Our Northwest

Robust Leavenworth once flirted with extinction

Thursday, June 2, 2016by  Jon Osterberg
You'll find brand new lodging if you visit Bavarian-themed Leavenworth next summer.
     The June 1 Wenatchee World reports site preparation has begun for a new three-story, 99-room Hampton Inn & Suites, to be located next to the Safeway at the east end of town.
     The developer, BMI Hospitality Management of Seattle, says the mid-priced inn will be called Swiss Hotel Leavenworth.
     Of course, the structure will feature Bavarian architecture, in keeping with Leavenworth's city-wide theme that revitalized the town in the 1960s.
     In 1929 the Great Northern Railroad diverted its tracks away from Leavenworth, through the Chumstick Valley to the north, and Leavenworth's big sawmill closed. Other businesses also faded and the town, once a thriving timber center, suffered.
     Community leaders forged a bold rescue plan in 1962: gamble Leavenworth's future on tourism by remodeling all of its shops and businesses in Bavarian-style architecture. It seemed fitting given the town's scenic setting at the foot of the Cascades and rugged Tumwater Canyon.
     The gamble worked. By 1965 Leavenworth was being transformed, and the first Autumn Leaf Festival and Christmas lighting took place in 1966.
     Today, you know firsthand of the town's popularity if you've visited in October, before Christmas, or on any sunny summer weekend.
     Check out the Bavarian facelift given to several old-town buildings at the Leavenworth History website.
Top photo courtesy Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce

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