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Snohomish: Antique Capital Of The Northwest

Henny Youngman once suggested that you could have a lot of fun by walking into an antique store and asking, "What's new?"

If that's the case Henny would be ecstatic in Snohomish in the state of Washington where there are over 100 antique shops clustered in the historic downtown area. And this is in a community of a mere 8,640 souls.

Founded in 1859 at the confluence of the Pilchuk and Snohomish rivers, the latter being an efficient avenue of transportation for the huge cedar and fir logs bound for ocean- going ships, Snohomish has been relatively unsullied by commercial boom. Its fin-de-siecle ambience and charm has thankfully remained intact.

Snohomish boasts such a variety and quantity of Victorian houses with whimsical mixtures of styling that each fall the Snohomish Historical Society organizes its annual "Tour of Homes" during which visitors get the opportunity of seeing what's on the other side of the gingerbread.

Two examples of intriguing stylistic blends are the Blackman House on the corner of Fourth Street and Avenue D, which is a Dutch Colonial with Queen Anne Towers, and the Klein House on Avenue D between First and Second streets, which is a conglomerate of Victorian features including fish scale shingles and rounded windows.

The Blackman House is not to be confused with the Blackman Museum at 118 Avenue B. Built by Hycanus Blackman, Snohomish's first mayor, in 1879 in Queen Anne style, the house that is now the museum had been owned by just one family until purchased in 1970 by the Historical Society.

Also owned and run by the Snohomish Historical Society is the Pioneer Village at the east end of town on the banks of the Pilchuk River. The Kikendall Log Cabin here dates back to 1875. It was moved to the Pioneer Village from its location on the Pilchuk River near Machias 20 years ago and was recently restored to its original condition.

Next door, Cook's General Store takes you back to the days when the country store was more than a place to shop. The checkerboard is set up next to the cracker barrel and the shelves are stocked with everything a settler might have needed around the turn of the century. Inside the village is Snohomish's original pioneer cemetery containing tombstones dating back to 1872.

In the antique shops aficionados will find their specialties well catered to. Some dealers specialize in antique toys and models. Depression era glass is another popular item. Water glasses in striking reds and blues - the kind motorists were given at gas stations during the dirty thirties - are found in most stores. There are dealers who specialize in Fostoria American crystal, military memorabilia, musical instruments or plain old bottles. Old books and magazines dating back to the early 1900s can also be found. I challenge any antique buff to visit Snohomish and not be delighted with at least one "find."

Snohomish, which is listed on both the Washington State and the U.S. National Registries of Historic Places, is located on Highway 9 just east of and running parallel to Interstate 5. It is 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Seattle and 150 kilometers (90 miles) south of the Canadian border.

Bruce Burnett, has won four Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Gold awards for travel journalism. Read more of Bruce Burnett's travel writing on his websites: http://www.globalramble.com/ and http://www.bruceburnett.ca/travel.html

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