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How Farms Became State Park

This article first appeared in the Autumn 2003 Past Times.

By Eric Erickson and Erica Maniez

Anderson farm, 1895. Pictured from left are John Anderson, Addie Smart Anderson, Florence Smart and Lawrence Smart. The Anderson Farm later became part of the Lake Sammamish State Park.

Anderson farm, 1895. Pictured from left are John Anderson, Addie Smart Anderson, Florence Smart and Lawrence Smart. The Anderson Farm later became part of the Lake Sammamish State Park.

Before Lake Sammamish State Park existed, land on the banks of Lake Sammamish belonged to local farming families. The Anderson farm and the Jensen farm, along with land belonging to the Washington Iron Works, became the park in 1953.

The Anderson farm belonged to John Anderson, a Norwegian immigrant, and his wife Addie. The Andersons built what became known as “the big house” on the property in 1890. The big house had two stories and a total of ten rooms. Another house consisting of six rooms was built there sometime before 1895; the farm foreman and his family lived there. Other outbuildings included a horse barn, a small milk house, two garages, a fruit shed, and a log cabin with a plank floor.

Addie Anderson was first married to a man named John Smart, and her children from this marriage also lived on the farm. There were three girls named Florence, Nellie, and Carrie, and a boy named Lawrence.  In 1916, Lawrence and his wife Lulu returned to the farm with their children Nelliemae and Raymond, and lived there for several years.

In 1934, Addie’s three daughters inherited the farm, while her son Lawrence Smart inherited land in Fall City. A tenant farmer named Ole Englebritsen occupied the land after 1934, renting it for $10 a month. In April of 1951, the State of Washington Parks Commission purchased the land.

The Anderson Farm, circa 1895.

The Anderson Farm, circa 1895.

The other tract of former farmland that makes up Lake Sammamish State Park was known as the Jensen farm. Albert F. Giese originally owned this tract, which was bisected by the

Han Jensen (1888-1957) left his property to the State of Washington. Today it is part of the Lake Sammamish Park in Issaquah.

Han Jensen (1888-1957) left his property to the State of Washington. Today it is part of the Lake Sammamish Park in Issaquah.

Monohon or Redmond Road (today’s East Lake Sammamish Parkway). Giese built a house on the property in 1898. In 1905, he also constructed a barn complete with indoor plumbing for the cows. County assessors noted that the barn had 18 metal stanchions, and nine water outlets, indicating that Giese’s cows stood head to head with a shared water faucet for each pair.

Jensen acquired the property in 1942, complete with house and well-plumbed barn. According to his friend Bill Bergsma,Sr., Jensen always had a herd of 60 excellent Holstein cows.

Even though the land would not become a formal recreational area until 1953, it had always been popular with residents looking for a place to swim or fish. Photographs from 1913 show most of the residents of High Point standing on the banks of the lake at the High Point Sunday school picnic. Both Tibbetts and Issaquah Creek flow through the park and into the lake. Fishing at the mouth of either creek could net a fisherman trout, salmon, bass or perch. Hans Jensen continued the practice of opening his beachfront property to local residents. Before his death, Jensen also specified in his will that the land be donated to the state for the use of the area’s young people. His land became the property of the Washington State Parks Commission in May of 1958. Giese’s original house still stands; just behind it lies the Hans Jensen youth camp.

This year [2003] Lake Sammamish State Park celebrates its 50th birthday. The property once owned by the Jensen and Anderson families has a long tradition of providing recreation to the residents of Issaquah. The park not only continues this tradition, but also shares the area with visitors from all over the state.

 

Who Was Sena Wold?

IHM 2007-22-61

IHM 2007-22-61

One of Issaquah’s newest recreation areas has been named Sena Park. Sena Park is located just off Gilman Boulevard, near the new Atlas Apartments. When completed, the small park will provide access to Issaquah Creek. The park was named after Sena Wold, who lived in Issaquah for the majority of her 77 years.

Sena Wold was the youngest surviving child of Lars Wold and Henrietta Walters, both immigrants from Scandinavia who made their way to what was then called the Squak Valley. Lars Wold, along with his brothers Ingebright and Peter, came to Issaquah in 1867 and established the first hops farm in the valley. Lars Wold owned 160 acres north and west of today’s Front and Sunset Way intersection. The Wolds’ 1908 home now stands in Gilman Village, the only building that didn’t need to be moved. Today it is home to the Farmhouse School.

Among the Issaquah History Museums collections is a photo album created by Sena Wold . It reveals that Sena was interested in animals from a very young age. Along with photos of dogs, cats, and domesticated birds, there are many pictures of Sena with one of her beloved horses.

