TACOMA, Wash. — “What I love about Salmon Beach is you come down here and you have nature right at your doorstep,” says Marilyn Mahoney on the deck of her house overlooking the Tacoma Narrows.
Salmon Beach is just about as remote, unknown and quirky a neighborhood as you’ll ever find within city limits.
“I think we all enjoy the peace down here and the quiet,” says Chris Harrison, who we met walking his dogs on the beach. “You don't have any road noise.”
There’s no road noise because there are no cars on Salmon Beach. To visit this gated community you must first be invited. Then you must take the stairs.
“The best part of living down here is having a really firm rear end basically,” laughs Cameron Cornell.
There are 200 steps dividing Salmon Beach from the rest of the world. Planning to drive somewhere requires plenty of planning.
“I can't even count the number of times I've done it where you are all the way at the top and you completely forget your purse or your wallet you swore you had your keys and they're not there,” says Cornell.
Roger Edwards has been climbing these stairs since 1962.
“It's a challenge to live here but some people enjoy challenges,” he says.
Edwards has literally written the book on Salmon Beach. Its history dates back to the early 1900s.
“They were just campsites back then,” he says. “ They were called fishing shacks.”
The remote community drew bootleggers in the 1920s and hippies in the late '60s. Today its seclusion draws neighbors together.
“We live within feet of our neighbors,” says Chris Brooks. “So we are really all a part of each other's lives. For example, I'm watching my neighbor's kid right now."
Brook’s friendly dog Lyla patrols a common pathway all 82 houses share. Everywhere you look, there's a touch of eccentricity and an artistic detail you could easily miss.
“There are lots of artists who live here at Salmon Beach,” says Mahoney. Her mermaid statue is the one piece of art you can't miss. Children have been leaving shells in her tail since the mid '90s.
“People say ‘Oh my gosh! This is twice the size of the one in Denmark,” adds Edwards.
Like the setting of a storybook from many decades ago, Salmon Beach is a special place. A true northwest gem.