Do You Really Know Arlington? He Does
Arlington holds a rich history that spans generations and Mr. Kratz has a great deal of knowledge about Arlington’s past. We sat down for a captivating interview that dives into his life, his connection to Arlington, the changes he’s witnessed over the years, and the impact the Pioneer Association has had on the community and city museum. With his comprehensive understanding of history, we can better understand how and why Arlington is what it is today.
Mr. Kratz, born in 1936 on the outskirts of Arlington, offers a unique perspective on the town’s growth and transformation. His family has roots in the region, tracing back to the 1800s when his ancestors first settled in Arlington. His Grandmother “went by canoe with Indians up the north fork to Whitehorse, which is about six miles outside of Darrington” where with her husband, they became homesteaders in the Arlington area. His parents often talked amongst themselves and with friends about days past and old memories. He mentioned his father being a great story teller and being intrigued by the history that was shared inspired Mr. Kratz to learn more about Arlington’s past and share it with others.
Throughout his 85 years of living in Arlington, Mr. Kratz’s journey has been interwoven with the town’s history. He attended school in Arlington before pursuing higher education, earning a teaching certificate, and teaching 4th and 5th grades for 31 years. He made the drive frequently from Arlington to Oak Harbor for his job, but always kept his home rooted here in the Arlington community. His dedication to education, along with his passion for storytelling, has had a profound impact on countless lives.
One aspect that Mr. Kratz emphasizes is the significant role of the railroad in Arlington’s development. He recalls the days when trains were a common sight and sound, transporting lumber, goods, and people. The evolution of the railroad system influenced the growth of industries and trade within Arlington. The train terminal, which still operates today, serves as a reminder of the town’s roots and its ties to regional commerce.
As he discusses Arlington’s history, Mr. Kratz paints a picture of the challenges and triumphs faced by the pioneers who settled in the area. He touches on the dairy industry, the establishment of schools, and the merging of different school districts, all of which contributed to the town’s unique character. Mr. Kratz brought up a fascinating story about stores that used to be right next to the river. “The business houses were all down at Haller along the river where the park is now. But in 1896, six years after the train depot was up there, those businesses moved up into the main part of Arlington. Some of them, they actually moved the whole building. They took ox teams and had to blast the stumps out of the way to get a clear path on using block and tackle and mathematical ropes and things. You know, they were able to pull those, some of those big buildings up. There’s only one left that I know of on the corner of Fourth street where the Thai restaurant is. Now, that building stood down on the River Bank that was owned by Chris Stewart, a shoe maker, but he sold clothing to loggers, boots, rain gear, gloves, shoes, whatever you wanted… and it was moved up there.”
His perspective helps us to see how Arlington has grown and changed over the years. With his involvement in the Pioneer Association, he was able to assist in preparing the Stillaguamish Valley Museum right here in town. In 1923, they received seven acres of land and built a log building. Discussions began about constructing a fireproof museum, which was completed in 1990 with private funds. He says it is “the biggest and the best museum in the county” and is often visited by homeschoolers and school districts for tours. There have been many improvements made and the artifacts help us to better understand the foundation of Arlington. Mr. Kratz voiced his concerns for the stability of the museum as the hours are limited with few volunteers. Those who are able to support and volunteer at the museum are able to see how history has created the community we live in today. If you have not had a chance to visit the Stillaguamish Valley Museum, it is located at 20722 67th Ave NE, Arlington, WA 98223.
For more information about the Stillaguamish Valley Museum, check out their website: https://www.stillymuseum.org/