Today’s Snoqualmie Ridge looks across the valley to a whole different, once thriving, Snoqualmie Ridge – across the river on the opposite hillside. This is where a lot of Snoqualmie’s history lies.
Snoqualmie Valley Historian, Dave Battey’s, farm has been a part of their family since 1920 when his grandfather bought it and established a dairy farm. The farmhouse itself has existed since 1900, when Captain Gove, who made his money in the small steamboat business, built the house for his niece.
After almost a century in the family, the steep rise in taxes and the cost of maintaining the farm forced Dave and his wife Kathy to sell. In August they will say goodbye to a piece of family history and enjoy retirement in their Snoqualmie Ridge condo.
Swenson Dairy Farm Born in the 1920’s
Dave’s grandfather, Ralph Swenson, believed all he needed to start a dairy business and support his family was ten cows. And he was right. Swenson began a successful dairy farm, Monte Vista Farm, that lasted until around 1960.
Swenson originally distributed milk from his dairy farm to the Snoqualmie Falls mill town where hundreds Weyerhaeuser mill workers lived, and then later to the town of Meadowbrook right over the Snoqualmie River.
As the valley grew larger and his children grew older, his youngest son, George, also established a successful dairy distribution company that ended up supplying milk to all Dairy Queens in Eastern and Western Washington.
Dave’s grandfather had seven children, four boys and three girls (including his mother), who all grew up on the farm. The boys helped with the dairy production while the girls stayed mostly to household work, aside from sometimes churning butter.
Dave was not raised on the farm in the same way that is mother, aunts and uncles were, but he spent a lot of time there with his grandparents, learning the ways of the farm.
39 years ago, after living in Sammamish for a while, Dave and Kathy bought the farm from his uncle and moved their family back to Snoqualmie to raise their kids.
The farmland was originally 80 acres surrounding the farmhouse, which was split amongst the seven Swenson kids. Slowly, Dave started buying back bits of the land from his aunts and uncles until accumulating approximately 40 of the original 80 acres.
Now that they can no longer afford to maintain the land, they sold off those 40 acres. After being in his family for almost a century, and having the farm be a permanent structure throughout his life, the rising cost of living and escalating taxes have caused Dave to give up a sacred piece of his history.
As he and his wife have gone through the home and farm buildings, they have found many incredible pieces of Snoqualmie history. Dave has entrusted certain pieces to close friends and family who he knows will do something great with them, as well as making many donations to the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum in North Bend – so that the public can share in these remarkable, rare pieces of history.
It is unfortunate to see Dave and his family have to give up such an important part of their past, but they are making the best out of the situation. They are taking mostly unseen pieces of this Valley’s shared history and making it available to all of us.
They are showing us their Snoqualmie, and uncovering hidden gems of Snoqualmie Valley history.
[The Swenson/Monte Vista Farm was sold to someone in the forestry industry who will grow trees on the land and keep the historic farmhouse intact.]