Lynnwood (Alderwood Manor)
Restored Trolley Car
Lynnwood Visitor’s Center
Poplar Way (park is on the southeast corner of Poplar Way and Alderwood Mall Parkway)
Heritage Park celebrates the history of the Alderwood Manor area of Lynnwood.
In 1917 the Puget Mill Company was looking for a way to get the most out of logged off tracts of stump land, so it developed the planned community of Alderwood Manor. A plat containing lots ranging in size from five to ten acres was drawn up, and to promote the community a 30-acre demonstration farm was built. The farm had chickens, orchards, and gardens. The sales angle was to advocate healthy country living to induce city dwellers to abandon their cities for the joys of a bucolic lifestyle.
Aside from serving as a sales pitch, the demonstration farm taught those buying the mini-farm lots how to raise chickens and produce for fun and profit. And it worked! In the 1920s, Alderwood Manor was the second largest egg producing region in the US. (The reality was, it wasn’t quite as fun or profitable for most people as the brochures claimed.)
A key aspect to Alderwood Manor’s success was its location next to the Interurban Railway line. Before Highway 99 was built, the Interurban was the primary land-based means of transportation between Seattle and Everett. The trolleys carried people during the day and shipments of goods at night. (Boats were the other major means transportation.) Alderwood Manor was conveniently located halfway between the two cities.
Six electric trolley cars operated on the Interurban Railway from 1910 until 1939. The cars came every hour and the entire trip from Everett to Seattle only took 70 minutes. The railway traveled along the route where I-5 runs today between 204th and the I-405 interchange. One of the original Interurban trolley cars, number 55, has been restored and is housed in a shed at Heritage Park.
If the name of the Interurban sounds familiar, but you knew nothing of the trolley line’s existence, there are two modern references there’s a good chance you have heard of.
The first is the area-famous sculpture in Fremont (Seattle) entitled Waiting for the Interurban. For many years the title made no sense to me because there wasn’t anything in Seattle called the Interurban to be waiting for. It turns out they’re endlessly waiting for car 55 at the Fremont Interurban stop, but the car is stalled in Lynnwood and not going anywhere.
The other modern reference is the Interurban Trail, which is a paved biking and walking path stretching between Seattle and Everett. The trail mostly uses the original Interurban Railway grade. There are gaps in the trail where city streets must be used, but cities along the way have been working hard to link up as much of the route as possible. (Echo Lake Park is located on the Interurban Trail.)
The Great Depression and other events brought about the beginnings of a large shift in Alderwood Manor. Egg prices dropped from $1 a dozen to a dime a dozen, and many families sold their chicken ranches. The Puget Mill Company closed the demonstration farm in the late 1930s and divided the land into one acre “ranchettes” to sell. Over the decades since, Alderwood Manor’s mini-farms were slowly sold and subdivided until the area became a typical residential suburban community like any other.
I’ve probably driven past Heritage Park close to a hundred times over the years, but I never stopped to take a look until I had the time and inclination after a recent eye appointment near Alderwood Mall.
In front of the parking lot is a brick-paved courtyard with a kids and chickens sculpture, two benches, and a picnic table.
Signs with historical information are scattered around the park.
On the far side of the courtyard, the restored Interurban trolley car #55 is housed in a protective shed. The front of the shed is open so you can look in, but bars prevent entry. Inside the shed, historical information plaques are posted on the walls, and during open house events in summer months you can go in to read them and get a closeup look at the trolley.
Two restored buildings stand on either side of the courtyard.
The Tudor-styled Wickers Building, built in 1919, was the first mercantile and post office on Alderwood Road (formally named Filbert), which is now 196th Street in Lynnwood. The original mercantile site was near the Interurban trolley stop, and was a familiar landmark to those traveling between Everett and Seattle.
The Wickers Building was moved to Heritage Park for preservation, and now houses the Lynnwood Visitor’s Center and some museum exhibits. (I had a painful cut on my foot that made walking difficult, so didn’t make it inside the building to look around.)
The park’s restrooms are in back of the Wickers Building. From where I was I could see steps leading up, but I would hope there’s also a ramp somewhere to make them accessible. Because I was hobbling I didn’t walk back there to double-check.
Opposite the Wickers Building is a small house. It was originally the superintendent’s cottage at the Puget Mill demonstration farm. Behind the cottage is the demonstration farm’s water tower, though it’s now missing the water tank on top. The cottage and water tower are the only surviving buildings from the demonstration farm, and they were moved to the park site for preservation. The cottage now houses the Lynnwood-Alderwood Manor Heritage Association and Museum.
A docent opened the museum while I was looking at the posted hours of operation so I went in to look around. (Admission is free.) There isn’t much to see inside in the way of exhibits, but it does have photos and info posted on the walls about the original community and demonstration farm, which I found interesting. The Heritage Association also offers public access to their archives of historical resource materials for Alderwood Manor.
On the far side of the superintendent’s Cottage is the restored Humble House, which is home to the Sno-Isle Geneological Society. The Humble House is the only building that is original to the piece of land the park sits on.
In addition to the seating in the courtyard, at least three more picnic tables and at least one more bench are scattered around the lawn area behind and to the side of the trolley car shed. Since I was here on a dreary day in February it didn’t look very inviting, but in summer, under shady trees with birds flitting and singing in the bushes, I imagine it’s quite nice.
Heritage Park isn’t a must-see place, but it does make for an interesting stop if you happen to have extra time while shopping in the area and you enjoy local history. It also makes for a good change of pace picnic spot if you’re getting a little bored with your neighborhood park.
For information, including operating hours and contact phone numbers, for the Visitor Center and museum, click on the park-related website links below.
Things to Know
Dawn to Dusk
Benches and picnic tables in courtyard and behind trolley shed.
In back of the Visitor’s Center
Good sized lot with some handicapped spaces right in front of the courtyard.
I only have one off-season visit to go by, but it should be very easy to get a parking space most of the time. The exception would be if a special event is going on.
Heritage Park is used mostly by people living in the Lynnwood area. I was here on a chilly and cloudy weekday morning in February, so I don’t have a good sense of how much the park is or isn’t used. I suspect usage is fairly low most of the time, unless a special event is taking place.