Enjoy your stay in Granite Falls!
Located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains just 7 miles east of Lake Stevens, Granite Falls is the “jumping off” point to some of the most scenic vistas in the United States. As the Gateway to the Mountain Loop Highway and Mt. Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest, thousands of tourists and outdoor enthusiasts pass through Granite Falls each year.
A small, close-knit town of close to 2000 residents, the first stop light and a McDonald’s restaurant were new additions just a few years ago. Granite Falls is striving to retain its rural, small-town character and is graced with beautiful scenery and ample opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Granite Falls HistoryThe first visitors to the Granite Falls area were Native American hunters and trappers, who discovered the easy portage between the Stillaguamish and Pilchuck Rivers.
The first permanent settlers arrived in 1883 and were self-sufficient, given the excellent fishing and hunting, fertile land for farming, and abundant building materials.
The early names of “Big Burn” (based on evidence of ravage by fire in the past) and “Portage” (based on the common use of the area) soon gave way to “Granite Falls” (based on the cascading waters just outside of town).
In 1892, the discovery of gold deposits at Monte Cristo, 30 miles east of Granite Falls, prompted investors Colby and Hoyt to construct a railroad from Everett to Monte Cristo. A construction crew of about 3,500 men reached Granite Falls in October 1892 and Monte Cristo in August 1893.
Today, a pleasant hike on the Robe Valley Trail takes visitors through several of the tunnels, and the newly-opened Lime Kiln Trail provides access right to the edge of the river where a large Howe Truss Bridge once allowed the tracks to span the river and enter Tunnel #1 (the closest tunnel to town).
In 1915 the Rucker brothers of Everett acquired the railway, renaming it the Hartford Eastern Railway Co. They ran gasoline-powered excursion trains on the tracks, and with the rapid growth of tourism, opened the Big Four Inn in 1921.
One of the finest resorts in the state, the Inn boasted 35 guest rooms, cottages, a dining room, dance hall, nine-hole golf course, tennis court, bowling green, and of course a boardwalk and trail to the Big Four Ice Caves.
Today, a beautiful drive on Mountain Loop Hwy., much of it along the original railroad bed, takes the traveler right to Big Four, where only the fireplace remains of the once grand resort.
The improved trail to the Ice Caves is suitable for all ages, and a nearby four-mile hike into Monte Cristo gives you a chance to move the original railroad turntable, the only significant remaining artifact.
Precious metal mining was short-lived, but the railroad had opened the area for commerce. The true “gold” turned out to be the plentiful timber throughout the Robe Valley, but logging trucks are now far outnumbered by gravel trucks, since quarrying is a mainstay of the local economy.
The lean years of the Depression took their toll on the timber and shingle industries, and the town’s population dropped to less than 500. But the continued growth of tourism, an active interest in history and its preservation, and the general growth of the Pacific Northwest once again have the town on a high-growth path. Over 3,000 people reside inside the city limits, and the school student population of 2,500 reflects significant development of the surrounding area.
For an in-depth look at the history of the area, or maps of surrounding trails and Robe Valley, visit the Granite Falls Historical Museum or walk through the proud pioneer town, now celebrating 104 years of incorporation as a Washington city.
Shopping & Dining
The town’s urban center are Granite and Stanley Avenues, featuring retail stores and restaurants. Surrounding this core are homes, schools, churches and community services.
The two-block area around the stoplight in the center of downtown is home to a number of unique shops. All the necessities are available at the town’s two drugstores, Pharm-A-Save and Rite-Aid, and the new IGA Food Market. Granite also has video rental stores, a laundromat and dozens of businesses offering all kinds of services.
Eating out is a pleasure in Granite Falls, where you’ll find several exceptional independent restaurants, including Italian and Greek, Mexican, Asian, and slow-cooked barbeque along with a couple of pubs. Hometown cafes provide regulars and guests with outstanding casual breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.
Government City Hall is the focal point for Granite Falls and many community activities. Those outside city limits are represented by Snohomish County Councilman John Koster and served by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. Fire District 17 provides fire and emergency medical services.
Government: City Hall is the focal point for Granite Falls and many community activities. Those outside city limits are represented by Snohomish County Councilman John Koster and served by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. Fire District 17 provides fire and emergency medical services.
Granite Falls’ beautiful library opened in May 2001. With over 6,500 square feet of space, the library features over 23,000 books, DVDs, CDs and other library materials, a group study room, lounge seating, a multipurpose room and 13 computer terminals. The library is located at 815 E. Galena.
Service Organizations: Granite Falls has many active community organizations, including a busy Chamber of Commerce, American Legion and Eagles Club. Scouting, campfire and 4H provide opportunities for kids to get involved.
Religion: Religion plays a strong role in the lives of many Granite Falls residents. Assembly of God, Missionary Alliance, Foursquare, Gospel, Jehovah’s Witness, Lutheran and a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as well as non-denominational churches are all represented.