Why is it Called Leavenworth?

Leavenworth, Washington’s early name was Icicle Flats. It's the early 1880s and settlers who made their way across America saw the breathtaking Enchantments and surrounding ridges and decided to stay and trade with the local native tribes. At this time the Wenatchi people had A very significant cultural site called the Wenatchapam Fishery. Located in the modern-day Wenatchee National Forest, at the mouth of the Icicle Creek, not far from where it meets with the Wenatchee River.

Icicle Flats gave way to a different name in the 1880s - the decade that the Great Northern Railway came to town. The arrival of the railway helped increase the population of the young town to 700 residents.

The name Leavenworth was given to honor Captain Charles F. Leavenworth - who was affiliated with the railway and was the acting president of a real estate venture known as the Okanogan Investment Company.

With the connection to the outside world through the Great Northern Railway and one of the largest sawmills in our young nation. Leavenworth became a timber boomtown. 

Leavenworth, Circa 1900 CREDIT: Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce
Leavenworth, Washington (Circa 1900) CREDIT: Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce

When Leavenworth, Washington was officially incorporated on September 5, 1906 - jobs and commerce thrived...until the 1920s.

That's when three things events helped end the boom for Leavenworth. 

* 1922 was the year the Great Northern Railway decided to move its regional hub and switching area - 30 miles to the east to Wenatchee.

* Another blow to the town took place in 1929 when the railway routed passengers and freight cars up the Chumstick highway, rather than Tumwater Canyon - to better connect with the new "Cascade Tunnel" underneath Stevens Pass.

* The stock market crash of the same year and the subsequent depression of the 1930s didn’t help.

One bit of saving grace was Highway 2’s route through Tumwater Canyon. The car traffic threw the failing town a needed lifeline. 

Attempts to bring in tourists began as early as 1929 - with the completion of the Leavenworth Ski Jump.


Tourism really got into high gear when the almost-ghost town of Leavenworth decided on a Bavarian theme in the mid-1960s. By the early 70s, most of all Leavenworth merchants made all of downtown look like the quaint little Bavarian Village we all know and love today.

INFO SOURCE: Historylink.org

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