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Leavenworth Business Signs
Leavenworth, WA is located on the southeast side of the North Cascades collage. Originally inhabited by the Wenatchi peoples, this area began to see an influx of American settlers during the nineteenth century. The Great Northern Railway (which would later become part of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway) began to construct the first rail route across Stevens Pass (a 4,061 foot mountain pass thirty five miles west of Leavenworth). This railway followed the Wenatchee River and this is where the town of Leavenworth was established in 1892.
Leavenworth was named after Charles Leavenworth, who bought the area of land, which would eventually become Leavenworth and platted the community. The town of Leavenworth was officially incorporated on September the 5th, 1906. From the early 1900s to the 1920s, this small lumber town served as the Great North Railroad’s headquarters.
Today, according to a 2014 US Census Bureau estimate, the town of Leavenworth has a total population of 1,979 people. Leavenworth, Washington is located within Chelan County. The town is also part of the Wenatchee-East Wenatchee Metropolitan Statistical area. According to a 2010 estimate by the US Census Bureau, the Wenatchee-East Wenatchee Metropolitan Statistical area has a population of 110,884 people.
Leavenworth is known worldwide for its distinctive Bavarian-inspired architecture. In fact, A&E dubbed Leavenworth as “the Ultimate Holiday Town USA.” Leavenworth was also featured on Good Morning America in 2007, where the town hosted Holiday Gifts for the Globe, where it was festooned in lights for the holidays. But there is a fascinating story behind Leavenworth’s unique architecture.
When the headquarters for the Great North Railroad left Leavenworth for Wenatchee in the 1920s, the small lumber town was greatly affected. It wouldn’t be until 1962 that Leavenworth would get its image back.
This was thanks, in no small part, to Project LIFE (Leavenworth Improvement For Everyone). This initiative was a partnership between the town and the University of Washington with the goal of revitalizing the area. Ted Price and Bob Rodgers, two businessmen from Seattle, presented the idea of creating a theme for the town. In fact, in 1965 Price and Rodgers “led a trip to the Danish-themed town Solvang, California to build support for the idea.”
Leavenworth eventually settled on a Bavarian theme. The Chikamin Hotel was the first building to be remodeled in Bavarian architectural style. (This style is related to the “Tudorbethan”, or Tudor Revival, to be more accurate, style of architecture.) The hotel was renamed the ‘Edelweiss’, after Bavaria’s state flower.
Leavenworth also features the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum. As one can guess, this is a museum dedicated to nutcrackers. Arlene and George Wagner founded the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum in 1995. As of 2010, the museum featured 6,000 nutcrackers. These nutcrackers date from prehistoric all the way up to modern times.
Leavenworth, WA is not known for its sports. However, this Bavarian-inspired village hosts an annual Oktoberfest celebration, of course.
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