CHAPTER 8: DENNY CREEK RECREATIONAL RESIDENCE TRACT

 

Location

Denny Creek tract is located approximately 17 miles east southeast on Interstate 90 from North Bend, Washington on the Snoqualmie Ranger District. Individual summer homes can be accessed via FSR 58 (Asahel Curtis/Denny Creek Road) and FSR 5830 (Franklin Falls and Melakwa Lake Trailheads). The tract is located in King County, in T 22 N, R 11 E, Section 8 within the Snoqualmie Pass USGS quadrangle. The summer home lots encompass approximately 20 acres on a relatively flat benched area above the flood plain of the South Fork Snoqualmie River and south of Denny Creek at an elevation of approximately 2200 feet above sea level (See Figure 1).

 

Overview

The Denny Creek tract (site number 06-05-05-00086, NB0211) consists of 32 lots (See Figure 2), 21 of which are currently occupied by recreation residences (site numbers 06-05-05-000115 to 06-05-05-000135). The current configuration of 21 occupied lots occurred through various natural and administrative actions (See Figure 4). Lots 19, 26 and 29 do not occur on tract map. Lots 15, 24, and 30 were never used. In 1955, lots 25, and 27 were damaged by a rockslide and withdrawn. Lot 11’s cabin was destroyed by snow in 1964 and never rebuilt. Lot 21 was withdrawn post 1964 for reasons unknown. Lot 13's cabin burned down in 1966 and was never rebuilt.

 

Denny Creek tract consists of three rows of lots that straddle and parallel the South Fork Snoqualmie River, and an outlier (See Figure 2). The row on the west side of the South Fork Snoqualmie River is the longest consisting of 12 lots. The east side of Denny Creek consists of two rows of lots accessed by a road between the two rows. The outlier once consisted of a small group of six lots but due to the 1955 rockslide, only one cabin remains.

 

Historic Context

The first permitted cabin that would later become part of a Recreation Residence Tract on the MBS occurred at Denny Creek. No records could be found on this permit except that records from modern permits indicate that a cabin was built on what today is lot 17 in 1908. There are indications that the tract was also the first Recreation Residence Tract platted on the MBS, then the Snoqualmie National Forest. The original survey map could not be located but records from 1918 state:

 

Eight lots fronting the South Fork of Snoqualmie River have been laid out. To the rear and adjoining these lots, eight other lots were surveyed…The lots were shaped so as to conform to the topography of the land, and vary in size somewhat. The average dimensions are 100 x 125’. The lots were laid out in blocks of four and alleys 20 feet wide were surveyed between the various blocks and at right angles with the general direction of the river.

If need be, an equal number of lots can be laid out across the river (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Snoqualmie National Forest 1918).

 

The initial cabin and subsequent survey may have been in response to two major transportation projects in the area. In 1905, the first motorized traffic crossed Snoqualmie Pass on the Yellowstone Road, (also known as the Sunset Highway, the Snoqualmie Pass Highway, US 10) which passes through the Denny Creek Tract. That same year the Milwaukee Railroad Company began construction of a railroad over Snoqualmie Pass completing a 'highline' route in 1908. In 1915, the railroad had completed the Snoqualmie Pass tunnel greatly improving rail travel. Recreation use was common to the area and Denny Creek Campground was in operation by 1916. The Denny Creek trail (now known as Trail #1014, Franklin Falls, or Melakwa Lake trails) was also popular recreation and by 1921 it was popular enough for the Mountaineers and the Forest Service extended it to Hemlock Pass (Author Unknown, N.D.).

 

Most of the records indicate that the Denny Creek tract was not developed until the mid 1920s. The first extant map shows that lots 1-11 were surveyed June 19 to 22, 1925 by F.W. Cleator and lots 12-31 were surveyed in May- October of 1930 by B.C. Saterbo. The extant permit data indicates the second cabin at Denny Creek was built in 1928 and the tract greatly expanded in the early 1930s, with six cabins being built between 1930 and 1935. During the late 1930s and early 1940s there was a lack of construction (See Figure 3).

