They say the history of the West was written from the saddle of a horse, but long gone are the days of cowboys and their campfire stories to tell us these tales. Miraculously though, their saddles have remained, along with various other artifacts and historical pieces in which the spirit of the past lives on as they are displayed in captivating history museums like those in Snohomish County. Here, these museums offer a fascinating journey through time, transporting visitors to an era defined by a pioneering spirit, from the humble beginnings of frontier settlements to the rise of industry and the preservation of Indigenous heritage, ultimately serving as a gateway to explore the rich tapestry of the region’s history.

Snohomish County history museums
All are invited in at the Edmonds Historical Museum, where admission is free as you wander the halls in awe of the city’s past. Photo courtesy: Edmonds Historical Museum

Edmonds Historical Museum

118 5th Avenue N, Edmonds

Located in the beautifully restored 1910 Carnegie Library building in the heart of downtown Edmonds is the Edmonds Historical Museum. The free museum, open to the public from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, focuses on the region’s history through various exhibits and a small collection of artifacts. The museum, a non-profit organization, has been telling the stories of the community since its establishment in 1973 by the Edmonds-South Snohomish County Historical Society.

Over the years, the museum has amassed over 26,000 objects, documents, and photographs that represent the history and heritage of Edmonds and the greater south Snohomish County area. Patrons are invited to explore the museum independently and are even welcome to use the self-guided audio tours online to act as a guide.

Snohomish County history museums
Visitors to Monroe Historical Society & Museum can expect to find intricate displays throughout the museum that provide glimpses into what life was once like in the city. Photo courtesy: Monroe Historical Society & Museum

Monroe Historical Society & Museum

207 E Main Street, Monroe

History enthusiasts are invited to explore the rich history of the city of Monroe at the Monroe Historical Society & Museum. The volunteer organization was founded in 1976, opening its museum in 1982 in the city’s original two-story City Hall building on Main Street. Besides being home to a wide-range collection of local historical artifacts, the museum also maintains various local history resources available to society members and the public, with some restrictions.

Their passion for history goes beyond the museum’s four walls as they encourage visitors to stroll down Main Street and explore the city with the help of their self-guided historical walking tour booklet that showcases old photos of the area that you can compare to your modern worldview.

Snohomish County history museums
Within the walls of the Stillaguamish Valley Museum is a plethora of preserved artifacts of the north and south forks of the Stillaguamish River Valley. Photo courtesy: Stillaguamish Valley Museum

Stillaguamish Valley Pioneers Museum

20722 67th Avenue NE, Arlington

The Stillaguamish Valley Pioneers Association came together to build the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneers Museum to preserve artifacts of the north and south forks of the Stillaguamish River Valley. Here, you’ll get an up-close view of household, logging, dairy, military, railroad, sports, medical, education, transportation, and music items from the region’s past, with displays sharing the stories of how these items shaped the area, along with thousands of historical photos of the original homesteaders to the locality.

The museum is open on Wednesdays and weekends from 1 until 4 p.m., with tickets starting at the low price of $5 for adults and just $2 for children 12 and under. The museum is also happy to host field trips for those teachers and school districts interested in signing up to create a one-of-a-kind school activity for the kiddos that will allow them to immerse themselves in their city’s history.

Snohomish County history museums
From the inside and out, the Granite Falls Historical Museum will immerse you in the region’s history and transport you to yesteryear. Photo courtesy: Granite Falls Historical Museum

Granite Falls Historical Museum

109 E Union Street, Granite Falls

Volunteer organization Granite Falls Historical Society has been honoring the contributions and lives of the city’s past residents while providing inspiration and direction for future ones at the Granite Falls Historical Museum. Fondly considered “the little museum that could,” the institution began with the Sharp House, a former home converted into a series of displays that now takes visitors back in time, allowing them to see what life was like 100 years ago.

An additional building was added in 2007 as their collection of artifacts expanded, with a focus on a century of industry, education, and recreation, from the founding of the city itself in the 1890s to the present day. Currently, the museum is open on Sundays from 12 to 5 p.m. by appointment.

Snohomish County history museums
Pottery and basket pieces like these at the Everett Museum of History give us a glimpse of the region’s early hunter-gatherers. Photo courtesy: Everett Museum of History

Everett Museum of History

2939 Colby Avenue, Everett

Though the Everett Museum of History has been in several buildings since its establishment in 1953, it has recently found a permanent home in the heart of downtown Everett. The 1903 home of The Everett Daily Herald newspaper will soon house the museum’s vast collection of ancient and historical artifacts upon its renovation and redesign, focusing on restoring the building to its original architecture. This is all thanks to a generous gift from the Elizabeth Ruth Wallace Living Trust.

In the meantime, visitors can still enjoy the historic Van Valey House at 2130 Colby Avenue. The house is an addition to the museum. It features the history of the building itself, period furnishings, items from the Van Valey and Morrow families who once called it home, and a room dedicated to Senator Henry M. Jackson. The house is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 11 to 4 p.m., with admission starting at $2 per student and $5 per adult.

Through their collection of artifacts, photographs, and interactive exhibits, these local history museums in Snohomish County can once again breathe life into the campfire stories of our region’s past. In return, visitors, both local and from afar, step away from these captivating history museums carrying a profound appreciation for the heritage and legacy that shaped the region. And to think it all started from the saddle of a horse.  

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