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Resilient Sedro-Woolley manages to retain its lumber-era charm while continuing to be a vital center of recreation.
The tightknit downtown business community works hard to make the town’s core welcoming.
The historic downtown has seen some revitalization in the past few years, spurred by the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce and other groups to beautify it.
The city is the gateway to both the Mount
Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and North Cascades National Park – both are headquartered in Sedro-Woolley.
Sedro-Woolley has great potential as a recreational hub. A parks commission is improving the city’s park system. The chamber and a horsemen’s group are working to connect trails from a large state recreation area into the forested hills that surround Sedro-Woolley.
Riverfront Park, located on the south side of town on the Skagit River, is a popular spot with a covered picnic area, two shelters, barbecue pits in each shelter and throughout the park, more than 50 picnic tables, four restrooms and an RV park. There is also a boat launch with restrooms and a picnic table.
In 2012, the city’s Rotary Club raised money to build a new, state-of-the-art skate park that now attracts boarders from all over the state.
The city is also primed for new residents. A new fire hall was built in 2010 in the fast-growing north end of town. Major road and highway projects continue to make neighborhoods and business centers safer and easier to reach.
Sedro-Woolley’s identity is still tied to its timber roots, witness the immensely popular (and uniquely Sedro-Woolley) Loggerodeo, usually held the weekend before the Fourth of July. At the same time, the city has adapted in the wake of timber’s decline. For example, Janicki Industries, headquartered in Sedro-Woolley, creates high-tech molds for the aerospace and maritime industries.
Sedro-Woolley gives visitors a reason to come to town most months of the year. September brings Founders Day, in which the Sedro-Woolley Museum honors a founding family, and residents re-enact a famous 1914 bank robbery.
In early December, the town hosts a huge Christmas parade and tree lighting. And in this old timber town, you can be sure the Christmas tree that stands in the center of the main street is a beauty.
The independent spirit of two towns, each refusing to give up its identity, formed the soul and the hyphenated name of Sedro-Woolley.
The name game could have taken a stranger turn. A large section of town actually started out as Bug, thanks to free-thinking settler Mortimer Cook, who in 1884 settled 34 acres of the future city. Cook was acknowledging the mosquitoes that thrived along the property’s river banks.
But thanks to Cook’s wife and the influx of later settlers, the insect-inspired name was scrapped for the word Sedra, the Spanish word for cedar. Unfortunately, they misspelled it.
Today, a trip down the main route to Interstate 5 reminds residents and visitors of Cook’s contributions: Cook Road is a 10-minute connection to the busy freeway.
Meanwhile, a short piece away on the Skagit River, Phillip A. Woolley also was setting up shop, first for a sawmill and then for a town. Not inclined toward Cook’s creativity, Woolley chose his own surname for the town he founded.
The two growing towns fast became twins and rivals. Finally, in 1898, they agreed to put their rivalry behind them, but not their names.
So it was that the name Sedro-Woolley came to be.

While you’re here

Check out the murals downtown, many inspired by Darius Kinsey, a world-famous photographer of Western scenery, logging and railroads who had a photo studio in Sedro-Woolley in the late 1890s.

Visit the Northern State Recreation Area just east of town off Highway 20 and enjoy hiking trails, mountain biking and a disc-golf course. This 651-acre regional park is at the site of the former Northern State Hospital.