 

While the late 1930s brought a cessation of building in recreation residences, recreation facilities in area was expanded while the CCCs constructed the Denny Creek Campground south of the Denny Creek tract. By 1938, Denny Creek Campground was described as:

 

On old Sunset Highway, 20 miles east of North Bend, 3 miles from highway on good gravel road. Elevation 2200’. Space for 60 camps, parking space for 50 cars, 37 stoves, 69 tables and benches, 4 toilets, 1 flush toilet (7 seats), piped water. Supplies at Summit Inn 3 ½ miles distant. Hunting and fishing at nearby lakes (Division of Recreation and Lands, 1938:1).

 

After World War II, Denny Creek tract doubled in size with eight cabins built between 1945 and 1955. The demand for tract expansion was enough to warrant a third survey on May 11, 1948 by R.M. Bowe. Following this expansion there was a series of natural disasters that affected the tract. In 1955, two cabins were damaged by a rockslide and in the early 1960s, a flood damaged the Denny Creek Bridge that was replaced in 1963.

  

Cabins

The physical characteristics of the Denny Creek cabins are characteristic of the 3rd, and 4th Phases. The use of milled/manufactured siding, brick or stone chimneys with exterior side, or end placement and interior chimneys along with simple gable roofs and porches that extended the gable shape all exemplify these phases. Unlike the tracts found along the White River, the Denny Creek tract has no log cabins. The lack of log cabins at Denny Creek speaks to the influenced of later architectural styles on the tract. These cabins are classified as rustic vernacular in design.

Cabins

The physical characteristics of the Denny Creek cabins are characteristic of the 3rd, and 4th Phases. The use of milled/manufactured siding, brick or stone chimneys with exterior side, or end placement and interior chimneys along with simple gable roofs and porches that extended the gable shape all exemplify these phases. Unlike the tracts found along the White River, the Denny Creek tract has no log cabins. The lack of log cabins at Denny Creek speaks to the influenced of later architectural styles on the tract. These cabins are classified as rustic vernacular in design.

All summer homes have associated outbuildings, with woodsheds and outhouses being the most common type.

 

Woodsheds or wood-frame storage buildings, in the Denny Creek tract, come in a variety of shapes and sizes but are generally square or rectangular timber frame construction with gable or shed roofs. A wide variety of sidings have been used including ¼ log, board and batten, clapboard, plywood, shingle and T1-11. Six lots have no woodshed.

 

The majority of lots, thirteen (62%), no longer have outhouses. The outhouses that do remain have mostly been replacements of older structures that have deteriorated or as privy pits filled. Outhouses are small, square buildings, usually with gable or shed roofs. They are made with a variety of materials including shingle or shake siding and roofs, T1-11 and plywood siding.

  

Associated Landscape Features

Associated landscape features include entry and exit roads, driveways, parking areas, foot paths between structures and between lots, an auto bridge, barbeques, fire pits, benches, chairs, and picnic tables. Each lot also has a small wooden post with the lot number engraved on it.

 

National Register Eligibility

Period of Significance 1925 - 1960

As stated in the Historic Context the first cabin in Denny Creek Recreation Residences Tract was built in 1908. Between 1918 and 1960 the Forest Service issued SUP to develop new lots and new cabin constructed stopped in 1960 (See Figure 3). The Snoqualmie National Forest discontinue expansion of the tract following construction in 1960. The configuration of the Denny Creek Tract has remained stable with only minor changes when individual structures were being replaced or lots abandoned due to a natural disaster, such as windfall or fire destroying a building. The very earliest period of Denny Creek is no longer represented in the tract. The earliest cabin built in 1908 no longer retains its distinguishing qualities but the majority of structures built after the platting of Denny Creek Tract do retain integrity, see below. As such, the period of significance begins with the 1925 survey and continues until the last lots were developed in 1960.

 

Criteria

As a district, Denny Creek Recreation Residence Tract is eligible for listing in the National Register under Criteria A and C. Twenty of the twenty-one cabins have been determined as contributing elements to the Denny Creek District (See Table 2). Seventeen of the twenty-one cabins are eligible for the National Register as individual structures (See Table 3).

