, Gold held an interest for many. A prospector named Boyce is said to have found traces of gold in the Skykomish River. He hired Chinese laborers for $1 per day. With equipment made of wood, the Chinese dug out a big hole, using a dredge built on a float. This was located east of town, across the railroad tracks from Clancey’s Motel. Each worker took enough gold from the river to enrich their employer by about $3 per day and to cause the locality to be named Gold Bar.
An early historical account of Skagit and Snohomish Counties published in 1906 gives this description of the town’s early history:
“Gold Bar is a thrifty sawmill town of between two and three hundred people, in the Skykomish Valley along the overland line of the Great Northern Railway, 29 miles east of Everett. Platted September 18, 1900, by the Gold Bar Improvement Company, it has grown very rapidly and is now among the substantial villages of the County. A two-story schoolhouse has been erected in which 43 pupils receive instruction, besides which the town enjoys good telephone, telegraph and transportation facilities. As the timberlands become available for agricultural purposes, many small farms are coming into cultivation, thus furnishing additional support for Gold Bar. Last year 886 cars of lumber and shingles were shipped from this point, which is indicative of the town’s volume of business. The Gold Bar Lumber Company operates an extensive lumber and shingle plant there.”
By 1900, the settlement of Gold Bar boasted two houses. Mr. O.S. Lewis built a small mill and cookhouse as well as more homes. The mill was just beyond the McDaniel Garage (now a mobile home park). The millpond was on the shore of May Creek and the bunkhouse and camp were across the creek. At one time, the Gold Bar Lumber Company employed 300 men, as the mill was called. About 100 of this number were Japanese, who did all the common labor. They lived across May Creek at what was called Jap Town.
Mr. Lewis donated two blocks of land on Lewis Street to the town for a school and additional land for a church. In 1901, a one-room school was built and by 1903 the teacher, Mrs. Flint, had more than thirty pupils. The Church was built and dedicated in 1907. The first pastor was Reverend J.M. Wilder, of the Methodist Church.
In 1904, Mr. Lewis and his partner sold the Gold Bar Lumber Company mill and some timber to a Mr. Barnett from Alaska and a Mr. Johansen. Between 1904 and 1908, the company built several homes for employees. A Mr. Croft built a large hotel at the corner of First and Railroad Avenues. Behind the hotel a large building, called the Annex, was built, as was the Croft Building down the street. The mill men, who ate their meals at the Croft Hotel where five women served family style meals, used these buildings. Mr. John R. McKay built the post office and general store in 1906. The town also boasted a saloon, another hotel, and a dance hall.