Downtown Walking Tour

Downtown Walking Tour

Welcome to Historic Downtown Bothell

Take a walk along the "Squak"...

The Bothell area was originally inhabited by the Simump Indians, who referred to the region as the "Squak", meaning a swampy lowland. In the early 1870's, the first settlers came to this area seeking homesteads. At the time, the only transportation was by boat, and the surrounding land was heavily forested. The "Squak Slough", now the Sammamish River, was the center of early farming and timber harvesting activities, as well as being the main transportation artery for the region.

In the spring of 1889, David C. Bothell and his wife, Mary Ann, filed the first plat in what was to become the city of Bothell. The town was incorporated in 1908, some 20 years later. Gerhard Ericksen, the first postmaster, is reputed to have said, "there are so many Bothell's in town, let's call it Bothell".

The early days were a period of growth, with lumber and shingle production fueling the local economy. The Bothell Shingle Company mill produced 125,000 shingles in a single day at its peak. Cedar was brought in on a 7-mile water flume to the busy mills, and some of the locals would hitch a ride on a log headed for town at 3 to 4 miles per hour.

Shipping on the Squak Slough was the only way for commerce to reach Bothell, Woodinville, Redmond, and Issaquah. In addition to lumber transport, local produce was distributed, first by rowboats up to 50 feet long, later by flat-bottomed scows, and eventually by steamboats of various designs. Soon there was regular passenger service three times a day, with the fare from Seattle to Bothell a costly 25 cents.

The lowering of Lake Washington by 8 feet to install the Lake Union locks in 1916 spelled the end of practical use of the slough. By then, rail and road transportation had made overland shipping simpler and faster. The first paved road into Bothell was a brick road extending from Lake Forest Park, which was completed in 1913. The road proved to be too hazardous and slippery, and was soon paved over. A portion of the original brick road is still in use at the Wayne Curve, just as one enters Bothell today.

Today, Bothell's downtown has a thriving Main Street located just steps away from the Park at Bothell Landing on the Sammammish River and the city's many historical buildings.