My Edmonds News is proud to present a monthly look at Edmonds history, straight from the archives of the Edmonds Historical Museum. For the month of October, we’ll revisit 1934.
Edmonds, like many towns along the shores of the Puget Sound, has weathered its fair share of storms over the years. It is said that one fateful storm even forced pioneer George Brackett onto shore in 1870 when he was canoeing and scoping timber in the area. Since then, many storms have left their mark on the land that Brackett explored.
The storms of the 1930s and 1940s have been well documented in Edmonds’ newspapers. Rains caused flooding, and heavy winds often sent loose logs into docks or — in one instance — even blew down the smokestack at the Quality Mill. The storms caused even greater concern when rail and ferry services were interrupted.
Sunday, Oct. 24, 1934 was considered one of the worst storms in Edmonds’ history. The storm caused extensive damage along the waterfront and throughout town; surrounding communities sustained 80-mile-per-hour winds, which downed trees and damaged numerous buildings and vehicles. Power and telephone lines were damaged, and ferry routes were suspended until the wind subsided.
Prior to this, several other memorable storms plagued Edmonds’ past. In 1913, high winds drove scows into the Edmonds city dock and took out 160 feet of pilings, causing nearly $2,000 in damage. This was a continuing problem over the years as the docks proved no match for impending storms.
As infrastructure improved, each storm had the ability to cause more damage than the last. By the 1930s, people were more reliant on telephone services and electricity, and the loss of these services due to weather was often detrimental.
In April 1943, a downpour of rain and hail flooded gutters and transformed streets into rivers. The intersection of Fifth and Main became a lake, and a two-foot-wide rut opened down the middle of Dayton Street. The street superintendent at the time announced that it would take a month to repair the damage that the rain caused in just a few minutes. His words rang true, and this pattern repeated itself many times in the course of history.