With its dramatic mountain setting, Skykomish has been shaped by both the rugged natural surroundings and the evolution of the railroad from steam to electric to diesel. Set in the upper Skykomish River valley and occasionally occupied by the nomadic Skykomish “inland people”, the valley was only permanently occupied in the early 1890’s. In its heyday Skykomish had 1700 workers and several thousand residents in town to build Great Northern Railroad’s eight-mile tunnel through Stevens Pass. The Cascade Highway was built and auto related businesses sprang up but in 1939 the city began to diminish as the highway was realigned and after WWII the rail yard began to slow.
Incorporated in 1909, Skykomish is today the gateway to the Steven’s Pass corridor to Eastern Washington and the surrounding mountain recreation area. About 20 trains a day still pass through “Sky” with their shipments of products and people. The city now looks toward the tourist and recreation industries for economic development by taking advantage of its unique alpine location along the wild and scenic Skykomish River.
Activities are many in and around Skykomish; skiing, hiking, rafting, fishing, and camping are all available. One of the most exciting is the White Water of the Skykomish River. It is considered the most challenging commercially run river in Washington State. Its highlight and the draw for adrenaline-seekers is Boulder Drop with its class 4+ rapids and house- sized boulders. The Skykomish is the only river in the State of Washington that requires helmets by law. For the fainter of heart there is less stressful action such as hiking to the Ranger Station or up Iron Goat Trail. If that’s still too physical there is the City Dart Tournament, 4th of July celebration, Old Timers Picnic, or the infamous Show’N’Shine Car Show. Go east and the Bavarian town of Leavenworth waits to entertain just across the pass. To the west are all the amenities of Seattle.
The Skykomish School District is very small. It has 83 kids in grades K-12 all on one campus. It has very comprehensive high school offerings for such a small school including band, wood and auto shops, art, computers, psychology and even AP English.
Skykomish is the smallest incorporated city in the Northwest Metroplex with 210 people and has only 172 housing units.