THE TINY TOWN: Skykomish
THE TINY TOWN: Skykomish
I’ve lived in some pretty small towns. One of the first was Lompoc, California. At the time, the town itself was only 2 and a half miles in both directions, with a population just over 26,000. Most travelers on the 101 never knew it was there, for it was quite a drive off the freeway to get there. Some would say it’s a hidden gem. Others say it’s rough for kids with nothing to do but get into trouble. Then there’s Cottonwood, Arizona that had a population of just about 5,000. And the only reason people would even drive through town was to get to the ghost town on the side of Mingus Mountain, Jerome. No, really. It's on the side of the mountain.
And then there are really small towns. Like Skykomish, here in the state of Washington. And much like when I moved to Lompoc, I had a hard time properly pronouncing Skykomish. But the residence will forgive you. The tiny town has a total area of 0.33 square miles. Its current population is about 160 people. The population peaked in the 1930’s when the census count was 562. You can almost fit the whole population into the town’s favorite local pub called, Whistling Post Saloon. Where when the train cruises by and blows the whistle…they serve up free shots.
Think about this. The average capacity of a Disney cruise ship is 4,000. The tallest residential building in Seattle, Rainer Square, can hold all the residents of Skykomish and any near by small town. To think that a town that’s population is smaller than the amount of people walking around the Wenatchee Valley Mall while Christmas shopping, has a mayor.
Most likely you’ve driven by Skykomish if you’ve taken highway 2 over the Cascades. It’s mainly a stopping point for recreational access for those who want to ski Stevens Pass. It’s the epitome of the old line, blink and you’ll miss the town.
As a big city boy who was born and raised in Southern California where it’s a continuous city from Ventura to San Diego, I find small towns extremely fascinating. I love to stay in these tiny towns and find out the history on how the town even came about. It was in the 1890s the Great Northern Railway was built along Skykomish, South Fork Skykomish, and Tye Rivers, crossing the crest of the Cascades at Stevens Pass. And back in the day, people often gathered where there was water and where the railroad stopped.
But Skykomish isn’t the tiniest town in Washington. That award goes to a town with a population of…12. And that number will never change. I’ll explain, the next time we visit another tiny town in Washington State.