Looking Back: Memories of early Welcome to Edmonds signs

Then-Edmonds Chamber of Commerce President Doug Egan with a welcome sign in 1970. (Image from the Edmonds Tribune-Review)

As a child in the 1930s, I remember that several communities in Snohomish County had their own signs to welcome visitors. However, during that time, the signs were mainly in the form of wooden arches stretching across the main roadways leading to the towns.

I especially remember the “Gateway to Edmonds” arches over three roads leading the way to Edmonds. One was just off Highway 99 (Pacific Highway) at what we referred to as the Snake Road (Olympic View Drive).  The second gateway arch was just north of the King/Snohomish County line, leading to the old North Trunk Road (84th Avenue West) and Five Corners.

The third gateway was on the west side of Highway 99 at what is today’s Lynnwood Crossroads — 196th Street Southwest, as the road passed by what is today’s James Village, and west to Edmonds by way of Maplewood Hill.

Years later, the March 25, 1970 issue of the Edmonds Tribune-Review reported that some new welcome signage had appeared on four entrances to Edmonds. The four signs, donated by the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce and erected by city crews, announced “Welcome to Edmonds, A Better Place to Shop and Live!”

The accompanying black-and-white photo pictured one of the signs, along with a photo of well-known Edmonds resident Doug Egan, the president of the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce that year. According to the article, arrangements for the signs’ installation were made by Edmonds realtor Harry Frederickson, the civic and environment chairman for the chamber. Designed and constructed by the Tom Berry Neon Co., the signs were 3 feet by 4 feet in size, with colorful lettering in yellow, white and blue.

The 1960s and 1970s seemed to be the years that led the way for discovery of Edmonds as a great place to live. People from as far away as California were noticing the still-moderate prices of homes and property in the Edmonds area. For a short while, the phrase “Californians, go home” became popular with some old-time residents.

As for me, I cannot help but wonder what George Brackett would think of Edmonds, if he could see it now.

— By Betty Lou Gaeng

Betty Gaeng is a former long-time resident of Lynnwood and Edmonds, coming to the area in 1933. Although now living in Anchorage, she occasionally writes about the history and the people of early-day Lynnwood, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace. She is also an honorary member of the Edmonds Cemetery Board.


  1. Thank you so much. Betty, for another of your colorful look-backs at our Edmonds history. Having only moved here from Seattle since 2009, I’ve really appreciated and enjoyed your informative articles about the town I’ve come to love. Because I frequently go by the present location of our Welcome to Edmonds sign on my way home, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new one and impressed with all the work the city has been doing to make the entire area around the new sign aesthetically pleasing to the eye of visitors, as well as we residents.

  2. Betty is a rockstar with a great flair for writing. Thank you for bringing back all the memories growing up here.

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