Just 25 miles away from Seattle is a beautiful waterfall, known as the Snoqualmie Falls. The falls are one of Washington’s most visited tourist attractions with over 1.5 million visitors and have rich cultural meaning for its people. But what makes the falls so special and so different from the other similar popular scenic attractions in the vicinity? What is the rich history behind Snoqualmie Falls? That is what we try and address in this post.
Snoqualmie Falls: 6 Charming Things to Know
Snoqualmie Falls, in Washington, is a 268-foot (82 meters) long falls. The falls are people’s favorite tourist destination in the area. It is visited by much more than any other natural attraction of Washington.
If you are having trouble pronouncing the falls’ name, don’t be disheartened, it is a Native American name.
It is Pronounced as “snow-k-wall-mee” Falls. It is a Salish word that means the ‘Moon.’
The Site has been a part of the National Register Of Historic Places since 2009, even though it was nominated first in 1992. The Snoqualmie Falls has been Listed under the Tradition Cultural Property.
Click here to read about more Natural Sites to visit in Washington!
1. The Rich History
As mentioned earlier, Snoqualmie falls have a rich history and meaning for the people that live in the area.
It is speculated that after the Ice age melted, the River or the Snoqualmie river was formed, and around the river and falls, a rich fertile plain was created as the glaciers melted. The only people living there in the area were the Salish people, a tribe of Native Americans.
That is where the name “Snoqualmie” is derived from. It is the English version of the Salish word “Sno-KOH-koh,” which in English means Moon.
The Salish people take great pride in the falls, and the falls have a powerful cultural and spiritual meaning to them.
The Salish native American tribe peoples themselves to be the people of the moon, and they believe that this is the place where the Moon Maker of all humanity came down to earth to create the first Man and Woman.
Meaning for them, it is the place of origin of Humanity. They also believe that the mist at the bottom of the fall is what connects Heaven to Earth, and it is because of this, they have a burial site near the falls so that the mist can carry their loved ones to heaven.
The Snoqualmie falls mean a lot to the Snoqualmie tribe, which is why they fought for the fall and are now the land owners, which we will discuss more on later.
2. The First White Civilization
The Snoqualmie falls had been home to the native tribe for a long time, but the first white settlers came long after that.
The first settlers came to the valley in the 1850s, but they did not settle down permanently. It was Jeremiah Brost, who was the first white person to settle down in the valley.
But even before that, the Snoqualmie falls was a tourist attraction for the white settlers coming into the states and just going to different places. They would always stop at the falls to view the majestic sight before their eyes.
3. The Power Plants
The Snoqualmie falls is not just a site for show and tourism; it is actually beneficial to the people living in the valley. The Falls in 1889 was spotted by Charles Baker, a civil engineer who constructed an underground Hydroelectric plant at the base of the falls.
A marvel about the said hydro-electric plant is that it is the world’s first completely Underwater plant. After this, another hydro-electric power plant was built in 1910 and was expanded later on. It is located a little away from the downstream of the falls.
The plant is owned by Puget Sound Energy currently. 1% of sales of Puget Sound Energy are derived from these Power plants.
So, not only does it have a spiritual meaning for the tribes there, and a tourist attraction for more than 1.5 million people a year. The Snoqualmie falls also provide clean electrical energy, which can be recycled and does not cause any kind of damage the environment.
4. The Reason for Such High Tourism
1.5 million people visit Snoqualmie falls each year. That is a bit high for just a fall attraction, so why do the falls have such a high rate of tourists each year?
Well, the answer is quite simple and quite mystical.
Have you ever watched the cult famous Television series “Twin Peaks”? If you have, you will be familiar with the falls featured in the show’s opening credit scene of the show? The falls are the Snoqualmie falls.
While the Snoqualmie falls were a great attraction for travelers and tourists, it was them featuring in the Twin Peaks opening credits that made them into a tourists sensation, ever wanted to see the falls shown in Twin Peaks.
5. What to do When in Town?
Well, certainly you can not just stay all day, and Ogle at the Snoqualmie falls, not that it was a bad idea because let’s face it, the fall is gorgeous!
Not but still, what else can you do? Well, there are several things to do like hike Snoqualmie falls.
Firstly, when it comes to hiking Snoqualmie, there is a short trail that leads to the falls, upper and lower base. There are two hiking trails that you could take, not more than 0.7 miles long Snoqualmie falls hike up. There is a railing for everyone’s safety, so as not to worry about falling off the edge.
Snoqualmie falls into a free parking lot, a snacking shop, observation deck and a gift shop that has personalized souvenirs that you could buy for your loved ones.
Other than that, you also have the infamous Salish Lodge. The lodge has a few rooms and a dining room, which overlooks the falls.
So say you want to spend a night at the falls and enjoy a retreat of sorts, then Salish Lodge and Spa is the place for you. The lodge has a fancy dining room with a scenic view of Snoqualmie Falls. It has rooms where you can spend a day or two away from the city’s hectic life. It had a Spa center to relax even more.
However, one of the best perks of the lodge is that it also hosts meetings and Weddings. Imagine a Wedding at this scenic, majestic place!
Click here to read more about Salish Lodge and Spa.
6. The Ownership of The Snoqualmie Falls
Now the falls owner is currently with the Salish Native American tribe, but it is so after a slight struggle from the tribe.
The Muckleshoot Tribe is another Native American tribe that acquired the rights to the falls and the surrounding lands, including the Salish Lodge and Spa, in 2007. They planned on making a hotel on the land with 200+ rooms and built a convention center and some 150+ houses, all situated near the Snoqualmie Falls.
This was a blow to the Salish tribe as the plans also interfered with their sacred Burial sites, and they thought it was disrespectful to their gods.
So, the Snoqualmie Tribe started a campaign in 2015 titled “Save Snoqualmie Falls” to raise awareness for the cause. Three Years later, in 2018, the Muckleshoot tribe received Approval from the state to start constructing their Hotel Conference center and up to 200 homes.
While this was disheartening for the Salish tribe, they did not give up and kept the efforts to save the falls and the surrounding lands.
In October of 2019, the Snoqualmie tribe had their first win and closed the deal to purchase the lands. Their Purchase included the Snoqualmie Falls, The Snoqualmie Gift Shop, The Salish Lodge and Spa, and an additional 45 acres of land around the falls. This deal cost a whopping $125 million to the Snoqualmie Tribe, but they still did buy it.
They say that it is a fight to preserve their heritage and culture against this mindless construction.
They are right to say that it is a fight against the construction because now that the Snoqualmie Tribe has acquired this land, the Muckleshoot Tribe’s Plan of Building a hotel has been put on hold indefinitely.
Whether they will build the hotel or scrape the plans completely is still not sure, but the Snoqualmie tribe is sure that they will keep up the effort to stop anyone from interfering with their tradition and culture, which is connected to the falls.
The Snoqualmie Falls are a sight to behold with A Scenic view of Water that, according to legends, carries souls to heaven. The Falls has a rich culture and a heritage that has been protected by its people and valued for hundreds of years.
More than just a place to visit, it is a place to find peace and reprieve from a hectic life and to take in what nature has reserved for us to see. Snoqualmie Falls is where we can learn to value our own cultures and cherish our centuries-old traditions. Be sure to visit the site if you ever happen to be in the area.