Looking Back: Edmonds Mayor Louis Arp and the roots of Lynnwood

Lous Arp
Edmonds Mayor Louis Arp (circa 1914).

With all the new construction happening in the City of Lynnwood these days, I thought it would be fun to go back to Lynnwood’s roots; right where it began at a place once known as Grand View—a little known part of the Lynnwood story. With that, let’s take a look at the first recorded history of settlement on the land at the intersection of Highway 99 and 196th Street. We know it today as the crossroads in Lynnwood. This is where the city had its beginning.

It is sometimes difficult to separate the communities that were melded together to form the city we know today. Cedar Valley was one such community. Another was Seattle Heights, a community which had the first post office—that was in 1910. Even a portion of Meadowdale became part of Lynnwood. Of great importance, a major section of Lynnwood came from its annexing of Alderwood Manor, the planned 1917 development by Puget Mill Company of Port Gamble, Wash. Alderwood Manor was a community with its own rich and unusual history of settlement, including stump farms, chicken farms and the 1910 opening of the Seattle-Everett Interurban.

All the communities and their history became part of the story of Lynnwood, with each community having its own personal and unique background. However, to actually place the roots of Lynnwood, it seems we need to look to the crossroads—the intersection of SR 99 and SR 524 (196th Street). This is where in the late 1950s the businessmen of the community of Lynnwood decided it was time to incorporate. To the west, Edmonds along Puget Sound was involved in its own annexing and moving eastward. Perhaps that was an incentive to make Lynnwood an incorporated city before it was swallowed up and lost its own identity. The crossroads had been called Lynnwood since the arrival of real estate developer Karl O’Beirn in 1937. However, when we search for the original roots, we need to dig much deeper—way back to the 19th century—over 128 years ago.

You probably realize by now, this is not to be the story of the 1959 incorporation of the City of Lynnwood. Instead we are going back decades to the earliest recorded history of settlement. It begins with Louis Peter Arp, an industrious young man from Denmark. This is his story—the story of his involvement in the earliest development of the Lynnwood we know today.

Puget Mill Company was the early owner of much of the land of today’s Lynnwood, but the company seemed to take no interest in the adjacent forest to the west. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) records show the homesteads in that location carried the individual names of Luke M. Greenstreet, Austin L. Jacklin, William Loughbridge, Peter S. Schreiber, James Larsen, Thomas J. Howell, Christian Christensen and, of course, Louis P. Arp. Most of these men were not planning on settling on their homesteads—the main interest was the trees and the money to be made from the sale of the timber.

Lynnwood's James Village today.
Lynnwood’s James Village today.

Louis Arp was one man who did have plans for settling and establishing a home. Today, if you shop at James Village with its many businesses, including Albertson’s, Trader Joe’s and Hobby Lobby; or if you attend services at Trinity Lutheran Church, live in an apartment at the Lynnwood Rotary Center, or wash your clothes at the Maytag Laundry, you are on the land that was the southern part of Louis Arp’s 160-acre homestead.

If anyone were to be considered the father of Lynnwood, Arp’s record makes him a worthy candidate. He not only established his home at the center of what would become Lynnwood, he built the road to connect the land to the outside world. Imagine, he needed a road, so he simply built one. At one time, his road was even known as Arp Way. Later a portion of it became part of the North Trunk road system from the King-Snohomish County line. However, today, as you wander west from the crossroads at Highway 99 to Edmonds, you will probably call the road by its official name, State Route 524, or 196th Street, or even the Maplewood Hill road. Do remember, it follows the route of the former rough puncheon road built so many decades ago by young Louis Arp.

People of our day may wonder why he didn’t use Highway 99 (Pacific Highway). In Arp’s time there was no highway—that came in 1927. The crossroads were far into the future. There were some trails throughout the inland area of South Snohomish County, but that is all they were—certainly not suitable for wagon travel and hauling supplies.

Louis Arp was born in Denmark on Sept. 2, 1865. He was the fourth in a family of 13 children. At the age of 13, all alone, he crossed the ocean to make his home in Omaha, Nebraska, with an uncle; his mother’s brother—a Mr. Christiansen. His father and mother remained in Denmark, and later died there. Louis never saw his parents again. In Omaha, he completed his schooling, and still in his teens, he was employed by the Burlington railroad system. He became a bridge-builder foreman for the railroad—an important position he held for five years before he headed west at the age of 23.

