Fall City is a small town by anyone’s standards. With an area of only 1.3 square miles and a population of 1,993, you might think this unincorporated area of King County, Washington would have little to offer.
You’d be wrong. In fact, residents of Fall City are fond of saying “If you’re lucky enough to live in Fall City, you’re lucky enough.”
The Fall City Community Association promotes building of community, proactively communicates on local issues, and takes action on selected issues that affect Fall City and its residents. All residents of the city and the surrounding area are welcome to participate.
Although not as affluent as some of the other Seattle suburbs, the median income in Fall City is 32% higher than the national average – as is the cost of living. This higher cost of living is largely driven by real estate prices, which are 74% higher than the national average.
The median sales price for homes in Fall City, WA in mid-2015 was $457,500, a decrease of 9.9% over prices in mid-2014. The number of homes sold also decreased by 12.5%. The inventory of homes for sale has also decreased.
Single family Homes for sale with Fall City addresses as of mid-2015 started at $200,000, with four offerings listed at over $1 million.
Fall City History
Long before white settlers came to the area, the Snoqualmie Tribe populated the upper and lower Snoqualmie River valleys. Snoqualmie Falls acts as a fish trap, preventing salmon from swimming upstream, so salmon were plentiful.
Snoqualmie Chief Patkanim (1815-1858) had at first been hostile toward Hudson’s Bay Company but 1855, he ceded the valley and tribal sites to the United States and thus opened the way for homesteaders. In 1858 Jeremiah Borst made his home above the falls and became the first white settler.
The first settlers in what would later become Fall City were James Taylor and Edward and George Boham. The trio had passed by in 1869 on their way to hunt for gold in the Cascades and thought that this area at the intersection of the Snoqualmie and Raging Rivers would be a perfect spot to set up a trading post. The spot became known as The Landing.
By 1872 a small community of subsistence farms had grown up in the area around the Landing, and the city got both a post office and a name – Fall City. The post office was located inside the Boham’s trading post and George Boham was its first postmaster.
In 1873, Watson Allen opened a sawmill on nearby Tokul Creek and homesteaders were able to build their homes of milled lumber rather than logs. Before long, due to the abundance of timber, other logging operations opened up. Employment was plentiful.
Hop farming also became popular for a time, but in the 1890’s an aphid infestation wiped out the industry. Farmers made a shift to dairy, chicken, and orchard farming.
For decades, transportation to and from Fall City was by flatboat – a situation that naturally limited expansion and growth. Thus, in 1885, when news of a plan to build the Seattle, Lake Shore, & Eastern Railroad east from Seattle across Snoqualmie Pass, it appeared to be a golden opportunity for Jeremiah Borst, who had purchased claims from the Bohams in 1875.
In 1887 he and his wife filed a plat for the town of Fall City with great expectations that the railroad would soon arrive. In 1889 it did – but unfortunately a half mile south of town. Meanwhile, others had been busy. That year King County build a bridge over the Snoqualmie River and improved the road leading to the Fall City cemetery and the train depot beyond. It was no longer necessary to use a flatboat to get good to and from Fall City.
The planned railroad eventually was built only as far east as North Bend, but it brought tourists eager to see Snoqualmie Falls. By the 1920’s auto travel was popular. First the Yellowstone Trail and later the Sunset Highway brought tourism to Fall City.
Hotels, restaurants and gas stations were built to serve this growing industry, and schools were built to serve the growing population.
By 1900 the one-room buildings were overflowing, necessitating the construction of a two-story schoolhouse. By 1910 that too was too small, and in 1915 work began on the Brick School at the west end of town. This structure served all 12 grades until after World War II, when Snoqualmie Valley schools were consolidated and Fall City High School students began attending Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie.
In 1946 the local economy faltered when U.S. Highway 10 was rerouted between Issaquah and North Bend, bypassing Fall City completely. All of a sudden, the tourist industry fell off as fewer and fewer travelers found the town. At the same time, the logging industry was slowing down, but Fall City persevered. It became a bedroom community for people who worked in the city but preferred the peace and quiet of a rural lifestyle.
Today Fall City is home to many families who are fiercely protective of the town’s history. Some of these families trace their roots all the way back to the first settlers. Others have “only” been there for a few generations.
Jerry Borst’s original 15-block plat (less the commercial area) is now designated as a King County Historic Residential District. Other King County Landmarks located in Fall City are the Fall City Hop Shed, the Prescott-Harshman House, Masonic Hall, the Neighbor-Bennett House, Raging River Bridge No.1008E, the McKibben-Corliss House, and the Charles and Minnie Moore House. The Masonic Hall and the Neighbor-Bennett House are also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Olive Taylor Quigley
No historical account of Fall City would be complete without mention of Olive Taylor Quigley, the first girl born to white settlers in Fall City.
Born on April 2, 1876 to David and Helen Taylor, she grew up in her family’s Taylor Hotel, and worked there until it burned in 1902. No doubt known as the town spinster, she did marry in 1918 at the age of 42.
When her husband, Joseph Quigley, died eleven years later, she devoted herself to community service and was active in the Fall City Study Club, the Washington State Pioneers, the Fall City Methodist Church, Fall City Garden Club, and the Order of Eastern Star.
She was much loved in the community, which is why an “accidental” roadside park bears her name.
This park, which was located on the south bank of the Snoqualmie River alongside downtown, had been a dumping ground for debris until the 1940’s when a foreman for the Washington State Highway Department began dumping leftover dirt from road projects. By the late 1950’s this low area was filled in and began looking like a nice place to stop and rest. Furnished with a couple of salvaged picnic tables, by 1960 the park was being used both by travelers and the community.
