Darrington incorporates as a fourth-class town on October 15, 1945.

  • By Janet Oakley
  • Posted 12/13/2010
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 9645

On October 15, 1945, Darrington incorporates as a fourth-class town. The election on whether or not to incorporate was held on September 25, 1945, and passed by a margin of 36 votes. Earlier, in 1910, the year Snohomish County went dry, there was a previous attempt to incorporate by those opposed to Prohibition. (Incorporated cities and towns could make their own decision on the matter.) At that time the Prohibitionists won and Darrington did not incorporate (and stayed dry).

Incorporation Prohibited 

From its inception, Darrington was a rough and tumble place, home to rugged homesteaders and miners seeking fortunes.  Its name was first used in 1890 when a committee of settlers chose it for a post office by a flip of a card.  Always an isolated place, rails carrying freight trains finally reached the settlement in 1899 by way of the north fork of the Stillaguamish. The completion of the last bridge to Darrington and the arrival of the Northern Pacific from the Stillaguamish Valley in 1901 opened the region to the rest of the county. The town boomed by 1906, reaching a population of 100.  Thoughts of incorporation took hold four years later, but not for the reasons a good citizen might think.

In the year 1910 Snohomish County prepared to go dry. Some enterprising folks in Darrington, some of whom turned out not to be residents of the settlement, tried to incorporate the little town into a fourth-class city so that they could vote to stay wet. When the ruse was found out by operators of the United States Mill, a major employer in the area, and by several prominent citizens, they protested. And they won. Darrington remained unincorporated for another 35 years.

Post-War Incorporation

On September 25, 1945, the residents of Darrington tried once again to incorporate. The town now numbered 600 souls, and 156 cast their votes. The result was 96 votes in favor and 60 votes against. There was a close race for mayor between Reidar Westeren (35 votes) and Harold York (31 votes). Westeren won.  Ida Loughnan became Treasurer with 70 votes. 

Six people ran for the office of Council, including Claude Tatham, but only those with the highest votes became members of Darrington’s first council. “Therefore, it is ordered and declared that ... Helen Lock, Walter Bates, Orville Pearson, Robert Hilton jr. and Edna Hilton, being the five persons receiving the highest number of votes or councilmen, are duly elected to said office” (Incorporation papers).

Today, Darrington numbers 1,500 people, sitting pretty as a gateway to some of the most beautiful country in Washington state.

Sources: Historylink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, “Darrington -- Thumbnail History (by Janet Oakley) http://www.historylink.org/ (accessed August 2, 2010); "Copy of the Proceedings Had in the Matter of the Incorporation of Darrington," October 15, 1945, Records of the Secretary of State, Washington State Archives.

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