The rural western Washington dairy and farming community of Carnation is home to farmers, ranchers, and those who wish to escape city congestion and enjoy biking, hiking, camping, and fishing while surrounded by the natural beauty of the Cascade foothills.
Located where the Tolt and Snoqualmie rivers meet, this small town of 1.1 square miles is situated in one of the most productive agricultural regions of the Northwest.
However, not all residents are involved with agriculture, nor with providing education, goods, and services to those who are. Approximately 25% of its 1,786 residents report driving from 45 minutes to an hour or more to get to work in Seattle or one of Seattle’s many suburbs. Public transportation is not available in Carnation.
The median sales price for homes with Carnation WA addresses in mid-2015 was $421,750, which is a decrease of 11.2% from mid-2014. Year over year, the number of homes sold increased by 27.3%.
Note that these figures reflect “homes with Carnation addresses.” The presence of million-dollar plus estates and ranches located outside of town affects the median and average sale prices, making it appear that homes in carnation are more expensive.
Homes in town start at approximately $130,000, with the majority of homes in town listed for $350,000 or less. Rural homes, estate homes on acreage, and ranches are listed at prices as high as the $4 million range. Offerings include a mix of older homes and new construction or “to be built” homes in upscale subdivisions.
This high median home sales price, which is 63% higher than the national average, also affects the overall cost of living index for Carnation, bringing it to 27.8% above the national average.
Carnation has a significantly higher than average rate of home ownership, with 73.3% of the homes being owner occupied.
A bit of History…
Although the confluence of the Tolt and Snoqualmie rivers had been the main village site for the Snoqualmie tribe for thousands of years, in 1855 Chief Patkanim ceded the valley and tribal sites to the United States, opening the way for many homesteaders.
In about 1865, the first to settle in what would soon be known as Tolt was a Union Army deserter named James Entwistle. Records don’t mention why he was not captured and punished for desertion, but they do show that he claimed 169 acres at the confluence of the rivers and established a trading post. He later became a successful hop farmer and was well-respected in the community.
Soon after Entwistle arrived, others followed. The abundance of timber brought loggers, logging camps, and skid roads leading from the hills to the Snoqualmie River. These roads, built of greased logs, took the logs from the hills to the water, where they were then floated to the sawmills.
Clearing out the underbrush and cutting the trees revealed the fertile land beneath, and farming soon followed, even though getting to Tolt from Seattle was a major undertaking. The journey involved taking the ferry across Lake Washington, riding pack horses to Redmond, following 20 miles of trails, then transporting goods in a large Indian canoe.
By 1879 families had moved in, and with them, children who needed an education. The community constructed a log shack, which served until 1882, when the school moved to a larger building. By 1895 the number of students had increased and a real schoolhouse was built. This served as a grammar school for nearly 40 years.
While the town up until this time was primarily composed of cabins, a school, a church, and a social club, once the town was platted in 1902, more businesses opened to serve the growing community.
In 1910 the complexion of the town changed once again, with the coming of the Great Northern Railroad from the North. This was followed in 1911 by the coming of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, which built a branch line from the South.
The Milwaukee Railroad built a rail yard and depot in Tolt and the town soon became a boomtown. Now both logs and dairy goods could be shipped both north and south without depending on the unreliable river.
On December 31, 1912, the town of Tolt was incorporated.
Carnation Dairy put Tolt on the map – and changed its name.
In 1910 Elbridge Amos Stuart, the creator of Carnation evaporated milk, cleared 350 acres and formed a research herd of Holstein cattle. He wanted to see if better husbandry, better breeding, and better feed would produce richer milk. Two years later he cleared 400 more acres as the farm grew. (Today it totals 1,200 acres)
In 1907, he introduced the promotional phrase “Carnation Condensed Milk, the milk from contented cows.” This slogan referred to the higher quality milk from happy cows grazing in the lush Pacific Northwest. The valley became world famous as the “Home for Contented Cows.” Famous people, including boxer Jack Dempsey, visited the farm to see “Possum Sweetheart,” the cow who was said to have produced more than 37,000 pounds of milk in one year.
His methods must have worked, because Carnation cows held the world milk production record for 32 consecutive years
In honor of Carnation Dairy, the town of Tolt changed its name to Carnation in 1917, much to the dismay of the Indians and early settlers. Due to the controversy, the name was changed back to Tolt in 1928, causing nothing but confusion. The train depot and post office remained as Carnation; some maps listed Tolt while others listed Carnation; and some maps showed both.
In 1951 the name changed once again to Carnation, but there are those who still refer to it as Tolt.