The Wold children, boys and girls alike, were educated. Both Sena and her elder sister Mary completed their high school education, and went on to college. The Wold children all spent time in Seattle and were comfortable in both the city and on the farm. The photo albums they left behind show many group outings with friends to hike or picnic, and sorts of high-spirited fun.

IHM 2010-10-5

Sena Wold (IHM 2010-10-5)

One of Sena and Mary’s projects was the Odd Old Maids Club. Originally started by Mary Wold and her friend Bessie Marsh, the mission of the Odd Old Maids Club was a mystery to most Issaquahns. The Issaquah Independent (today the Press) printed several anecdotes about the club, but seemed convinced that the purpose of the club was to catch husbands. For one meeting, the girls reportedly got up early, dressed in trousers, and went fishing. Another Odd Old Maids get-together featured adopting the names and costumes of fairy tale characters and having tea. Far from catching husbands, I suspect that the club was for the opposite purpose: enjoying the fun of being an old maid, unencumbered by expectations of marriage. The photograph of several young women on the front porch of the Wold House, grinning and in pants, seems to support my theory.

Like her older sister Mary, Sena attended Central Washington University in Ellensburg. While her sister became a teacher and worked in a variety of places, Sena stayed close to home. She worked for the Standard Oil Company in Issaquah for a time, but had established her own business by 1930: the Wold Poultry Farm. Sena was quite serious about this enterprise, and her hens won at least one trophy for their admirable egg-laying. (This trophy is now on display at the Gilman Town Hall, should you wish to admire it). In 1930, Sena traveled to London, England to attend the World Poultry Congress. This is remarkable, considering it was an era when travel between Issaquah and Seattle by train was worth a mention in the Issaquah Press. In her later years, Sena took up the training of German Shepherds, which raised the eyebrows of a few of her other female relatives.

Sena Wold never married or had children, and she lived out most of her life here in Issaquah. Imagine the changes she must have seen between her birth in 1891 and when she passed away, on June 3, 1968. She probably would have been surprised to see such tall buildings crowding around what was once her family’s farm. I hope she would be pleased to have a small part of that property set aside for recreation, and named in her honor.

 

 

 

Lake Sammamish State Park

Lake Sammamish State Park

20606 SE 56th Street

Lake Sammamish State Park

Lake Sammamish State Park, circa 2001 (IHM 2002-27-1).

Lake Sammamish State Park is a 512-acre day-use park with 6,858 feet of waterfront on Lake Sammamish. The area around the lake was an important culture zone for local Indian tribes for centuries. The park provides deciduous forest and wetland vegetation for the enjoyment of visitors. A salmon-bearing creek and a great-blue-heron rookery are additional features.

Before Lake Sammamish State Park existed, land on the banks of Lake Sammamish belonged to local farming families. The Anderson farm and the Jensen farm, along with land belonging to the Washington Iron Works, became the park in 1953.

The Anderson farm belonged to John Anderson, a Norwegian immigrant, and his wife Addie. Addie Anderson was first married to a man named John Smart, and her children from this marriage also lived on the farm. There were three girls named Florence, Nellie, and Carrie, and a boy named Lawrence.

The Anderson Farm, circa 1920s

The Anderson Farm, circa 1920s. In the center is the small house used by the farm foreman. At the far right is the big house where the family lived. (IHM 2003-23-1)

The Andersons built what became known as “the big house” on the property in 1890. The big house had two stories and a total of ten rooms. Another house consisting of six rooms was built there sometime before 1895; the farm foreman and his family lived there. Other outbuildings included a horse barn, a small milk house, two garages, a fruit shed, and a log cabin with a plank floor.  In 1916, Lawrence and his wife, Lulu, returned to the farm with their children Nelliemae and Raymond, and lived there for several years.

In 1934, Addie’s three daughters inherited the farm, while her son Lawrence Smart inherited land in Fall City. A tenant farmer named Ole Englebritsen occupied the land after 1934, renting it for $10 a month. In April of 1951, the State of Washington Parks Commission purchased the land.

The other track of former farmland that makes up Lake Sammamish State Park was known as the Jensen farm. Albert F. Giese originally owned this tract, which was bisected by the Monohon or Redmond Road (today’s East Lake Sammamish Parkway). Giese built a house on the property in 1898. In 1905, he also constructed a barn complete with indoor plumbing for the cows. County assessors noted that the barn had 18 metal stanchions, and nine water outlets, indicating that Giese’s cows stood head to head with a shared water faucet for each pair.

Jensen acquired the property in 1942, complete with house and well-plumbed barn. According to his friend Bill Bergsma, Sr., Jensen always had a herd of 60 excellent Holstein cows.

