The howl of a train horn harkens back to the early days of this old railroad town. Skykomish was once a thriving stop on the Great Northern line.
At the center of it all was the Skykomish Hotel, and 113 years later people are still telling its stories.
Gene Egan used to do his own howling here back in the 60s when it was Sweet Pea’s bar and a regular called Molly G would hold court.
"She would get up on a bar stool after a few drinks and quote Shakespeare," he said. "Sweet Pea just adored her."
The hotel was quite literally the center of town. More than that, though, it was its heart and soul.
Around 1990, the building’s owner let it slide into disrepair. Making matters worse, it sat on ground contaminated with diesel from the railroad.
At one point, the four-story building was picked up and moved across the street so crews could clean the site, and then put back.
It’s still structurally sound, but a leaky roof has caused extensive damage inside.
"I came in and I looked on the floor and thought it had two kinds of carpeting, red and green," said general contractor Todd Brunner. "Then I realized the green was moss!"
With the hotel shuttered for the past quarter century, the town suffered. There was talk of tearing it down. After a lengthy legal battle, the city of Skykomish was recently able to take control of the hotel, and it’s now being restored to its former glory.
"It’s a way to preserve the past and enjoy the future," said Brunner.
Brunner is overseeing the renovation of the historic hotel. He says when the doors open again there will be ground floor restaurants and retail with a hotel up top.
In saving this hotel, Brunner believes Skykomish will be saved as well.
"I think when people know the hotel is back open there will be a lot of people from the days back in the 50s and 60s and 70s who come out to spend a night. Without this, bringing the town back would be much more difficult."
Brunner plans to have the restoration done by summer. He hopes to have the hotel back in business by early 2018.
Copyright 2017 KING