Although she was embarrassed by the attention, in 1961, the Fall City Study Club named the new park after her, and a monument was planned. Olive Taylor Quigley passed away in 1974 at the age of 98, and is buried in the Fall City Cemetery.
Community residents maintained the park until 1989, when it was taken over by the King County Parks Department.
Fall City Today
Fall City has no huge shopping malls with upscale boutiques. It has no opera house or sports stadium. Instead it has an involved, active populace and a few surprises for those not familiar with the community.
If you want to shop, Fall City offers local flavor and local involvement
Fall City is home to an assortment of small shops and boutiques, offering everything from grocery and deli items to gift items, jewelry, dolls, motorcycles, firearms and toys.
One of the most interesting shopping spots is Farmhouse Market, owned by longtime residents Jay and Melissa Bluher, and opened in 2007. The Market offers local items including wine, fresh baked cupcakes and honey, gourmet coffee beans, natural beef, and seasonal produce, much of it certified organic.
Farmhouse Market is also active in the community, sponsoring events such as the Fall City Days Watermelon eating contest, the Fun Run, and refreshments for many school events. In
addition, they donate 1% of their proceeds to Fall City Elementary and Chief Kanim Middle School and provide free grocery delivery to local senior citizens.
Fall City Days grew out of the Derby Days, started in the 1950’s. Originally an annual Cub Scout Soap Box Derby, it became a summer event filled with parades, dances, hydroplane races, games, carnival rides, and activities for all ages.
The name was changed in 1970’s, but the enthusiasm has remained the same. Among the activities are a Watermelon Seed spitting contest, kids bouncy rides, a dunk tank, an arts and crafts fair, and live music in the park.
December brings a flurry of activities, with local businesses joining in. Among the activities are a tree lighting ceremony, a music program, and an Art Park Gathering.
Lodging in Fall City
Fall City doesn’t offer run-of-the mill hotels or motels. Instead it has the Fall City Roadhouse and Inn, the Tree House Point Bed & Breakfast, and the Snoqualmie River RV Park and Campground
The Fall City Roadhouse and Inn, formerly called the Riverside Tavern and the Colonial Inn, was built in 1916 at the corner of highways 202 and 203. In 1931 a second floor was added to provide housing for school teachers.
In 2008 the building changed hands and in 2009 was completely restored and remodeled into today’s Fall City Roadhouse & Inn. The upstairs is now a 1920’s vintage style Inn. The Roadhouse is known for serving exceptional breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, as well as for its signature cocktails and wine list featuring wines of the Northwest.
In 1990, Hollywood came to Fall City while filming the winning series, “Twin Peaks.” The Fall City Roadhouse was among the Snoqualmie Valley images used on that show.
Tree House Point is an adventure destination, offering lodging to guests 13 years and older, by appointment only. With only six tree houses available, it’s best to book early.
Lodging is in Rustic wooden rooms, reached via wooden staircases or hanging bridges, with access to shared bathrooms (including showers) on the ground level. Complimentary breakfast is included and served in the main lodge.
In addition to lodging, Tree House Point offers guided treehouse tours, weddings, and meeting accommodations for those who wish to turn off the technology, escape from stress, and simply enjoy nature. Yoga classes and private yoga sessions are also available.
The Snoqualmie River RV Park and Campground offers 92 RV sites with partial or full hook ups. They also offer tent rentals for those without an RV.
Visitors often come to fish from the banks of the river or to stay while they visit local farms to pick fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
While many might drive to nearby suburbs or in to Seattle for fine dining, Fall City does offer some alternatives. In addition to the Roadhouse, there’s the Fall City Bistro; the Raging River Café and Club, offering a friendly family atmosphere; and the Last Frontier Saloon, which offers a full bar and good tavern food.
Not only does Fall City have its own small airport, it has two golf courses.
Snoqualmie Falls Golf Course is an 18-hole par 71, offering golfers beautiful landscaping and picturesque views of Mount Si.
Twin Rivers Golf Course is the course that “shouldn’t be, but is.” The result of a dream first formulated in a high school classroom in 1952, it opened in 1994 after four long years of battling the system to obtain the required King County permits, followed by months of hard work to create and perfect the plans first envisioned forty years earlier. Two families had risked all they had to make this dream come true and were close to giving up at times. Now Twin Rivers Golf Course is a destination for golfers around the area.
For a small town, Fall City boasts an enviable public library. First opened in 1944 in the United Methodist Church’s Sunday school classrooms, it was furnished by a desk found floating down the river. In 1957 it moved into an 18 by 24-foot cottage. The library continued to grow and moved again in 1967 – and again 1985.
The present 5,000 square foot library was opened in 2008, offering a variety of classes and programs for all ages, as well as a meeting room for events.
The Snoqualmie Falls Forest Theater offers live entertainment for 7 week-ends during the summer. Offerings include improve, magic shows, and even Shakespeare.
River Valley Cheese produces artisan cheeses made from goat, cow, yak, and water buffalo milk. They raise their own milking stock, using only certified organic feeds. They use no hormones to increase production and no corn in the grain.
This is artisan cheese, produced in small batches, by hand, with attention to detail.
For those who wish to learn this ancient craft, they offer hands-on cheese making classes.
The Northwest Natural Horsemanship Center offers a different kind of lessons – horsemanship for adults who always wanted to be acquainted with horses but never had the opportunity. Students don’t need to own their own horse to participate (but they may want to after they’ve discovered the joy of riding).
They also offer classes, workshops, clinics, and a variety of special events for riders of all ages.
If you agree that those who are “Lucky enough to live in Fall City are lucky enough,” get in touch. I’ll help you find a home in this active community. For a preview of homes available today, click here. (link to Fall City search page)