Leaving the Midwest in 1888, he made his way to Seattle, where he filed papers for a 160-acre homestead in south Snohomish County. At the same time, he filed his first papers to become a citizen of his new country. When this was accomplished, he traveled north to Edmonds.

Louis Arp's homestead on Maplewood Hill.
Louis Arp’s homestead on Maplewood Hill.

Arp said that when he arrived in Edmonds in March of 1888, he found two houses and one store in the neighborhood. His homestead was three miles northeast—up the steep hill we know today as Maplewood Hill. In 1888, this was wilderness land—few had gone before him. Arp’s stay in Edmonds was short and in May that year he headed for his homestead. With no road to get supplies to his land, he had blazed a trail for the eventual building of a road. Today the boundary of his homestead land appears on maps as SR 524 (196th Street), 68th Avenue West (aka Forest Road), 60th Avenue West (aka Dale Road) and 188th Street Southwest.

Alone, Louis Arp struggled to improve his land. In addition, he worked during the summer months as a bridge builder for the railroads along Puget Sound and at Grays Harbor. It took four years of hard work by Arp to develop his homestead—his land patent was issued on Jan. 11, 1892—Accession No. WASAA072231.

At Seattle District Court in November of 1897, Louis Arp received his final citizenship papers. During the month of April that same year, Arp had married Maude Depue, a pretty young lady from an early-day Edmonds family. Together, they moved into the house that he had built. On the farm, two children were born to them, both daughters—Alpha, born 1898, and Neva Georgiana, born 1900. However, Maude Arp’s health was fragile, and in 1900 they gave up farming and moved to Edmonds and a new home between Sixth and Seventh on Walnut Street.

Maude Arp and daughters.
Maude Arp with daughters Alpha and Neva.

By the time the family moved, the homestead had a large orchard with at least 125 fruit trees—apple and cherry. Even though this section of the homestead was rented to others, as the fruit trees matured, Arp kept a close eye on his property. The trees matured and produced rich crops of fruit.

By this time, much of the land near the Arp homestead had been logged and cleared, and as little farms began to dot the land, fruit trees replaced the forests. A 1909 article in the Edmonds Tribune referred to the area three miles to the east of Edmonds as Grand View. The article explained the reason for the name: “From this place there is a view of the Olympics and the Cascades, also a glimpse of the Sound. Here we are on the divide, having a full wind sweep and all the sunlight that comes. Our soil is mixed with shot clay and iron pyrites, which gives our apples and cherries the color and flavor which makes them so acceptable to sight and palate.”

Meanwhile, Louis Arp had become a force in Edmonds. Western Shingle Company hired him as an engineer. He served on the board of directors for School District 15, was a member of the Edmonds City Council, mayor of Edmonds 1914-1916, and a director of the Bank of Edmonds and the Edmonds Independent Telephone Company. However, Louis Arp’s main contribution to the citizens of South Snohomish County was his road and bridge building experience. For many years he served as a county commissioner of roads. He went on to become known as the father of the road system of south Snohomish County.

In 1908, an ad in the Edmonds Tribune announced that 20 acres of Louis Arp’s homestead property were for sale. Pictured here, the ad shows the section where his house was located. The ad also announced that a telephone connection was available if desired. This was unusual for these early times. However, remember, Arp was a director of the telephone company—a position which no doubt held some power.

In 1934, Louis Arp still served as a Commissioner for District 2, Snohomish County, but soon retired. He died at the age of 74 on Nov. 10, 1939 at Seattle’s Maynard Hospital, where he was being treated after suffering a stroke a few days earlier.

The photos of the Arp family are courtesy of the Edmonds-Snohomish County Historical Society and Museum.

-By Betty Gaeng

Betty Gaeng is a long-time resident of Lynnwood and Edmonds, coming to the area in 1933. She researches and writes about the history and the people of both early-day Lynnwood and Edmonds.

 

  1. What an interesting story on the history of Edmonds and Lynnwood! Betty, you did a great job on this. It definitely explains why and how some of our roads were first established in this area! It was through visionary and energetic people like Arp that our city and the country were built. Thank You for sharing his story!

  2. Wonderful, informative read! Thank you Betty. I particularly enjoyed the photo and info about Arp’s home on Maplewood Hill. I’ve lived there for 20+ years and never knew about this history.

  3. Another excellent historical article, Betty. I’m still collecting any historical info on “our” parts of Snohomish County. But I have had health issues, so unable to come visit either Alderwood Manor/ Lynnwood or Edmonds regions, but I’m still on the lookout for more info. Thanks for sharing your abundant and impressive knowledge of these areas!

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