Looking back: Summertime at Hall’s Lake

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HALL'S LAKE SAWMILL ABOUT 1908
Hall’s Lake Sawmill about 1908

By Betty Lou Gaeng/For Lynnwood Today

Hall’s Lake is a pretty little lake along 212th Street Southwest in Lynnwood, about a mile east of Highway 99.

Long ago a resort on its eastern shore was one of the special places for people to gather and enjoy the days of summer.

For some of our older folks who grew up in what is now Lynnwood, the name of Eisen’s Resort at Hall’s Lake may invoke some pleasant memories of being young and enjoying summer vacations. It was a pleasant time — a time for just having fun with friends. There was no television. Nor were there cell phones, iPads, smart phones, texting, hanging out at the mall or showing off your wheels.

Eisen’s Resort was one of the places to be on a summer day. Before it closed in the mid-1940s, it was where many young people of the area kept in contact with their school friends. They flirted a little, showed off their water skills, or just basked in the sunshine on the offshore float. Some of those friendships lasted for a lifetime, and some young folks even found their marriage partners while getting acquainted at the lake.

Reminiscent of the former surrounding cedar forest and the logging days when there had been a sawmill operating on the lake’s shore; the once clear waters had become a yellowish-brown color. Swimmers may have noticed an annoying itch on their skin before they could get home and shower, but this didn’t stop the enjoyment of the cool lake waters.

The Shingle-Weavers Union, whose members were the men who had and still worked at the sawmills, chose Hall’s Lake and Eisen’s Resort when it was time to hold their annual picnic. Sometimes the gatherings were a little noisy, in fact even rowdy every now and then, but it was always a time to recall old friendships. Many other groups including the Seattle Elks also found the resort the place to hold their annual picnics. During the summer months it was also a favorite of the politicians. The picnics were a good place for them to meet and greet the voters.

The long-held annual Old Settlers’ Picnic is probably the most remembered of all the events held at Hall’s Lake. This picnic had its beginnings in Cedar Valley at the home of Hiram and Della Burleson in 1899. It began as a celebration of the August birthday of Della, and as the years passed it evolved into the Old Settlers Picnic held each year, always in August. Martha Lake became the location for the picnics for a while, but when Simon and Walburga Eisen opened their resort at Hall’s Lake in 1913, it became the home for the picnic and was attended by the old settlers of Alderwood Manor, Cedar Valley, Seattle Heights, Esperance, Edmonds, Meadowdale and all the surrounding areas. People of all ages enjoyed the festivities. Entire families would join in the variety of contests — such as three-legged races, and the swimming and foot races. There were even prizes for the largest family and the oldest person. In the evening there was dancing for the old and the young in the dance pavilion — with live music. For many of the young people, this is where they first learned to maneuver around a dance floor.

 

OLD SETTLERS PICNIC, circa 1943
Old Settlers Picnic, circa 1943

The photo from an Old Settlers Picnic, circa 1943, shown here, is provided by Alderwood Manor Heritage Association. It shows (left to right) pioneers Jennie Hunter, Charles Breed, and Grace (Burleson) Lidgren, the daughter of Hiram and Della Burleson. In this photo the home of Walburga Eisen can be seen in the background.

Now held at the city park in Edmonds, the Old Settler’s Picnic is still an August event. However, it has never reached its former popularity as a gathering for the entire family.

Money was often scarce, but resorts such as Eisen’s were places where you could enjoy a day of getting together with others, sharing your basket of food, and just forgetting any troubles you might have. In our busy and much different world of today, those simple days of summer have mostly faded away. Society has lost a great tradition.

The resort owners, Simon and Walburga (Hagel) Eisen were married in Minnesota in 1882, and by the end of 1901 they had eight children: Lawrence, Albert, Frank, Amelia, George, Matthew, Helen and the youngest, Carl  In 1905 the family moved to Washington State and settled in Seattle.

The Eisen family gained experience in the running of amusement enterprises when Simon became the manager of Leschi Park on the west side of Lake Washington. This park was a popular recreation spot for the people of Seattle and the communities across the lake. Leschi Park was owned by the Seattle Electric Company, and a cable car conveniently owned by the company ran from Pioneer Square to the park  There was even a collection of animals located at Leschi Park.  However, in 1903, before the arrival of the Eisen family, the menagerie was donated to Woodland Park and became the nucleus of the newly established animal zoo on Guy Phinney’s land. This was the birth of the Woodland Park Zoo.

Simon and Walburga remained in Seattle until moving to the land they had purchased on the eastern shore of Hall’s Lake. In those days, there was no highway and few decent roads; however, with the convenience of the Seattle-Everett Interurban trolley stop within easy walking distance, the resort soon became a popular and convenient place to gather.

Interurban heading north
Interurban heading north

The accompanying photo was published in Images of Rail, Seattle-Everett Interurban Railway by Cheri Ryan and Kevin Stadler, and shows Interurban Car 51 leaving the city-limits of Seattle heading for Everett. Perhaps it was carrying passengers on their way to enjoy a day of relaxation at Hall’s Lake  Until its closure in 1939, the interurban was an early-day example of the light rail transit system Lynnwood plans for our present time.

Walburga Eisen became a widow in 1919 with the death of Simon. With the help of her sons, she took over the management of the resort.  She also took the lead in many community projects for the area, often lending her facilities at the resort for fund-raising events. One of her major accomplishments was encouraging her youngest son Carl in the beginnings of a volunteer fire department. Led by Carl Eisen, the men who volunteered formed a fire department which resulted in the birth of Snohomish County Fire Protection District 1. There will be more about Carl Eisen and the start of a fire department in next month’s column.

Getting on in years, Walburga Eisen sold her resort to the Church of the Nazarene in August of 1944. That month the church held their first camp meeting as new owners. The loss of the much-loved public entertainment spot was deeply felt by the residents of the area; especially the young people. Summers would never be the same.

After a short illness, Walburga Eisen died in a Seattle Hospital on Sunday, February 10, 1957 at the age of 96.  Of her eight children, all survived her except son Matt, who died in 1949.

An 80-year resident of Lynnwood, Betty Lou Gaeng is a genealogist, historian, researcher and writer who is active in volunteer work for Lynnwood’s Heritage Park Partners Advisory Committee and the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association at Heritage Park. She is also a member of the League of Snohomish County Heritage Organizations (LOSCHO) and the South County Historical Society and Museum.  Gaeng is the author of two books: “Etched in Stone,” which is the history of the Edmonds Museum memorial monument, and “Chirouse” about a Catholic missionary priest who came from France to Washington Territory in 1847 and became a father figure and friend to the Puget Sound area’s Native people.

 

Hall's Lake today
Hall’s Lake today

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