Anderson Farm, circa 1885

HS photo 2001.23.3
Anderson farm, 1895. Pictured from left are John Anderson, Addie Smart Anderson, Florence Smart and Lawrence Smart. (IHM 2001-33-2)

Even though the land would not become a formal recreational area until 1953, it had always been popular with residents looking for a place to swim or fish. Photographs from 1913 show most of the residents off High Point standing on the banks of the lake at the High Point Sunday school picnic. Both Tibbits and Issaquah Creek flow through the park and into the lake. Fishing at the mouth of either creek could net a fisherman trout, salmon, bass or perch. Hans Jensen continued the practice of opening his beachfront property to local residents. Before his death, Jensen also specified in his will that the land be donated to the state for the use of the area’s young people. His land became the property of the Washington State Parks Commission in May of 1958.Giese’s original house still stands; just behind it lies the Hans Jensen youth camp.

The property once owned by the Jensen and Anderson families has a long tradition of providing recreation to the residents of Issaquah. The park not only continues this tradition, but also shares the area with visitors from all over the state.


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Nike Missile Sign

“Radar Park” at Anti-Aircraft Peak

Cougar Mountain Regional Park

Nike Missile Sign

Nike Missile sign. Photo courtesy of David Bangs, 2001.

Now an open field, “Radar Park” was once a military installation used to protect our area from air attack.  All that is left of the installation now is sidewalks (which seem to serve no purpose), cement pads, landscaping features and an interpretive sign.

The site is part of the Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, at the very top of Cougar Mountain.  Amenities include restrooms, picnic tables, a playfield, wildlife interpretive signs, and access to a great trail system.
To reach Anti-Aircraft Peak: From I-90, take exit 13 and drive up Lakemont Boulevard. Turn left onto Cougar Mountain Way, then right onto Cougar Mountain Drive, which will become the park’s gravel driveway at the very top of the mountain.

Radar Park History

Here is the story as told on the park’s interpretive sign, shown above:

You are standing on the sidewalk of a former military base put here to defend Puget Sound from air attack. In 1953, this site was occupied by anti-aircraft guns. Then, from 1957 to 1967, it served as the “radar” portion of a Nike Missile Defense System. (Hence the names, “radar park”, and “anti-aircraft peak”). When more advanced missiles and jets made the Nike System obsolete, King County acquired the grounds for a park. This 17 acre site was the first “cornerstone” of what is now a 3,000+ acre regional park.

The large meadow in front of you was originally created for a ring of 90mm “Skymaster” anti-aircraft guns, and rubber-skinned “Butler Buildings” for the troops. Puget Sound was a center of commerce and population, and also home to important shipyards and aircraft industries, making it a strategic target. With the development of long range bombers there was a real need to protect this area, and the guns were the best thing available. The two photographs at left were provided by Peter Watrey, who was sent here as a raw recruit. (Perhaps as a security measure, most of the enlisted men came from east coast cities like New York, and had never seen the northwest before. Peter says that apart from the secrecy and the boring guard duty, it was “like being stationed in heaven”).

The “Cold War”, which followed Word War II, was dominated by fears of a surprise attack by high speed bombers, and this led the army to seek a new king of air defense system. The problem was that planes were becoming so maneuverable, and flying so high and fast, that the ground based guns could not keep up. The solution called for a supersonic missile which could be controlled from take-off to target by radar. In 1945, the Bell Telephone Laboratories were recruited for the design/development job because of their extensive prior work with radar and computers. Douglas Aircraft, Western Electric and hundreds of subcontractors labored for the next eight years to produce the missiles and construct the total system.

Each Nike installation consisted of two separate areas: A radar control site, (where you are now standing – “radar park”): and a launch site where the missiles were actually kept. (Cougar Mountain’s launch site is nearly a mile downhill to the southeast on 166th Way S.E. It is known as the “Nike Missile Site” on the park maps, and will eventually have its own parking lots and interpretive signs).

The Nike system required three separate radars all interlinked by a central computer. First was the Acquisition Radar which located enemy aircraft at long distance. Next was the Target Tracking Radar which locked-on to the attacker, despite any evasive maneuvers. Last was the Missile Tracking Radar, used to alter the course of the missile in flight and direct it to the attacker. (Our present day personal computers are said to have evolved directly from the interlink and control computers first made for missile systems like this). The adjacent map will help you locate the radar pads and other “Nike” remnants.

The large hill to your left is actually a man-made structure atop which an antenna tower was mounted. (Look for mysterious cement pads and a picnic table there today). Other concrete pads to the west of the antenna-mound are where Quonset Huts were located for living and working quarters. (It took 125 men to staff the radar and launch sites on a day and night year-round schedule). “Safe” housing for military families was located down the mountain to the north near 164th Ave. S.E. and S.E. 46th Street. The new radio tower near the cement radar pads at the top of the park is still run by the Army Corps of Engineers, but it is shared with the State Department of Transportation and services primarily peaceful purposes now.

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