The highway through Washington’s Cascades at Snoqualmie Pass is one of the most heavily used mountain transportation routes in the country. Yet, within sight of its concrete ribbons, one can find sections of the primitive wagon road that brought prairie-state settlers through the pass to open up the Puget Sound country. Traces can still be found of an even earlier route, the trail used by the Indians for hunting and trading.
Others traveled the pass as civilization moved West: fur traders, miners, military horse columns, cattle drovers, farmers, precursors of today’s land developers. A little ferryboat once crossed Lake Keechelus to link up the wagon road; then logging and dam building altered the lake forever. The coming of the automobile; the establishment of two railways and then subsequent waves of highway construction brought the pass into the modern era, which also saw the birth of the ski resort in the Northwest.
This is the story of the evolution of the Snoqualmie Pass, from narrow Indian trail to multi-laned Interstate 90, and of the people who took part along the way. For the hundreds who drive through the pass daily, for the countless thousands more who have skied, hiked, snowshoed and climbed in this alpine playground, it’s a fascinating tale.