During the 1920’s the timber resources began to dwindle, eventually ending the town’s “boomtown” status. Today farming sustains the community. Carnation is located in the most productive agricultural area in King County. Nearly 1600 acres of market crops are grown in the Snoqualmie Valley Agricultural Production District.
Landmarks still standing today include:
Services in Carnation
Carnation has both an IGA and QFC for groceries, a hardware store, arts and crafts shops, a convenience store, thrift stores, and a variety of other small retail outlets.
Carnation has one dentist, one doctor, several chiropractors, one home health services business, and one veterinarian.
Carnation has a variety of options for those who want to eat out without traveling to a nearby city.
Although it has had many different names over the past 100+ years, Petes Club Grill is a Carnation institution. It’s not merely a place for the whole family (including Fido) to dine, as it offers events and activities such as poker, live music, hosted trivia, and a variety of indoor games such as video golf, darts, and pool. Sports fans have their own room, known as the Hawks nest, where they can enjoy the game on a big screen TV.
Diners can choose Pizza and Pasta from one of two restaurants, Mexican cuisine from Ixtapa
Or Chinese food from Mong Kok. For a quick sandwich or fresh baked goods, there’s Sandy’s Espresso.
Those who are seeking something a bit different can look to the Dog Mountain Farm Café, where four course meals featuring their farm fresh products paired with local wines are served on select Saturdays during the summer.
These meals, served family style on tables graced with white tablecloths, are either served outdoors or in the large greenhouse!
Dog Mountain Farm also has a retail store in town, which is open Wednesday through Saturday. In addition to offering local, fresh and cured meats, local cheeses, and locally produced beer, wine and root beer, they offer meals at specific hours. Lunch is served each day, while Happy Hour meals are available on Wednesday and Thursday, and brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday. They invite their fans to visit their Facebook page for daily specials.
For those who wish to learn culinary skills, they offer the Culinary Tradition Series. Classes include topics such as how to cut up a chicken, how to make bread and pasta, pickling, and cheese and sausage making.
Where to stay
If you want a luxury hotel, plan on spending the night in a nearby town. If you want something a little unusual, you can stay at the Tolt-MacDonald park, which offers tent, RV, and Yurt Camping; enjoy platform tent camping at Dragonfly B&B, or relax at Lake Joy Beach House Bed & Breakfast.
Parks and Recreation
Carnation is home to several parks, including an off-leash dog park.
With the exception of golf, sports are centered around youth, with soccer, lacrosse, and little league teams coached by volunteers.
‘The Blue Heron Golf Course,’ formerly ‘Carnation Golf Course,’ is a local landmark.
Is shopping an event? It is if the citizens look forward to it with mouth-watering anticipation. The Carnation Farmers Market is a thriving market, full of local produce and products. It’s open every Tuesday, 3 to 7pm, from May to November, in the heart of downtown Carnation.
Carnation residents celebrate America’s birthday with enthusiasm. Fourth of July events include a Parade, a 5K Run/Walk, followed by a Pancake Breakfast, Live Music, a Vendor Village featuring Food/Arts & Crafts, an exhibition of Hot Rods & Harleys, Sno-Valley Senior’s famous ‘Strawberry Shortcake Feast’ and of course a fireworks display.
Fall Harvest Celebrations are a time to honor, celebrate and share in the bounty of local agriculture. Throughout the months of September and October, local agricultural groups work with farmers and other community members to host a wide variety of fun and educational events.
Activities include hayrides, hay and corn mazes, cooking demonstrations, and the opportunity to see farm’s cattle, pigs, sheep, turkeys, chickens and ducks in action.
Some of Carnation’s U-pick farms are:
Remlinger Farms – U-pick, market, restaurant, family fun park
Harvold Berry Farm – U-pick strawberries & raspberries
Carnation Tree Farm – U-cut Christmas trees
Game Haven Greenery – U-pick pumpkins, squash, seasonal vegetables
Dog Mountain Farm, CSA
Camp Korey at Carnation Farm – Fall Festival in mid-October
First Light Farm – farm stand, u-pick vegetables, pumpkins and picnic area
Oxbow Organic Farm, CSA
Blue Dog Farm, CSA – U-pick blueberries & raspberries
And Jubilee Biodynamic Farm Inc., CSA, which has been named one of the Best Pumpkin Patches in Washington.
These local farms play a significant role in the lives of Carnation residents and those in surrounding communities.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a program that offers members the opportunity to subscribe and receive fresh seasonal produce from the farm of their choice each week. Thus, residents enjoy the benefits of eating the freshest, most wholesome produce available anywhere.
Does Carnation sound like the right place for you? If so, get in touch. I’d love to help you find your new home. For a preview of what’s for sale today, click here. (link to Carnation search page)