 

#%

Cabins21

Historic1886%

Not historic314%

Eligible – Individual1781%

Ineligible – Individual419%

Contributing Element - District2095%

Not Contributing Element - District15%

Table 2: National Register Eligibility statistics for Denny Creek tract

 

The Denny Creek tract is eligible under Criterion A in the areas of Recreation and Government Policy. It is a rural historic landscape of privately owned cabins located on National Forest land. It was developed by Snoqualmie National Forest and now administered by the MBS. The tract was developed under the Occupancy Permit Act of 1915 and subsequent implementing regulations and directions. Denny Creek tract was developed in association with Denny Creek Campground and is representative of the historic development of the outdoor recreation, and tourism in Washington.

 

The tract embodies the rural historic community on public land. The tract retains the majority of spatial organization as platted in 1925. While five lots that originally had cabin are currently empty, the remaining 21 occupied lots constitute 81% of maximum lots ever used within the Denny Creek tract. The tract retains its original setting in a forested area straddling the South Fork Snoqualmie River and with most cabins oriented towards the river. For cabins further away from the river are oriented related cabins along the river and as well as adapting to local topography. Cabins are located on small natural flats with limited to no grading or re-contouring, creating a layout with cabins located at highly variable distances from the access road.

 

Denny Creek Recreation Residence Tract and seventeen cabins are eligible under Criterion C, in the areas of architecture and community planning and development. The cabins and the tract are characterized by asymmetrical lot arrangements, strong relationships between natural and cultural features, and use of native, rustic building materials. Cabins embody rustic vernacular characteristics from the 3rd, and 4th phases of architecture style, as defined in Chapter 2.

Integrity

The majority of cabins in the tract do retain and convey integrity of design, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. As a District, the majority of Deep Creek cabins convey the historic qualities of the tract (95%; see Table 2). Denny Creek is probably the best example of builder determined variety in the 3rd and 4th phases of architectural style of all the tracts on the MBS. The tract has greatest variation in siding, layout and architectural styles (See Table 1 and Appendix 4). The tract also contains no log cabins.

 

Within the Denny Creek tract, the outbuildings have been modified enough that while retaining location, setting, and association of use, they do not retain integrity of design, materials, and/or workmanship. As such, individual outbuildings are not eligible for the National Register and are not contributing elements to the Historic District.

  

Integrity of location and design – The tract maintains its original configuration as platted and none of the current structures have been moved. Almost all of the cabins have retained their shape and size with very few additions.

 

The Denny Creek Tract retains its planned community pattern that was based on the natural landscape of the South Fork Snoqualmie River cabins are accessed by two roads one on either side of the South Fork Snoqualmie River. The lots are arranged with shared common side boundaries with the front and back of the lot paralleling the access road and South Fork Snoqualmie River. Local topographic features of steep slope and floodplains limited expansion of the tract north and south and a second row of cabins on the east side was created as an adaptation to the local landscape.

 

Small informal paths interconnect cabins and the cabins to the Fork Snoqualmie River and the Franklin Falls and Melakwa Lake Trailheads. Associated landscape features are also highly variable in location and design which is consistent with a rural historic landscape.

 

Materials and workmanship – The majority of cabins retain original fabric and convey the individual builder’s expertise, or lack thereof. Most alterations have been limited to fixing and/or replacing damaged or deteriorated small portions of structures. Roofs are the most commonly altered fabric, but size and shape are retained.

Feeling and setting – The tract has retained its feeling of a rustic recreation area; the area is still surrounded by forest and retains its backwoods rustic retreat feeling. While other

tracts on the MBS convey a sense of quiet retreat, the Denny Creek tract conveys a sense of outdoor park and barbeque recreation that was probably common to the area prior to the tract’s construction. Denny Creek tract is located in the Snoqualmie Pass travel corridor resulting in relatively quick and easy access for a large number of day visitors. Prior to the I-90 construction the Yellowstone Road, which runs through the tract, was a major through way. Also the nearby Milwaukee railroad was commonly used to transport visitors and hikers to the area. The pools of the South Fork Snoqualmie River and Denny Creek are local attractions in the summer for both the cabin owners and greater Puget Sound population seeking relief from the summer heat.

 

Association – The tract and cabins are used as they were originally intended, as privately owned structures, permitted on National Forest System lands. Their use is limited to short term recreation and not permanent habitation. The use and construction is still limited, directed, and administered by the Forest Service. The residences reflect this relationship in their architectural style, scale, materials, location, and setting.

Read more

Testimonials

Have something nice to say about Denny Creek Cabin? Write a testimonial