Monroe, Washington

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Monroe is a city in Snohomish County, Washington, United States. The population was 13,795 at the 2000 census.



Although settlers had entered the region and established homesteads close to the banks of the Skykomish River as early as the 1860s, the city of Monroe, Washington was founded in the 1880s coinciding with arrival of the Great Northern Railway which pushed over the Cascade Range at Stevens Pass and worked its way down the Skykomish River Valley.[3]

Prior to that time the main settlement in the area had been located about one mile west of where the downtown eventually grew up and was known as Park Place. However, the city’s merchants relocated when the railroad survey was completed to have better access to the new transportation corridor. The new development was originally known as Tye City, but became Monroe when Park Place’s main store, the one containing the U.S. Post Office, relocated and took up the name "Monroe at Park Place” in honor of James Monroe the nation's fifth president. Because the U.S. Postal Department would not allow any new post offices to use double names, the post office, and eventually the town, became known simply as “Monroe.”[4]

By 1893 the city had become an important stop on the rail line and was best known for the GN Greenhouses, which grew flowers for the passengers to purchase. That same year, Snohomish County built the County Poor Farm where today’s Evergreen State Fairgrounds are located; the city's first hospital was built where Valley General Hospital stands today. 1894 saw the construction of the first high bridge over the Skykomish River and 1896 the construction of the first church. In 1899 the grammar school was relocated from its old site in Park Place to a new site in Monroe and the town’s newspaper, The Monroe Monitor, began publication on January 14 of the same year. On September 16, 1901 a fire destroyed the only complete block of business in the city.

The economic area of the city saw a series of development as well. While the city was still in its infancy, many sawmills were constructed to take advantage of the area’s old growth cedar and cedar shakes became the main product. However, as the timber played out and the logging industry slowly moved away, agriculture became the area’s new industry and berry farms began to flourish. Because of the lush valley grasses, dairy farms too moved into the area and soon several creameries began production. Evidence of this industry can still be seen today as the giant smokestack of the Carnation Condensery, a factory which was destroyed by fire in the 1940s, still stands in the middle of what is today a grocery store parking lot at the intersection of Main Street and US Route 2. It is a lone reminder of this forgotten industrial era and, despite its age, it remains much taller than any other structure in the city.

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