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.