From the Edmonds Museum: Magic Toyota used to be drinks, dancing refuge during Prohibition

magic toyota

Magic Toyota on Highway 99 and 220th Street Southwest is the site of the former Ranch Roadhouse.

In an effort to raise awareness of the importance of Edmonds’ Highway 99 corridor, the Edmonds Historical Museum and local resident Jim Underhill recently embarked on a fact-finding mission.

Underhill, a member of the city’s Highway 99 Economic Development Task Force, uncovered some interesting history at the corner of Highway 99 and 220th Street, where Magic Toyota is located today. A Roadhouse, known as the Ranch Roadhouse, conducted its business at this location for decades.

Roadhouses provided travelers with rest, food and drink as they made their way along Pacific Highway (U.S. 99). The Ranch Roadhouse operated in two distinct ways during its time. From the 1920s through the 1940s, the Ranch was a restaurant, bar and dance club. Operating under lax liquor laws outside of Seattle, patrons could enjoy a drink while they dined and danced the night away. During the Prohibition era, the Ranch Roadhouse was a conduit for the movement of illegal spirits, from Canada to local establishments.

Seattle’s “Rum King” Roy Olmstead ran the largest and most profitable bootlegging operation in Puget Sound, and the Ranch was an active participant. Olmstead would purchase liquor from Canada, dispersing it to many operatives before finally unloading a shipment at Meadowdale Beach, north of Edmonds. When he was captured, Olmstead lost his wife, reputation and fortune, but seems to have enjoyed life until his passing.

After WWII, the Ranch closed for a time, but reopened as a reputable family restaurant. It operated as such before finally closing. Many families enjoyed the spirited atmosphere and customers at the Ranch Roadhouse.

Two photographs of the Ranch Roadhouse can be found online via the University of Washington’s digital collection.

The museum presented a plaque with this information to Magic Toyota in April, and staff hopes to share similar histories with other businesses in the future.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Minor clarification is that the location is on 212th where Magic Toyota is located. How I received this information (first thinking it was 220th) is that a person from Snohomish called to share his family story. His uncle was a big fan of the early version of the Ranch Roadhouse because of the ‘dames, unlimited booze and wild activities’ in the early days; he just loved the place. However the rest of the family did not until after WWII, when the Ranch closed, remodeled and became a ‘respectable family eating establishment.’ So they ate their regularly for many years, and the ol’ uncle refused to go. The many family members agreed the location is on the south side of 212th @ the 99.

  2. Wire tapping laws were passed because the the Olmstead case that made it all the way the supreme court.

    Roy Olmstead, rum runner king, had been a police lieutenant officer and lost his job
    because of being arrested by the feds who seized 100 cases of liquor. As a police officer, he was able to study the illegal liquor trade and had built a network of friends, including, other LE, judges, prosecutors, etc. Most were on his payroll when he entered into the business full time………………Speedboats (Boeing engines) were used to pick up the Canadian shipments from Edmonds beaches………some say the powerful engines built for these speedboats helped keep Boeing afloat when business plummeted after the War

    In the Supreme Court case, Justice Louis Brandeis proved influential, and THIS almost more important than the wire tap law, ……”In a government of laws, “Brandeis wrote, “existence of government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the laws scrupulously……If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law”

    ……..breeds contempt for the law…..

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